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Misandry

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Misandry is the hatred of men. A neologism formed analogous to misogyny (hatred or contempt for women), it was first used widely in the 1970s in response to perceived hatreds within the feminist movement.

Today, the term is badly overused by men's rights activists (MRAs), who use it to refer to (1) anything even vaguely resembling feminism, and/or (2) any time a woman hurts their feelings.[1] As an imaginary structural bias in society as a whole, invented to counter accusations of misogyny, it is essentially identical with "reverse sexism", and analogous to reverse racism and other forms of reverse discrimination, which certainly do exist but only on an individual or otherwise subordinate level in society.

Those feminists who focus more on collective "institutionalized" hatreds de-emphasize the term accordingly. Some radical feminists go so far as to deny the existence of the word itself, attributing its supposed existence to a conspiracy of male dictionary editors (it may help that they are themselves often accused of being misandrists, and not always without cause). Of course, in the sense that people use it and mean something that they broadly agree on with it, the word obviously does exist, even if the concept so labeled does not. Clearly, a word such as "weregoat" is a meaningful word, even if it is a neologism referring to something made up only for the lulz.

Misandry is only tangentially related to female supremacy, which is definitely more marginal, kooky and less common than MRAs would believe.

History of the term[edit]

Although there were isolated uses of the term as early as the mid-19th century,[2] and it was being used enough to make an appearance in the uber-comprehensive Century DictionaryWikipedia's W.svg in 1914,[3] it did not come into general usage until the 1970s, when discussion of collective hatreds of all kinds was all the rage.

As a term, "misandry" is not a strict analogue of "misogyny," because the use of the term "misandry" is much more commonly restricted to concrete hatred or contempt held by individuals (cf. "man-hating feminists"), as distinct from the abstract "institutionalized" variety. This is because women have historically had little opportunity for direct influence on such institutions as the law, and thus no opportunity to build anything resembling "institutional misandry."

Trying to convince MRAs of that, however, is difficult.

MRA use of the term[edit]

It has become the fashion for people to identify themselves with a "victimized" group in society, then pretend that anyone who disagrees with them is merely whaling on said victimized group. This bullshit is of course easier to spot when the group in question is not actually victimized, as we see when men's rights activists use the term "misandry."

Men's rights activists have the idea that there is a powerful cabal of feminists (an analogue of "the Patriarchy" in feminism, with the crucial difference that it does not have any basis in reality) out to oppress men and take away their beer and their couches. On this understanding, any claim by feminists that women are disadvantaged in society is treated with outright dismissal coupled with a cry of persecution, in this case "misandry."

Here, we respond to some common[4] motivations for MRAs to make claims of misandry.

PointCounterpoint
Feeling excluded or outright rejected in certain spaces because they are male.Many of these men have been taught that the reason why women have the right to enter and be respected in "men's" spaces is because it is wrong to reject someone from a space on the basis of sex. This leads them to think that they should have the right to enter and be respected (or even to dominate) in the mostly-female spaces that are often either traditionally female, or were established as safe spaces for women who have violent men after them. Instances of women being unfairly exclusive aren't completely unheard of—Mary Daly being the most well-known such case—but they definitely don't represent the norm.

Feeling that they have been rejected or otherwise turned down by a woman.Some men may feel they are entitled to the approval or the consent of women around them. This gets doubly problematic when the thing the man feels entitled to is sex, with or without consent. Also, these guys might benefit from considering the reverse scenario: what if a woman they thought was wholly unattractive considered herself entitled to have sex with him whether he wanted it or not?

Feeling that women get certain rights or advantages in society that men do not, such as free drinks, affirmative action, or even social admiration.A free drink or wide admiration does not exactly equate to the kind of power or influence that women have historically been denied (e.g., equal representation in political or economic leadership). Affirmative action was put in place for women as an attempt to compensate for existing unfair treatment, rather than to make men underprivileged.

Feeling they have been passed over or ignored in favor of a woman.While there are instances where such a complaint has some merit, in many of these cases they did not stop to consider the possibility that the woman might have been more qualified or worthy of attention.

Feeling that "the system" favors women and in turn treats men with suspicion or contempt.The idea that women are to be coddled or protected and men to be considered more violent or as threatening is a common protest of feminists, and perceptions like these are partially due to sexist social norms, partially due to confirmation bias on the part of the MRA, and also partially due to the statistics that state that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of domestic violence upon women[5] in the United States, with far fewer instances of female-on-male domestic violence.

