As more women are finding (and using) their voices, the dark forces of patriarchy seem to be retreating; albeit slower than a slug’s pace. Oh, there is still a long way to go before we can confidently say that women share the same pedestal with men but for the most past, we are not where we were one hundred years ago. Women in some climes can work, vote, run for office, choose their life’s paths, and receive inheritance. Though the strides are small, women are becoming visible; and not just as walking vaginas for the pleasure of men. What do we have to thank for it? A lot of it is hinged on ‘Feminism’.
Of all the definitions of feminism that is out there, the most appealing to me is the one postulated by Bestselling Author, Chimamanda Adichie.
‘Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’
From the definition, we can infer that feminism calls for the equal treatment of men and women in all spheres of life. Feminism wants women to have equal access to education, health care, job opportunities, equal pay for same work done, protection from sexual predation and abuse, lack of discrimination based on gender to mention a few. Women want to be able to make the choices for their own lives, their sexuality, their reproductive health, whom they marry or even if they marry, their education and career choices, whether they want to be in governance or leadership etc. These are some of the core values and principles of feminism.
However, easily ascribed the term ‘feminism’ is her twin, misandry. Misandry is;
‘dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male sex).’
At the core of misandry is deeply rooted hate and prejudice against men. For many, this has stemmed from being repeatedly bashed by a system that favors men at the expense of women. For others, it is the men themselves that evoke this hatred and bitterness. The sheer disrespect, the overbearing ego, the unabashed entitlement and the callous treatment of our emotion and person can become too much to bear. It is no wonder that many of us become so filled with hate that we become misandrists.
I know…because I was one of these women.
The men in my life weren’t the best models for me and each man that came into my life affirmed my resolve to hate men. All of these men seemed to be cut from the same cloth. I got to see spousal abuse, child sexual abuse, rape, a constant reminder that women’s opinions didn’t matter, and even worse. Around me were women dealing with so much from the men in their lives that at an early age, I knew that I wouldn’t take it lying down. I made up my mind to never give any man that much power over me.
Like me, most feminists came to this conclusion. Some of us went a bit further though. We delved into the ‘Men are scum’, ‘Men are trash’ and ‘Women are better than men’ groups. As we became less docile to the men in our lives, we became more hateful. While being less docile is fantastic, being hateful is not!
Misandrists are almost as bad as patriarchists/misogynists in this regard: these broad groups are both fueled by hate and/or prejudice; they both undermine the importance of the other gender; they think the development of their societies lies squarely on their gender; and they overestimate their independence and are both bullishly stubborn in their prejudice.
Hating the other half of the population doesn’t bode well for anybody. And this is why I believe feminists need to do better. We need to, as Michelle Obama so eloquently put, ‘go high when they go low’. We cannot reflect hate and prejudice and expect to stimulate change. Yes, we should be angry when we are discriminated against, when we have do not have equal access to healthcare, education, and job/leadership opportunities. We should refuse to watch women suffer the debilitating effects of domestic, emotional and sexual violence, human trafficking and forced prostitution. We must speak against inheritance, religious and cultural laws that disfavor women. We must cry out against female genital mutilation and child marriages and promote the choices women make with their bodies, clothing and sexuality. We should not become doormats to men who think we are not equal to them but we can do all this without resorting to hating men!
Hate is a blinding emotion. It prevents us from seeing people’s humanity. Once that is firmly rooted, we treat people poorly and hurt them. They in turn treat us poorly and we have an unending circle of misunderstanding and dysfunction.
Are some men scum? Yes! Are there men that are trash? Yes! Are some women better than some men? Oh yeah! But…are all men scum, trash or less than women? No! Also, there are women who are ‘scum’, ‘trash’ and despicable human beings.
Men and women are equal! No gender is better than the other. We are both important to the advancement of our societies. We ALL need to contribute to moving the human race forward. Men couldn’t do it on their own. Women also can’t do it on our own. So why not join forces?
So dear men-hating feminist, I know that we have gone through so much and have suffered a lot from men but can we ditch the hate? Can we give each man we meet the benefit of doubt and blank slates, judging them based on their own ideologies, belief systems and how they treat us rather than lumping them together in the negativity of their gender? Can we try to show these patriarchists that we are better, not because we are women, but because we have better understanding of the complexities of our humanity? Can we change the rhetoric?
This may sound idealistic but I honestly believe it is doable. Do you?