Misandry: The Acceptable Prejudice

Feminism may have triumphed, but Mark Simpson finds the denigration of men has as much to do with money as ideology

(Independent on Sunday, 2002)

When I was a little nipper, which was quite a while ago – as you can estimate by the fact that at that time nursery rhymes had not yet been replaced by rap music – there was one particular piece of doggerel which was very popular with my sister. ‘What are little girls made of?’ she would recite demurely. ‘Sugar and spice, and everything nice!’ Then her voice would drop into a sneer: ‘What are little boys made of? Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails!!

My sister, as you can probably guess, grew up to be a feminist. But not before she had given me several pastings – Sugar and Spice was three years older than me and, until my ‘poisonous’ testosterone came to the rescue, much bigger. I mention this story not to avenge myself on my sister or claim victim status – we get on famously now, I’m sure I deserved what I got, and besides, apparently I used to actually eat slugs and snails. I mention it because it does cast some doubt on the idea that the female of the species is, as one of the media women quoted in this book gushes: ‘More sensitive. More emotional. More caring. More dependable than males.’

Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young doesn’t mention that nursery rhyme about slugs and snails, but it does make a convincing argument that since the Nineties, much of mainstream popular culture has effectively taken up this childish paradigm as the only explanation of good and evil in the world. Men, say the authors, have become society’s official scapegoats and held responsible for all wickedness, including that done by women they have deluded or intimidated. Women are society’s official victims and held responsible for all good, including that done by men they have influenced or converted.

To prove their point the authors subject innumerable TV shows such as ‘Oprah’, ‘Home Improvements’ and ‘The Golden Girls’, and films such as ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, ‘Cape Fear’ and ‘The Color Purple’ to rather lengthy, painstaking and frankly frequently somewhat tedious analysis to demonstrate that misandry is actually much more visible these days than misogyny – that in fact it has become the dominant discourse in popular culture. Males and male values and qualities are regularly disparaged, ridiculed or shamed in direct proportion to the way that females and female values and qualities are validated, endorsed and held up for approval.

Hence the importance they attach to the word ‘misandry’, which they describe as ‘culturally propagated hatred for men’. Like misogyny it is often expressed as negative stereotypes of the opposite sex. But unlike misogyny, misandry is not monitored because it is considered morally and legally acceptable: ‘The face of man, as it were, has been so distorted by public expressions of misandry that it has become unrecognisable even to men themselves.’

But is it really worth monitoring? Monitoring moreover in a lengthy, very earnest, very American academic tome freighted with large, indigestible chunks of political philosophy? Is it worth the risk of ‘misandry’ becoming a word that is bandied about ad nauseam by a legion of male Joan Smiths and Germaine Greers?

Oddly, alarmingly, the answer to this question might just be a qualified ‘yes’. They may overstate and restate their case, but that’s what books are for – and as the authors point out, misandry is an ideology whose assimilation has been so successful that most don’t even recognise it as an ideology. This is why sexism is regarded as a one-way street and any men who complain otherwise are mocked for being stupid or wet or both. Worse, it’s become the law, at least in regard to political correctness: our cultural guardians are completely blind to misandry, which literally doesn’t exist: there is only righteous ‘anger’ or a necessary and healthy ‘corrective’ to the crimes of men and patriarchy over the millennia etc. etc.

Hence even a pointedly, dramatically misandric film such as ‘The Company of Men’ is attacked as being misogynistic. A film which features two men, one utterly evil, the other hopelessly inadequate; and a main female character who is a virtuous victim. Even the evil guy isn’t misogynistic so much as misanthropic – he destroys the woman only as a way of destroying his ‘buddy’.

What makes ‘Spreading Misandry’ a useful book is not that it attempts to set up a whole new school of whingeing victimology but rather it puts a small spoke in the works of the large and noisy machinery of moral indignation, by turns spiteful and sanctimonious, that feminism has succeeded in constructing in academe and the media over the last twenty years. Moreover, it does this not to assert that men are the new oppressed and women the new oppressors, but to try and do away with the very dualism in Western culture on which crude – i.e. successful feminism – has been based.

But then, even all those years ago, I didn’t quite understand what was so awful about being made of slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails nor for that matter just what was so great about being made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Being bad can be very powerful – and not a little sexy. Hence of course the massive popularity since the Nineties of rap music with boys keen to piss off their feminist mums by apparently becoming all the things that men, according to the new official discourse, are: violent, abusive, dangerous and criminal.

Lad culture has also exploited this, with men’s magazines revelling in portraying men as the ‘filthy beasts’ and ‘souped-up monkeys’ that much of feminism has routinely described them as being. Although they don’t analyse rap and other youth movements, Nathanson and Young do observe: ‘Better a negative identity perhaps, than no identity at all. If women say that they are evil, some boys and men think, then so be it.’

Of course, many if not most of the writers and producers of so much of the ‘misandric’ material analysed in ‘Spreading Misandry’ are men. The authors are not claiming that the media is dominated by women now, or that misogyny has been abolished, just that much of the media is paying lip-service to the new feminist-inspired orthodoxies. They don’t state it themselves, but most of the material they analyse is aimed at women or has at least one (materially) rapacious eye on women (missing, for example, is any analysis of action movies, which are aimed squarely at teen boys, and which still usually feature heroic males, albeit frequently flawed ones). The ‘misandry’ of the female-oriented works they do analyse is at least as much economic and cynical as it is ideological.

Though not discussed here, so is the phenomenon of so-called Lad-Lit. Real Lad-Lit is FHM or Maxim. Since most books that aren’t about car engines or Hitler are bought by women (though it may be verging on the ‘misandric’ to say it), Lad-Lit is by definition a bit of dissimulation written largely for women who want to get inside a ‘lad’s’ head. Hence novels by Nick Hornby have the same nauseously ingratiating premise (echoed in Tony Parson’s ‘Man And…’ books), often literally and baldly stated: ‘Women are better than men’. Which means: ‘O.K. I’m crap – but it’s only because I’m a man, and I can’t help that. And, moreover, doesn’t that self-knowledge/abasement make me a teensy bit more lovable and readable and buy-able?’

As is often the case, ‘Spreading Misandry’ critiques an ideology that has already reached its high-tide mark. A new generation of ‘spice’ girls seem to be tiring of being ‘better than men’ – after all, so many are choosing to dress like street hookers these days. But then, the gendered Manichean universe, and the essentially traditional, shrewish view of men as bestial creatures that need to be tamed – or, more latterly, spurned – by women that it is based on is rather claustrophobic and airless. Especially that chintzy part of it marked out as ‘Heaven’.