Feeling that they are assumed to be rapists or creeps, or otherwise under undue criticism and scrutiny because they are a man, and that such accusations or social pressure are weaponized by women into making men do what they want.While it is reasonable to take exception to advice which actually says to treat all men as rapists or creeps until proven otherwise, the fact remains that, if you act creepy, you're likely to be called out on it. Supporting a movement professing the belief that women owe men sex is generally not the best way to be considered non-creepy.

Feeling that their concerns are considered less legitimate than the concerns of women.This might be partially due to the fact that there are large and vocal feminist organizations, but only very marginal MRA-type organizations, which combined with MRAs' belief that the mainstream of society is solidly on the feminists' side will produce the perception that their concerns are being sidelined on the grounds of sex.

Feeling that they, or men in general, are being unjustly deprived of custody of their children by a "feminist-dominated" legal system.Custody hearings do tend to be stacked against men, which appears to be a complete turn-around from the previous practice, in which fathers held their children as chattel property and mothers had no say at all (which is not to say that the current situation is ideal either). However, MRAs fail to perceive that the current practice is grounded in the idea that it is a woman's job to take care of children — an idea much opposed by feminists. Thus, the way things are now, if what influence feminists do have in the legal system were to diminish, this problem would likely get worse.

Feeling just sort of bad in general and that it might be a girl's fault somehow.To which we can only reply: "Give some concrete evidence or get over yourself."

In general, most of these claims of misandry relate to feelings of being ignored or feelings of being marginalized. While many claims of misogyny also relate to such feelings (e.g., a major theme among a whole generation of feminists was women's feelings of being stifled in the role of the middle-class suburban housewife[6]), there are also a fair number coming from women who report being raped, beaten, or forcibly silenced, often with the perpetrator going unpunished. Parallels of these on the MRA side are not impossible to find—Andy Warhol being the most obvious example—but remain conspicuously rarer.[7]

Misandry and feminism[edit]

Despite MRA claims to the contrary, misandry is a fringe phenomenon in feminism, largely confined to radical feminist looney-tunes, who hold to an adaptation of Marxism in which women take the role of oppressed workers and men take the role of fat capitalist pigs, and of course one cannot help but hate a fat capitalist pig.

Such misandry as does exist within feminism can be placed into three categories, the "gendercidal," the matriarchal, and the class-based.

Gendercidal[edit]

When the term began to be used in the 1970s, among the people using it were feminists involved in the infighting then beginning to rip through their movement, with no less a feminist personage than Betty Friedan condemning misandry.[8]

Part of the reason for the increasing discussion of man-hatred were the antics of Valerie Solanas. Solanas, who is best known for shooting Andy Warhol in 1968 during a psychotic episode, had written a missive entitled The SCUM Manifesto in which she argued that men were biologically inferior to women and needed to be exterminated.

About ten years later, in 1977, the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin stated that this kind of attitude was growing within her sect, describing a panel discussion at which the 200-odd attendees greeted calls for "gendercide" with enthusiastic applause.[9] However, it speaks volumes that Dworkin, herself a fringe figure who has been accused of misandry, observed these developments with considerable alarm and spoke out against them at the same panel discussion; these attitudes have stayed safely in the extreme fringe.

Matriarchal[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Female supremacy

There are also a small number of feminists who believe in matriarchy or "female supremacy", thinking that women are better fit to rule than men. Mary Daly, the radical feminist theologian who resigned her professorship rather than accept men in her classes, was one of these.

Class-based[edit]

Finally, there is a group who explicitly defend misandry, as many other hatreds have been defended, by characterizing it as "hatred of the oppressor."[8] In the 1970s, a few radical feminists of this group voiced disapproval of feminists entering relationships with men, on the grounds that it could cause them to develop a positive opinion of their mate, which would decrease their utility to the feminist movement.[10]

However, it was against this group that Betty Friedan's remark was directed, and many more feminists tend to stand with her on this question than with the radicals, especially today.

