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Misandry (//) is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against men or boys in general. Misandry may be manifested in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sexism, hostility, gynocentrism, mockery, belittling of men, violence against men, and sexual objectification.
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Misandry is formed from the Greek misos (μῖσος, "hatred") and anēr, andros (ἀνήρ, gen. ἀνδρός; "man"). Use of the word can be found as far back as the 19th century, including an 1871 use in The Spectator magazine. It appeared in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) in 1952. Translation of the French misandrie to the German Männerhass (Hatred of Men) is recorded in 1803. "Misandrous" or "misandrist" can be used as adjectival forms of the word.
A term with a similar but distinct meaning is androphobia, which constitutes fear of men. Writer Helen Pluckrose has argued that androphobia is the more propitious term in instances where aversion to men stems from a sense of fear. This mirrors Camille Paglia's argument that a close reading of historical texts reveals that men do not hate women but fear them.
Men's rights activists and other masculinist groups have criticized modern laws concerning divorce, domestic violence, and rape as examples of institutional misandry.
Religious studies professors Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young examined the institutionalization of misandry in the public sphere in their 2001 three-book series Beyond the Fall of Man, which refers to misandry as a "form of prejudice and discrimination that has become institutionalized in North American society", writing, "The same problem that long prevented mutual respect between Jews and Christians, the teaching of contempt, now prevents mutual respect between men and women."
Glick and Fiske developed psychometric constructs to measure the attitudes of individuals towards men, the Ambivalence toward Men Inventory AMI, which includes a factor Hostility toward Men based on a small group discussion with women and then using statistical methods to reduce the number of questions. Hostility toward Men was split into three factors: Resentment of Paternalism, the belief men supported male power, Compensatory Gender Differentiation, the belief that men were supported by women and Heterosexual Hostility, which looked at beliefs that men were likely to engage in hostile actions. This construct was found to be inversely correlated with measures of gender equality when comparing countries and in a study with univerisity students self-describing feminists were found to have a lower measure of hostility toward men.
Classics professor Froma Zeitlin of Princeton University discussed misandry in her article titled "Patterns of Gender in Aeschylean Drama: Seven against Thebes and the Danaid Trilogy". She writes:
The most significant point of contact, however, between Eteocles and the suppliant Danaids is, in fact, their extreme positions with regard to the opposite sex: the misogyny of Eteocles' outburst against all women of whatever variety has its counterpart in the seeming misandry of the Danaids, who although opposed to their Egyptian cousins in particular (marriage with them is incestuous, they are violent men) often extend their objections to include the race of males as a whole and view their cause as a passionate contest between the sexes.
Literary critic Harold Bloom argued that even though the word misandry is relatively unheard of in literature, it is not hard to find implicit, even explicit, misandry. In reference to the works of Shakespeare, Bloom argued:
I cannot think of one instance of misogyny whereas I would argue that misandry is a strong element. Shakespeare makes perfectly clear that women in general have to marry down and that men are narcissistic and not to be trusted and so forth. On the whole, he gives us a darker vision of human males than human females.
Anthony Synnott argues that there is a tendency in literature to represent men as villains and women as victims and argues that there is a market for "anti-male" novels with no corresponding "anti-female" market, citing the The Women's Room, by Marilyn French, and The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. He gives examples of comparisons of men to Nazi prison guards as a common theme in literature.:156
Critic of mainstream feminism Christina Hoff Sommers has described Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues as misandric in that "there are no admirable males ... the play presents a rogues' gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and hateful little boys" which she finds out of step with the reality that "most men are not brutes. They are not oppressors".
Racialized misandry occurs in both "high" and "low" culture and literature. For instance, African-American men have often been disparagingly portrayed as either infantile or as eroticized and hyper-masculine, depending on prevailing cultural stereotypes.
Julie M. Thompson, a feminist author, connects misandry with envy of men, in particular "penis envy", a term coined by Sigmund Freud in 1908, in his theory of female sexual development. Nancy Kang has discussed "the misandric impulse" in relation to the works of Toni Morrison.
In his book, Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, Harry Brod, a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Northern Iowa, writes:
In the introduction to The Great Comic Book Heroes, Jules Feiffer writes that this is Superman's joke on the rest of us. Clark is Superman's vision of what other men are really like. We are scared, incompetent, and powerless, particularly around women. Though Feiffer took the joke good-naturedly, a more cynical response would see here the Kryptonian's misanthropy, his misandry embodied in Clark and his misogyny in his wish that Lois be enamored of Clark (much like Oberon takes out hostility toward Titania by having her fall in love with an ass in Shakespeare's Midsummer-Night's Dream).
In 2020, the explicitly misandric essay Moi, les hommes, je les déteste (I Hate Men) by the French writer Pauline Harmange caused controversy in France after a government official threatened its publisher with criminal prosecution.
Radical feminism has often been associated with man-hating in the public consciousness. However, radical feminist arguments have also been misinterpreted and individual radical feminists such as Valerie Solanas, best known for her attempted murder of Andy Warhol in 1968, had a higher profile in popular culture than within feminist scholars.
