Ah, misandry. A somewhat mythical concept that only crawls out of the woodwork in accusations of ‘sexism against men’ and in classic examples of whataboutism. Within the government’s new initiative to tackle hate crime, Sajid Javid has proposed to enshrine misandry in the ranks of abhorrent prejudice, alongside misogyny. Under this new initiative, prejudice that has led to the murder, rape, enslavement, abuse, harassment, lack of access to institutional benefits and the general mistreatment of women will be made illegal. This, as well as a bit of petty online name calling that leads to men getting hurt feelings.
Don’t get me wrong, men are perfectly capable of being abused, as well as having (admittedly minor) prejudice aimed at them. But, this isn’t simply because they are men. It occurs on a personal level rather than on a societal epidemic one. Inane jokes about hating men, or comments like “men are trash”, are not reinforced by centuries of systemic mistreatment. They will not keep men out of employment or allow them to lose out on basic human rights. They will not lead to the rape, murder or torture of men as a gender. I find it extremely disingenuous, even dangerous, to equate hurt feelings to the devastating effects of systemic misogyny.
To claim that men are victims of sexism from women, or misandry, is like claiming that a manager can be fired by his employee. The employee does not have the institutional power to commit such an action. It does not work this way. We must accept that oppression is not a two-way street to get anywhere in this debate. The lack of nuance displayed by Javid and the droves of men’s rights warriors crawling out of the darkened corners of the internet is frankly stunning.
Misandry is not, and never will be, an issue on such an epidemic scale that it needs to be acknowledged in law
Some would argue that, just like women, men face ‘sexism’ in the personal and institutional sense of the word. This can range from online abuse to unfair treatment by the justice system. Therefore, misandry deserves to be regarded as seriously as misogyny. However, regarding the former, the bulk of online abuse men receive is perpetrated by other men. As for the latter, men receive on average longer prison sentences than women because women are often wrongly judged to be incapable of criminality due to outdated conceptions of femininity. Men are often not awarded custody of their children in divorce scenarios due to being judged less capable than women to raise their own children.
At the root of these examples, from single-gender online abuse to men being regarded as unable to engage in typically feminine tasks, is patriarchy. It is an institution created by men, for men, which rewards men for displaying masculinity and denigrates those who do not. In short, the main perpetrators of ‘misandry’ are not women – they are men.
Men will become emboldened in their misogyny if the law deems that they are capable of being victims of misandry
A more dangerous consequence of this move is that women with genuine qualms about men will be silenced. Men will become emboldened in their misogyny if the law deems that they are capable of being victims of misandry. How many men, like Trump and Kavanaugh, will decry their valid sexual assault accusations simply as misandrist nonsense? How many women, like Christine Blasey Ford, will be dismissed simply as raging misandrists with an evil agenda? How many awful people will unjustly become the pitied victim in these scenarios?
This article is not here to pander to the sensitivities of men, it is here to tell the truth and demonstrate the reality of millions of women worldwide. Unlike misogyny, misandry is not, and never will be, an issue on such an epidemic scale that it needs to be acknowledged in law. After all, as Margaret Atwood once said, “men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”