I have clarified and expanded upon the concepts of this entry in a new post. The comments on that entry are closed to MRAs and anti-feminists at large, but I encourage reading it, as I think it’s a more accessible, thorough discussion of the issue.
If you have the stomach for it, type “misandry” into Google, and take a gander at what you’re rewarded with. The internet is chock full of self-righteous misogynists who think us “female supremacists” just need to “have some sense fucked into us” (because nothing inspires faith in your concept that sex equality already exists like your reinforcement of rape culture, and the idea that us little ladies just need a good deep dicking to set us straight). It’s a really disturbing look not only at the very real hatred that still exists for women, but also of the pointed ignorance it takes to the problem of misogyny as a whole.
I’ll issue a challenge: Share with me a demonstration of misandry, and I will explain how it is actually a demonstration of misogyny. To start, I’ll take a few common ones down, point-by-point:
1. Campaigns against domestic violence and rape focus on women, when there are male victims.
Yes, men are the victims of domestic violence, and yes, men get raped. As acknowledged at the start of my last post, ten percent of rape victims are male. But you know what that leaves? 90 percent who are female. Should that ten percent get ignored, should their crimes not be prosecuted? Of course not. But focusing on so few while so many suffer is not going to in any way affect the long-term problem. Likewise, women are far more likely to suffer domestic abuse. Feminists do not advocate for male victims to be ignored, we advocate for female victims to be recognized, in crimes that are often glossed over by society at large, in a powerful demonstration of misogynistic hatred.
2. Men are depicted poorly in media, as neanderthal losers with beautiful, capable wives.
First, stop a moment to consider how little women are portrayed in media at all, let alone as anything other than a supporting character to the male-driven plot. Second, evaluate the real dynamics of that neanderthal husband/hot wife dynamic: First, it’s sending the message that no matter how much of a “catch” we ladies are, we’re to be ensnared by any wandering male who happens to deem us worthy of his attention. How many television shows feature a conventionally unattractive, rude, obese women with her Chippendale-double husband? It’s not an insult to men that they’re told they can be as slovenly, ill-mannered, and lazy as they wish and still expect a beautiful, capable wife. It’s a statement on how we, as women, should have low standards because we should be grateful for any and all male attention that is granted to us.
Third, how capable are these women, really, and where does their expertise lie? Often, the wives are stay-at-home moms, and yes, spectacular ones; but this is an extension of the misogyny that says women are biologically driven to be good mothers, and males aren’t required to be good fathers. Occasionally the mom will be an amazing multi-tasker, working outside the home (often as a receptionist or other subservient role) while also keeping her home, children, and husband in hot meals, clean clothes, and constant love and affection. But this isn’t about painting women as super-capable. It is about the standard that we, as women, are held to in real life, where even if we work outside the home, we are expected to pick up most of the household chores as well, and do it with a smile, because that’s a woman’s role.
3. Girls and women are allowed more self-expression; it’s okay to be a tomboy, but not a girly-man.
This is not a hatred of men and all things male, it is a hatred of anything female/feminine, even when demonstrated by a male. This is a fashion in which male rape is often derided–it is mocked as a feminine violation, and the victim as less of a man for “allowing” it to happen. To the contrary, a woman demonstrating masculine qualities faces two possible outcomes: Acceptance and congratulations for embracing attributes viewed as beyond her normal, limited female scope of accomplishment, or derision for desiring a role equal to men, for shirking her inherently feminine duties of taking care of the home, looking conventionally pretty, etc.
4. There are programs in place to help women–such as college scholarships–while no such programs exist solely for men.
This is an argument laid against most any affirmative-action-style program. It’s viewed as “reverse prejudice” that allows the minority an unfair chance. But, even in a world where women are no longer a surprise in college, we are still fighting an uphill battle after we graduate. A woman with a degree is not on a level playing field with a man holding those same credentials. Even if she overcomes the hiring discrimination laid against women, she would still make less than a man in a comparable position. And heaven forbid she go about doing “womanly” things like becoming pregnant, she’ll face even more job discrimination. So while the leg-up via a scholarship may seem an unfair advantage at the start, it still does not even give women a chance at equality in the real world. You cannot begrudge the child who lives on bread and rice a free ice cream bar while the child finishing his steak and eggs gets none.
Really, this is a list I could continue almost indefinitely, as fans of the concept of misandry cling to any attempt to show us silly feminists how we’re fighting a battle our foremothers won decades ago. And while I try to remain calm in the face of these discussions, and I will show respect to male victims of patriarchal tyranny, there comes a point when men need to recognize that it is not okay to focus on how they are victimized by the system that actively oppresses women. It’s why misandry isn’t real the way misogyny is. Are there some women who hate men? Of course. There’s always somebody who hates somebody else. But it is not institutionalized oppression, and that is why feminists don’t want to hear about it. We do not have the power to oppress men. We do not earn more money than men, and therefore have the ability to manipulate our husbands into staying under our abusive thumbs, or foregoing their own personal enrichment to stay at home and care for us and our children. We do not dominate the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the White House, and we cannot pass laws telling men what they are and are not allowed to do with their own bodies. We do not as a group have the power to control men. Are there individual women who lord power over men? Of course. But it is not institutionalized, it is not the dynamic inherent in government, media, and the majority of households, it is not oppression.
Please, men, if you wish to argue the evils of the ever-mystical misandry, take a moment to first consider the myriad of privileges that you enjoy without even having to think about them. Remember that you do not have to side-eye every woman you meet, for fear that she might make you a statistic. Think of how socially acceptable it is if you tell your friends you don’t know how to cook, you don’t do your own laundry, you can’t remember the name of your child’s preschool teacher. And for a moment, think of the women you care about–your mother, your partner, your sisters, your friends–and know that if you can think of even six women, then statistically, one of them has had a rape attempted or completed against her. If you are my friend, reading this, you cannot escape that knowledge–I am a rape survivor, sitting on this end of my computer, asking you to acknowledge that my attack and all others like it are because women are not treated equally in this society. And I’m asking you to help change that, so maybe my little girl can avoid being yet another rape statistic like her mother.