Friendly Reminder: Misandry Isn’t Really Happening

by | February 29, 2016
filed under Feminism

Vintage anti-suffrage postcard

Vintage anti-suffrage postcard

Like all intersectional feminists who enjoy a healthy online life, I often encounter the male-identifying person who pouts and tries to have a field day whenever female-identifying feminists crack a joke about “male tears” or privileged men refusing to acknowledge their privilege.

“Misandry!” they shout at us, sometimes pointing accusatory fingers, sometimes pretending to take the high road, just helpfully explaining to us women how it feels to have their gender ridiculed.

One thing they all seem unable to grasp is the very real fact that misandry isn’t a real thing. Men have been systemically oppressing women throughout history and have been making jokes, insults, and laws that work against us without ever asking our opinion. Even today, men are systemically oppressing women and non-male identifying people, often unknowingly; yet, they still think it’s okay to claim “misandry” when a women is critical of their actions. As if centuries of oppression and forced submission is equivalent to a few jokes about “male tears.”

Many people think that just because misogyny is alive and well then misandry—its logical opposite—is also alive and well. But this isn’t true.

The dictionary does have the word “misandry” listed with a definition that is vague, at best, and could equally describe discrimination. The word exists in the dictionary as a complement to “misogyny,” wasn’t even invented until the 19th century and didn’t officially appear in a dictionary until 1952. The man behind encouraging the term is an MRA who has claimed that men are marginalized, citing the fact that it was only men who have been expected to do hard labour, or serve in the military and other notably dangerous professions.

This sounds a lot like other MRAs, who use such arguments to justify their (often violent) anti-feminist stance? They fail to take into account the fact that the reason men were expected to do all these things is because they wouldn’t let women do them. Men are the ones who made the exact laws and societies that women began fighting against. Yet, somehow men blame the feminist movement for their woes, claiming women have it easy and that any attack against men is misandry.

But misandry is only a theory, it’s not a practice.

Misandry is as real as reverse-racism is. White people, who have historically been in change and have successfully oppressed minority races, are not suddenly the victims of reverse racism just because we finally are entering in to an age in which minority races are able to loudly and accurately be critical of the history of racial oppression. White people are not suddenly the victims of reverse racism just because minority races point out the still-rampant examples of white privilege. White people are not the victims of white racism even when they are at the receiving end of slurs and insults like “cracker,” (a rare occurrence in itself).

They can be on the receiving end of discrimination, yes. There are many people who discriminate against white people and judge all white people based on the actions of some. But that is not racism; that is not oppression. A race that has systemically oppressed other races for centuries is not suddenly on the receiving end of the same oppression by members of racialized groups pointing out white privilege or calling out a white person’s racist slurs.

In the same way, misandry doesn’t exist in practice, but prejudice against men can. There are some people who truly believe that men are the problem and freely spout insults about men as a whole. But the difference between systemic oppression (misogyny) and a personal prejudice (the so-called misandry) is something that too many people fail to recognize.

Fundamentally, a group cannot be in a position of systemic power and continue to hold that position of power, then accuse the oppressed who are trying to create a fairer world that they are being oppressive. That does not make sense in any world.

Feminism isn’t looking to bring down men in some sort of savage revenge for centuries of abuse; feminism is simply looking to come to a common ground in which all genders are seen as equal in every way—where all genders have the same privileges and advantages. What feminism also asks is that men recognize their existing privilege and then use it to further a cause that is more humane. But, how is that supposed to happen if the slightest mention of any facts that prove that men have been and continue to (often unknowingly) be oppressors is met with shouts of “misandry”?

In defence of male tears jokes, I want to explain what it actually means. Some people seem to think it’s anti-feminist because it further instils the idea that men cannot show emotions. These people are missing the point, because men who have male tears thrown at them are not showing emotions that are traditionally considered feminine. They are usually angry or have had their egos bruised—both of which are trademark “male” traits. By playing the male tears card, we are pointing out that a person—usually always male—is “crying” because they have to begin to give up their monopoly on the world.

