Misandry and the MRAs

Misandry, meaning the ‘hatred of men’, has evolved into an anti-feminist sentiment used to derail discussions about women and feminism. The use of the word is the epitome of the modern backlash against the feminist movement by Men’s Rights Activists; those threatened by the concept of losing the privilege they vehemently deny having.

Under the not so convincing guise of ‘gender equality’, MRAs desperately spread misconceptions about feminism in order to undermine the movement, whilst banding around the term ‘misandry’. For example, asserting that the legal system and society in general is misandrist. Which, to be blunt, is complete bullshit. It would be funny, if these people weren’t potentially doing a lot of harm.

Of course, men are affected by gender roles. They are pressured into being ‘masculine’ which encompasses being unfeeling, strong and logical. Men are stigmatised if they show ‘feminine’ traits which include being emotional and irrational. But this is a product of patriarchy; not feminism, not a ‘misandrist’ society and not women. A man is expected to be strong because to be weak is womanly and therefore bad. This is rooted in misogyny not misandry. Another popular example of misandry amongst the MRA communities is custody of children. The mother of a child is more likely to get custody than the father because women are still expected to be the primary caregivers to children and elderly people. Again, this is misogyny, not misandry.

One of the most ludicrous examples of something an MRA has claimed to be misandrist and reflective of our culture is the number of men who died in World War One and World War Two, whilst women were ‘safe’ at home. I shouldn’t have to deconstruct this but, alas, I shall. More men died in the various wars throughout history than women because women were *not allowed* into the army. They are still not allowed to serve on the front line alongside men. This rule was created by men because women were and still are seen as not physically strong enough or emotionally capable of legally murdering people (sorry, my anti-war sentiments are coming out). We’re told it is not a woman’s place; a woman’s place is at home. Man= protector, woman= caregiver. Archaic, yes, but these views are still very much culturally held.  This example of ‘misandry’ is quite obviously misogyny. Men were not forced into the army because society hates them and wants them to die; they were forced into the army because of patriarchal gender roles.

We do not live in a society that hates men; men are the privileged gender group. Women are still horribly oppressed in pretty much every aspect. A few examples: representation in the media which perpetuates the patriarchal ideal of beauty which simultaneously slut-shames and prude-shames,  fewer women holding high positions within the government and very few women holding CEO positions, the gender pay gap which sadly still exists, the rise of lad/bro culture which strives on openly ridiculing and silencing women, street harassment which we’re told to take as a compliment, rape culture which normalises rape and victim blames women to the point where we’re told not to do anything in case someone rapes us instead of teaching people not to rape. The list seems endless.

To sum up, misandry the word may exist. But the form of oppression certainly doesn’t. To oppress men as a gender group, women must be the ones in power and with privilege. Individual prejudices against men may well exist amongst some women, but this is not misandry and this is not oppression. The more level-headed MRAs, and by level-headed I mean not *as* extreme, give the example of some ‘radfems’ and separatist lesbians as being misandrist. They may express anti-male sentiments, but they are a very small minority group who are constantly bashed in society and have no power or gender privilege. So, really, there is absolutely no need to be threatened; they are not oppressing men because they do not have the power to do so. This is not a good enough example to assert that all men suffer at the hands of all women.

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Calling People Out On Their Shit.

In order for cultural attitudes to change, it is absolutely essential that we all challenge sexism (including cissexism) whenever we see or hear it.

We’ve all been in that situation where someone says something which sits uncomfortably with us, whether it’s a close friend or someone we’ve just met. There’s always that moment when we choose not to say anything; maybe it’s too awkward, maybe the moment has passed, we don’t want to make the people around us feel uncomfortable and we worry about what people think of us. As socially awkward as it is, it is crucial that we pull someone up on what they’ve said if we think it’s harmful. Ultimately, if we don’t challenge them, we are in essence agreeing with them and enabling them to go on to say it to other people, sometimes unaware of the damage they are doing.

When challenging someone, it doesn’t have to be confrontational. We’re not asking for an apology, we just want them to become aware of the fact that what they’re saying is not cool- it’s offensive. A lot of people are merely ignorant of this. Most people don’t set out with the intention of offending others (but some do).

