You’re probably familiar with the word “misogyny,” meaning hatred or dislike of women. It’s a pervasive part of our cultural lexicon, usually used to describe a man who has acted against a woman in some way — be it cat-calling, sexual assault or anything in between.
But, what about the flip side — the women who hate and act against men? That’s called misandry and while it hasn’t been as prevalent in the past, the word seems to be popping up more and more as the war between feminists and men’s rights activists builds.
For decades, feminists have fought for equal rights for women and we’ve come a long way in that battle. But, the movement seems to have shifted in recent years.
Whereas the goal was (and perhaps still is, at its core) to equalize men and women socially, economically and politically, recently, many vocal self-proclaimed feminists seem more concerned with belittling men and the women who choose to support them.
Rather than work toward creating new legislation or doing anything effective, many ardent feminists are blaming men for their issues.
There are several men in my life whom I love, who both support me and want me to succeed. How can I blame them for the fact that someone whistled at me from a passing car or that a boy at a party wouldn’t take no for an answer? How can I blame them for other men’s actions?
The answer is simple: I can’t. Though certain individuals of either gender might act wrongly, I can’t paint half of the world’s population with any kind of paintbrush. To do so would not only be inaccurate, but also counterproductive to any genuine advancement.
But, on the other side, these ardent men’s rights activists are firing back and their ideas are just as generalizing and counterproductive. Their goal, it seems, is still to define what a woman should be and to harshly criticize those who disagree.
They’re also using a broad brush and if you’re a working or single mother, you’re doing everything wrong. If you don’t live to serve your spouse, you need to re-evaluate your life.
What’s more is that these MRAs argue that women and men are already equal so the feminist cause solely seeks to elevate women above men.
Unfortunately, men and women aren’t actually always treated as equals. In some parts of the world, women can’t drive cars, vote, own property or even leave the house without a male escort. Even in this country, dozens of laws have been passed that dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies.
Many employers won’t cover birth control (which can have non-sexual purposes) on their employee’s health plans, but will cover erectile dysfunction medications (which are only for sexual purposes).
Feminism, in its original form, is intended to identify issues like these and work to solve them. The men’s rights movement was born out of a reaction to modern feminism, but it still demonizes and attacks entire groups for their choices.
I think that everyone has issues; there are men I love and there are women I love. So, how can I be expected to say that one is bad and one is good? How am I supposed to fight for women’s causes and completely ignore the struggles men face, or vice versa?
A lot of the things that get brought up in these arguments — sexual conduct, career choices and lifestyles in general — are deeply personal choices. I know how I feel about these things, but that doesn’t give me the right to tell another person how to live or how to feel.
And, when the time comes for me to make a serious life choice about relationships, career or family, I’ll do what makes me happy rather than what aligns with my social views. I don’t need a feminist or MRA label to validate my life choices.
We need genuine equality and mutual respect. The only way we can ever truly advance is if we recognize the differences between and the benefits of both genders. Neither man nor woman is inherently evil or good, but individuals may embody these traits.
Generalizations, not men or women, are the enemy.
Photo Courtesy: Gevorkyan Ashot