With feminism, non-males are beginning to have more and more of a voice and in order to claim the space that should rightfully be ours, men—who have held the power for so long that they are more than just drunk on it—have to give up some of their privilege. This is something that most men are just not willing to do. Calling out this behaviour is not misandry; it’s not even discrimination. It’s an attempt to further the cause of equality, and having to explain to people over and over again why misandry (and reverse racism) isn’t a thing is not only tiring, but a huge waste of resources.

We feminists don’t have time to educate people on semantics. So, take my word for it: misandry isn’t a real thing. It’s only a theory—it has never been a practice and likely never will.

Vintage anti-suffrage postcard via this article at Sociological Images.


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  • ShortMlee

    Thank you so much for this!

  • tay kyles

    The fallacious “institutional” argument again
    Purely typical

  • Patrick Seiter

    Circumcision is a form of misandry.

    • Heather T

      No. Not equivalent.

      Circumcision of boys is not carried out with nails, broken glass, or whatever other sharp implement is handy. And for the most part, a circumcised/uncircumcised male can expect to enjoy sexual congress and to marry.

      FGM is carried out for the sole purpose of controlling a woman’s sexuality and to render her as an acceptable bride.

      To my knowledge, feminists are not actively promoting circumcision as one of their priorities. FWIW, you are more likely to find non-feminists to support circumcision – and one does not have to be a woman to be a non-feminist.

      As a mother and a feminist, I believe that children’s bodies are their own, and should be taught from the very beginning about their rights to bodily autonomy and self-governance. Including respecting those same rights in each and every person around them.

      • Heather T

        I’m pretty sure that’ s you typing under there, Patrick – and I will caution you against posting arm-length diatribe responses. I’ve got rules, and one of them is: be as reasonable, and as succinct, as possible.

        • Patrick Seiter

          I used bullet points :D

          Are you on Gender-Focus or the Disqus dashboard that you see the typing notification? Nevermind, I see it. Either I’ve never seen that before or it’s a new feature.

          • Heather T

            You did. :D

      • Patrick Seiter

        1) Many female circumcisions are performed in hospitals, just like male circumcisions, even though illegal. I cannot send links because otherwise my post will be put into a moderation queue, so Google, “Egyptian girl dies during female circumcision operation”. It was done in a hospital.

        2) Many boys die from unclean circumcision practices. Look up, “32 boys dead in South African initiation season” and “Again! 14 boys dead in South African province, 141 in hospital, after botched circumcisions”. Where is the outcry to end MGM in Africa? If feminists believe in equality between the genders, they should be fighting to end FGM, which kills girls, and MGM, which kills boys.

        3) And male circumcision isn’t made with a focus on partnership and marriageability? Haven’t you heard “Well, he won’t be able to get a girlfriend if he’s not circumcised.” etc. etc.? Every single reason FGM is done in Africa: it is more hygienic, it looks better, no one will marry you if you aren’t circumcised, are all applied in America the same way.

        4) I didn’t say feminists are promoting circumcision. I said that some disregard the human rights of their sons by having them circumcised, while soapboxing on the need to respect bodily autonomy rights of girls.

        5) Well then, if you respected the human rights to bodily integrity, consent, and religious freedom of your sons (if you have any), then you are not of the misandrist feminists I am referring to. I have met feminists who don’t give a damn about the human rights of boys, and say things like, “you deserve 5 minutes of pain for 9 months of pregnancy”. Actually, it’s a lifetime of circumcision complications for men.

        • Heather T

          Well, fair enough. But I’m not sure how you expect feminists to fight on men’s behalf, when, to begin with, so much of our energy is already being spent dismantling the barriers we face in gaining enough social and political sway to be effective agents of change.

          • Patrick Seiter

            It’s actually easier to fight against all forms of mutilation in parts of Africa than it is to fight against _only_ FGM. For instance, I’ve read interviews of Africans who say (not verbatim, just recollection), “They tell us to stop cutting our girls, but say nothing about cutting our boys. It makes no sense, the hypocrites.” If we used the ideology of not cutting the genitals of all children, it would be much more pliable an argument. Otherwise, they’ll just go back to cutting girls because they don’t see a gendered difference between male/female mutilation like we do.

