I was casually searching the web the other day, feeling sorry for myself because they only made a cool t-shirt for men, and there wasn’t one in my size. Isn’t that the worst?! Anyway, I stumbled across this t-shirt made by the people at Anti-misandry.com, and naturally I just had to see that one. Not in a mocking sense (well, maybe a little), I just like to expose myself to opposing ideas and beliefs really.
The website, so far as I can tell, seeks to document what it considers the systematic oppression of males by feminists and “… the government”, through a series of interesting ‘articles’. Let’s take a look.
How it describes itself
The information they give about the actual website is intensely amusingly written. They were obviously trying to make it look like a ‘real’ conversation between two people about misandry… and failed miserably. Come on, one of the questions on there is literally just “uh?”. That sounds more like a conversation of grunts between two moody teenagers to me!
It’s here that the bizarre conspiracy theories start; while grounded in some truth, they are distorted for their own ends. Consider this passage, for example:
Can you give me some demonstrations of misandry? Sure. Have a look at the second-wave feminist view of men for an example. Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist* who shot Andy Warhol in 1968, provides a famous example of misandry in her self-published SCUM Manifesto. In case you’re wondering, SCUM is an acronym for ‘Society for Cutting Up Men’, practically a call for gendercide, the culling of men. Quite literally, Solanas expressed her desire to “institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.”
*The hover-over link describes feminism as: “A person who demonstrably affords women the assumption of good and men the predisposition of bad whilst claiming to seek equality”.
Valerie Solanas did indeed shoot Andy Warhol in 1968, and the SCUM Manifesto is a real thing, though no one really knows if this is related to her wounding Warhol and his colleague or if that was perhaps more to do with her paranoid schizophrenia (she spent some time in a psychiatric hospital as part of her prison sentence). The Society for Cutting Up Men acronym is a disputed term, and the only member of that society was Valerie herself. The whole thing is still pretty controversial today – some feminists completely disagree with it, and others think it’s an extreme reaction to the state of society at the time and frustration at the lack of progress being made by non-violent protest. I can’t comment exactly because I haven’t read it. I can say however that to suggest this is in any way representative of feminism as a whole in that period is… well, horseshit, if I’m honest.
It goes on to suggest that misandry is taught to children from an early age:
The next time you switch on the television, count how many programmes have the token ‘stupid boyfriend’ or ‘abusive husband’ or ‘paedophilic father’ figure. Switch over to a children’s channel / time window and watch how many cartoons or programmes reflect ‘silly daddy’ characters or ‘bullying big brother’. Don’t forget, of course, nearly all the women in these same programmes will be smart, sexy, sassy and full of beans, capable of juggling a career lifestyle with children, a husband and a social circle – let’s not forget that she’s undoubtedly a wonderful cook and always remembers everybody’s birthdays. If these images are being constantly spread out over our airwaves, what does that tell our children who are growing up watching & learning daily, hourly, that men are just so stupid, abusive and … well, useless?
This is very interesting. I watched – and still do, sometimes – cartoons reasonably regularly as a kid. It took me a while to think of a single instance in which adults of both genders weren’t depicted as a bit stupid in cartoons. Blue’s clues – not a single woman in it, as I recall. Dexter’s Laboratory – Dexter is a genius, everyone else except his computer and his arch enemy are pretty dim. In the Rugrats, the parents are pretty ditzy (probably to the extent the kids would be taken away in real life. Grim). Fairly Odd Parents, same story. In Ed Edd and Eddy, there are no parents at all; it’s pretty much the same in Spongebob. In fact the only example I could think of was Ms. Sara Bellum in The PowerPuff Girls – not even a main character. Sure, those are largely the kids programmes I grew up with, but some of these are still on, and the themes emerging from kids TV nowadays is very much more of the same. If I grew up with this view of men as being just as equal and deserving as I am, well, I can’t see how the same stimuli is going to colour the view of today’s kids against men.
Making up stories
Among some of the more amusing bits of fibbing, this one has to be the most striking. You might recognize the photo (below) from ‘Defined Lines‘, a popular feminist parody to the Robin Thicke song and video, Blurred Lines. The idea behind the video was to create a deliberate role reversal in an attempt to deliberately emphasize how sexist the original actually is. In their own way, the crew at Anti-Misandry.com picked up on the exact same thing; though they rather dull the point by stripping it entirely of its context and its message.
I wanted to comment letting them know of their mistake, but in order to leave a comment you have to know the correct answer to their ‘random’ question, which just so happens to be “Does feminism seem anti-male?”. I could try putting in ‘yes’ of course, but I’m just not a liar.
It isn’t all bad (amazingly!)
Actually, there were one or two things I noticed when flicking through the website that really struck a cord with me. On some issues, we actually agree. Like, for example, the bit where they talk about a lack of adequate provision for male victims of domestic abuse, or the fact that women are much more likely to get custody of children in a divorce, and even the bit where Female Genital Mutilation is illegal and male circumcision isn’t (maybe I’ll write a post about why I disagree with the practice some time).
This isn’t the first time I’ve met with this realization – last year an anti-feminist came to our university and delivered a very bad talk (in which he was actually homophobic) that convinced most of the audience to side with feminism, but on some issues, we all seemed to agree. The problem is, they attribute these problems to the women’s rights movement, when they are actually a part of the patriarchal system. Men don’t receive as much help for domestic abuse because people think – even the men in abusive relationships, to an extent – that a woman can’t hurt a man, as they simply aren’t strong enough. The people in charge see women as weak and defenseless against these strong males, needing additional protection. Men do suffer, though not on the same scale, from domestic abuse and they should receive the same provision for it. Similarly, women get custody more often in divorce because of this messed up notion that women are caregivers first and foremost, so they’re “better” at it, and that it doesn’t really matter if the father is present in the kid’s upbringing. This is backed up by research in the fifties and sixties that didn’t even include father’s in the testing; they thought they didn’t need to. Add in the fact that men are more likely to move out of the family home (because they earn a higher wage, so they can afford a new place) and you have a recipe for custody-bias.
So, now what?
I’m convinced that sexism actually comes from ignorance – sometimes unknowing, sometimes willful. Instead of freaking out when we see stuff like this that we might disagree with, let’s enter into a thoughtful and evidence-based discussion about the issues at hand. If that doesn’t work? Well, you can’t debate with someone who isn’t listening to any counter-arguments; grab a nice cup of tea, politely excuse yourself and take your efforts elsewhere. Eventually they might decide they’re willing to talk.
I look forward to seeing this woefully misrepresented on their website shortly!