Ideally, if every one of us challenges someone else, this person who has been pulled up could do the same, and potentially we could slowly bring about a change in attitudes. Some people react badly to being called out, this doesn’t mean that you should stop. A lot of people are just initially defensive about someone disagreeing with them, especially if it has never happened to them before. Even so, you’ve at least made them less ignorant. Challenging someone and getting a bad reaction is better than not saying anything at all. Someone who reacts badly, continues to deny the offence they are causing and refuses to change their behaviour is not worth knowing.

If we don’t challenge sexism in our everyday lives, there is no point complaining about social attitudes over Facebook.  

Some extra points of advice (credit goes to one of our members for bringing these up with us):

  • Learn what derails are, and get used to challenging the most common ones.
  • Expect people you thought were cool to sometimes blow up in your face.
  • Make sure that you’re safe when calling someone out. You need to be sure that you are not putting yourself in harm’s way by challenging someone. It can be really difficult to gauge whether this is the case or not, but it’s really important that we don’t put ourselves in danger.
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The Importance of Challenging Your Own Cissexism.

We wanted to write this post due to the fact that we’ve been challenged on our cissexism lately.

Cisgender can be defined as: ‘Identifying with or experiencing a gender the same as one’s biological sex or that is affirmed by society, e.g. being both male-gendered & male-sexed’ 

Cissexism can be defined as: ‘the assumption that a cis person’s gender is more authentic, natural or desirable than a trans person’s gender; the belief that a person’s assigned-at-birth gender is always their real gender. For example: treating a trans woman as “really a man.” ‘  (Source: http://thedistantpanic.com/glossary/)

Although we advocate trans equality and challenge any transphobia that we see, admittedly we’d never really thought about cissexism before. We didn’t even know what it was up until a few weeks ago.

We realise that when discussing topics such as abortion, it is important not to refer to it as solely a woman’s issue. Some men have uteri, therefore issues such as abortion are not exclusively for women. We need to remember the sexual organs that we are assigned with at birth do not dictate our gender. We also need to remember that not everyone identifies within the gender binary i.e. genderqueer people.

Penis does not necessarily equate to man, vagina does not necessarily equate to woman. 

The feminist movement sometimes fails with intersectionality, we need to be more inclusive of all people. It is important to challenge cissexism whenever we see it, both within and outside of the feminist movement. We need to also be prepared to be challenged by our peers and accept and acknowledge when we have slipped up.

If anyone feels that our page is not inclusive enough, please let us know.

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Lad Culture: We’re Not Laughing

[Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape culture, victim blaming, rape ‘jokes’]

After the recent issue with pages such as Uni Lad (which has now reappeared) and The Lad Bible, we thought a post dealing with Lad culture would be pretty appropriate. Lad culture surrounds us, but we think that one of the main ways it has recently been perpetuated is via social networking sites such as Facebook, and so we’re writing mainly about what we’ve witnessed online.

Sexism, misogyny and hatred are what Lad culture produces. The term ‘banter’ which is often applied to comments made my ‘lads’, such as ‘get back in the kitchen’, is just an attempt to disguise its effects. We talked about the damage of sexist jokes in our first post, which can be found here.

Lad culture makes men believe that they must hold a sexist view of women to prove their masculinity. If they oppose sexism, they are met with a negative response, and from our experience, sometimes even homophobia.  What’s more, anybody who doesn’t find the ‘banter’ funny has no sense of humour and needs to learn how to ‘take a joke’. If they’re a woman, they just need to ‘get back in the kitchen’. The damaging cycle is endless. There are a number of people who just join in with the jokes so as not to be labelled as humourless.

Despite Unilad and The Lad Bible claiming that they encouraged women to become involved on their page too, any women who did join in were met with the standard sexist responses. This was anything but inclusive – it was alienating any women who thought they could get in on the ‘joke’, and subjugating them in the process because of their gender.

One of the most harmful aspects of Lad culture is that it endorses rape culture, and promotes violence towards women. Is this really ‘banter’? We don’t think so. A few months ago, Unilad posted this:

If the girl […] won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.

