Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Re-thinking 'Misandry'

I just finished writing two posts in which I talk about the important role of men in feminism. But I'm not Jezebel, so I know that very few people read it. But nonetheless, it seems I'm going there again, this time in relation to a book by Concordia Professor Dr. Synnott called "Re-Thinking Men".

I have not read the book. And I hate it when people tear down shit they didn't read/attend/listen to, etc. So I completely understand if you turn this car around. Totally. The biggest criticism with the Professor's book is that it's an unfair critique of feminism.

Although he has said that he doesn't consider the book a critique of feminism but a critique of misandric feminism. And this is where I take issue. I believe in feminisms, plural. So yes, there is certainly feminists who do not like men, who hate them, resent them, etc. As I've said, if I respect Sarah Palin's right to call herself a feminism, then I gotta respect the right of man-haters to do their thang, too.

My issue is with misandry in general. Mostly, because I don't really think it even exists. Yes, I think hatred of men exists but I don't think misandry does because hatred of men is not systemic. Now I realize I could be arguing semantics in the eyes of many and I accept that but misgony is called misogyny and not just chauvinism because it's a systemic hatred of womyn and rejection of anything feminine. Although I see individual cases of man-hating and full blown perpetual man-hating in certain contexts (that I will get to soon), I don't believe for a second that 'men' are systemically oppressed, hated or disadvantaged.

I am referring to the gender, here. I am willfully ignoring intersections and fully recognize that trans-men, men of colour, queer men, disAbled men, etc. are not living the high life of acceptance and praise. I'm just referring to the idea of 'men' as a gender, as the Professor does.

Where I see the hatred of men is in popular culture: a realm in which feminists have little to no say. (Think of what pop culture would look like under a critical feminist lens for a second, if you're skeptical). The fact that most men in sitcoms are complete neanderthals, that you can't see a cleaning product commercial without seeing a dude who can't change a roll of toilet paper, that every time I turn around, men are depicted as slaves to their sex drive and completely 'frat boy' like, rather than complex individuals with a wide range of emotions and characteristics. But this is not a result of feminism.

And so I take objection to the idea that feminism or specifically, 'misandric feminism' has a role to play in perpetuating shitty sketches of masculinity and men. Another reason I object to this book? The fact that the Professor describes the purpose of the book, which is "to praise men – to recognize their massive and heroic contributions to social life and to civilization.” Yes, to offer men praise because apparently years of sexist, racist, cisgendered, ableist, etc, etc, etc history books and stories have forgotten to mention how privileged dudes did nothing to bring us to where we are today. Because every time I look around , womyn, people of colour and indigenous folks are being thanked for bringing the world 'modernity', classic literature, paved roads, philosophy, etc. Oh wait...

If you need me to deconstruct how problematic that is, then I have no idea why you're reading this blog.

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