            This might only work in Central Africa though. North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia all need a Quranist revolution (the Quran says we are created perfect, and says nothing about male or female circumcision. The hadiths directly contradict it) before we can stop male and female circumcision there completely. I’m a firm supporter of Kurdish independence, but they’re really bad when it comes to FGM.

            And to my knowledge, there isn’t widespread female genital mutilation in South Africa, so it will take some other sort of movement to save lives in that country.

          • Heather T

            “They tell us to stop cutting our girls, but say nothing about cutting our boys.”

            I’m not sure who the “they” are in this statement. Were the Africans referring to Western government? Were they referring to only the female feminists from the West? Was/were the speakers male Africans who were upset at having been cut? Or was it a deflection?

            In any case, yes yes yes, this is a children’s issue – and so perhaps men could align themselves with the groups spreading awareness of FGM and form partnership….as opposed to pushing the issue into stalemate.

          • Patrick Seiter

            Sorry for the late reply. I think they’re just referring to Westerners in general. I definitely don’t think they’d be referring to Western feminists. I also couldn’t find the video I was looking for, so take my account at face value until I find the source at some point in time.

        • Heather T

          And you always have the option of becoming the feminist that you expect us to be.

          • Patrick Seiter

            In a form or fashion I’ll always be a traditional feminist just like I’m a classical liberal. When people ask why I’m obsessed about male circumcision, I tell them that it isn’t just MGM but also FGM, intersex genital mutilation, foot binding, breast ironing, neck rings, declawing of cats, tail docking and ear cropping of dogs. Any non-medical mutilation of a person or animal’s body. And last I checked, the latter three for humans are all practiced on girls.

            It is my personal ideology and a growing ideology of millennials not to use labels to describe myself.

          • Heather T

            I see you as most qualified to lead the charge. Because the issue of MGM about which you are so passionate is often used as a disposable club to silence feminists, and left on the floor. You are the first person anywhere I’ve seen who’s shown that commitment and care to the issue itself. Bravo and thank you.

          • Patrick Seiter

            Feminists and MRAs both want the same thing, which is equality of the genders. They need to realize that they need each other more than they hate each other, because dichotomous opposition between the two will only result in continued inequality.

            Someday I’ll make a YouTube channel and explain the breadth of my ideology, which is the above but on a broader scale.

          • Heather T

            My feminism is intersectional; MRA’s do not want the same thing(s). Perhaps your dealings with them are different from my own, and that gives you a different perspective on them. Let’s just say they haven’t always been pleasant.

          • Patrick Seiter

            And I’m sure MRAs say the exact same thing about feminists: all feminists hate men, feminists want to destroy the family unit, etc. etc. but at the end of the day they’re all people, we’re all people. Sure, there are real misogynists and real misandrists out there that we might never be able to get through to, but if people never come to the table to TALK, to have a free exchange of ideas, and to have mutual respect for one-another, then we will never achieve the society that we all want, but disagree on how to get there.

            tl;dr: If you don’t want feminists to be broad-brushed as misandrists, don’t broad-brush MRAs as misogynists.

          • Heather T

            If MRA’s don’t want to be broad-brushed as misogynists, they need to work out an approach that doesn’t paint both feminists and non-feminists as inherently eeevil. As an intersectional feminist, I work within my own community to help other women examine the internalized sexism of which we may not be aware. When it comes to dealing with MRA’s, disagreement is one thing; being called a man-hating c*nt for having those disagreements is quite another.

          • Patrick Seiter

            What I’m trying to convey to you is that every standard you apply to MRAs not only can be applied to feminists, but is being applied to feminists. We have radical feminists that are not denounced by other feminists saying to kill all male babies, castrate men, neuter men until they are in a committed relationship, etc. Safe spaces, trigger warnings, and all of this extremist nonsense that is absolutely destroying the public image of feminism.

          • Heather T

            What feminists are demanding a holocaust of men? And why are trigger warnings seemingly cast as a natural equivalent to this?

