Sunday, June 20, 2010

Defining "Misandry": the best explanation of this term I've found yet

 [image/cartoon is from here]

First, about the cartoon. I did a Google image search on "misandry" and this came up, and, well, even though I'm not entirely what it has to do with misandry, it did seem appropriate to post on Father's Day in the U.S. My actual Father's Day post is here.

The web source for all that follows (I swear I didn't write this!) I'd like to credit whoever did write it.

Misandry a real word or shaming tactic?

“misandry” is a word that doesn't represent any real thing, a kind of a placeholder in our consciousness for an experience that does not, and indeed cannot, exist. so why have I been accused of perpetrating it about a million times in the last month?

I have come to see the word “misandry” as a euphemism for feminism, and “misandrist” as a euphemism for feminist, rather than anything that actually exists in real life, to any troubling degree, or in any meaningful way. while anti-feminists and misogynists bandy the terms about with glee, in reality, its just another flaccid jab at feminism, and feminists, by privileged men whose perverse denial of reality leads them to believe (or pretend to believe) that they are on the receiving end of institutional sexism as much as they benefit from it. and that they suffer relational abuse just as frequently as they dish it out. Only an anti-feminist would think to define misogyny’s ‘opposite’ as the hatred of men: more reasonably, woman-hating would be opposed to woman-loving, would it not? but leave it to a misogynist to define all things in relation to men’s experience: they wouldn’t think to define anything without evoking a male image, and considering (even imagining, with no basis in reality) not whether but how that “thing” would affect men, and whether misandry even exists is entirely beside the point, isnt it? in fact, whether an inversion of the word “misogyny” was even necessary appears to be irrelevant. its striking that power-grabbing and reclaiming behaviors are triggered whenever privilege is challenged, and that the power-grabbing often takes the form specifically of creating made-up words. privileged males have historically held power over the rest of us through language, including of course the written word and literacy, but also the making of language itself. they have historically chosen how certain issues are framed, by the way they are referred to, by words. referring to sexual intercourse as the man “penetrating” instead of the woman “enveloping” for example. more broadly, those who have traditionally benefited from social and political privilege coined the new, made-up term “politically correct” to undermine and denigrate those doing the questioning. the intellectual dishonesty is dizzying, truly



Jessica "Wolverine" Metaneira said...

Most of the 'misandry' quoted by these people is indeed complete bullshit. Usually the misandry in question is simply that they no longer get unearned privileges..

Julian Real said...

Exactly, Jessica!

Or that they are prevented from acquiring more.

blaze byrne said...

If male is the opposite of female, then surely it is correct to say misandrist is the opposite of misogynist.

"the power-grabbing often takes the form specifically of creating made-up words."
aren't all words made up?

Julian Real said...

Hi Blaze,

In response to your comment:

I don't see male and female as intrinsic "opposites" at all. To do so is to misuse the term "opposites" and to not appreciate the fact that males and females, as well as intersex people, share more in common than they don't share. Their dissimilarities both in anatomy and character vary considerably, with as much variance among females and among males as between the two. I recommend reading a passage I'll quote below, as well as the rest of the piece it is from, which I'll link to after the quoted portion. And then I'll respond to your other points.

Julian Real said...

"The known tried-and-true principles of reality, then, universally believed and adhered to with a vengeance, are often shaped out of profound ignorance. We do not know what or how much we do not know. Ignoring our ignorance, even though it has been revealed to us time and time again, we believe that reality is whatever we do know.

"One basic principle of reality, universally believed and adhered to with a vengeance, is that there are two sexes, man and woman, and that these sexes are not only distinct from each other, but are opposite. The model often used to describe the nature of these two sexes is that of magnetic poles. The male sex is likened to the positive pole, and the female sex is likened to the negative pole. Brought into proximity with each other, the magnetic fields of these two sexes are supposed to interact, locking the two poles together into a perfect whole. Needless to say, two like poles brought into proximity are supposed to repel each other.

"The male sex, in keeping with its positive designation, has positive qualities; and the female sex, in keeping with its negative designation, does not have any of the positive qualities attributed to the male sex. For instance, according to this model, men are active, strong, and courageous; and women are passive, weak, and fearful. In other words, whatever men are, women are not; whatever men can do, women cannot do; whatever capacities men have, women do not have. Man is the positive and woman is his negative.