Mr Spielberg’s Nineties schmaltz-fest ‘The Color Purple’, for example, in which every male character is an abuser and/or loser and every female character is an unblemished angel, may or may not be a misandric movie, as Nathanson and Young maintain. But there’s no doubt in my mind that it looks like a working definition of Hell.

62 Replies to “Misandry: The Acceptable Prejudice”

  1. If you are interested in debunking the myths which support misandry, please consider taking a look at the blog: The Unknown History of MISANDRY (the post titled “GREATEST HITS” is the best way to start).

  2. Great article. If you want to help eradicate misandry from gender studies departments, then support my legal fighting fund. Read all the news links at www dot sexismbusters dot org

  3. I’m quite annoyed by Misandronists.
    1. My mother left my father for another woman at 9 years old and my father raised us.
    2. My father never once denigrated my mother to us when we were growing up.
    3. Yes John Bowlby’s Maternal Deprivation Theory was complete b**locks and designed to guilt women back to to their previous roles.
    4. Men are equally capable of raising children as women.
    5. Women treat men as objects regularly – just watch any soap – Adam Rickett etc.
    6. Passive aggressive behaviour exhibitied by women does not make them victims. In fact the men who put up with this mental bullying are the actual victims.

    Stop hating and start participating. I’ve aken the time to understand women. Maybe it’s time women took the time to really understand men? Not boys, men.

  4. Sounds an awful lot like the standard feminist accusations of “whining” and “oppression olympics” to me. As I previously said, I am not interested in setting men up as the new “oppressed sex”. But as you’re clearly more interested in telling men what their experiences are than listening to them, I shall not repeat myself further.

  5. No. You can’t shut down discussion after only one group has had its say. If it ever proves possible to move beyond gender (and I doubt that, because gender is the cultural manifestation of biological sex which isn’t going anywhere soon), then men’s points of view must be heard, and a lot of people are going to have their beliefs challenged.

  6. I’m not interested in reversing the received opinion, making out that men are “the oppressed sex” (for a start, I think anyone seriously talking about “oppression” in the wealthy, democratic west needs to get some perspective). I think the areas where men do suffer more, and they are significant, need to be discussed to balance the analysis and create a truer picture, not to erase the areas where women suffer more.

  7. I disagree – I think we should dwell on it. Not in isolation of course, but it needs to be built into any accurate analysis of social power dynamics. It completely undermines everything we’re taught to believe about power and gender, and not dwelling on it, while feminists continue to hold up even the most trivial of issues as evidence of the “oppression” of women, leaves the field to them and their unbalanced analysis.

  8. I agree with QRG about the phrase “check your privilege”. Privilege, in feminist discourse, is just a post-hoc justification for prejudice – pre-judging the value of someone’s opinion based on the category you perceive them to belong to.

    “it’s not unreasonable to at least check that people in politics who talk about a “post racial society” aren’t just using it as a cover for ignoring historically perpetuated injustices so they can claim all those black people in prison are proof of the inherent criminality of those dark-skinned savages.”

    There is an interesting point in this, and it’s one that completely turned my head around as regards gender when Warren Farrell, in The Myth of Male Power, pointed it out.

    It’s true that black people are more likely to turn to crime than white people, and treated more harshly by the criminal justice system when they do. They are also more likely to be victims of crime, and to be treated less seriously by the criminal justice system when they are. They are more likely to join gangs, get addicted to drugs or alcohol, to be unemployed or homeless, and to commit suicide. They have a shorter average life expectancy. We understand this is not because of some innate inferiority, but because of the lesser power and status enjoyed by black people as a group than white people in our society.

    All those differentials apply, in most cases more markedly, to men relative to women. In this case, it is ascribed to innate inferiority. People who are outraged at the pay gap are completely blasé about the life expectancy gap. It’s just natural – men are weaker than women. Not only that, there are powerful people working to increase the gaps – the Howard League for Penal Reform and elements of the last government campaigned to abolish women’s prisons, and significantly more money is spent on women’s health than men’s, for example. What does that imply about the relative power and status of men and women?

  9. I got an email saying Mark had commented here but it’s not on the thread. I don’t know whether he’s deleted it or whether it’s just the commenting system being screwy, weird.

    Anyway, QRG, it seems like you’re coming from a radical postfeminist critique of mainstream feminism, that holds something along the lines of the idea that buying into the traditionally held concept of “male” and “female” is in itself diminishing to the ur-freedom to which we should all be striving. In itself, I don’t see that’s a particularly wrong argument. But it’s a little handwavy, I guess, for my tastes.

    Again to analogise out to race: it’s possible to say that the systems of power in our society don’t care much whether you’re black or white or blue with green dots, and that considered from a high enough perspective “white people” are just as discriminated against as “black people”. Further you can point out that the old racial groupings aren’t based in much of anything except habit and that setting people into groups of “black”, “white”, “hispanic”, “jewish”, “oriental” etc is inaccurate and potentially unhelpful. But, this does not actually mean that racial prejudice does not exist and does not have a negative impact on many people’s lives. For many, whether they buy into a “postracial” understanding of the world or not means jack shit as far as inoculating them against the ways in which racism impacts them.

    As far as gender goes, the arguments seem to me to be somewhat similar. Feminists didn’t invent gender, they’re a response to it. Moreover, it’s not the case that many people can choose to so easily discard it, and even if they do it’s not the case that this means they won’t continue to get affected by those who are not so enlightened and also in a position to take their unenlightenment out on others. Broad general truths can be, in a practical context, somewhat irrelevant when it comes to formulating solutions to real problems faced by real people. Gender may be mostly pretty much bullshit, but that doesn’t mean a sexism fairy dies every time you say you don’t believe in it.

    I think you and I are pretty much on the same side of the sex work sub-issue, and believe me I know the problems that come along with being a “male, pro sex work, feminist” when trying to engage in a sensible and meaningful discourse with someone who thinks prostitution is de-facto exploitation. But despite the fact that I’ve not taken my position purely as a post-hoc rationalisation that allows me to partake in the guilt-free exploitation of women, I’m actually OK with the fact that such accusations can be thrown my way because they make me check my privilege and ensure that I do consider it from all sides and don’t just rely on my personal experiences. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be suspicious that’s where I’m coming from, just as it’s not unreasonable to at least check that people in politics who talk about a “post racial society” aren’t just using it as a cover for ignoring historically perpetuated injustices so they can claim all those black people in prison are proof of the inherent criminality of those dark-skinned savages.

