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Misandry

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Misandry (/mɪˈsændri/) is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys. It is parallel in form to misogyny, and either "misandrous" or "misandristic" can be used as adjective forms of the word. Misandry can manifest itself in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of men, violence against men, sexual objectification of men, "or more broadly, the hatred, fear, anger and contempt of men."

Contents

Origins

Misandry is parallel in form to 'misogyny', and is formed from the Greek misos (μῖσος, "hatred") and anēr, andros (ἀνήρ, gen. ἀνδρός; "man"). Use of the word can be found as far back as the nineteenth century, including an 1871 use in The Spectator magazine. It appeared in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) in 1952. Translation of the French "Misandrie" to the German "Männerhaß" (Hatred of Men) is recorded in 1803.

Male disposability

Activist Warren Farrell has written of his views on how men are uniquely marginalized in what he calls their "disposability", the manner in which the most dangerous occupations, notably soldiering and mining, were historically performed exclusively by men and remain so today. In his book, The Myth of Male Power, Farrell argues that patriarchal societies do not make rules to benefit men at the expense of women. Farrell contends that nothing is more telling about who has benefited from "men's rules" than life expectancy, which is lower in males, and suicide rates, which are higher in males.

Religious Studies professors Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young made similar comparisons in their 2001 three-book series Beyond the Fall of Man, which refers to misandry as a "form of prejudice and discrimination that has become institutionalized in North American society", writing, "The same problem that long prevented mutual respect between Jews and Christians, the teaching of contempt, now prevents mutual respect between men and women."

Radical feminism

Academic Alice Echols, in her 1989 book Daring To Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967–1975, argued that radical feminist Valerie Solanas, best known for her attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968, displayed an extreme level of misandry compared to other radical feminists of the time in her tract, The SCUM Manifesto. Echols stated,

Solanas's unabashed misandry—especially her belief in men's biological inferiority—her endorsement of relationships between 'independent women,' and her dismissal of sex as 'the refuge of the mindless' contravened the sort of radical feminism which prevailed in most women's groups across the country.

Andrea Dworkin criticized the biological determinist strand in radical feminism that, in 1977, she found "with increasing frequency in feminist circles" which echoed the views of Valerie Solanas that males are biologically inferior to women and violent by nature, requiring a gendercide to allow for the emergence of a "new Übermensch Womon".

The author bell hooks (pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins) has discussed the issue of "man hating" during the early period of women's liberation as a reaction to patriarchal oppression and women who have had bad experiences with men in non-feminist social movements. She has also criticized separatist strands of feminism as "reactionary" for promoting the notion that men are inherently immoral, inferior, and unable to help end sexist oppression or benefit from feminism. In Feminism is For Everybody, hooks laments the fact that feminists who critiqued anti-male bias in the early women's movement never gained mainstream media attention and that "our theoretical work critiquing the demonization of men as the enemy did not change the perspective of women who were anti-male." hooks has theorized previously that this demonization led to an unnecessary rift between the men's movement and the women's movement.

Although bell hooks doesn't name individual separatist theorists, Mary Daly's utopian vision of a world in which men and heterosexual women have been eliminated is an extreme example of this tendency. Daly argued that sexual equality between men and women was not possible and that women, due to their superior capacities, should rule men. Yet later, in an interview, Daly argued "If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males."

Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young argued that "ideological feminism" as opposed to "egalitarian feminism" has imposed misandry on culture. Their 2001 book, Spreading Misandry, analyzed "pop cultural artifacts and productions from the 1990s" from movies to greeting cards for what they considered to be pervasive messages of hatred toward men. Legalizing Misandry (2005), the second in the series, gave similar attention to laws in North America.

Wendy McElroy, an individualist feminist, wrote in 2001 that some feminists "have redefined the view of the movement of the opposite sex" as "a hot anger toward men [that] seems to have turned into a cold hatred." She argued it was a misandrist position to consider men, as a class, to be irreformable or rapists.

Barbara Kay, a Canadian journalist, has been critical of feminist Mary Koss's discussion of rape culture, describing the notion that "rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture" as "remarkably misandric".

