Интернет-магазин DONTA

Why are proud feminists like me still dismissed as ‘man-haters’?

Why are proud feminists like me still dismissed as ‘man-haters’?

“The smear campaign to paint all gender equality or feminist movements as man-hating has fully permeated society.”

“No one wants your hateful book,” was a DM I received last week.

My new book To Hate And Love Men explores the tension that women and people of marginalised genders carry in being organised around, and in communion with, cisgender men. I tried to make the book an honest exploration of duality: the righteous anger women have towards men at large, the hatefulness that it can bring up, and the very real, enduring love we have for the men in our lives, but of course, that didn’t matter to this guy in my DMs.

People have called me man-hating so many times, and it makes sense because feminists have always been given this flattening moniker. When a powerful community’s behaviour, patterns, or culture is being questioned, many of them may feel threatened, and the label ‘man-haters’ can delegitimise both what the said person is exploring and the movement to which they belong.

'Man-hater' is generally an insult slung by men at a woman who holds a mirror to masculinity in a real way, and it’s often effective because it preys on our internalised belief that we must exert our energy into disproving this myth, which of course, distracts us from the real work.

The man that can’t thoughtfully engage with gender equality messages, notice his defensiveness and work through it is one I get a lot of sh*t from on social media (quelle surprise!), and these actions just cement my views: the worst way to make a woman consolidate her belief that men are our biggest challenge, is to abuse, threaten, minimise or dismiss her.

‘Man-hater’ is an enduring label born out of the definition of misandry – that was coined after misogyny – that worked to brand feminist movements as hateful or dangerous in the media.

Think of it as a cultural, low-stakes DARVO – the reflexive reaction perpetrators of sexual offences employ in order to avert accountability that happened so much they came up with an acronym – “deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender”.

The smear campaign to paint all gender equality or feminist movements as man-hating has permeated society – and you see it come up again and again, mostly from men but many women too. This is backed by research: participants who scored highly on a measure of hostile sexism, viewing women as trying to usurp men’s power, were most prone to seeing feminists as man-haters. And, look, whilst the commodification of female rage into anti-man rhetoric (think “men are trash” or “dump him”) deserves considered critique, this is different. We’re not talking about superficial tote bags and podcasts here, but decades of framing of important social movements as harmful.

If we’re talking about harm, we’d be much better off discussing how feminist movements traditionally excluded marginalised people and their realities – but no. Instead, patriarchal media and men are pushing for this to be the mainstream understanding of feminism.

The data doesn’t stop the stereotype, though. Last year, Barbie’s feverous release prompted much debate, much of it labelling it misandrist. Self-proclaimed “politically incorrect” comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher labelled it “a preachy, man-hating zombie lie,” and Ben Shapiro channelled his unending fragility into a long rant that followed along the same lines.

Even a mainstream, accessible advertorial that scratched the surface of pressures of the gender binary can be labelled man-hating, even if one of the central messages of the film was a man being able to fully inhabit his humanity.

“Women feeling hate towards men individually or as a community is a valid response to harm or inequality, and because the hate they feel does not feed into a larger system of power and oppression, it simply isn’t a direct comparison to men’s hatred of women.”

Of course, Barbie isn’t alone in her labelling; all the way back in 2015, the all-female Ghostbusters was called “sexist” and “misandrist” by commentators, and last week, people took to X to call Megan Fox a man-hater for telling single women to take up hobbies and focus on themselves.

Recent research disrupts the prevalent stereotype that feminism is misandry. The research found that feminists had positive attitudes toward men overall, scoring well above the mid-point scale on feelings of warmth, liking, and trust. Feminists and non-feminists barely differed in their attitudes. These patterns were largely consistent across nine countries in three continents. In some countries, the survey asked people to tell us how positively or negatively they thought “feminists” felt toward men. People incorrectly stereotyped feminists as having more negative attitudes toward men than feminists actually reported.

Knowing all this, the question for feminists becomes: should we try and change this perception of us? Or should we let it be? If I believed changing it was important, I wouldn’t have just written a new book with the word “hate” in the title.

Women feeling hate towards men individually or as a community is a valid response to harm or inequality, and because the hate they feel does not feed into a larger system of power and oppression, it simply isn’t a direct comparison to men’s hate towards women or systemic misogyny. Not all hate is the same.

“Feminism is for us to define, not those who fear its beauty and power.”

A woman’s righteous anger can bubble into hatred of what men have done to her or her community, and it can cause harm or hurt feelings, but women and marginalised people don’t hold the social, economic and political power to subjugate men as men have done to them.

Perhaps the men who challenge my work or the title of my book just can’t understand women’s hatred being righteous because theirs isn’t. Perhaps they can’t imagine that we could hate and love at the same time; that we can hold nuance and duality, because they were taught simple hatred: misogyny.

As women and as feminists, we can hold duality and we can hold complexity. I won’t be distracted from what matters. So, call me a man-hater all you want, dudes, but it doesn’t make it true. Feminism is for us to define, not those who fear its beauty and power.