    What can I say except I can understand why people won’t just take that kind of assertion at plain face value and not be suspicious of what agenda you’re trying to sneak in behind it, even if you’re not. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened, and people who’ve been burned tend to be wary of fire.

  10. I guess I don’t really know what to make of that kind of response. Is it that you think the conflicts within feminism are unimportant and that we should still reject the structure because of what you see as the dominant voices? Or that you don’t care? Or what?

    Do you think it’s not a valid point?

  11. The fact that that mocking phrase is not reversible gives the lie to the claim that it’s somehow gender neutral – or not mocking men as a sex.

  12. @Arctic Jay

    “My conclusion is that there is no evidence for higher rates of female victimization and some evidence for higher rates of male victimization.”

    I didn’t dispute that. My query was about perpetrator rates, and my dispute is based not so much on the idea that men are intrinsically more abusive or violent as much as they are afforded greater opportunity. You linked to one study that showed a particular correlative link between certain kinds of attitudes and certain kinds of situations and an increase in female-on-male violence. If you can demonstrate that it’s reasonable to extrapolate from the sites that were studied out to the general global population I’ll buy it. But it’s neither intuitively obvious nor demonstrated by you that it’s the case that the metrics measured in that study which they linked to female-on-male violence would be that high if you measured the population of, say, Sub-Saharan Africa. Or, for that matter, Ordsall or Brixton.

    There is no systemic anti-male structure built into society, and to the extent that more liberal nations have dismantled their anti-female structures that is a historically recent move. It is not a matter of opinion that men are favoured by the structure of society all over the world. That they are also disadvantaged in various ways is without question, the query is: are women capable of bypassing that cumulative disadvantage — can a black woman bypass racial discrimination on account of her gender, for example — or does the intersection of various systemic biases create new and fun ways for people to experience social deprivation? To move away from the gender issue for a second, it’s an observable trend to see immigrant communities move over the generations from being the current bogeyman-du-jour to taking advantage of the privilege of establishment and expressing the same kind of racial resentment towards newer ethnic groups. It’s taken a scant hundred years, for example, to see the “Irish” in the USA move from being the dirty usurpers of native jobs and women to being the salt of the earth whose jobs and women are being stolen by dirty Mexicans. Cuban immigrants in Florida can often be quite adamant that they’re not the wrong sort of Hispanic. The point being, discrimination on one axis is not known for its impact in raising awareness about systemic bias on all axes, more often it creates strata of bias where one disadvantaged class establishes itself in a hierarchy by taking advantage of the system and re-discriminating in turn towards those lower own the chain. Tribalism is much more prevalent than solidarity.

    Men, or more specifically a certain age and economic subset of “men”, are the perpetrators of the majority of public violence. Feminists did not invent the football hooligan or the soldier as a propaganda piece to sully the reputation of men. The rape of Nanking was not led by Germaine Greer. This kind of thing is not the result of an overfeminised society that hates masculinity. Now, it’s also not a matter of opinion that those on the receiving end of this are often overwhelmingly men, or at least affected in equal measure. But is it a result of “misandry”? Was the not-all-that-ancient practice for the victors of tribal war to slaughter the men and take the women and children into slavery predicated on some bias against men as a gender? No gender “wins” in that scenario.

    Does this mean I believe that women do not commit acts of abuse? Of course not. When given the opportunity they can be just as vicious, as confirmed by the research you linked to. We know about the Magdalene Laundries, about Lynnie England, Myra Hindley, henpecked husbands and vindictive grandmothers who try and beat morality into their children. In systems and structures where the opportunity for abuse exists, abuse will take place, and if those in positions of power and control are women, then women will abuse. But globally and across all classes, are we more likely to find systems that broadly follow the particular demographics of colleges where the metrics of “bias against men” are high, or to find situations where power and authority and hence opportunity for violence tends to flow towards men?

    “Of course, you’re rather quick to blame homosexual men for the rapes of men.”

    Not true at all. Most male-on-male rapists self-identify as heterosexual, and in general you find that it is a violent means of enforcing status or punishment (see: prisons, armies, criminal gangs). Those that take place within male homosexual relationships by definition involve gay men being raped. Blaming “homosexual men” for that would be a crass overgeneralisation, which is why you’ll find I didn’t do it.

    Finally, and I apologise for the length this has taken, suppose I grant as unshown but plausible that female-on-male sexual abuse is more prevalent than the other categories; that the stigma of being a male victim essentially silences pretty much every man, enough to hide them not just behind the females who are recorded in the crime statistics but also those who are not, on account of the stigma that also comes along with being raped while female. It’s possible, and even if I don’t quite buy that men make up the majority of victims I certainly buy that they are much more affected by violence and abuse than we know about or that they will in general admit to. It’s not, though, the fault of “feminism” in all its bogeyman glory that men are told to be stoic, silent sufferers and that to allow oneself to be abused while male is a sign of a lack of strength and a source of shame. That kind of attitude predates the Suffragettes by some considerable margin.

    Moreover, unless we wish to go down some rabbit hole where the existence of female abuse of men nullifies male privilege, not every critique is created equal. I have to say I sincerely doubt that any man suffering at home with the scars of childhood abuse at the hands of his mother looks at Giles Coren and says “well thank God, finally someone is willing to stand up and defend the rights of rich football pundits to be sexist on the telly! My years of silence can now end.” A man being sacked from his six-figure job for calling a woman “it” is not the same as denying the existence of male rape. It just isn’t. Rushing to the defense of privileged men who wish to preserve their right to be as boorishly offensive as possible is not striking a massive blow on behalf of male victims of rape, and conflating the two is unhelpful.

  13. Patrick – modern myths about trafficking are not just the result of some powerful body of feminists dragging the name of “men” through the mud. They implicitly rest on narratives about women which deny that they can do anything with their lives of their own accord – a woman who travels off her own back to a major city in order to make money off the increased demand for the sex trade will be counted as “trafficked” even if she bought her own train ticket, booked her own hotel room and pocketed her profits herself. If any of that money goes to an agency she’s defined as exploited.

    Laura Augustin does a lot of good work unpacking this kind of thing and looking at the current trend for pearl-clutching over the “trafficking epidemic”, including how it buys into old school myths involving — to keep banging on about it — class and race as well as gender. Defining it as simply an example of “misandry”, in my view, misses the point. It’s a more complicated system of social control which does as much to perpetuate the continued persecution of women (who are classified as “victims” under the code but who are still arrested and imprisoned for, um, being “victimised” by the supposedly unfettered evil of prostitution which no woman would ever choose to do unless she was sick or abused) as it does to perpetuate myths about male sexuality.

