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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.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

4 Responses to this article

  1. I work in an admin job and there are females in the office who always go on about how they are “surprised so many men work here”, “it’s not a man’s job is it”, “they should be doing something practical” and “we all know that men can’t multi-task”. Not in a jokey way either, they are being deadly serious!

    To add insult to injury we had to complete diversity awareness training; the section on gender? All about women in the workplace. Apparently men are no longer covered under “gender equality”. There was a section explaining how the company was proud to have over 60% female workforce, but was committed to getting 30%+ women in the boardroom (a rather arbitrary “quota” if you ask me; as long as the opportunities are present for both genders it should be about the best person for the job). Not a single mention was given of getting more lower/entry positions for men to redress the balance for the whole company.

    MrRich 24th August 2012 at 12:00 pm
  2. Hi. The problems you describe are conditions of patriarchy and capitalism and not the result or reinforcement of any structural oppression of males. That is the difference and it’s why misandry, besides not even being a word, is most certainly not the equivalent of misogyny.

    I applaud the work CALM do with young men on mental health – I’ve suffered depression and have a male partner with bipolar – but this is some fairly incoherent politics on display here.

    ” Take time to think about those things you say that might seem flippant, but actually cut deep.”
    That’s great and obviously very right.

    I grew up with a dad who was kind, gentle, cooked, cleaned, supported my mum and could multitask like a mofo, eg. drinking whiskey behind the stove while keeping an eye on the baby and answering University Challenge questions correctly. He was, and is, also a feminist, because he knew that patriarchy is very bad for men too. It’s patriarchy that says fathers are not full parents, that boys should be tough and not cry, that males can’t be gentle or loving or complex or sensitive. Not misandry.

    Gender is a biological continuum, it’s good to be aware of that and look to mirror that fact in our decisions and opinions, but politically and socially gender is rigid and that’s because we live under patriarchy and capitalism.

    Anna 28th August 2012 at 9:16 am
  3. Anna- I agree with you completely. Thank you.

    Chris 3rd September 2012 at 3:39 am
  4. I think you’ve let your argument down with the “misandry…not even being a word”, Anna. It is present in several major dictionaries, is widely used and understood in research papers. I am curious as to how it isn’t a word?

    “and not the result or reinforcement of any structural oppression of males.”

    I think you’ve missed the point. In the same way that women can themselves be misogynistic (self-oppression if you like), men can also oppress other men. Both genders are capable of sexism (against the opposite or same sex).

    Whilst I might understand an argument that “women don’t structurally oppress males” (to which I would still have to respectfully disagree), to say there is no oppression of males is pure head-in-the-sand ignorance.

    I think this reminds me of the criticism I have of the feminist movement: there is a belief held by some that the only way to promote and secure women’s rights is to belittle, trivialize or even censor men’s rights (when the two rights movements could exist in harmony)>

    MrRich 14th September 2012 at 11:20 am

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