This appalling incitement of rape was one of the factors that caused the page and website to be taken down. Objectifying and degrading women furthers the victim-blaming attitude that is prevalent in our society – telling men that a woman is somehow ‘asking’ to be raped through her clothes and perceived behaviour. A really insightful article about rape culture can be found here.

We feel that awareness about Lad culture needs to be raised in order for there to be a chance of reducing its damaging effects. Sexism has become so normalised that many can’t see the damage caused by a culture perpetuating misogyny, even if it is under the guise of a ‘joke’.

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Before you decide to troll us…

We’ve decided to list our answers to the things that we are most frequently challenged on.

‘You hate men.’ 
No, we don’t hate men. Many of our members are men, and we value their support like everybody else’s. The idea of us hating men shows a complete misunderstanding of both us and feminism in general. You are basing that on a horrible misconception.

‘But why don’t you put up pages that are sexist towards men?’
We do. We deal with sexism towards both men and women; but the reality is, there are not as nearly many sexist pages towards men as there are towards women. They are also not as violent/horrific. In society, sexism towards women is far more prevalent and this is reflected on Facebook. If you find any pages that are sexist towards ANYONE please let us know.

‘You’re violating our Freedom of Speech.’
No we’re not. Facebook is. Sexist pages go against Facebook’s policies, they do not want them to exist; if you have set up a sexist page, Facebook are liable to take it down. If you have a problem with this, contact them.
Furthermore, you do not have the freedom to treat people unequally (this is in the Constitution). Also, if you’re based in the UK you do not have Freedom of Speech – you have Freedom of Expression which does not include hate speech, incitement of violence etc.
And another thing, you can say whatever you want…but with this you have to accept the consequences of what you say and realise how damaging it could be.

‘You’re trolls.’
Certain irony here. We are not trolls, we do not go onto other people’s pages and repeatedly abuse/spam them. The people who come onto our page and claim that we are trolls are clearly themselves trolls.

‘Our jokes aren’t sexist because some women find them funny.’
That does not mean that they are not sexist. It just means that certain women are not offended by them. This can also be explained by social conditioning and the normalisation of sexism, as well as internalised misogyny.

‘I’m a woman and what makes you think that you can tell me what I should find funny?’
This is not what we’re doing. We are fighting for equality. We are merely highlighting and raising awareness about material that is perpetuating inequality. If you wish to join in on these ‘jokes’ then go ahead. Feminism is about choice. But don’t expect us not to challenge you.

‘You just have no sense of humour’.
Not true. We have great senses of humour here. We just don’t find the degradation of people based on their gender funny.

‘Most of the sexist jokes are just harmless banter’.
It may seem that way to you. In the grand scheme of things, they are doing a lot of damage. Many of the people who visit these ‘joke’ pages will allow their online attitude to spill into real life and possibly upset people; as well as perpetuating old gender stereotypes and making it harder to get rid of them and move on socially.

‘There are worse things happening in the world, you shouldn’t be focusing on a few jokes’.
Just because you consider our cause unimportant, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth fighting for. There are always going to be ‘bigger problems’. Gender inequality is, in fact, a big problem. As well as this, people are able to concentrate on more than one cause at a time.

‘You’re a bunch of PC bullies’.
Not really. Political correctness is difficult to define. We are not trying to control people, we are trying to educate them.

‘If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.’
We wish it were that simple. We are not fighting because of our ‘personal offence’. We are fighting because we don’t want sexism to be normalised and socialised into people’s every day behaviour. It is very easy to believe that jokes do no harm, but in the big picture they can be very damaging.

‘How are they damaging?’
They allow people to believe that it is okay to belittle people because of their gender, to behave differently towards them because of their gender and to rely on gender stereotypes. Furthermore, rape ‘jokes’ can severely trigger a victim of rape or abuse which can leave them upset, at the least. These kinds of jokes also normalise rape, and trivialise its destructive nature.

We have a no tolerance policy for trolls/abusive people/spammers/sexists etc. We will remove and ban you in a heartbeat. This is not to stifle debate, this is to make sure our page remains a safe space for our members.

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