  14. “Now, I guess since Arctic Jay has addressed me I should talk to him.”

    Is snatchy passive-aggressiveness a congenital disorder suffered by all feminists? I didn’t address you, sweetness; I responded to your comments addressed to me.

    “So when you say “That’s so not the point,” I think you’ll find that it is, in fact, the point.”

    I’m going to try to make this as clear as I possibly can. If you can’t understand it, that’s no longer my problem:

    Everyone makes assumptions about rape, who its victims are and who are its perpetrators. Feminists believe that women are the overwhelming victims and men the overwhelming perpetrators. There are no studies, which treat the rapes of men and women equally, that show this. There are studies (the one I linked to) where the sample pool shows greater male victimization and nearly equal male and female perpetration. Thus, the feminist claim has no evidence to support it and the MRA claim has some.

    “Male-on-male rape, both in terms of homosexual relationships and violent domination, does exist and is a problem.”

    You are starting to annoy me. The study I linked to, if you actually read the whole thing, shows more than half of all the male victims were forced into penis-in-vagina intercourse:

    “Almost 3% of men reported forced sex and 22% reported verbal coercion. For the forced sex items (analyses not shown), 2.4% reported forced oral or anal sex, and 2.1% reported forced vaginal sex. For the verbal coercion items, 13.5% reported that their partner insisted on sex without a condom, 11.7% that their partners insisted on vaginal sex, 7.5% that their partners insisted on oral or anal sex, 1.9% that their partners threatened them to have oral or anal sex, and 1.9% that their partners threatened them to have vaginal sex.”

    Of course, you’re rather quick to blame homosexual men for the rapes of men. Not surprising, since feminists will gladly use homophobia when it suits them.

    “So when I object to your extrapolation of research, it is not because I think that all men are rapists. It is because I think the conclusions you draw are unsupported.”

    My conclusion is that there is no evidence for higher rates of female victimization and some evidence for higher rates of male victimization. My conclusions are supported, and yours are not.

  15. Elise, good points about feminism’s tendency to infantilise women, but I think you show signs of falling for it yourself when seeing misandry as evidence of misogyny and excusing women who lash out at men because they are “the oppressed gender” (although the fact that you put that in inverted commas suggests you don’t buy into that 100%). So long as women are regarded as “childlike, sub-rational, powerless victims in need of paternalistic protection”, they will always be considered “the oppressed gender” whether they actually are or not.

    And that’s why we currently live in a society that considers women “oppressed” by trivia like “vajazzling”, and doesn’t even notice that over 90% of the people killed at work are men, or that men are treated systematically more harshly at every level of the criminal justice system than women who have committed equivalent crimes, or the enormous redistribution of wealth from men to women that allows women, despite earning slightly less, to spend four times more than men.

    Or, for that matter, to dismiss misandry as merely TV comedy while not noticing the lying misandrist campaigns around child sex abuse I mentioned earlier that have shifted our entire perceptions of men’s relationships with children, or the current one about sex trafficking at sporting events that assumes abusive intent in any gathering of men, or the fact that the UN denied food aid to men after the Haiti earthquake, claiming it was because men pushed in in the queues. Misandry is real and has real-world consequences.

  16. I have little to add to the comments here, although they were a fascinating read. On the post topic, though: Hm, I dunno. My tendency is to consider pop culture “misandry” as evidence of continued misogyny, perhaps given a new feminist-friendly sheen. As long as women are “the oppressed gender,” it will always be considered socially acceptable to lash out against men (well, acceptable anyway once you’ve reached a certain level of freedom of speech), because we always consider it acceptable to bash the powerful *in representation*. As theorists of comedy have pointed out (no, I can’t remember which ones right now), that’s why when a woman beats a man in comedy, it’s hilarious, but not when a man beats a woman. Now, put this together with a Victorian representation of women as Pure Good and men as Pure Evil, which as Paglia pointed out long ago (no, I can’t remember where right now) mainstream American feminism bizarrely adopted, and you get the misandry trend. If feminism, Second Wave or academic, is to blame here, it’s for remaining attracted to a grotesque Victorian representation that was obviously oppressive towards women… because it portrayed them as childlike, sub-rational, powerless victims in need of paternalistic protection.

    There’s more going on here than that, but off the top of my head I’d just point to those two strains of pop culture “misandry” as a way to show how it’s implicated with misogyny (and not just as an alternative binary). But I’m willing to be persuaded that misandry is rampant in culture if I see further evidence. For now I’m assuming that internet feminists are, like most groups on the internet, fringe groups rather than representatives of mainstream trends. (Perhaps my understanding of the internet is outdated, however.)

  17. Patrick: i should also add that i might criticise some men for buying into the nearest gay identity as well.

    I’m not here to criticise though… just trying to understand these subjects better.

  18. Patrick: I do believe that mens responsibilities are as individuals. My criticism is that men, as individuals, have bought into any kind of masculine identity just as long as it makes them look straight for the minute, and thats worth criticising.

  19. Graham, I am more than happy to criticise specific men for their own actions and opinions. I will criticise you, for example, for your apparent belief that men are not individuals but bear collective responsibility for the actions of others who happen to share their cromosomal arrangement. When you judge someone on the basis of a category you consider them to belong to, you are being prejudiced, and I am very happy to criticise prejudiced men.

  20. If men, as a sex “deserve our sneers”, as McDuff says, then men, as a sex, also deserve the credit for everything they have built and invented, and for all the work they have done and sacrifices they have made for the good of society.

    Defining men as a group by the bad and ascribing the good to individual exceptions is another very good example of misandry.

  21. This is such a complex issue and listening or reading academic texts about it is a bit wearing – as if it’s all concepts opposed to reality – the reality I’ve experienced is systematic oppression. I did not grow up in a female-friendly society; I did not have a father who cared much for the women in his life, and preferred to abuse and dominate them. During my teens in the 1980s I and other girls were subject to a kind of abuse that would be best describe as sexual harassment, if the laws had existed then.

    Blow-back against feminism is standard: women fighting centuries of oppression and once they get a bit for themselves are suddenly the bad guys because men aren’t that bad, really. Men are misunderstood, raised wrong, bullied by their own fathers so they become bullies in turn and don’t get into biology because that would take forever.

