Not so long ago, someone called me a misandrist and I had to look it up on dictionary.com.
I giggled my tits off.
And when I had finished jiggling up and down like Nursey from BlackAdder and had reapplied my eyeliner, I opened up the ‘notes’ app on my iPhone and proceeded to make a list:
Men Who Are Shit
The incredibly unpleasant man who made people cry at our last event
The President of Uganda
The horrible cunts who assaulted my best friend
That pillock with the hair that plays the football.
All Catholic priests EVER
Men Who Are The Shit
My best friend Dave and his smiley little son
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran
All my mates husbands/partners
Serge Gainsbourg (yes I know. No-one mentioned breathing, did they?)
LL Cool J
The curly haired lad from Outnumbered
Then halfway through I realised that I was engaging in the most pointless fucking exercise since those completely insane lifestyle tips from Chat Magazine. Like and dislike is based on so many factors that gender simply doesn’t come into it. Having a dick or tits does not dictate (fnar fnar) whether you are a pleasant person or not. And frankly ‘niceness’ is subjective. If you have an arsehole, then you’re capable of being an arsehole. My Jack and Danny no more controls my actions any more than baked beans control farts.
This is the reason why ‘misandry’ wasn’t on my radar. I just don’t see the world that way. Perhaps that makes me ignorant or stupid, or (more likely) I just don’t encounter that many unpleasant people, but I am not blind to issues of discrimination. I’ve just never thought of hating anyone for any other reason than they’re a complete and total fucking moron.
At a similar time to this accusation and because I tend not to live with my head in a bucket of shit, I became increasingly aware of a trend towards ‘Men’s Rights’. I’ve given them a fairly wide berth, as on the one occasion I dared to peek within it became clear in seconds that the movement was basically a place for privileged white men to rant about their continued emasculation by feminists during their lunch hour. Bless ’em, I thought. Everyone needs a hobby.
But having pondered the idea of misandry and the concept of being angry at an entire gender rather than just at a single human being being a pillock, I thought it would be an enlightening journey to have a cursory Google and find out how our collective ovaries are making men’s shit itch in the world of that Internet. In doing this, a very well behind-the-curve Marie stumbled across THE MANOSPHERE.
Fucking hell, it’s dark in The Manosphere. For a bunch of fellas who are so confident in their abilities, you’d have thought at least one of them might have a basic grasp of aesthetics. Trawling through the avalanche of blogs, lists, links and videos was exceedingly straining on the eye. ‘Is this deliberate?’, I found myself wondering. Have these people researched male versus female visual tolerance and shrewdly applied it to keep me out?
The further I delved into this new territory, I realised that this was highly unlikely. The dreadful page layouts, colour schemes and broken links basically signpost the fact that (ooooh bloody hell, I’m about to tread on very delicate ground here) the people who occupy The Manosphere are just not that clever. And furthermore *winces* they have an incredibly tenuous grasp on history, reality, science and simple good manners.
I’ve tried to be fair in my selection of examples. I think these are fairly representative:
And if there was any terminology confusion, there’s a handy ‘Masculexicon‘ to guide you.
Isn’t it telling that I feel unpleasant, uncomfortable and afraid about describing it in this way? Experience and the media tell us that when women offend The Manosphere, we should expect the worst. Does my gall at being described as ‘a hamster’, ‘a poor matrimonial risk’, ‘vapid female entity’ (the more pleasant descriptions of equality-seeking women I could find) or ‘poon’, ‘slut’ and ‘skank’ (just as general terms for women) make me a misandrist? No, it does not. Even an hour struggling my way through these websites doesn’t fill me with hatred.
My poor underdeveloped female brain began to respond with:
Concern, definitely. Just the sheer numbers of these sites and the people using them are worrying.
Fear, without a doubt. In particular the general belief within The Manosphere that all women are ‘willing’, wives are duty-bound to provide sex on demand and that in the vast majority of occasions, the rape of a single woman is partially, if not entirely, the victims fault. And I’m not even going to discuss the particular arena that deals with ‘disciplining your wife’. Let’s just say that ‘non-consensual consent as punishment’ is a truly horrific thing. If I’m ever brave enough to research further, I might tackle it. But at the moment I’m kinda saturated with misogyny.
Anger. These knuckle-draggers are claiming that feminism is stripping them of their rights? How? They have had the right (within law) to do anything they fucking please since FOREVER. How is the fight for equal pay, dignity and the ability to walk down a street wearing whatever the fuck we like without getting groped, catcalled or raped of any consequence to you? How does my vagina in the boardroom affect your status quo? And is there ANYTHING that doesn’t make us sluts??
Pity. My tendency to give the benefit of the doubt rears it’s soft old head. I wonder if they have any real friends. Or if someone broke their heart. Or if it’s not really women they hate, but their own failure to make a mark in the world. I wonder if their parents loved them. Or if they were bullied. Given point 2, I should probably give myself a swift kick up the arse at this point. You can’t excuse the inexcusable.
The whole thing made my brain hurt (I am just a walking axe wound, after all!), so I texted my best friend. Did I mention that he’s male? I KNOW, RIGHT? A male best friend! How progressive! He’s not even gay. That’s gotta turn the brain of the average Manosphere-Dweller inside out. A straight man who chooses to be best buddies with a woman. Worse still, A FEMINIST
I asked him “as a man, are there any things that women have/do or ways I which they are treated that piss you the fuck off because it seems unfair?”
Three hours later, after a bit of deliberation, he replied “most things I have come up with apply to “people” nothing so far that can only be applied to women”
You see, a reasonable human being looks at all the factors surrounding an issue. A bigot only looks at one.
But overall, these things don’t make me hate The Manosphere. I just think they’re small-minded, backward-thinking people coming together in a backslappingly cringey, anonymous environment where they egg each other on like 12 year olds attempting shoplifting. They think all feminists exist to hate them, undermine them and deliberately make their lives unpleasant when the reality is we don’t hate men. We just hate the fact that the world has always accommodated men over women and, for a period, made us believe that we were of lesser value. Even without the platform or terminology of ‘feminism’, women would still be fighting for our place alongside men, rather than behind them. I sense danger in The Manosphere in that they cloak themselves in the advocation of a return to traditional values, politicising themselves to gain a greater audience for their extremes views on gender roles. They are positioning themselves as an enemy and creating a battle of attitudes that doesn’t need to exist.
Beautifully, I read that many many young women today would never even dream of referring to themselves as feminists, but when asked if they’d like to live in a world where they were paid less, had lesser rights and had to defer to a husband or father in all situations, they were absolutely speechless. It was not a world they could even consider or visualise. They were born into feminism and although they should have a greater understanding of it, they’ve been gifted by their mothers and grandmothers with rights that they take for granted. They’ve been passed no hatred of men, but we’re still not past needing a hatred of history to remind us of how hard it was. And now we start to build our own future.
The continued existence of The Manosphere has no doubt created more misandrists than feminism ever will.
But I’m not one of them.