I love being a woman, on the internet, in real life, on the street. Why? Because being a woman is cool and men are the worst (worse than Ross). Feminists love to throw around phrases like #BanMen and #KillAllMen all while sipping on a glass of male tears. For the uninitiated, these are all actually jokes but to the outsider it seems like some cruel, bitter statement.
Misandry is supposedly the inverse of misogyny. Its roots date as far back as the 19th century *cough* which is about the time the earliest suffragette movements began *cough* and literally translates to mean hatred of men. Characteristics of misandrist behaviour allegedly include sexual discrimination, denigration, violence and objectification of men.
On the other hand, misogyny goes back to Ancient Greece, in which some men spoke of an intense hatred of the inferior female sex. If you take a dive into some of the works of famous philosophers and scientists you’ll find that many of your faves are problematic in regards to their view of women. Just Google Aristotle, Rousseau or Darwin and misogyny. DO IT.
Meanwhile, writings by feminists about men’s inferiority are few and far between. I’m no fan of ads that belittle men by portraying them as useless around the house (despite the fact that women still carry out the majority of domestic work, which is unpaid labour). However, there is one text that stands out in the “misandry” canon.
I discovered the S.C.U.M manifesto at a live reading during a very hip art festival called Found in Melbourne. Written in the late 1960s by Valerie Solanos, S.C.U.M stands for Society of Cutting Up Men, and subverts the view that women are lesser versions of men. Instead it argues that “men” with their Y chromosome are actually incomplete females.
Aside from this outdated gender essentialism, the book is a riveting read which lists grievances against men, ultimately suggesting the elimination of men to be the moral imperative for the betterment of society. Whether the manifesto is satire at its best, or an anarchic and idealized vision of a world without men, many argue that Solanos had “unabashed misandry”, evidenced also by her shooting of artist Andy Warhol.
These days term misandry has been popularised by men’s rights activists who claim radical feminism is to blame for men’s lower life expectancy and higher rates of male suicide & depression. What they overlook is the only thing radical about feminism is the notion that women are people too.
Meanwhile, some women reject the label, even as an ironic term, claiming its underlying meaning of violence makes it bad PR for feminists. But by co-opting the term misandrist, women create an inside joke that provides a coping mechanism for dealing with the everyday sexism in this patriarchal society.
It’s not hard to imagine why the biggest fear of women is that men will kill them (especially considering the sobering statistic that 22 Australian women this year have been killed by men and it’s only April). But do you know what the biggest fear of men it?
Wait for it.
Are you sitting down?
The biggest fear of men is that women will laugh at them.
Seriously though. One of my favourite misandry phrases is “masculinity so fragile.” This came about in reaction to the proliferation of specific male products marketed to stop men from feeling insecure: take for example things like potato chips in a “man sized bag”, or a chap stick with camo design on it for rugged men, or just the names given to men’s deodorants, like “extreme”, “adventure”.
So what does a world without men look like?
Anyone who has ever been to the glorious women’s baths in Coogee, east of Sydney knows. This slice of Utopian paradise akin to the mythical Amazonia is a place where women exist uninhibited by the male gaze. On rocks they lie like the goddesses of the universe that they are, soaking up the sun. Some choose to go topless, while others simply feel comfortable to remove their headscarves.
Some men have been known to hide in the bushes with binoculars, peeping for a perve. Others feel wronged by such discrimination. “Where are the men’s baths?” they cry. Well mate, the men’s baths are everywhere. Spaces like the women’s baths, women’s rooms on university campuses and women’s carriages on trains are where women can exist away from male privilege and power. Whether it’s cat calling, sexual assault, mansplaining, manspreading, sexist jokes, or death threats the world can be a dangerous and frustrating place to be female.
Yet men still feel threatened and hard done by when women band together in spaces or under phrases that call out male privilege and misogyny.
One of the most frequent slurs (and less sinister ones) directed towards feminist writer Clementine Ford is that she’s a misandrist. Ford is very vocal on her Twitter account in replying to and retweeting to men who attack her for her articles which make no apologies in their frank call for women’s safety and an elevation of our voices. She says “If you need to call me a man-hater or misandrist to justify the fact that you’re actually terrified of women achieving gender equality, then I feel sorry for you.” She even called her podcast The Misandry Hour as another tongue in cheek quip at the haters.
So when I set up a house with three fierce feminists the logical thing to do was to name our place, Misandry Manor. We’re proud to call ourselves misandrists, not because we hate men (even though they can be really stupid sometimes), but because we hate what being a man stands for.
Because let’s be real, feminism benefits both men and women. Feminism is about the erasure of gender binaries. It’s about equality in education, workplace and home so that both men and women can achieve their career dreams and be with their family. And it’s about the destruction of toxic masculinity. A masculinity that says men must be strong, dependable, breadwinners, who don’t cry, don’t talk about their feelings and certainly don’t wear pink, don dresses, listen to Taylor Swift or eat a small parmigiana.
So guess what Misandry isn’t actually a thing.
Because the inverse of misogyny is equality. And equality is what feminists fight for.