August 15 2014

Why Contemporary Movement Feminists Need Men

Charlotte Hays

Gloria Steinem famously said that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.

But it turns out that contemporary movement feminists do need men: they need them very much--if only to hate them, according to an article by Heather Wilhelm, up over at The Federalist.

Wilhelm admits that the rampant man-hating on feminist blogs and in other feminist outlets may have an element of the tongue in cheek—but only up to a point.

To give you the flavor of the phenomenon Wilhelm is describing , there is Jess Zimmerman’s “Men, Get on Board with Misandry:”

I drink from a coffee mug that says “Male Tears.” Female friends sign off emails to me with “ban men” or “kill all men.” In at least three people’s phone contacts, my name is followed by an emoji depicting a man with a big red slash through him. When I have the loathsome task of submitting an author bio, I frequently describe myself as a professional misandrist.

And so why are feminists helpless without men? Wilhelm explains:

But really, feminists: Can’t you do anything for yourselves? First you claim birth control will be banned because the government won’t force certain people to pay for certain kinds of birth control. Then you’re insisting that the government subsidize your abortions. This week, you’re even demanding that other people pay for your tampons. “We don’t want to kill or banish you, guys,” Zimmerman writes to the men in her audience. “After all, we need your help.” In other words, feminists—that fevered group that used to celebrate self-sufficiency and now seemingly hankers for some strange hybrid of a welfare and police state—can’t even manage to hate “masculinity” on their own.

Zimmerman makes the interesting point in her article that it’s not really men but masculinity that she and her fellow (is this sexist?) feminists hate:

To my male friends who have complained?—?gently! Respectfully! But still infuriatingly?—?about the “misandry thing”: I do not really want to send you to an island. I do not want to light you on fire, or send you into space, or put you in a box and put the box in the ocean. I do not need to drink your tears to live.

But I do think the concept of “manliness” needs to be taken out and shot. And when (not if, but when, because this is how privilege works) you slip up and do something sexist, when you shout down a woman who knows more than you or act like her body and clothes are designed for your pleasure or just ignore the inequities around you because you can, because you were told all your life that this was okay and only learned recently that it isn’t and you have to fight to remember that and it’s hard, that’s the guy I want to banish. I want to banish That Guy so you can be the generous, just, compassionate human being you are, and one day when all of Those Guys are banished we can be human beings together.

This of course is a terrible, vicious concept of what masculine values mean, even taking into consideration possible hyperbole on Zimmerman’s part. It is telling that Zimmerman finds that men are getting on board with misandry:

And yet the boys love it. My Twitter bio? —?“cool and nice internet misandrist of note”?—?is a quote from a man. A male friend once called me “misandrist Jesus,” which I am not sure what that means but it’s the best. Another said I was “the Temple Grandin of misandry” for the gentle, understanding way in which I lead men to the slaughter. I am not just a misandrist; I am a Man Whisperer.

Maybe she is joking—maybe not. I suspect that there is more than a grain of truth in this—too many men have absorbed the notion that masculinity is a bad thing.

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