I’m dumbfounded every time I see someone blame feminism for making women into “man-haters”. Not just because it’s untrue – personally, I’ve never met a feminist who hated men – but because the only women I’ve known who hate men are women who buy into patriarchal beliefs.
It’s misogynistic men and women who claim:
- Men can’t be faithful. Just not in their nature.
- Men are violent. That just is in their nature.
- If sufficiently teased, well of course a man’s going to rape a woman. But that’s her fault.
And the more subtle variations:
- Men are simple-minded compared to women (though this is really often a backhanded way of saying women are sneaky and manipulative).
- Men just don’t have the patience that all women (of course!) have for dealing with kids.
- Men don’t have parenting instincts, which is why they shouldn’t be expected to parent much.
All of these claims are intended as excuses for bad male behavior (which is not excused in females). But growing up with no good male role models and only one good female one, I came to the conclusion that most men were big, stupid sociopaths, and most women were asshats for putting up with them.
It was through feminism that I began to recognize how much social programming goes into making men and women behave stupidly. Just as women are conditioned to accept men who commit adultery, light their farts on fire and lose their own kids when they get distracted by a dog with a fluffy tail, men are conditioned to expect less of themselves every time they get a free pass for doing something wrong or stupid. Feminism is not a replacement mindset for patriarchy, which tells you what to think via media mouthpieces and politicians: feminism involves thinking critically, which is why there are such a variety of contradictory opinions among feminists.
Patriarchy is monolithic. No free thinking allowed. You must accept the precept that men are this and women are that. If you don’t like what men “are”, then you don’t like men and – ironically – you get banished to the imaginary feminist camp that exists only in the minds of patriarchal thinkers. Those are the “feminists” they have in mind when they talk about feminists hating on men: women who’ve bought into the patriarchal assertions about men, but not absorbed the lesson that they’re somehow supposed to respect men while simultaneously holding low standards for them. Those are the women who are in danger of concluding men really are just lesser beings.
Feminism, based on critical thinking, does allow you to question patriarchal assertions about men – both the ones I listed in bullet point and the ones that say they’re superior to women all the same. It almost renders impossible the ability to believe in any sweeping generalizations about gender, because most of them don’t stand up to even the most cursory bit of analysis.