Historian Alice Echols, in her 1989 book Daring To Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967–1975, argued that Valerie Solanas displayed an extreme level of misandry in her tract the SCUM Manifesto, but noted that it was not typical for radical feminists of the time. Echols stated: "Solanas's unabashed misandry—especially her belief in men's biological inferiority—her endorsement of relationships between 'independent women,' and her dismissal of sex as 'the refuge of the mindless' contravened the sort of radical feminism which prevailed in most women's groups across the country."
Echols also noted, though, that after her attempted murder, Solanas' SCUM Manifesto became more popular within radical feminism, but not all radical feminists shared her beliefs. For example, radical feminist Andrea Dworkin criticized the biological determinist strand in radical feminism that, in 1977, she found "with increasing frequency in feminist circles" which echoed the views of Valerie Solanas that males are biologically inferior to women and violent by nature, requiring a gendercide to allow for the emergence of a "new Übermensch Womon".
The author bell hooks conceptualized the issue of "man hating" during the early period of women's liberation as a reaction to patriarchal oppression and women who had bad experiences with men in non-feminist social movements. She also criticized separatist strands of feminism as "reactionary" for promoting the notion that men are inherently immoral, inferior, and unable to help end sexist oppression or benefit from feminism. In Feminism is For Everybody, hooks laments the fact that feminists who critiqued anti-male bias in the early women's movement never gained mainstream media attention and that "our theoretical work critiquing the demonization of men as the enemy did not change the perspective of women who were anti-male." She has theorized previously that this demonization led to an unnecessary rift between the Men's movement and the Women's movement.
Anthony Synnott argues in his book Re-Thinking Men: Heroes, Villains and Victims that certain forms of feminism present misandristic view of gender. He argues that men are presented as having power over others regardless of the actual power they possess:161 and that some feminists define the experience of being male inaccurately through writing on masculinity. He further argues that some forms of feminism create an in-group of women, simplifies the nuances of gender issues, demonizes those who are not feminists and legimitizes victimization by way of retributive justice.:162
Reviewing Synnott, Roman Kuhar argues that Synnott might not accurately represent the views of feminism, commenting that "whether it re-thinks men in a manner in which men have not been thought of in feminist theory, is another question."
Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young argued that "ideological feminism" as opposed to "egalitarian feminism" has imposed misandry on culture. Their 2001 book, Spreading Misandry, analyzed "pop cultural artifacts and productions from the 1990s" from movies to greeting cards for what they considered to be pervasive messages of hatred toward men. Legalizing Misandry (2005), the second in the series, gave similar attention to laws in North America.
In the book Angry White Men, Michael Kimmel argue that much of the misandry identified is actually criticising patriarchy:132 and states "it is truly ridiculous to argue that feminists have managed to in-filtrate America’s political and cultural capitals to such an extent that they now have the political capacity to institutionalize misandry.":130 He comments that their reading of fiction is "bad history" and is based on "a heaping dose of dramatic misreading of texts, with no foundational understanding of how texts are actually experienced by consumer".
Wendy McElroy, an individualist feminist, wrote in 2001 that some feminists "have redefined the view of the movement of the opposite sex" as "a hot anger toward men [that] seems to have turned into a cold hatred." She argued it was a misandrist position to consider men, as a class, to be irreformable or rapists.
In a 2016 article, individualist feminist Cathy Young described a "current cycle of misandry" in feminism. This cycle, she explains, includes the use of the term "mansplaining" and other neologisms using "man" as a derogatory prefix. The term "mansplaining", according to feminist writer Rebecca Solnit, was coined soon after the appearance in 2008 of her essay Men Explain Things to Me.
Sociologist Allan G. Johnson argues in The Gender Knot: Unraveling our Patriarchal Legacy that accusations of man-hating have been used to put down feminists and to shift attention onto men, reinforcing a male-centered culture. Johnson posits that culture offers no comparable anti-male ideology to misogyny and that "people often confuse men as individuals with men as a dominant and privileged category of people" and that "[given the] reality of women's oppression, male privilege, and men's enforcement of both, it's hardly surprising that every woman should have moments where she resents or even hates men".
Marc A. Ouellette argues in International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities that "misandry lacks the systemic, transhistoric, institutionalized, and legislated antipathy of misogyny"; in his view, assuming a parallel between misogyny and misandry overly simplifies relations of gender and power.
Anthropologist David D. Gilmore also argues that misogyny is a "near-universal phenomenon" and that there is no male equivalent to misogyny, further defending manifestations of perceived misandry as not "hatred of men's traditional male role" and a "culture of machismo". He argues that misandry is "different from the intensely ad feminam aspect of misogyny that targets women no matter what they believe or do".
Michael Kimmel states of misogyny and misandry that "claiming some sort of equivalent parallel is, of course, utterly tendentious."
The term "mansplaining" was coined soon after the piece appeared, and I was sometimes credited with it. In fact, I had nothing to do with its actual creation, though my essay, along with all the men who embodied the idea, apparently inspired it.