    Reality is what we live with every day, it is not academic and, in fact, has little to do with ‘misandry’ or ‘misogony.’ It has to do with getting by. Most people are just trying to get along and they don’t have a script that helps them through it. We were all raised wrong. Men I’ve known have found it easier to fall back on drinking or sports or cars or just shutting everyone out. I know plenty of women who have done the same things.

    I had the most amazing boyfriend in high school whom I would never describe as weak or angry or evil – he treated me with respect and maturity – and that’s the difference. We have a choice how to behave in this life and some choose to be kind and responsible. Others don’t and whether they are male or female makes no difference.

    Some of the kindest people I know and trust are men – I’m not held in some emotional prison by fears spread through the media or academia for that matter – that all men are potential rapists and murderers and abusers. We’re all potential bad guys, men and women. What I find offensive though, are those who think that we should completely discount hundreds and hundreds of years of male dominance and oppression and general bad manners (and some insanity, too) just because a few women pissed you off in an academic conversation about semantics.

    Men, as a sex, historically, deserve our sneers – they’ve fucked up more than a few lives and countries and public policies. There are those men today who believe, profoundly, that women are second-class, inferior to men and should never be priests or hold political office. Men do not take their wives’ last names as a rule and many traditions of patriarchy still exist in this world to frustrate and confound those of us who would like to step beyond it. It’s foolish to dismiss arguments against men or patriarchy as mere misandry when so much of it is so well-deserved.

    When we’ve removed those shackles, as women have been trying to do for some time now, sometimes abetted by thoughtful men who know better, perhaps we can get past this argument as well.

    Unfair is unfair, but to sit around and use films or television shows as examples of what women or other men think of themselves is plain ridiculous. Real life is far more complex than that.

  22. I guess I need to back down on the language. I apologise. I use profanity all the time and really didn’t perceive it as that big a deal, but if it’s getting in the way then I should accept that this isn’t my house.

    I’m sorry.

    Now, I guess since Arctic Jay has addressed me I should talk to him.

    The purposes of this study were to investigate whether site level differences in sexual coercion varied according to the status of women and the level of hostility towards the opposite sex, and whether sexual revictimization occurred across cultures and genders.pp.415

    This is why I said that the study doesn’t show what you think it shows. Specifically, if you’ll allow me, what I was objecting to was:

    “Men are the slim majority of sexual abuse victims and make up an equal percentage of its perpetrators.”

    So when you say “That’s so not the point,” I think you’ll find that it is, in fact, the point. If you’re going to use a study to show something that the researchers neither intended to show nor believe they had shown themselves, I think you’ve got to have a damn good reason to do so, regardless of what it is.

    The point is that there is no evidence whatsoever that women are the biggest victims of rape and men the biggest perpetrators.

    Those things are unconnected, as I’ve already said. Men can, and the evidence suggests are, more likely to be both victims and perpetrators of violent acts in general. Male-on-male rape, both in terms of homosexual relationships and violent domination, does exist and is a problem. The use of rape of both men and women as a means of control in places where the social order has broken down (such as warzones, refugee camps and prisons) is well documented, as is the increased gender imbalance in societies and cultures which are in general less well off than those around them, which at present is most of them. And when you consider not just rape but all violence, the vast proportion of it is male-on-male (that would be where you got the idea that women benefit from war, I believe), with female-on-female/male-on-female/female-on-male coming in behind it in varying degrees depending on what it is exactly that you’re measuring (street vs domestic violence etc.)

    Which is not to say that men are brutes who cannot control themselves. I believe it’s very important to point out that this is not the case at all. Indeed, what the research you cited does seem to indicate is that if you alter the situation in a pro-female way without addressing the underlying conception of sexual relationships as adversarial, that women are just as capable as men in being able to be sexually aggressive and fail to grasp the nuances of consent. That male sexual aggression is not, in other words, hard-wired. Or at least, not to anything like the extent argued by the gender essentialist crowd (I would actually be surprised if there wasn’t a *little* bit of biological root to the various gendered social tendencies, simply because we’re primates and it’s not uncommon in that class, but I consider it to be a negligible component of the pressures on men to behave aggressively.)

    It is simply to say that extrapolating from college students out to a global population doesn’t pass the smell test. As I said, you cannot simply claim that research shows something the researchers never claimed to be studying.

    Also, in terms of “men” being the perpetrators, this is not to suggest that all men get a rape card and go out with impunity. As with most things we know, because we have asked them and they told us, what the patterns of behaviour for male rapists are. (Numbers here are from Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists, Lisak & Miller, 2002)

    Accepting the caveats that there might be an unknown number of female-on-male rapes which outweighs the male-on-female rapes, since I’ve already made the case why I feel this is significantly unlikely, what we do know about the male population that rapes is that only around 6% of men ever rape, and that fewer still are repeat offenders. Most men who admit to raping will say they used intoxication rather than force (around 30/70), which is something that the research you cited acknowledged that it did not study.

    “participants reported only sexual victimization experiences in the past year of their current or most recent romantic relationship, and therefore, any prior sexual victimization experiences would not have been captured. Furthermore, the measure did not ask whether the participants were given alcohol in order to lower either their inhibitions against engaging in or their ability to resist sexual behavior, an occurrence that is common among college students in the United States and is considered a form of sexual coercion” pp.419

    So when I object to your extrapolation of research, it is not because I think that all men are rapists. It is because I think the conclusions you draw are unsupported.

    I also think you have a belief that men are more victimised due to a hidden cohort of abusive women than men, and this does lead me to suspect your motives for extrapolating from this research. I may be wrong on that, but it doesn’t affect what I’ve said above one way or the other.

  23. The comment thread has turned into a bit of a fight, so I’ll limit my comments on what’s been said so far to endorsing what Mark said about feminists’ desire to control what can be discussed while simultaneously insisting that others are trying to shut down discussion. Instead I’ll go back to the subject of the blog post – misandry – and share something scary I’ve noticed.

    Last week there were reports of the tens of thousands of women who were “expected” to be trafficked into Dallas to work as prostitutes for Super Bowl fans. The same thing was said last year about the World Cup in South Africa, and the Ryder Cup in Wales. And before that, about the World Cup in Germany in 2006, the 2004 Olympics in Athens, and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

    Every single time it has turned out to be bullshit, but even so, next time there’s a major sporting event, they’ll say the same thing. Just wait and see.

    One might say this is feminists “derailing” not online discussions, but major international events.

    But more importantly, it is a systematic propaganda campaign, which has been going on at least a decade, to falsely associate any event where large groups of men congregate with the abuse of women. That’s misandry.

