Humans have had certain unalienable rights since the beginning of their existence, whether that should be to learn, speak, or even live. Although we believe equality has been achieved, this is merely a fallacy. Certain groups of people have been oppressed and disenfranchised for thousands of years.
In the past century, the world has largely come to its senses about that. The aftermath of horrors like the Holocaust or Japanese internment during World War II to the civil rights movement of the 1960s have been steps in the right direction toward “all men are created equal.”
There’s still one group waiting for their turn: women. `
Women were historically classified as the property of a man, and as such, were given no more rights than an animal. They could not vote, take jobs outside the home, or hold property of their own (Woefully in some countries, these indignities endure).
Little by little women too, came to their senses. Brave suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst engaged in acts of civil disobedience for the right to vote and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wielded the power of the pen. In short, the feminist movement was set in motion.
Nearly a century later, it’s still going strong. But it’s also far from over. According to the Huffington Post, in just about every state in the country, millennial women are more likely than millennial men to have a college degree, yet millennial women also have higher poverty rates and lower earnings than millennial men. To make matters more complicated, a group under the title of “Meninists” refuse to acknowledge these facts.
Although it began on feminist.com with the title, “Meninist-Equality for All,” as a group of males fighting for gender equality, one faction broke away and their message devolved.
The modern version of meninism scorns the more rational feminist movement, which according to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s well-publicized definition, “believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” According to the meninists, men are the superior sex—and may indeed even be the oppressed sex.
Meninism ranges in followers and in interpretation. Some truly believe the statements, while others call it a mere joke, an excuse to make sexist comments. Either way, meninism seems to be a resurgence of the chauvinism endured by Billie Jean King on the tennis court or Margaret Thatcher on the parliament floor. That is, instead of moving forward, meninism seems to be holding the gender equality movement back into time.
To see if meninism—the bad kind—was alive in our own backyard, I set up a classic social experiment. I constructed a paper resembling a club sign- up sheet for a Meninist Club, and went around the school asking for people to join. Each time I went to a group of people, and explained feminism for what it is: a movement to gain gender equality.
For argument’s sake, I explained meninism in the derogatory sense, and received mix responses.
My first test subject went as I imagined, with the person readily joining. The only hesitation held was any commitments needed for joining the club. The person also made a few anti-women comments as a joke before I left. This was not surprising, since several weeks prior to my experiment I saw a fellow Sea King walking around the school decked out in #Meninist merchandise.
The second attempt truly did come as a surprise, with the person choosing not to label himself as a feminist, yet they did not acknowledge Meninism either. When asked why, he said merely, “Nothing is perfect.” Perhaps he meant that the promise of “all men created equal,” is a promise unfulfilled. Yet, as my social experiment came to a close, I wondered, like many, why not?