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I stand as a feminist because we’re all worth it. #HeForShe
I need feminism because…
Any woman in America is taking a risk by walking outside their door every morning, and they still do it. To me, that’s bravery. That’s courage. And it’s completely unjust they endure a patriarchal system that oppresses them in such a way.
Write about the average woman and her experience with misogyny. Talk about the gender wage gap, the lack of representation in Congress and Fortune 500, the slander and objectification of women in the media, and how they’re forced to fear even men closest to them, among other things.
It probably seems confusing. Women* making statements like “Misandry doesn’t exist, there’s no such thing as misandry” in one moment, and identifying as misandrist in the next.
What is misandry?
Misandry is generally defined as a hatred of men, while misogyny is the hatred of women. Misandry is often used synonymously with the term “reverse-sexism”. However, misandry as praxis is not real. For misandry to actually be a real belief system with real consequences, it would need to be an institutionalized practice. There would have to be a centuries-old system in place in which men are treated as inferior to women, by women, in every aspect of their existence. And there is no human society in which that is true.
Sexism = prejudice + power
For misandry to be a legitimate threat to men, there would have to be a consistent pattern of discrimination against men BY women. If misandry were real, men would be suffering from lower pay for equal work, disproportionate objectification, dehumanization, and lack of representation in the media, discriminatory reproductive laws, being regularly told how to modify behavior in order to not be victimized by criminals, and being blamed and shamed after falling victim to a serious sex crime. And all those things would need to be enforced by women. It is true, there are some systems in place from which men do not benefit; in fact they are harmed by them. For example the draft that involuntarily sends men to war, or men being less likely to receive automatic custody of children. But those systems reinforce gender roles (men’s job is to fight in war, women’s job is to be a mother) and are in place overwhelmingly because other men (namely wealthy, white men) wrote and enforce those laws.
Why be misandrist?
So we’ve established that there is no actual such thing as misandry.
So why do so many women use the word and identify as “misandrist”?
Of course, all people who identify as misandrist have their own reasons. Some of those reasons I’ve witnessed include
- It’s a tongue-in-cheek joke among some feminists, mainly on the internet, which for the most part began as a reaction to men pushing back against our discussion of obtaining equality.
- It’s a defense mechanism by women who have, exclusively at the hands of men, suffered myriad forms of aggression, micro-aggression, violence, pain, violation, and dehumanization. It seems that a high number of women who identify online as misandrist are in fact survivors. For a person to have experienced systemic and personal discrimination and based on their gender, by a person of a different gender, a hatred of the oppressor is an valid and understandable reaction to have.
- It is used by women to get a rise out of men who, for so many centuries, have used sexist, anti-woman humor to reinforce women’s societal role as second class citizens. We grow up hearing men tell countless jokes about domestic violence, rape, reinforcement of gender roles, and the mocking of female bodies and body types. Because of this, it can be highly entertaining to witness a man throw a tantrum upon hearing a single joke in which HIS gender is mocked and mistreated. For him, a joke at his expense is a rare and shocking occurrence. For women, it is a part of every day conversation.
- It is a continuation of feminism and fills in the areas where feminism leaves off or lacks aggression against the oppression we face. As quoted from an earlier post in which I define my personal reason for identifying with misandry: “Men have a lot of privileges that NO ONE should have, not even oppressed groups. Being able to sexually assault people and not be held accountable or punished, being glorified for taking advantage of others, using power and privilege to hurt and mock those that lack power to defend themselves, being treated like you’re immune to criticism and fault, etc. Saying women should have equality potentially implies women should have the right to do all those things too.
- Misandry is not a hatred of every individual man but a hatred of patriarchy, the male-dominated system that allows sexism to permeate every aspect of our lives without challenge. Misandry means hatred of a system in which the masculine is glorified and the feminine is deprecated.
These are just a few of the reasonings that I’ve heard self-identified misandrists use. Just as every lived experience of sexism and oppression for us has manifested differently, how we all react to it is different. Some women form a strong belief of internalized that misogyny and try to integrate with men as much as possible while publicly denouncing the behavior and voices of other women. Some women absolutely hate men, with impassioned fervor. Some women become activists and throw themselves at the cause of fighting for equality. Some women hide in the shadows and hope for the best.
I can’t say I’ve ever actually met a single woman who actually hated men on an individual and all-encompassing level. Despite facing discrimination by men every single day, I see women most often direct any hatred they feel towards the system we live in that allows this type of oppression to continue. We still have men in our lives that we love and adore and would die for, and it makes it that much more painful knowing that those same men we love have been conditioned since birth to see us as somehow inferior.
All these and other reactions that women have to the systemic oppression of our gender are defense mechanisms, meant to effectively keep ourselves as safe as possible. Misandry is, like these, a reaction to the treatment we face every day. How we define it and how it manifests in us may vary widely. But most often we say “misandry” and then laugh when men cower or become enraged at its mention because, in reality, it is really no threat to them.
*For the sake of simplicity and making this post as readable as possible to people who have little understanding those outside the gender binary, I’m use the term “men” to mean “cis-men”, and when I reference “women” I include GSMs as a group systemically oppressed by patriarchy.
Amen, my friend! It’s about equality for ALL people.
ESPN just broadcasted this moment to millions: Michael Sam embraces his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams, becoming the first openly gay player in NFL history.
(h/t many folks)