    It reminds me of an even more serious campaign of misandry, the child sex abuse witch-hunts of the eighties and nineties, which happened in the UK, America, and, as I’ve recently discovered thanks to the Assange case, Sweden, in collaboration between feminists and Christian fundamentalists.

    Those campaigns were just as mendacious, and ruined people’s lives at the time – and not only that, they have successfully associated men with child sex abuse to the extent that men can’t interact with children in public without worrying about how it looks. The assumption is that the only interest a man could have in children is a sexual one, and laws have been passed on the back of that assumption (I fully expect laws to be passed on the back of the sporting event propaganda campaign as well).

    And before that, feminists insisted that men’s only interest in sex and the family was control and dominance. That was false too, but has become received opinion.

    Misandry is not just depicting men as idiots on TV. It’s far more serious and pervasive than that.

  24. @Duff

    “Arctic Jay, I don’t think that study says what you think it says. It’s not a survey of overall victimisation rates, it’s a study of potential causes of sexual revictimisation.”

    I know exactly what it says. A muti-national study of over seven thousand college students that shows a higher incidence of sexual victimization for males than females says a lot about our assumptions concerning rape. To ignore that or downplay it is tantamount to sticking your fingers in your ears while chanting, “la la la la la,” to yourself.

    “I’d say that it’s therefore not possible to extrapolate from that study to a general incidence of perpetrator rates over a whole population…”

    That’s so not the point, dearie. The point is that there is no evidence whatsoever that women are the biggest victims of rape and men the biggest perpetrators. But we do have studies that show that male college students are at greater risk for sexual victimization than female college students. From what incomplete evidence we do have about rape in general, we know that common beliefs (which you espouse) are bullshit.

    “Crime statistics have the advantage of covering all income groups…”

    Hahahaha! Yeah, because not being able to hire a good lawyer doesn’t affect your likelihood of becoming a criminal statistic. All crime statistics tell us is who is more likely to be targeted by authorities and less likely to receive sympathy from judges and jurors.

    “But it doesn’t say much about the rates among the rest of the population.”

    We can’t say anything with absolute certainty about rape. But we can say that men are more likely to be raped in college than women. We can’t say women are more likely to be raped in any situation. Does this not strike you as important, if not revolutionary, to the cultural conversation surrounding rape?

  25. “Articles on a feminist blog-well used-on circumcision.

    They are all about FGM/female circumcision.

    There are no ‘whataboutthemenz’ comments that I can see.”

    There are so few comments there that I don’t think it qualifies as a “well-trafficked blog” – I meant blogs where comments threads typically run to dozens if not hundreds of comments. Heck, most of the articles in that search don’t have any comments at all.

    If you’re going to be so disingenuous as to use a site with practically no comments at all as a reference to show that the sort of comments I’m talking about don’t occur regularly, I really don’t see any point in continuing here.

  26. “I have been on a lot of feminist blogs and whilst there are unreasonable, unintelligent and unfriendly people of all gender identities on them, I do not notice this group of men you and others describe. This ‘misogynist’ ‘whataboutthemenz’ stupid set of retro males.”

    Then either you haven’t been at this very long, or you’re not looking hard enough.

    Here’s an experiment for anyone with a reasonably well-trafficked blog which deals with gender issues: start a thread discussing the ethics of male circumcision and see how long it takes for someone to accuse of your ignoring the plight of women, and then start another thread on the ethics of female circumcision and see how long it takes for someone to accuse you of ignoring the plight of men. I’ll give you even odds that the answer to the first question is “never”, and the answer to the second is “within the first 5 comments”.

    That disparity is what I’m referring to when I deploy “what about the menz!”

  27. Really… the moral higher ground? you just called somebody a cunt, and then a fucker for having a different opinion to you.

  28. Goodness, the last thing I would want to do is be rude.

    I guess there are, indeed, things straight cisgendered men can’t say after all. I hope nobody accuses you of policing acceptable language in online discussion forums after this.

  29. In the light of that remark I don’t feel any need to justify to you the logic of why or why not I may or may not be a feminist.

    I don’t think I asked you to do that, did I?

    I also didn’t think that this would be the kind of audience who’d get in a tizzy about the use of the word “cunt”. C’est la vie. Consider it retracted and the gender-neutral term “fucker” put in its place.

  30. Are you asking people here to defend the position of someone on an unrelated internet comments thread who we’ve never met, on account of how we are both “feminists”? Or expecting us to sympathise with the unreasonable nature of the argument? Or track down a “patriarchy Darwin”?

    Or are you asking us to defend the idea that women are, as a group or a whole, in a disadvantaged position? Because I think that the answer is, pretty self-evidently, yes, but I’d really at this point be more interested in hearing precisely why you think not, and why the metrics that are usually used by feminists are not applicable. After all, I consider it to be fairly obvious, and it’s genuinely surprising to see someone who is not stupid and not uneducated argue that women have an easy time of things, particularly as you count them as entire class and move across borders and income levels, where the differentials seem, to me, to become more exaggerated than we are used to in the west.

  31. It needs asking.

    I agree, with provisos.

    Provided that it’s not used to belittle women’s experiences and opinions.

    Provided that it’s put into accurate context.

    Provided that we can still acknowledge the times when men qua men acting under the influence of social gendered expectations can still to harm, just as women can, and intentionally or not.

    Then absolutely.

    What I don’t see is where this necessitates a rejection of feminism. I’m a man, I’ve got a very strong interest in the way cultural masculinity works, and I’m a feminist. These are not contradictory positions.

  32. rape of men only became a crime in the UK in 1994. It is vastly vastly under-un-reported and under-researched.

    Spousal rape only became a crime in 1991. Before 1994 male rape was sexual assault and would still have been counted in the statistics. Also, this doesn’t have much bearing on the perpetrator rates.

    Crime stats are all very well but there are some crimes which it is not deemed acceptable to acknowledge.

    What about the shame of being a man who is a victim of violence by a woman? What about where the blame is likely to go for that crime?

    I agree that it’s problematic, true. I don’t agree that male shame at being perceived to be a victim implies that female victims of rapes have it easy, fully report or overreport. Of the two friends I know who were raped, only one went to the authorities and she went too late for them to gather sufficient evidence for charges. Rape and sexual assault are problematic in different ways.
    Further, I don’t see how male shame at being sexually victimised is unrelated to the strict policing of “acceptable” male behaviour in a gender-addicted society, and how poking holes in feminist theories of gender is helpful. Admittedly we may not hang out in the same online sandpits, but Men Need Feminism Too is a pretty standard trope where I come from.

