Where's Valerie Solanas When You Need Her? What It Really Means To Man-Hate In 2013
In 1972, feminist and science fiction writer Joanna Russ wrote and published an article titled “The New Misandry: Man Hating in 1972” in the Village Voice. The article, using Valerie Solanas as her prime misandrist example (remember the lady who shot Andy Warhol and wrote a manifesto about cutting up men?) discusses what she sees as an exaggerated reaction from the general public, feminists and anti-feminists alike, to “man-hating” or misandry.
When Russ was writing her piece on misandry, hating men was not something “new”--I’m sure women have hated men since the advent of patriarchy--but rather it was a subject that was now being deliberated outside of radical feminist circles. For one, because of radicals like Solanas who people viewed as an exemplar of “feminazis” and proclaim her (and still do) as the embodiment of feminist thought and action, still using her myth to undermine feminism today.
And furthermore, because of said radicals who had become collectively exhausted with a feminism that seemed too modest, a “liberal” feminism whose followers decried “man-haters” as well as feminists who were “unrespectable”.
Currently, I cannot help but notice that something analogous seems to be occurring in what I see as a splintering of the feminist movement. A part of the feminist community seems to be having its own burgeoning misandrist movement, specifically for feminists enmeshed with Internet culture. If you search "misandry" on Tumblr you will indubitably find cartoon images of castrated men, various renditions of Judith beheading Holofernes, ridiculous OKCupid messages from fedora-clad men, and many a text post describing the inaneness that is the white male population.
But the thing that’s really, really funny is that people -- well, young white men in their late teens to early twenties -- are mad about this. Very, very upset. They feel that they are being unjustifiably targeted for something they took no part in (i.e. the ongoing oppression of women). They think that misandry and misogyny are equitable and some even believe that misandry is worse than misogyny.
The best part about all of this anti-misandry nonsense is that misandry isn’t real! There is no such thing as an inveterate systematic hatred of men and there never has been. Misandry exists only as an exaggerated Internet joke and as a way in which women who have been directly or indirectly hurt by men to express their frustration and anger.
But my attraction to misandry not only had to do with being a young woman who has been used, abused, and in some ways destroyed by men but also a frustration with what seems to be a faddish feminism, whose tenets seem to propose that the only thing you need to do to be a feminist, or participate in feminist activism, is reblog a picture of an unshaven vulva on your blog and embellish your jean jacket with a pin that says “Consent is sexy!”
I am guilty of similar actions, of course (written five minutes after I reblogged some generic watercolor of a topless woman). I would be lying if I said I do not browse Etsy searching for feminist doodads and attire and reblog pretty pictures of the female form on my Tumblr. But what I am not a fan of is how broadcasting the fact that you’re a feminist seems to be more important than striving for critical social and cultural change.
The self-identified misandrists I know do not hate men as much as they are fed up with endlessly discussing trivial “feminist issues”. We don’t want to talk about whether or not wearing makeup is a “feminist act.” We are tired of the lack of serious discussion about race and class within feminist circles. We are done with holding back our opinions and critiques of kink and BDSM in fear of being admonished by sex positive feminists who relentlessly advocate that we keep our hands off the “private” world of sex (contradictorily, as “the personal is political” is a mantra expelled by all brands of feminists).
Feminism is supposed to be radical, as Russ states in her article, and even Ellen Page has, refreshingly, expressed this when she was recently asked by The Guardian if she was a self-identified feminist. I do not mean this in the sense that everyone should be a “radical feminist” (i.e. Andrea Dworkin and Janice Raymond and the like, most of whom are accused or have been known to be exclusive and transphobic) but rather that feminism currently seems to be too busy deliberating on surface cultural critiques without recognition of the fact that the only way sexism (and other oppressive ideologies) can be eradicated is with actual change.
I am not saying man-hating or declaring yourself as a misandrist is definitively radical since hating men has been and is not abnormal--rather the opposite. To viscerally despise those who indirectly oppress you is nothing new, for women and other minorities. Misandry is only a result and reaction to the invariable hatred of women that has existed for centuries.
If someone is a misandrist, it is not so much a sign of rebellion as it is a condition one has developed out of pure exhaustion with being treated like invaluable piece of meat whose only purpose is to serve as a fuckable or nonfuckable body.
As to not end with my bleak perspective on the way in which society disvalues and dehumanizes female bodies, here is a list of things guys and male sympathizing gals might tell you if you claim to be a misandrist or a man-hater:
“Don’t you love your dad?”
“Why do you have a boyfriend then?”
“Are you a lesbian?”
“Why is it okay for you to hate men but not for men to hate women?”
“Misandry is just as bad as misogyny!”
“I THOUGHT FEMINISM WAS ABOUT EQUALITY??”
And my favorite,
“Not all guys are like that. What about me?”
What about you?
When you receive these responses just keep laughing or screaming and don’t stop. Or you can pull a Solanas. Just when you’re on trial for murder, don’t let them know it was my suggestion.