Tag Archives: Misandry

Two Replies to the Problem of Misandry

Feminists hear it all that time: What about sexism against men? It comes in different forms: “Well, you know, men face discrimination to.” “You’re not really interested in equality, since you want women to gain an advantage and don’t care that some men are disadvantaged…” and on and on in endless variations, each of which presumes, firstly, that misandry is a thing, and secondly, that the existence of disadvantages somehow undermines the need to advocate for gender equality.

This morning, a male poster on a mailing list I belong to sent out the following question:

What are your thoughts on comments on sexism that’s focused at men?

I’d like to share my response to his question, here out of its original context, as a conversation starter. I’d love your feedback:

When I see this question, my genuine response is to wonder how in the world this question could seem, to a person (not necessarily you) writing in the United States, at this moment in history, like an urgent question to ask. It is not a non-problem; but if you’re in a position to be aware of the prejudice directed against people of color, against people of non-majority ethnic or national status, against women, against LGQBT people… how does does the question of discrimination against men seem like a question that needs addressing first?

The response that comes not long after that initial incredulity is, I think, a little more useful. I’d say that the lion’s share of prejudice directed against men is part and parcel of the same cultural attitudes that manifest against women as misogyny. (I could explain what I mean, if you don’t see my point.)

This entanglement is an issue I think of a lot of critics of feminism would be helped by understanding. When you raise half your society to behave as if the other half is enfeebled by lesser intelligence, crippled by irrationality and sentimentality, and designed to use deceit and wiles to capture a spouse’s attention, virility, and well-being for their own personal benefit — that’s a corruption that poisons everyone’s water.

In other words: the misandry that I see in the world seems mostly to be just another expression of misogyny. Which means that the response you sometimes see to misandry — which is itself a reactionary, defensive, aggressively anti-feminist backlash — has the ironic effect of strengthening the cultural conditions that foster that particular form of prejudice.

Feminists are the best advocates I know for men’s rights, though I know many people identifying as MRAs would not agree.

Ugh, it’s hard to look at my “low-stakes” writing later on. Got to learn the power of concision! Less is more, Zak.

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And here’s a response to the same question sent out by another (female-identifying) member of the list:

Sexism directed at men is like racism directed at white people: it may exist, but because white people and men occupy positions of power in society, they suffer many fewer disadvantages due to prejudice than do members of minority groups.

Additionally, I feel that a lot of what men perceive as “sexism” against them is really just the problems of the patriarchy seen from a male perspective. For example, women are often granted custody of children in a divorce, rather than men. This is because of the patriarchal view that women are more ‘nurturing’ and are somehow natural caregivers. That stereotype hurts women by holding us back from obtaining high-level jobs due to widespread prejudicial worry that we might quit or take time off to go have babies.

That stereotype ALSO hurts men by making it more difficult for them to be equal participants in raising their children if they separate from their partners. It’s the same problematic system hurting everyone, really. This concept is sometimes referred to as the “kyriarchy.” That is, all of the current systems of power are designed to keep everyone in their place, and people are raised to believe that some places are better than others. Men are raised to believe that women should be the ones raising children, so they may silence their own desires for parenthood, or may spend more time toiling away at work because they think that the best way to be a ‘provider’ is to make money. That belief hurts women by holding them back at work, or by causing people to have negative views of women without children. But it hurts men by brainwashing them into having particular desires or suppressing desires, too.

TL;DR, if you want less sexism against men, be a feminist.

So, what do you think? Did our replies to the question make the most out of a teachable moment? How would you have responded?

TYSK #3: Misandry (and why it’s not a thing)

Misandry (definition: hatred of men) is not a thing.

This is a controversial statement to make.

However, when feminists use this catchy slogan, we are completely aware of the fact that there are, indeed, situations in which men are disadvantaged by their gender. We are not disputing this fact, we are simply pointing out that, given the current reality that men hold the “one-up position” in society, true misandry does not occur and cannot occur on a large enough scale for it to merit the same amount of attention and activism that misogyny does. In other words, the current societal climate necessitates that issues of misandry are not our primary concern.

Hence, the feminist slogan, “Misandry is not a thing”.

Feminists are consciously refusing to spend an equal amount of time and effort addressing misandry, because an equal amount of time and effort should not be allocated to solve the subsidiary issues of the privileged group.

Even so, often in the midst of conversation regarding feminism someone points out how men are left out of the discussion. This person (if not arguing from the standpoint that feminism is secretly advocating  men’s oppression) argues that if feminists wish to get men on their side, they ought to include talk about both men and women’s issues. Focusing solely on women supposedly alienates the people feminists need to ally with in order to enact social change.

This is why there is such opposition to the term “Feminism” as used to describe the movement towards gender equality. If it is a movement based on eliminating pernicious social norms and structures which disadvantage both men and women, why not call it “Equalism” or something of the like?

The answer is that feminism is named thusly to put the focus on the disadvantaged group: women. The pernicious social norms and structures are damaging to women far more often than they are to men. This is true to such an extent that in our society, the supposedly neutral human – the default – is a man. So when we choose to use the term “Feminism,” or the slogan “misandry is not a thing,” we do so intentionally to direct the focus to the group who is most often ignored, underrepresented, and harmed.

Yes, men, we need you on the side of feminism for this whole thing to work. But we do not need to mitigate our efforts to solve women’s issues by addressing misandry as much as we address misogyny. To do so would be to enforce male privilege, not lessen it. The process of achieving equality of the sexes requires men to give up their privileges, one of which is their expectation to be included in and catered to by every institution and discussion.

Feminists are not in any way advocating the systematic oppression of men by using the slogan “Misandry is not a thing.” We are not telling men that it is impossible that their gender could somehow disadvantage them, either. We are simply asserting the point that misandry, here and now, in this discussion, is not relevant. Misogyny is.

The unfortunate day could hypothetically arrive when men are the underprivileged group and misandry does merit our attention, but that day is nowhere in the near future. Those who cry “Misandry!” when they hear “Feminism!” need to stop yelling fire before someone has even lit a candle.

For further reading:

If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Sorry, Men, You’re STILL Not Oppressed: Reexamining the Fallacies of “Misandry”

This post was written in partial response to:

On the Misandry Isn’t a Thing Thing