"Apologists for this model claim that it is moral because it is inherently egalitarian. Each pole is supposed to have the dignity of its own separate identity; each pole is necessary to a harmonious whole. This notion, of course, is rooted in the conviction that the claims made as to the character of each sex are true, that the essence of each sex is accurately described. In other words, to say that man is the positive and woman is the negative is like saying that sand is dry and water is wet--the characteristic which most describes the thing itself is named in a true way and no judgment on the worth of these differing characteristics is implied." - The Root Cause, Andrea Dworkin

A link to the rest of her discussion is here:

Julian Real said...

So given that I don't agree with your premise, I also don't agree that misogynist and misandrist are opposites, for reasons inclusive of and beyond those stated in the blog post above. As the writer above so clearly identifies, misogyny is socially existent as institutionalised, systematic brutality, force, coercion, harassment, violation, and murder--of women, by men. There is no such sex/gender-based phenomenon on Earth (including but not limited to women terrorising, subordinating, economically exploiting, and physically assaulting men en masse across millennia) that is politically or socially parallel.

To make the words opposites of one another, linguistically not socially speaking--as you appear to want to do, is to put them on political par with one another. It is, therefore, also to pretend their definitions are equally socially experienced and existent. And that's simply not the case as even casual observers of reality should note.

Misandry--if we mean by the term this: women hating men; women acting out that hatred in violent and dehumanising ways that are supported by social, political, and economic institutions; and women as a class benefiting from the violence with men as a class being subordinated to women because of it--doesn't exist. Misogyny does.

To your third point: Aren't all words made up? Yes, but... Some have cultural meaning, and refer to actual social or natural events. Others do not. "Capitalist exploitation" is just as 'made up' a term as "social egalitarianism" but only one of them is endemic in the world. "White supremacy" as a term, is just as 'made up' as "Black supremacy" but only one is socially real.

Some words refer to phenomena that are deadly; some are designed to distract us from that deadly force. "Misogyny", as it is currently and historically acted out upon the world is horrific. "Misandry" and "misandrist", relatively speaking, are socially fictional linguistic devices ceaselessly while erroneously promoted by anti-feminist and woman-hating men who refuse to deal with the brutal and horrific power men as a class hold over and against women as a class.

Kroicher said...

Radical feminism has, at times, walked the path of misandry and female chauvinism. Feminism is NOT anti-male per se, but it can be. Denying it and dismissing it entirely as "made-up words" or "ending unearned privilege" is quite a simplistic reasoning, if not bigotry itself.

Take a look at some quotations from [some] radical feminists:

Radicalism can only go so far before falling on itself and becoming as putrid as that which it stood against, be it a religious, political or social cause.

I am a feminist man -- I am pro-feminism. But I will never stand dogmatism, ignorance and self-righteous chauvinism.

Julian Real said...

Hi Kroicher,

Would you be so kind as to locate those quotes in their respective contexts? Which are from fiction, for example? Which are from non-fiction books?

Which do you believe are representative of the overall thoughts and perspective of the speaker? Given that some are anecdotal, what do those particular women believe about men overall? Can you tell us?

Do you think a few provocative quotes are useful in determining the value of someone's work, or the work of an entire social change movement? If so, might we conclude men, by and large, are misogynists based on what some men say and write, often, such as in pornography, about women? Such as what men say about women who are prostitutes, or girlfriends, or wives? Might we conclude, based on thousands of years of misogyny produced and acted out by men, that all men do hate all women?

Anti-feminist men try and employ that flaccid tactic that with radical feminist quotes. They pretend, first of all, that they understand what they mean. Often enough, they don't even know what the quote is referring to. They don't understand the political framework, the structural analysis, or the context. I will bet you 999 out of 1000 have never read an entire book by Andrea Dworkin or Catharine A. MacKinnon. (Have you? Which ones?)

Anti-feminist men try and paint all radical feminists--almost always white ones--with a broad brush as though they speak for all radical feminists of all colors. They also pretend a few white feminists speak for every other white feminist.

Anti-feminist men also don't make distinctions between someone like Valerie Solanas and someone like Andrea Dworkin. Do you know why that is? Someone who wrote one manifesto, made popular because of a man who distributed it, is compared to a woman who wrote a dozen or so books, carefully highlighting and analysing men's globalised atrocities against women, while also noting men's inhumanity to other men. (See this, for example: I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape.)

As a pro-feminist, do you, Kroicher, personally think Solanas and Dworkin ought to be seen as "of the same mind"?