Power-hungry pigs by nurture?[edit]

There are also those who accept the criticisms of men made by the misandrists (e.g., that they are power-hungry or misogynistic in the main), but deny that they are this way by their nature as Solanas claimed, arguing instead that society conditions them to be that way. Although this reads as a condemnation of a social system rather than contempt for a group of people within it, it is instructive to note that it does not seem to make a difference to many of the same people whether someone said that black Americans were unable to escape poverty on account of their "racial nature," or whether, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan arguedWikipedia's W.svg, white racism was poisoning their culture and making them like that — either way it was deemed to be blaming the victim.

Appropriation as parody[edit]

Finally, there are those feminists who are not actually misandrists, but who have appropriated the term in order to lampoon MRAs' beliefs in a gigantic feminist conspiracy.[11] Since most sane people would want to punch someone who thinks they are subhuman in the face, in order to avoid further violence against women it is important to remember that most women who call themselves misandrists are only joking.

Criticism[edit]

The term has come under some criticism from those who see concrete hatreds held by individuals as of little or no significance compared to the abstract "institutionalized" or "systemic" variety. In this view, an "ism," like racism or sexism, requires two components: first, a prejudice or hatred against some group; second, and more importantly, the collective power to put it into action significant enough as to produce a blip on sociologists' radars. Hence, one has formulae such as "Sexism = prejudice + power."[12]

Hatred for men, it is argued, has the first of these two components, but not the second. Although in some legal cases, such as custody, men do have a disadvantage, men compared to women, globally, are not disadvantaged in paychecks, employment rates, government positions, education, language, and in history in general. Therefore, the formulae is incomplete.

It is also argued that using a term like "misandry" for the hatred of men implicitly places that hatred on the same level with "racism" or "sexism," when it is not. It would thus follow that "misandry" is a loaded snarl word that can only be used in the fallacious way that the MRAs use it.

Another criticism is based on how the more sophisticated MRAs (some of whom have training in women's studies and were themselves part of the feminist movement at one time) have adopted certain ideas, tropes, and rhetorical devices used by feminists and turned them to their own purposes. This routine causes varying reactions, causing some to believe that there is a feminist conspiracy such as MRAs postulate, others to get hopping mad that the feminists' patent on the ideas, tropes, and rhetorical devices in question has been infringed upon; and still others to conclude that they are a pile of bullshit, as evidenced by the MRAs' ability to use them to argue against women's rights.

Denial of the word's existence[edit]

Some of the radical feminist persuasion go so far with this as to deny the existence of the word, advancing "misanthropy" as the correct synonym.[13] Such denials seem to rely on a mix of alleging subterfuge by a conspiracy of male dictionary editors and focusing on the grammatical genderWikipedia's W.svg of certain words while ignoring their meaning.[14]

Quotes about misandry[edit]

There are two kinds of women who never hate men: the very lucky and the very blind.
Joanna RussWikipedia's W.svg, satirist[8]
In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humor.
Warren Farrell, ex-women's studies professor

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Note the parallel to their common claim that feminists holler "misogyny" whenever their feelings are hurt.
  2. [1], p.365.
  3. Century Dictionary, vol. XII, p.814.
  4. Some evidence to support said commonness. [2]
  5. statistics supplied by the American Bar Association
  6. The feminist writer Erica Jong wrote her famous book, Fear of Flying, as a direct response to literature utilizing that theme. [3]
  7. Some male victims of sexual violence would actually rather seek out the feminist side on the basis of the MRA side being fundamentally destructive rather than constructive, even though it is difficult to wholly fit into a movement for women by women.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Joanna RussWikipedia's W.svg, The New Misandry: In Defense of Hating Men, Village Voice, October 12, 1972.
  9. http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIID.html
  10. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/30/women-gayrights
  11. Amanda Hess, "The Rise of the Ironic Man-Hater", Slate
  12. Consequently, it becomes necessary to sweep it under the rug whenever those with the hatreds do get access to some measure of power, as when Janice Raymond ganged up with Jesse Helms and lent a small measure of otherwise-lacking credibility to his campaign against trans-women, whom (although Helms and the victims thought otherwise) she deemed to be nothing other than a group of men, doing what men are wont to do.
  13. http://www.adonismirror.com/10152006_leader_misandry_and_misanthropy.htm
  14. http://books.google.com/books?id=3nnxlqbN-IEC&pg=PA267#v=onepage&q&f=false