***Disclaimer: I hate men. Do not read on if you like men.***
Okay, good, now that we got that out of the way, let's address an article titled "Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn't Funny" by TIME Digital Operations Editor Sarah Begley. Begley says I can't hate men! That shit isn't funny!!! In fact, it makes me—and all of you—look bad.
According to Begley, men-haters (or faux men-haters because damn, it's just a joke), are reversing the feminist successes we (Betty Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Gloria Steinem, holler!) worked so hard to achieve by confusing people dumb enough to think that misandry is real. [Sidebar: is it real? No.] This misandry, Begley notes, though occasionally cute and funny to those canny enough to understand the layers of inside jokes on Twitter, is dangerous and violent to men.
But inherent in this word "misandry" is hatred. And inherent in phrases like "ban men" and "male tears" are cruelty and violence. If a man wore a tee shirt that said "misogynist," even if he were a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, wearing it tongue-in-cheek, it would not be funny. It would be misguided.
An interesting point. But Begley fails to mention that men have been wearing misogynist t-shirts since there were men on the planet to wear t-shirts. Simply put, every t-shirt a man wears is, in effect, a misogynist t-shirt, whether it is boldly emblazoned with such text or not.
It's casual fashion choices like this that spur the need for modern women to outwardly express their hatred of men in an ironic or serious manner. In the past, the female specie has rarely had the medium or platform to express distaste against those who have made being a woman feel like a living hell. Maybe if we do it enough and wear enough misandrist barrettes in our hair, someone will start to listen—and ask us, hey, what's up with this misandry thing?
But Begley ascertains it's not men we're mad it, it's the patriarchy. Okay, sure.
What feminists really hate is the patriarchy—the web of institutions that systemically oppress women. And to tear it down, we need as many allies as we can get. Telling half the population that we hate them, even in jest, is not the way to do that. Feminism is still very much engaged in the battle for hearts and minds; appealing to the sense of humor of a very small minority of the population can be a good way to alienate the rest. That's not to say that feminists should water down their true demands and complaints to appeal to broader swaths of the population. Nevertheless, to get folks on your side, you need an an appealing message. Humor can help. But ironic misandry is just bad PR.
We can hate the patriarchy, but doesn't the patriarchy have to be held up by someone? It's not some omnipotent puff of green smoke that we're mad at. So... who is holding it up? Why do my arms hurt?
The joke here—as with all good jokes that make a critique of our current culture—is that even if we're kidding (not me: I really hate men), we get a chance to air our grievances to those who may have had no idea of them before. Do women lose allies by alienating the men who aren't in on the wink-wink joke? Maybe. Are those men worth losing? Probably.
[Image via Shutterstock]
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