    As for blockquoting, I personally find it helpful in comment threads to have markers which point out which poster and point you are actually responding to.

    You can quote someone’s whole comment and say “troll” using i tags as well. That’s not an inherent problem with the markup, it’s a problem with the moderation policy of the forum.

  33. Arctic Jay, I don’t think that study says what you think it says. It’s not a survey of overall victimisation rates, it’s a study of potential causes of sexual revictimisation. Further, as they themselves admit, the sample was limited by only studying college students, who are by definition a particular class and education level which is not representative of society at large. Working class people who don’t go to college and people who work in the sex industry are excluded from this study by the nature of the sample, which is a large demographic to exclude. I’d say that it’s therefore not possible to extrapolate from that study to a general incidence of perpetrator rates over a whole population, and looking at the study I don’t think (although a re-read may enlighten me if you’d point out a particular page) that the researchers attempted to draw any conclusions about this.

    Crime statistics paint a significantly different picture. While the usage of convictions is in itself limited, being susceptible to structural distortions in the way crime is reported and prosecuted, that evidence suggests that if you’re the perpetrator of a violent act you’re much more likely to be male. Crime statistics have the advantage of covering all income groups, and although they have the disadvantage of not fully covering groups who are more generally excluded from society, I don’t think it’s particularly plausible that taken as a whole the class of, say, undocumented transient workers is likely to be mappable onto the class of Swedish university students.

    What you can say from that, I think, is that if you take as your sample population a subsection of society in which feminism has successfully taken root and achieved moderate levels of gender parity as far as the distribution of status, that the disparity between male and female victimisation rates diminishes too. Which is interesting, if not precisely unexpected. But it doesn’t say much about the rates among the rest of the population.

  34. “Umm, the toil and war that men have sacrificed their lives and labor for that has resulted in the creature comforts that women enjoy?”

    So, because women aren’t soldiers as often as men, this means that they benefit from war?

    Again, I think you’d need to really pull some class into it. Not that, as you’ve said, you’re interested in anything complex. I’d suggest that if you think “war” is of overall benefit to anyone except a very slim minority of powerful people, be they part of an imperial state or not, you may need to look again at your “99% of men who are victims” axiom and consider whether the same processes that apply to men in these situations could also apply to women.

    Reading your pdf now.

  35. “Actually I’d say it was a lack of understanding of the interactions between class, race and gender and how they conspire to make us the guards in our own blah, blah, blah, BLAH”

    Really not interested in your fortune cookie take on sociology and history. Thanks.

    “Where I’m having trouble seeing any argument or evidence is the notion that women are somehow overwhelmingly benefitting from this scenario.”

    Umm, the toil and war that men have sacrificed their lives and labor for that has resulted in the creature comforts that women enjoy?

  36. “But, honestly, I would have to see some actual evidence for the perpetrator thing.”

    Read and weep, dipshit:

    http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/ID45-PR45.pdf

    “You’re clearly a silly cunt.”

    Wow, that’s some Pulitzer Prize level snark right there. It must feel real good for a brittle, glossy-eye queen like you to call someone a cunt. And on the internet, no less!

  37. “So it’s either stupidity or moral cowardice that leads people to conflate the 99% of males who are victims with the 1% of men who are victimizers.”

    Actually I’d say it was a lack of understanding of the interactions between class, race and gender and how they conspire to make us the guards in our own prison.

    What is interesting here how there is a very broad and exclusive definition of things. You can either be a victim or a victimiser, and if you’re not on top of the world you’re a victim, unless you’re a woman, unless you’re not. That’s lacking the granularity I’d need to think it was in any sense accurate. The interactions between class, gender and race are complex and interative, you can’t just set up a dichotomy and claim it’s reality.

    I’ve got no problem acknowledging that gender is one of the mechanisms by which a slim minority of people, who are mostly but not exclusively men, control others for their own benefit, and that the majority of men are thus controlled. Where I’m having trouble seeing any argument or evidence is the notion that women are somehow overwhelmingly benefitting from this scenario.

  38. “Well of course. You can’t try to enslave, slander, or kill everyone who is different to you for centuries, and not expect some kind of backlash.”

    It might benefit your mind to know that it is men who make up the the vast majority of those victimized by the vanishingly small percentage of powerful men, while women make up the vast majority who benefit. It is also your average male victim who is asking the “what about the menz?” question everyone loves to deride. So it’s either stupidity or moral cowardice that leads people to conflate the 99% of males who are victims with the 1% of men who are victimizers.

  39. Dammit no blockquotes again! Why do people turn that tag off? It’s markup, dammit! It’s what the M in HTML stands for.

    “Men are the slim majority of sexual abuse victims and make up an equal percentage of its perpetrators.”

    I can more-or-less buy the stats on victimhood — child abuse is an equal-opportunity sport even if adulthood tends to find the skew heading wildly in the opposite direction.

    But, honestly, I would have to see some actual evidence for the perpetrator thing. Not because I am biased to think that men are more intrinsically violent than women, but because the stats I’ve looked at across three continents record the perpetrators of violent assaults against men and women as overwhelmingly male.

    So, let’s just say I’m skeptical, not least because:

    Women as a whole experience things than men as a whole and for the most part they benefit from that fact.

    You’re clearly a silly cunt.

  40. Men and women are intrinsically linked. Gender is that which pertains to the concept of masculine and feminine, men and women and everything in between. It isn’t two separate subjects.

    But the cultural construction of gender pigeonholes individuals into one of two rudimentary and limited boxes and sets up a system of policing to ensure that people who deviate from those boxes are pressured into conforming. Just as you can’t properly discuss gender without discussing class, so you also can’t discuss it without acknowledging what the overall culture at present seeks to enforce as “masculine” and “feminine”. You can’t just say “we are pressured to perform our gender” without intrinsically accepting that the specific pressures are different depending on what gender you’re being pressured into.

    And, also, too, one of the gendered expectations put on men is the rejection of the feminine and the assumption that “women can’t X”. There is a hierarchical set up within classes where men are trained to think they are “better than” women in many explicit and implicit ways. You may not have ever come across them, although I sincerely doubt that, but trust me, as a cis white straight male, I see it all the damn time. My dad, God bless him, is slowly learning some things but is still a notorious talker-over-of-women. So, there’s an example. Shall we keep trading examples of “men who aren’t like that” with “men who are” and have the headbutting match over whether that’s a gender thing? Or can we upfront acknowledge that one of the negative trait pairs that we see policed pretty hard – by both sides – in these forced pigeonholes of “male” and “female” is that men have things to say and women don’t?

