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Let’s Hear It For The Boys

Misandry. Not a word that many of us are familiar with. Its official definition is the hatred or dislike of men or boys. It is not as widely used as its female equivalent, misogyny – a term currently being applied by the media to the thoughts and expressions of various controversial politicians across the pond. When I mentioned to a female friend that I was writing an article about misandry it was met with a laugh, a shrug and a very sarcastic ‘Why? Men have feelings too?!’

Well actually, yes they do. But more about that later.

The last time I truly remember having a dislike of the opposite sex was at primary school, when one of the aforementioned said something mean to me and in return I surmised that all boys were evil. This ‘misandry’ lasted for approximately 5 minutes. I did in fact have a boy as a best friend for the remainder of my primary school days.

Women have campaigned for equal rights for many years and although there is still a way to go on many levels, we don’t seem prepared to offer back equal rights to men in those areas where they have lacked support. The media are quick to show us depictions of deadbeat dads, incompetent male co-workers and the classic ‘village idiot’ (always suspiciously male). You can buy t-shirts suggesting boys are stupid and that they should have rocks thrown at them. And let’s be honest ladies, at least once in your life you will have made either of these standard anti-male comments; ‘Men!’ (often accompanied by the rolling of eyes) or ‘We all know that men can’t multi-task!’ (again accompanied by the rolling of eyes). And sometimes we just roll our eyes.  If we have fought so long for equality in so many things, then equality should be exactly that – equal. It’s kind of the key point to it all.  Women were supposed to be fighting for equality, not to have the upper hand. Why should a disparaging comment made to a woman by a man have any lesser effect when the roles are reversed?

Men are supposed to be strong, unemotional, rock like creatures with skins so thick that insults and jibes from us fragile, female flowers, bounce off of them with the greatest of ease.  But such put downs are harmful to men too; those feelings I mentioned above are in all of us regardless of gender.  Any woman who finds a man who is in touch with his emotions as less ‘masculine’ in some way is clearly a sexist idiot.  Yeah, you heard me.  An idiot.

More pressure than ever before is put on the way men dress, the way their bodies look, how much they earn, whether or not they drive the right car or wear the right trainers. I know men in my own life, both young and old, who have struggled to deal with such pressures. Men who haven’t been able to automatically slip into the expected male stereotype and not let these things affect them. Men who have been ashamed of the way they look to the extent that they haven’t joined in with certain activities for fear of embarrassment. Men who have broken down emotionally under the strain of lost jobs, broken relationships and losing loved ones, whilst trying to hold everything together and keeping their upset hidden.  Feeling pressure to be that strong, unemotional rock that nothing can touch.  To say that men are simple creatures is as seriously misguided and offensive as suggesting all women like fluffy pink things.

Nobody is the same, everybody is different, but what is certain is that we all have deep and complex feelings about a myriad of things. No man is an island, we’re all in this together.  You aren’t automatically assigned greater emotional strength at birth depending on your gender. On that basis, I’d like to encourage us all, both men and women, to be kinder and more understanding towards each other, regardless of what we happen to be hiding in our underwear. Take time to think about those things you say that might seem flippant, but actually cut deep. It goes both ways of course and it will take some effort to change, but boys aren’t stupid and we shouldn’t throw rocks at them.  Gender prejudice is as tired, tedious and inane as another series of Big Brother (I mean, really, Channel 5??) and it’s about time we, as cogent, reasonable human beings, disregard these stereotypes and embrace the multi faceted emotionality that makes us what we are: intuitive, imperfect, sensitive, awesome and fascinating individuals – genitals be damned.  Let’s kick misandry in the balls.

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