At the end of the day, we all have something to defend and something to be proud of. Mirror movements theoretically provide a necessary counterweight to established movements but lack an understanding of their origins and direction …

 

International Women’s day was celebrated around the world on March 8th. As one scans the internet during this time, or simply casually browses, persistent questions appear and reveal a common theme of most sceptics: ‘Why don’t men have an International Day?’

Such a question is often institutionalised in the form of so-called ‘Mirror Movements’, meaning movements that came about as direct responses to certain civil rights movements. Primary examples of such mirror movements are the Men’s Rights Movement as a counterpart to the feminist movement, or Straight Pride which was conceived as a counterargument to LGBTQ Pride. Rather than choose to simply dismiss such movements as often bigoted, hateful and ultimately harmful to societal equality, we should contemplate what such mirror movements mean for their accepted and enshrined counterparts in regard to social perception and the issues of equality.

Constructive dialogue?

An interesting evaluation of mirror movements lies in the type of social outcry some such initiatives express. Let’s take the example of the Men’s Rights Movement once again. Much like the feminist movement, especially in its earlier stages, the Men’s Rights Movement is willing to disregard social stigmatisation and ridicule to bring attention to issues that are often viewed as unimportant, aren’t given any exposure or are scoffed at as unrealistic and incompatible with social perceptions of masculinity. For instance, supporters of traditional values often believe that rape against men simply cannot take place; that unyielding consent is always provided by men and that domestic abuse against men is a sign of weakness and feeble-mindedness. If a man is brave enough to come out and claim that he has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused he is often told to ‘get over it’ and ‘be a man’. The Men’s Rights Movement has been able to benefit from the early feminist movement in bringing attention to issues that social perceptions silence and disregard.

And yet, there are quite a few issues with this, dare I say, utopic perception of the aforementioned argument.

Pitted against each other

Firstly, mirror movements do not work in conjunction with their counterparts; on the contrary they actively condemn them for disregarding their own rights and beliefs. Furthermore, the moderate and reasonable strands of advocacy demonstrated above through the Men’s Rights Movement are mere whispers of socio-political correctness and reason, drowned out by the overbearing cries of misogyny, homophobia and hatred. For instance a website ‘A Voice for Men’ which has become the face of the Men’s Rights Movement openly supports an end to rape and domestic violence ‘hysteria’, while its founder has stated that an intoxicated woman is ‘begging to be raped’.

Adding to this, these movements attempt to equate the struggles their members experience with those of their counterparts. While this recognition of social stigmatisation can be constructive as explained above, it disregards the institutionalised oppression social groups such as LGBTQ or women have faced in the past and continue to face to this very day. Questions such as ‘Why don’t white people have a right to be proud of their race and heritage?’ are answered with this insightful statement: ‘Gay/Black/Female Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay/black/a woman, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a respective pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.’

Where it all began

The rise of mirror movements also proves insightful in understanding the nature and evolution of the initial civil rights initiatives. Some say that the root cause of mirror movements was the exclusionary nature for instance of the LGBTQ movement or the feminist movement. To some extent that could be true. The Straight Pride Movement was created in the 1980s and 1990s exactly because some felt that slogans like ‘We’re here, we’re queer get used to it’ were hostile. The feminist movement in its early conception heavily emphasised female empowerment through slogans like ‘I’m a woman hear me roar’ as a response to male-driven sexism. This isn’t necessarily bad. This ‘exclusionary’ nature was necessary for the movement to be able to establish a collective identity and empower its members to feel safe and accepted.

Feminist, Men’s Rights Supporter or Both?

The issue with mirror movements at the end of the day is simple: they disregard the changing nature of their respective counterparts. Feminism today refers to gender equality as a whole. LGBTQ Pride means being proud of being LGBTQ as well as being a supporter of the movement itself. If mirror movements continue to believe they are at odds with their counterparts, their archaic views will be damaging to the unity that is necessary to achieve social, economic and political equality.