    Incidentally, if you feel like pointing out “well I sometimes don’t feel like that in the comments sections of feminist blogs” I shall merely address your attention out the window and ask “what about on the rest of the planet, where vastly more people live?” Just to pre-empt that.

  41. “Arctic Jay. That is bullshit. You are just as bad as feminists by judging a whole group of (very diverse) people like that.”

    Once again, your only response to something I’ve written that you disagree with is by claiming I’m just like the feminists. That argument doesn’t work now, and it won’t in the future. The judgements feminists make are wrong, plain and simple.

    Men are accused of perpetrating the vast majority of sexual violence while enjoying the privilege of not being the majority of its victims. This is something feminists, social conservatives, and even the politically indifferent propagate. But it’s completely false. Men are the slim majority of sexual abuse victims and make up an equal percentage of its perpetrators. What do women experience that’s similar? Most men in the US have had their genitals mutilated, while almost no women have. See? It’s different. Women as a whole experience things than men as a whole and for the most part they benefit from that fact.

  42. I’ll admit, i have been talking through my prejudice here, but that’s what’s so good about this blog… you get to see yourself this way…. and cringe a little.

  43. Yes i am probably referring to very old and not so relevant story, but i do think the lack of respect that men are suffering now is a “what goes around comes around” type of situation, but i think the mens movements are saying,” OK we get the point, and we’re sorry, but can we move on now please”.

  44. But having said that, I think the gender/sexuality fight is an aspect of the larger human struggle to accept difference in other people, whatever it may be. Everyone I know spends most of their conversational time bitching about, and rallying troops against how someone is/did something, different to them. The whole world is really trying to say “what about me”… but everyone please do. We need to stomp our feet and have a “what about me” tantrum so we can see ourselves as the children we still are and maybe grow up and accept diversity and the power it holds for mankind.

  45. re- “abuse and libel of men as a sex is not only acceptable but de rigeur”

    Well of course. You can’t try to enslave, slander, or kill everyone who is different to you for centuries, and not expect some kind of backlash.

  46. “Whataboutery”, in general, is a bullshit argumentative technique.

    “You’re complaining about overbearing CCTV and compulsory DNA testing in the UK! Well what about people in Egypt who get shot for protesting? WHAT ABOUT THEM, EH?”

    Exactly. What about them? Precisely what bearing does it have?

    Are there men mocked in movies? Sure. Admittedly, the “loveable doofus” is generally the lead role (see: Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen) and pitted against his sensible female love interest as a learning experience that helps him grow into a loveable doofus who can also take out the trash but still retains enough doofosity to be down with his bros, who are more important than the humourless stick-in-the-muds who play the role of girlfriend, but yeah, it’s a shit, patronising stereotype of men.

    But, too, also: if you’re a man in Hollywood you get paid more; if you’re in a successful movie you’re less likely to get swapped out for someone else in the sequel (notable exception: James Bond, but since playing Bond is something of a trophy for male actors, a bit like being Dr Who, it’s rather the exception that proves the rule); you’re more likely to still be working past 35; if you want more interesting roles they’re there for you. Etcetera etcetera. So, if we’re just having a headbutting match about which gender when considered as a class gets mistreated the most men still win.

    It’s entirely possible to believe that women are treated worse than men in $situation and also believe that the gendered expectations on men and the presentation of men is as inherently problematic to the cultural construction of masculinity as the presentation of women is to femininity. But that doesn’t mean you can be justified in belittling the experiences of women qua women because men have it just as bad or some bullshit like that.

    I’m not interested in the headbutting match where I get to prove that women or men are more maligned than the other class. But, with frighteningly few exceptions, the class “men who post whataboutery bumf in columns/comments on feminist blogs” are interested in precisely that.

    I don’t deny that there are elements on both sides that need bringing up to speed on, for example, the complex intersections of class and gender and how they perpetuate a “let’s you and her fight” mentality. But that does not mean there aren’t walking penises out there just spoiling for the chance to tell opinionated women to stfu and get back in the kitchen. Mockery is pretty much the only decent response to that.

  47. “You see, Dunc, I don’t see why, when talking about gender inequality, it is ‘derailing’ the discussion to talk about men as well as women. They are not separate planets.”

    No, but they do face substantially different circumstances and social contexts. For example, whilst men do suffer from sexual abuse and domestic violence, they are dramatically less likely to suffer from the worst forms of those problems. Sometimes differences of degree are so great as to become effectively differences in kind.

    “If women rape ‘victims’ want to go somewhere where they define the terms of the conversation and decide who can join in that conversation that is fine.”

    Until someone decides to use that space to divert the discussion to the problems of men, and gets all pissy when this is pointed out to them through the deployment of the phrase “what about the menz!”, at which point it’s all hands on deck to wail about the terrible mistreatment men suffer in blog comment threads.

    Also, what’s with the scare quotes around “victims” there? It’s things like that that piss people off.

  48. “As for men themselves saying ‘what about the menz’? like it is a pathetic question to ask, that makes me wonder how those men feel about being men in this world.”

    As someone who has done this on more than one occasion, perhaps I can answer.

    The whole point of the “what about the menz?” trope as it is normally used in the feminist blogosphere is not to belittle the problems that men face. It’s to draw attention to the fact that it’s more-or-less impossible to have a discussion about the problems women face without it being immediately derailed into a discussion about the problems men face. The world is actually full of discussions of the problems men face, and most of them proceed quite happily without immediately being derailed into discussions of the problems women face. It’s a term of art which satirically refers to a specific set of social behaviours in blog comment threads, not a generalised dismissal of the problems faced by men.

    You want to discuss the sexism men face? Great! Knock yourselves out. Just don’t do it in (e.g.) threads about how the courts treat female victims of rape.

    Oh, and I feel just fine about being a man, thanks.

  49. I think many men will never be able to acknowledge the misandry that permeates the culture they live in, due to the fact that taking a principled stand against it would make them an immediate outcast, especially if they’re heterosexual in the slightest.

    Just consider the prevalence of circumcision, a horrific crime that happens to millions of infant males every year. Acknowledging it would also require acknowledging that significant portion of the people you know have committed an atrocity. How is one supposed to approach that? This is a reality that western women have no capability of understanding.

  50. Dang it! I wrote this really cool (seemed so at the time anyways) comment, and it got lost in the internet shuffle. . . something about how men and women hadn’t changed, but the economy and technology had. . . Love/Hate kinda thing.

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