THE SHAMELESS MISANDRIST
By Ollie Henderson
Yesterday I posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook of a t-shirt I made that read “Shameless Misandrist”. After about an hour of it being up I hastily took it down, not because of the negative comments it was receiving, but because, in my excitement, I spelt shameless wrong. *Facepalm* (Special thanks to James, my editor, for pointing that one out.)
I wasn’t surprised by the negative comments, most of which were along the lines of “The opposite t-shirt to that is ‘shameless misogynist’, so I’m not quite down with it”.
But there is an enormous difference between misogyny and misandry.
Misogyny and misandry are not the opposite of each other because they are not equal.
Yes, they are both terms that express a hatred of the other gender, but these terms do not exist in a vacuum. The context in which they exist is that of a society that systematically oppresses women – and has done so for eons.
When a man is misogynistic, he is further victimising an oppressed group. When a woman is a misandrist, it is a reaction – an attempt to reassert herself in an unequal battle. Misogynistic acts carry far more weight because men have the power to subjugate women – women do not have that same power.
Here are a few example of misogyny having far more power over misandry:
Slut vs Fuckboi.
Both are gendered derogatory terms relating to sexuality. When a woman is called a slut, it implies that her sexual behaviour is deviant – and that a man has the right to dictate that. This removes her sexual autonomy and shames her for a natural behaviour. In a society where men have sexual freedom and women do not, this action creates further imbalance.
The term fuckboi also suggests sexual promiscuity, but additionally suggests that the male is being disrespectful and unethical in his sexual choices. Fuckboi is calling someone out for treating women disrespectfully and demands equality.
Attempts to rectify social injustices, with the term fuckboi, are not the same as perpetuating them, as in slut.
“I bathe in male tears” meme, male tears cup or #wastehistime2016
Humour is often a way to deal with trauma, and generational oppression is traumatic. It is generally understood in comedy that one should not ‘punch down’. This is to say that one should not use humour to degrade people with less power or privilege. Misogynistic humour, unlike misandrist humour, breaks this rule and perpetuates fallacies about women, such as being bad drivers (have you seen Danica Patrick?), that also further inequality.
Coined ‘ironic misandry’ by Slate in 2014, this is entirely reactionary and does not perpetuate a pre-existing culture of abuse; it attempts to start a new one. It fails because it’s in direct competition to the current and widespread norm. If it were feasible that misandrist jokes would actually do more than make Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) uncomfortable then we would have a problem, but it doesn’t. A mug is not going to change years of systematic oppression.
Many say that this is counterproductive for feminism and perpetuates the “man-hater” stereotype. This is true; this type of humour is easily misread and directly imply the hatred of men. But it also gives feminists their own secret in-joke, a kind of gallows humour that unites and strengthens bonds.
Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto.
For those who have not heard of the SCUM Manifesto, it was written in 1967 and is the most misandrist piece of literature I have ever read.
“To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo”, Solanas writes.
But the SCUM manifesto is laughed at, even amongst feminist circles. Men’s Rights Activists, on the other hand, have huge followings and suggest a similar (yet converse) ideal; that women are sexual objects for male pleasure, that their place is in the kitchen and that they should be obedient to their husband. On of the biggest blogs in the ‘manosphere’, Return of the Kings, has thousands of hits a day.
When a woman is being a misandrist she is viewed as radical, when a man is a misogynist it reinforces the views of the world we live in and is accepted more freely.
I could go further into other arguments of the ‘manosphere’ that imply the fictitious misandrist regime, such as why women can explore their masculinity yet men can’t explore his femininity, why women often win in custody battles, affirmative action, and the representation of men and women in the media. But I feel like Bunnika’s Blog does it better (and I have a word count to keep).
Men are so offended by misandry whereas women just accept misogyny as a normal part of life (boys will be boys), because so far… it has been. Misogyny is so far woven into our society on every level that we often don’t see it; casual sexism, the glass ceiling or mass murders and re-offending rapists. These are all misogynistic acts that either benefit men or reaffirm their status of power over women; and they all occur regularly, daily, all the fucking time!
What have misandrists got? A radical writer, humour and one derogatory term? They just stand out like a sore thumb because they break the status quo where as misogyny reinforces it.
Being a misandrist is obviously not the “right” thing, it certainly isn’t PC, but it simply does not hold the same power as misogyny; therefore cannot be considered equal.
I made my “Shameless Misandrist” t-shirt because somedays I’m just tired of the BS I experience daily as a result of being a women. Somedays I feel like men suck, #yesallmen. I’m tired of staying quiet or patiently educating.
Somedays I just want to put a finger in the air and say fuck you.
NOTE: I am discussing this gender in binary terms because I am breaking down the differences between misogyny and misandry which are inherently binary terms. I fully acknowledge that non-binary and trans people receive the most gendered vilification of all. Stay tuned for further discussion on the complexities of gendered discrimination in our non-binary world.