In a 2016 article, author and journalist Cathy Young described a "current cycle of misandry" in feminism. This cycle, she explains, includes the use of the term "mansplaining" and other neologisms using "man" as a derogatory prefix. The term "mansplaining," according to feminist writer Rebecca Solnit, was coined soon after the appearance in 2008 of her essay Men Explain Things to Me.

Asymmetry with misogyny

Sociologist Allan G. Johnson argues in The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy that accusations of man-hating have been used to put down feminists and to shift attention onto men, reinforcing a male-centered culture. Johnson asserts that culture offers no comparable anti-male ideology to misogyny and that "people often confuse men as individuals with men as a dominant and privileged category of people" and that "[given the] reality of women's oppression, male privilege, and men's enforcement of both, it's hardly surprising that every woman should have moments where she resents or even hates 'men'".

Marc A. Ouellette makes similar arguments in International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities (2007), writing that "misandry lacks the systemic, transhistoric, institutionalized, and legislated antipathy of misogyny", despite noting some "racialized" misandries and the existence of a "misandric impulse" in popular culture and literature.

Anthropologist David D. Gilmore also argues that misogyny is a "near-universal phenomenon" and that there is no male equivalent to misogyny. Further defending manifestations of perceived misandry as not "hatred of men's traditional male role" and a "culture of machismo". He argues, misandry is "different from the intensely ad feminam aspect of misogyny that targets women no matter what they believe or do".

Ancient Greek literature

Classics professor Froma Zeitlin of Princeton University discussed misandry in her article titled "Patterns of Gender in Aeschylean Drama: Seven against Thebes and the Danaid Trilogy". She writes:

The most significant point of contact, however, between Eteocles and the suppliant Danaids is, in fact, their extreme positions with regard to the opposite sex: the misogyny of Eteocles' outburst against all women of whatever variety (Se. 181-202) has its counterpart in the seeming misandry of the Danaids, who although opposed to their Egyptian cousins in particular (marriage with them is incestuous, they are violent men) often extend their objections to include the race of males as a whole and view their cause as a passionate contest between the sexes (cf. Su. 29, 393, 487, 818, 951).

Shakespeare

Literary critic Harold Bloom argued that even though the word misandry is relatively unheard of in literature it is not hard to find implicit, even explicit, misandry. In reference to the works of Shakespeare Bloom argued "I cannot think of one instance of misogyny whereas I would argue that misandry is a strong element. Shakespeare makes perfectly clear that women in general have to marry down and that men are narcissistic and not to be trusted and so forth. On the whole, he gives us a darker vision of human males than human females."

Charles Dickens

In Dickens' Great Expectations, the character Miss Havisham is a caricature of a misandrist. Miss Havisham was jilted on her wedding day, and is consumed with rage about this event, and unable to move on in life. She plots and successfully executes what she thinks of as a "revenge" against the male gender, in the person of the protagonist, Pip. However, she then realises that she has only caused Pip, who is blameless, to suffer in turn what she suffered – a broken heart – and repents and begs Pip's forgiveness.

Modern literature

Critic of mainstream feminism Christina Hoff Sommers has described Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues as misandric in that "there are no admirable males ... the play presents a rogues’ gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and hateful little boys" which she finds out of step with the reality that "most men are not brutes. They are not oppressors".

Julie M. Thompson, a feminist author, connects misandry with envy of men, in particular "penis envy", a term coined by Sigmund Freud in 1908, in his theory of female sexual development. Nancy Kang has discussed "the misandric impulse" in relation to the works of Toni Morrison.

In his book, Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, Harry Brod, a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, writes:

In the introduction to The Great Comic Book Heroes, Jules Feiffer writes that this is Superman's joke on the rest of us. Clark is Superman's vision of what other men are really like. We are scared, incompetent, and powerless, particularly around women. Though Feiffer took the joke good-naturedly, a more cynical response would see here the Kryptonian's misanthropy, his misandry embodied in Clark and his misogyny in his wish that Lois be enamored of Clark (much like Oberon takes out hostility toward Titania by having her fall in love with an ass in Shakespeare's Midsummer-Night's Dream).

References

Misandry Wikipedia


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