            Trigger warnings are not about “avoiding hurting people’s feelings”; they are an opportunity for abuse survivors to decide for themselves whether or not they are, at that given moment, able to process potentially triggering material. To provide this warning, is to respect their ability to make these decisions for themselves.

            PTSD is not chosen, it is an imposed condition – and may cause physical reactions in its sufferers which are wholly beyond their conscious control. Being hostile and contemptuous of the things we can do to assist them is unthinkingly cruel – and a sign of assumed entitlement to our own convenience and superiority.

            And I’m saying this not as a feminist, but as an advocate for disability rights.

          • Heather T

            And I will add that MRA’s are but one part of a broader sphere. For instance, the media has a vested interest in maintaining conflict between people, and rigidly enforcing gender roles – for the purpose of more easily marketing to them as separate and distinct groups.

          • Heather T

            Re: “feminists want to destroy the family unit”:

            I hear this one a lot — and I have a question as to what “family unit” refers to. Does this mean “traditional structure” of family….or does it refer to women wanting to get out of relationships that are abusive or not satisfactory?

          • Patrick Seiter

            I could project what others believe but this isn’t my opinion one way or the other. Basically it’s that every child should be raised by two parents if at all possible.

          • Heather T

            Yes, and those two parents are assumed to be a man and a woman….with a lot of other traditional assumptions thrown in. As I’ve obliquely suggested earlier, MRA started out with the reasonable goal of obtaining equal custody rights in family courts – and the original founders seem quite embarrassed by what their movement has been turned into. Sort of like what happened to MADD.

          • Heather T

            Pardon the number of replies, but:
            Re: “they’re all people, we’re all people.”

            Women have not until fairly recently enjoyed the status of “person” under the law. We are still reeling from that fact.

  • John doe

    The definition isn’t vague at all. It comes from the Greek misos which is hatred, and aner which is man. The same holds true for misogyny only the Greek gune base word means woman. So… hatred of men, or hatred of women. You can argue about the endless premutations these forms of hatred will manifest themselves in, but empirically both these words are very specific in what they describe. I don’t think you can speak for 3.5 billion women on this planet and say misandry doesn’t exist. There are women who hate men. I have met women who have flat out told me this. I think you have a concern that acknowledging the existence of misandry is going to distract attention away from feminist issues, and gender equality. I think it will to a certain extent, but if you don’t even acknowledge the existence of misandry how are you going to frame an argument against that distraction? You lose credibility on the doesn’t exist argument, because most people have seen examples of misandry–however infrequent, it has been frequent enough that a non-existence argument doesn’t fly.

  • CaMo

    I know women who actively identify themselves as misandrists. Therefore, misandry exists.
    Thank you and goodnight.

  • If you actually went by dictionary definitions and not sociology-studies definitions, you would realize that words like sexism, racism, misogyny, and misandry don’t specify whether they’re institutionalized or systemic or systematic. Sociology is what has added those extra definitions onto the words, and you need to know that only those who worship the altar of sociology accept the definitions you are shoving forth.

    Why not join the rest of the English-speaking world and use the REAL definitions of the words. Thanks.

  • Tom

    Racism = discrimination based on race. It has nothing to do with oppression? Why this concerted effort to redefine words to suit your political agenda?

  • Tom

    Misogyny = contempt for women. Misandry = contempt for men. There is nothing institutional about it. Nowhere does oppression even come into the equation. Once again, the only systemic institution thing that comes close to the equation is the systemic attempt to redefine these words to suit your political agenda.

    • crydiego

      What was the second thing again?

  • Peter Smythe

    You seem to operate under the assumption that we all use “prejudice plus [collective] power.”

    That’s almost certainly not the definition anyone claiming something is misandrist is using.

    Misandry under the “prejudice, power or not” definition is absolutely a real thing. Maybe not as common as misogyny, but it’s still completely real. HOLISTIC SYSTEMATIC misandry is only a hypothetical idea.

    Also, “take our word for it, it isn’t a thing” is the most intellectually lazy position I can think of.

    Misandry is any and all hate or discrimination against men, just like misogyny is any and all hate or discrimination against women.