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It’s not OK to bash men

The Sydney Morning Herald printed an opinion piece today by Adele Horin about a group of vengeful women in the US who glued an unfaithful husband’s genitals to his stomach, then left him trussed up in a motel room. This piece unfortunately promoted a number of common gender myths.

Ms Horin firstly claimed that “middle-class feminists” aren’t man-haters - that “women who flew the flag for women’s causes have been at pains to show they like men”. Let’s have a look at some quotes from middle-class feminists and I’ll let you decide for yourself whether Ms Horin’s argument holds water. And remember as you read them that a number of these are contemporary writers and academics being taught in women’s studies and gender studies courses across Australia.

“I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor.

“I feel what they feel: man-hating, that volatile admixture of pity, contempt, disgust, envy, alienation, fear, and rage at men.” Judith Levine, author and journalist.

“All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” Marilyn French, author “The Women’s Room”

“I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which a man structurally does not have. He does not have it because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it.” Former US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

“I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” Andrea Dworkin, author and activist

“MAN: an obsolete life form… an ordinary creature who needs to be watched…a contradictory baby-man…” From “A feminist Dictionary” ed. Kramarae and Triechler, Pandora Press, 1985

Sure, these women could be excused as being on the radical fringe of feminism. But if the majority of feminists love the male of the species, why have we not heard a peep from them about these sorry statistics (and more):

• 50% more Australian women than men now graduate from our universities
• twice as many men as women are victims of violence every year and one-in-three victims of sexual assault are male but there are no “stop violence against men” campaigns or councils
• men die more often than women from all major causes of death but there is as-yet no men’s health policy
• four men commit suicide for every woman that kills herself.

And why, if Ms Horin truly loves men, does she paint loving fathers who have had their children forcefully removed from their lives as “all those angry men”.

And, while we’re at it, why is a middle-class feminist like Ms Horin supporting women who choose to use violence against their unfaithful partners - suggesting that violence is necessary to teach ‘deadbeat males’ to ‘mend their ways’? There is no evidence that men are more likely to be unfaithful than women, but if an adulterous woman was ‘taught a lesson’ by a group of men in the same manner as ‘the Don Juan of Wisconsin’ was, it would be quite indefensible.

Without a shred of evidence, Ms Horin went on in her article to infer that “ordinary women” in “tough neigbourhoods” are regularly abused by male partners who won’t do the dishes, who are “unreformed chauvinists who use their penises as a battering ram”. She is right about one thing: there is ample evidence that interpersonal violence and abuse are more common in areas of lower socio-economic status. However all the international research shows that women in these neighbourhoods are as likely to be at fault as are their menfolk. Approximately one-quarter of violence between intimate partners is perpetrated by males, one-quarter by females, and one-half is mutual violence, with both partners giving as good as they get.

Could it not be that the women who cheer at other women’s violence (“you go girl!”), that are “giving the V sign, and bringing their fingers together in a happy snipping motion” are in fact abusive and violent partners themselves? Could it not be that these women desperately need access to the services that are currently only available to males: classes in anger-management, respectful relationships and anti-violence? They certainly don’t need to be defended by middle-class feminists like Ms Horin.

And about that “men don’t do the dishes” myth propagated by feminists: all the evidence shows that men and women work an almost identical total amount of hours per week inside and outside the home. Surveys show that most Australian men would love to spend more time at home with their families and children (and, yes, wash the dishes too!) but the pressures of being the primary breadwinner generally don’t allow it.

It’s about time we ended this myth-making about men that does nothing but fuel the ridiculous battle of the sexes that was started by second-wave feminists almost forty years ago. Most men and women don’t cheat on their partners, but unfortunately a few of them do. Most men and women carry a fair share of the workload in their relationships, but sadly a few of them don’t (for every man who won’t wash the dishes there is a woman who won’t do more work to help pay the rent). Most men and women abhor violence, but a few of them support it, and fewer still are actually violent and abusive (usually because of their own dysfunctional upbringings).

We should not be celebrating violent women any more than we should be celebrating violent men. And to infer that men deserve women’s violence as payback for their allegedly neanderthal ways is not only ignorant - disregarding all the evidence - but is misandry (look it up - it’s the male equivalent of misogyny).

Greg Andresen
Research & Media Liaison
Men’s Health Australia

August 9, 2009