Feminism is such a hot topic right now. From Beyonce’s most recent album released almost a year ago (that the world is still reeling from), to Lena Dunham’s show Girls making oh-so many waves, to Taylor Swift’s newfound feminist identity, everyone is well aware of the “f-word.” Swift has been especially down with feminism. Before, in response to a question about whether or not she was a feminist, she replied, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.” That totally sucks! Feminism is NOT about “guys versus girls,” that’s so dumb! Not to mention that working “as hard as guys” has nothing to do with the structural inequalities and barriers that women face every day? But it’s fine now, because in a more recent interview this past summer she said:
As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena [Dunham]… has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.
Right on, Taylor! You’ve totally renounced all of your backwards and problematic beliefs…. about the definition of feminism.
Okay, here’s the thing: yes, ultimately the goal of feminism is for men and women (well, actually, for all genders, but I’ll let that slide for now) to have equal rights and equal opportunities. However, in order for that to be achieved there has to be a healthy dose of man-hating involved.
While most mainstream feminists would agree with the statement that we live in a patriarchal society—a male-dominated culture in which men have certain privileges over women—it seems unlikely that they understand the true implications of that statement. The problem with the patriarchy is that men control the status quo– heck, they are the status quo. To be entirely intersectional, the men with the most power in this system are cisgender, straight, and white, though even men who do not fall into these categories still benefit from male privilege and simultaneously suffer from other injustices at the hands of the patriarchy. It’s all pretty confusing and nuanced, and I don’t expect every feminist to understand everything about dismantling the patriarchy from the instant they proclaim to the world “I am a feminist!” But something that every feminist MUST understand is this: the “patriarchy” that we are fighting against is not some amorphous force that has somehow lived on despite all the cultural gains made in the 20s, or 50s, or whenever your average post-feminist thinks that women’s oppression ceased to exist entirely. It is a system actively working against all feminist goals of gender equality and it is ingrained into every single one of us from the day we are born into this patriarchal society– especially in men.
While #notallmen are gross bigots, sexists, and sexual offenders, #allmen experience the privilege and entitlement that comes from being a man in a patriarchal society. This entitlement, in addition to being a hindrance to women’s success and mobility, can be incredibly dangerous. It is this privilege and entitlement that leads to the sexual assault and harassment that women (and people who don’t identify as men and/or heterosexual) experience and fear every day. This is also the underlying reason for the violent attacks on women such as the murder of Maren Sanchez this April and the massacre at UC Santa Barbara in May. Yes, I know– what we really want to believe is that these were isolated incidents, and that the men who committed these atrocious acts probably had a few screws loose, and one day just snapped, only coincidentally both because women had rejected their advances.
Sorry to break it to you, but this actually all has to do with misogyny and male entitlement. We need to look at these cases in the broader context of gendered violence that happens every day in America as well as the feminicides that happen around the world, like in the city of Juarez, Mexico. Unfortunately, our culture teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies and are automatically better than anyone who is not a man or is not “manly” enough (which also explains the horrific violence that trans men and women alike experience). While not all men would kill over a woman rejecting them, the logic of why they would do so is hardwired into their brains.
Knowing all of this is scary. Even as I’m writing this I am scared. Being a woman or member of the LGBTQ community is terrifying in this patriarchal society. Being a feminist amplifies this fear about a billion times over because if ignorance is bliss, then being constantly aware of all of the terrible human rights violations that happen every day to people of all genders, races, classes, sexualities, ethnicities, etc. at the hands of the powerful is pure hell. However, we can’t really afford to spend each and every day curled up in our beds, blinds closed, sobbing, eating ice cream, and watching 10 Things I Hate About You. Fortunately, we can channel our anger through humor. This is where misandry comes in.
Misandry is defined as the hatred of men and is technically the male version of misogyny. However, it is important to note that misandry does not exist in the same culturally systematized way that misogyny does (which is why men really don’t have to get their panties in a bunch, so to speak, whenever they encounter it). It is also a harmless way for feminists to laugh at the absurdity that is the patriarchy, and men who operate under it, while also dealing with the very real issues of living in a society that raises men to believe that the sun shines out of their asses. A great example of this kind of constructive misandrist humor is the tumblr Straight White Boys Texting, which focuses mainly on the entitlement of men who are straight, white, and (presumably) cisgendered, though men who don’t fall into all of these categories also show up from time to time. The blog collects screenshots of people being harassed by straight white boys via any kind of chatting mechanism. The submissions range from immature innuendos, to annoying persistence, to the true vulgarity and violence that men tend to respond with when faced with rejection—anyone who has a problem with the potentially sexist nature of this blog will be happy to know that there indeed exists a Straight White Girls Texting tumblr made by the same creator.
Misandrist humor also plays another crucial role in the lives of feminists: it allows us to turn the scrutiny away from women, what they’re doing to be successful, what they’re doing to combat the patriarchy, whether or not they’re leaning in, and instead focus on men. It’s a way for us to raise questions like, “How would men like it if they were objectified and laughed at in the same ways that women are?” or, “How come (white) men always seem to be able to get away with sexism, violence, and bigotry but when women assert themselves or criticize a man they’re deemed psychotic and bitchy?”
It has spawned the movement of women writing murder ballads about men, reversing the traditional murder ballad narrative that has existed at least since late Medieval times. In addition to simply flipping the narrative of objectification and violence around on men, misandry is also a way for women to vent about the injustices done to them by men. This is why campaigns like Everlast’s in Peru was so popular. In the campaign video, a woman drives around in a car shaped like a boxing glove and rear-ends men who have harassed other female drivers from their cars. Is this constructive for raising awareness about harassment and teaching men why their comments are disrespectful and contribute to a larger culture of violence and subjugation of women? Probably not, but aren’t there enough women out there trying to do just that 24/7?
In my previous article I briefly discussed how underprivileged groups are consistently held to higher standards than privileged groups when they are fighting for their own liberation and how extremely problematic that is. In terms of gender rights, this is the problem that misandry has the potential to expose and overcome. Women should not be expected to be constantly working for their own liberation while having to have the patience of a saint with men who just want to play devil’s advocate all the time.
We need to be able to vent. We need to be able to get mad and rage without men telling us that we’re hurting their feelings or contradicting our goals of gender equality with our misandry. Because, honestly, our little jokes about disregarding men’s opinions and reappropriating Game of Throne’s campaign slogan for season 4 (“All Men Must Die”) really can’t be as bad as the previously described violence and discrimination faced by people of all other genders and sexualities that are not straight men.
So, in conclusion: become a misandrist today and achieve the true liberation that comes with realizing that, in fact, it is not your feminist duty to make men feel better about benefiting from sexism.