These anti-feminist trolls refuse to intelligently engage on these subjects--ask them even to cite the sources of those quotes and they go limp in the mind.

For more on this ignorance-inducing and ethically irresponsible phenomenon, which you participate in, by the way, please see these past posts:

The Double Standard of What Gender-specific Quotes Mean and Represent: The Endless Parade of Anti-Feminist Quotes Continues

The Patriarchal Pity Party: MRA Trolls and their list of "Misandrist" quotes

Finally for now Kroicher, haven't you noticed that the world's most dangerous man-haters are men, not women? White men hating men of color. Het men hating gay men. First World men hating Third World men. Rich men hating poor men.

Have you really not noticed how "misandrist" MEN are? Given your commitment to feminism, I'm sure you'd acknowledge that men have more structural power than do women. Given that, why do you think it is that those people out there on places like Yahoo Answers, quoting mostly deceased feminists out of context, don't instead quote living men who are hostile and hateful to other men and who have the structural power to act it out in war, interpersonal violence, and discrimination?

I welcome your thoughtful reply.

Julian Real said...

P.S. Kroicher,

You might like this intelligent discussion, including with some men, about this common anti-feminist lie:

Claim: Feminist Catharine MacKinnon said "All sex is rape."

Kroicher said...

I haven't read any book by either of the authors you've mentioned. I haven't attacked any author personally, nor have I gone against any particular train of thought.

I wasn't really expecting you'd even consider replying to this comment, and I appreciate you doing so. I will look into the links you recommend, and I hope to gain something from them.

I was merely pointing out the convenience there is in any trend or fashion (for some or many social and political movements become fashionable for some people) to personally or needlessly belittling people. As I said, and alas this may sound pure rhetoric (I am clearly incomparably less knowledgeable in these matters than you): what angers me is dogmatism and ignorance.

As a little anecdote: I am an undergraduate student majoring in literature and linguistics in Brazil. I'm the only male in half my classes, and in the other half I have less than three male peers. And when it comes to cultural studies, my opinions have been aggressively cast aside more than once for not agreeing with my radical feminist teacher's regular agenda. I wasn't a victim of misandry, and I didn't 'suffer' due to a biased opinion on men -- these are far too strong concepts for what happens there. I have, however, been belittled by dogmatism and ignorance, deemed inadequate even to comment because of my supposedly biased and privileged condition. That's quite simplistic, I'm sure you'd agree: whether I'm a male or not has nothing to do with having a voice in such a discussion. My arguments should suffice (or not, if that's the case). Maybe I'm just complaining, I know. But it's frustrating. I am trying to have a better, broader understanding of the world, to be fair and respectful as I always did. But I had fingers pointed at me before I could speak my mind.

It's true that there are many men obsessed with misandry. Man who'd like nothing better than to complain about any kind of nuisance in their lives (do I fit here?). But also to deny it completely as a "made-up" word-thing, pure jest and jokes, I find it hard to believe. I won't be turned to a cynic.

Kroicher said...

Again I say: what angers me isn't feminism (be it radical or not) -- it never was. Dogmatism, chauvinism, ignorance. I took a step into ignorance by linking this comment to quotations with no context. I think I owe you an apology. I did take the quotations at face value. I never do this, and I shouldn't have done it this time.

I believe in feminism. Or rather, to be more sincere, I believe in equality and respect at the core of social relations. I understand what it is to be privileged, and I try my best never to use that privilege. Some things pass us by unnoticed, however -- I am not a hypocrite.

As a white heterosexual male I've learned to be silent with many topics regarding prejudice and privilege (mostly because of my experience in such discussions), but I refuse to become a cynic. Fortunately, this has proved to be an enriching experience.

Thank you.

Julian Real said...

Kroicher, it's very rare for me to meet a male who actually wants to discuss some of these issues. So, thanks for that. :)

I'm going to turn this into a separate post, as I've a lot to say and also welcome you to respond more. So please check that out and please do respond.

Julian Real said...

The second comment you posted that begins with "Again I say", was seen and read by me only after I responded to the earlier one, in a new blog post. So apologies for not incorporating those views in the post, Kroicher. You do address some of what I speak about in that post, and I'm heartened to see that you are aware of how our privileges can easily be misused.

Here is a link to that new post:

I will publish this latest comment not only here, but will put it at the end of my new post as well.