Many men and critics of contemporary feminism have the impression that feminists hate men. Some observers will cite examples of feminists who are clearly anti-male in their writings. Notably, they might point to the radical 20th century feminist Valerie Solanas, known for her SCUM manifest (Society for Cutting Up Men) in which she argued for the elimination of the male sex, who once remarked that “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo” (1).
Scarily, in the face of criticism received, a number of feminists contemparneous with Solanas came to the support of her SCUM manifesto. Commentators have observed that Solanas “dedicated the remainder of her life to the avowed purpose of eliminating every single male from the face of the earth” (2). If ever there was a feminist who was fueled by a hatred men, it would be Solanas. Moreover, a more contemporary feminist in her illuminating piece Why I Hate Men Part 1: I Admit It is open about her hate for men stating that they “are obnoxious, arrogant, entitled, violent, stinky, crass, loudmouthed, stupid, craven, bragadocious, thoughtless, unreflective, abusive, selfish, lowbrow, willfully ignorant assholes” (3).
Such sentiments as these are likely more extensive than these examples alone, which would suggest than misandry does really have a heartbeat in feminist work. Many would agree, however, that the real question is just how reflective and representative such misandrist hate is of feminism and feminists, generally speaking?
In her informative essay for the Washington Post, Cathy Young agrees that there are contemporary feminist writers who are driven by a strong dislike, hate of men, “Yet a lot of feminist rhetoric today does cross the line from attacks on sexism into attacks on men, with a strong focus on personal behavior: the way they talk, the way they approach relationships, even the way they sit on public transit” (4). Young’s is critical of this approach and argues that it diverts attention away from the significant issues that contemporary feminism must seek to address.
Feminist writer Sam Killermann outlines a crucial distinction saying that there is a big difference between “feminists” and “misandrists” (5). He says that the title “feminist” doesn’t mean “person who hates men.” Rather, feminist signifies a “person who believes people should have equitable places in society regardless of their gender.” He warns that it is easy to cherry pick quotes from misandrists who unfairly apply similar sentiments and attitudes to other feminists, “anti-feminists like to cherry pick quotes and ignore the much greater number of feminist writings, people, and organizations that say otherwise.” Feminist Pam Johnson agrees saying that “While there may be individuals who hold this [misandrist] belief, they are not representative of the much larger whole” (6).
Others have argued that to hate men is to contradict the values of feminism, “This idea directly contradicts the ideas of feminism. Feminism calls for equality, and equality for all. The definition of equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities… In order for equality to reign men do not have to be pushed down, women have to be brought to equal status as men. But, lowering anothers status goes against equality, and therefore goes against feminism” (7). In other words, one cannot be a true feminist if she, or he, hates men.
For many feminists, true feminism hopes to create a society in which an individual’s gender doesn’t restrict them from an equitable shot at success and happiness. As Rachel DiSibio explains, “Feminism calls for nothing more, and nothing less, than equality for women… It calls for us not to be surprised when a female becomes a successful mathematician or surgeon. It never calls for us to look down on the successful male engineers and surgeons. It calls for us to celebrate their success. It calls for us to cheer them on, and it calls for them to cheer us on. To tackle the battle of equality with love only, never hate” (8). Young’s is in agreement saying that “feminism must include men, not just as supportive allies but as partners, with an equal voice and equal humanity.”
Perhaps it would be fair to say that one ought to exercise caution judging an entire movement by the abuse perpetuated by some of the movement’s members, especially if the abuse runs contrary to what many consider to be its central values. Feminism, like any other worldview or movement, can be abused, and often those who do bring their movement into disrepute are in the minority and thus not at all reflective of the whole, “distilled down to its absolute core,” explains Killerman, “[feminism] is about gender equity… So man-hating isn’t a part of that goal. It’s an unfortunate reactionary sentiment bought into by some people (misandrists) who also identify with the feminist movement.”
1. Women Against Men. Available.
2. Marmorstein, R. 1968. “A winter memory of Valerie Solanis: scum goddess,” in The Village Voice. (35): 9-10.
3. Rage Against the Manchine. 2009. Why I Hate Men Part 1: I Admit It. Available.
4. Young, C. 2016. Feminists treat men badly. It’s bad for feminism. Available.
5. Killermann, S. 2014. 5 Reasons Why So Many People Believe Feminism Hates Men and Why They’re Not True. Available.
6. Johnston, P. 2017. The Myth Of The Man-Hating Feminist. Available.
7. DiSibio, R. 2017. Do Feminists Hate Men? Available.
8. DiSibio, R. 2017. Ibid.