Misandry and why men have a right to complain
Published: Thursday, March 6, 2003
Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 17:01
Philip Wylie, in his prophetic book on American culture, "Generation of Vipers," places much emphasis on the Law of Oppositeness. The Law is not his, as he acknowledges, but is an old idea that there is an inherent dichotomy in the world around us. Natural phenomena would include light and dark, good and evil, or man and woman (one can see that Taoism plays a large part in Wylie's theories). Wylie also extends the law to include responses to environmental stimuli. He writes that the law recognizes "Newton's law of action and reaction applies, equally well, to subjective processes." Basically, it says that when someone is confronted with a negative stimulus, they react in the opposite to cancel it out. But these reactions do not solve the original problem. One example is the growing levels of misandry in our culture.
We can all agree that, for a long time, women held an inferior place in society and that many are still discriminated against today. For these things we are sorry and will try to overcome. But I also feel that a number of women have reacted to these hardships by transferring the hate they have received and giving it right back to men. I understand this, but I do not think it is appropriate. I'm talking about men-haters, anti-masculinists, misandrists.
I will endeavor to show that men are now being discriminated against as well. The focus here is popular culture. Sitcom men are inept: Ray Romano is a dolt, Tim Allen is a bungler, Homer Simpson is a caveman and so on. Their wives keep them safely grounded. Comedians who joke about men's stupidity are guaranteed laughs, but joking about women has become taboo. Hemingway is being removed from reading lists. Men are pigs.
Do not misunderstand me; I do not contend that the misandry in popular culture is equivalent to the discrimination women have received. I would merely like to present the case that it exists. Its imprint on popular culture extends beyond sitcoms to movies like, "In the Company of Men" and "Fried Green Tomatoes." These are movies in which men are portrayed as sexist pigs and women as guiltless victims. You can find misandry in greeting cards, popular novels or college courses. Maybe you have had a misandrist professor.
All this discrimination is coming to the attention of a few people. A new book by Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, "Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture," explores the rising level of misandry in our culture and the impact it has on young males. The latter is something generally unexplored and a potentially dangerous situation. If we infuse our boys with media that says their sex is inferior and violent, they will, no doubt, grow up to be exactly that. Other groups catching on to this trend are two Web sites, www.mensactivism.org and www.ifeminists.com. The former is merely a forum for users to discuss men's rights, while the latter is what the website calls, "The home for individualist feminism on the net." Both call for the equal treatment of men and women and both recognize that, as a result of the rise of feminism in America, much damage has been done to men.
But misandry is still unexplored grounds to many. The U.S. Library of Congress has three books under misandry, but thousands under misogyny. My Microsoft Word Processor doesn't recognize it as a word. Nathanson and Young aren't even exactly sure how to pronounce it (I think it's mi-san-dre).
Some of you may have thought that, in reading an article about misandry, you would encounter the bitter reprisals of a man who recently had a rough experience with a woman. Sorry to disappoint you. My experience with women has been positive; I have no complaints and am glad to say that I know few misogynists or misandrists. Also, if you were looking for numbers about misandry, too bad, because these numbers do not exist. When I say misandry is a rising threat to our society, I say that from personal observation and am not passing it off as a fact you must agree with. It is unfortunate I have to devote so much space to defending the principles of columns, but c'est la vie.
In response to the guilt of having wronged women in the past, much has been done to alleviate these damages. However, in our zeal to right what was wrong, we have gone the other way. The pendulum has swung to the other side. Men are now being portrayed negatively just like women were in the 50s. We focus our attention on women's issues while ignoring men's. If it is wrong to make fun of women, then it should be wrong to make fun of men. If we're going to pretend to fix society by bringing women up, let's not bring men down at the same time.