Research study conducted as part of the project "Decentralization of Power in New Regional Structures, Multiplication of Partners and the Wave of Anti-Feminism: Towards a New Feminist Discourse and Action Strategies"
Lately, we have heard with increasing frequency and concern that gender equality has been attained. From that perspective, the current demands of feminist groups around women's rights would be a step too far, would no longer be relevant, or simply hide a thirst for power and domination over men and other women.
This discourse has taken root in some men's and women's groups in Western societies. Over the last three decades, and as the hard-won battles of second-wave feminists consolidated into political and legal structures, we have observed an increase in the public presence of identifiably antifeminist discourse.
Antifeminism refers to a way of seeing the world and social gender dynamics that is in direct opposition, contrast and reaction to feminist principals and demands.
This discourse is produced, appropriated and re-appropriated by different types of social organizations. For example, men's rights groups that fall under contemporary "masculinism," self-proclaimed egalitarian groups, groups that have historically belonged to the most conservative wings of political parties and/or religious groups with a fundamentalist vision of life and the world.
There is also a current of thinking known as "post-feminism" that arose in response to second-wave feminism. Post-feminists believe that equality has already been attained. They accuse feminism of having reproduced within its own movement the very structures of power that they fought against. In this way, certain fractions have appropriated the movement to the detriment of women from cultural communities, Indigenous women, the most vulnerable women or those with the least formal education.
For their part, egalitarian groups are based on a belief in gender complementarity. They believe that equality in the face of the law has been attained, and see themselves as a "third way"—an alternative to the conflict of feminism and masculinism.
Anti-feminism is not a new phenomenon in Quebec. This can be seen in the study conducted by F. Labbé regarding the analysis of the 1929-1931 Dorion Commission, for which the primary issue became the definition of gender between feminists and anti-feminists.
In this reflection, we analyze the anti-feminism of men's groups organized around their demands for rights, a phenomenon known as masculinism.
We do not plan to analyze post-feminism or third-wave feminism. Nor will we address the topic of egalitarian groups, a very recent creation that hasn’t yet had a significant impact on public opinion. Anti-feminism in fundamentalist groups will not be studied either, as it has remained more or less constant over the past two centuries. As such, the analyses of first- and second-wave feminists regarding this form of anti-feminism are still applicable today.
We propose an analysis of masculinist discourse as a current expression of anti-feminist discourse in Montreal. We seek to recognize this discourse's leitmotifs, the language it uses and its objectives.
Our objective consists of carrying out a comparison between feminist and masculinist discourse to understand the strong and weak points of each and thereby find avenues through which to renew feminist discourse.
By Ruth Altminc
Presented by the Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal to the Women's Program from Status of Women Canada