The Dangers of Man-Bashing in the Feminist Quest for Equality

Dawn Bevier

I just read an article on how this pandemic is forcing women out of the workplace. The claim of the article is that men expect women to do most of the heavy lifting concerning the additional need for childcare due to virtual schooling, the closing of daycares, and the tragic dilemma in which it puts most parents. It also makes the blanket statement that men frequently shirk their marital and parenting responsibilities as a whole.

Reading it, I felt a slow simmering of anger, one that has been rising steadily in me for quite a while. It seems to be more and more acceptable to blame men for all the problems a woman faces, from the way that they feel about their bodies to the jobs that they get or to the unfair burden that is placed on them concerning the raising of children.

Women have been angry for centuries that they have been forced into domestic roles and categorized as powerless, passive, unintelligent, and incapable. As a result, they have verbalized this anger in order to draw attention to and eradicate the unjust labels society imposes upon them. And let there be no doubt: their fury is righteous and their demands to be heard an extraordinary show of strength and determination.

But when some women place the same derogatory group labels on men, their counter-attacks weaken the power of the feminist platform. It makes them perpetrators of the very actions they find so repulsive.

And this loud and proud slandering of men that leans towards the hypocritical is now so commonplace that no one usually gives it a second thought.

Controversial author and feminist Rosalind Coward asserts that the vilification of and mudslinging directed towards men is no longer “confined to a tiny, politically motivated bunch of man-hating feminists, but is a regular feature of mainstream culture.”

And truth be told, society as a whole is much more tolerant of this double standard.

The Irony of Feminist Man-Bashing

In the opening paragraphs of an article in The Baltimore Sun, Fred Medinger makes statements such as “not all women are annoying. Some are dead,” and
“men must be twice as good as women to be thought half as good. Fortunately, this is not difficult.”

These statements come from greeting cards Medinger found in his local grocery store. The statements were originally condemnations of men, but he changed the messages by reversing the gender. He does this to make the point that these abusive criticisms directed at males would never be tolerated if the same statements were publicized about women.

Pinterest even has a section on “man-bashing humor.” Some of the quotes contain statements such as “if it has tires or testicles it’s gonna give you trouble” and “men are like fine wine. They start out as grapes, and it’s up to women to stomp the shit out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.”

An article in Commentary magazine cites a statement by freelance writer Miranda Larbi who comments on the inherent wrongness of this double standard. She states:

“ More [women] need to commit to speaking less generally and more specifically when we’re taking men to task. We need to make an effort to consider their opinions before we negate them entirely. We need to value the male experience as much as we do the female.”

The “Cyclops Syndrome”

In a Psychology Today article entitled “Why Some People Have Issues With Men: Misandry,” Anthony Synnott Ph.D. explains this cultural trend as the “cyclops syndrome.” Synnott compares women’s shortsightedness concerning men to the one-eyed creature made famous in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.

He states that “cyclops people stereotype the male by the actions of a minority, define the exceptions as the rule, ignore the majority, and ignore too the minority of female villains for a cleaner, clearer (supposedly) picture.”

And for many unfortunate women, the majority of their interactions with males may have been poisonous; however, these feelings are based on personal experience and cannot fairly assume the mindsets or behaviors of the broad majority of men. Statements of reverse sexism ignore the great number of men that are loving partners and caregivers.

Feminist male-bashing also ignores a history of men who have fought for female empowerment. An article in The Guardian chronicles many male supporters of feminist goals, citing the famous abolitionist writer Frederick Douglass and philosopher John Stuart Mill. It also mentions men in the present time who champion women’s equality.

One such man referred to is Scottish tennis pro Andy Murray, whom the article states “argued for equal pay in tennis and refused to listen to the sniffy comments that greeted his decision to hire a female coach, Amélie Mauresmo, in 2014.”

And aside from these more notable examples, many, many women continue to acknowledge the profoundly positive effect of male role models on their lives. They express gratitude for the loving fathers, loyal and compassionate husbands, and non-prejudicial co-workers and bosses with which they interact each day.

The Bottom Line:

The best gains in history have been made by people who modeled the changes they worked for and did not stoop to the same lows as those whose actions they condemned. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated for change in a peaceful way in the midst of racially induced violence and physical force. Mahatma Gandhi fought unfair acts of British rule with non-violent resistance. Even the great philosopher Socrates stated, “Do not do to others what angers you if done to you by others.”

And as women who actively work towards the ultimate goal of being recognized for our intellect and power, we must not lower ourselves to the vile actions we find so repulsive in certain men.

In an 1888 speech given by abolitionist and female rights supporter Frederick Douglass, he states, “I believe no man, however gifted with thought and speech, can voice the wrongs and present the demands of women with the skill and effect, with the power and authority of woman herself. The man struck is the man to cry out. Woman … is her own best representative.”

He’s right, you know.

We as women have to represent the conduct that we want to be seen in others, not negate the legitimacy of our concerns by succumbing to the abhorrent behavior of those in society who believe name-calling and women bashing is both humorous and acceptable.

The truth?

Name-calling and people bashing are never acceptable, and if the whole world recognized this fact, I think we would live in a place much more likely to endorse equality for all its members.

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Sanford, NC

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