Man Haterz

Survey Says: Feminists report less hostility towards men than non-feminists.

I can't imagine the number of times I've pointed out (particularly in regard to narratives about rape) that it is anti-feminists' views of men—and, inevitably, men's allegedly intrinsic male (animalistic) nature—which are always extremely unflattering to men.

Most of these unflattering characterizations, particularly that men are brutish and that men are infantile, are blamed on feminists/womanists, but most FWs eschew such blanket stereotypes not merely on the principle that gendered stereotypes are anti-feminist/womanist, but also because FWs are keenly aware that male privilege is served by those stereotypes of men, as one (brutishness) is used to excuse intolerable behavior of men and the other (infantilization) is used to justify pathetically low expectations of men.

Anti-feminists love to curse these dreadful characterizations of men, even as they are hopelessly reliant upon them to bolster the narratives which protect their undeserved privilege. (See: Apatow, Judd.) They blame feminists as the source of demeaning messages about men, as a smokescreen to conceal their authentic origins and as a diversion from the reality that many men benefit from the very messages they claim to abhor.

The truth is, FWs give men the gift of high expectations and extend the kindness that is recognizing men are a product of their socialization, too.

Once upon a time, I suggested to Iain that something he was doing (which was pissing me off) stemmed from a latent sexist notion that it was his prerogative as The Man to do this specific thing, which is not an accusation I wield carelessly or often; I have little reason to, since Iain is rationally egalitarian—and viscerally egalitarian for the most part, too. Anyway, we talked it out, and Iain was generously honest, saying that, yeah, that was the reason he was doing it and, wow, he hadn't realized it, but, shit, that feeling was totally there, ick. No hard feelings; it's not like I've never been called out for deeply internalized bullshit. We move forward with a new understanding.

It took a long time to get there, though, and at one point, Iain had said, "You know, if you weren't a feminist, this probably wouldn't even bother you."

I replied, "No, if I weren't a feminist, it would still bother me, but instead of acknowledging that you're an indoctrinated member of a patriarchy just like I am, I'd just think you were being a lousy shithead."

He chewed on that for a moment, and then said, "Fuck."

That was the first time Iain really understood how my feminism was benefiting him—that feminism doesn't make me see problems that aren't there, but provides the tools which allow me to analyze and prescribe solutions based on a context larger than my immediate experience. And existent outside the narrowly-drawn borders of constrictive stereotyping.

Implicit, then, in womanism/feminism is not only the belief, but the expectation, that men are not brutish nor infantile—nor stupid, useless, inept, emotionally stunted, or any other negative stereotype feminists have been accused of promoting—but instead our equals just as much as we are theirs, capable not only of understanding feminism (and feminists), but of actively and rigorously engaging challenges to their socialization, too.

Feminists, of course, have the terrible reputation, but it isn't we who consider all men babies, dopes, dogs, and potential rapists. The holders of those views are the women and men who root for the patriarchy—which itself, after all, takes a rather unpleasantly dim view of most people.

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