The word “con” has been in our lexicon for some time now, taken up by a host of feminist activists. I remember the first time I called myself a “stupid”, it was in the street after a performance of “Monologues du vagina”. My friend silenced me, but I called him out loud and proud. “I’m a jerk!” Until then, I had only heard one man use that word. The experience was liberating.
Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that the word “misandry” has found an echo in the vernacular of pop culture. (While misogyny is hatred of women, misandry is the male equivalent. Or as Merriam-Webster bluntly puts it, “Hate of men.”) Why misandry, and why now? The word is common in men’s rights circles and appears to be the result of a backlash against the increasingly public discussions of hate crimes against women and widespread misogyny on the internet. It may sound like a sweeping statement—rampant internet misogyny-but the truth is that there is so much hatred towards women on the internet that it’s not about finding examples, it’s about refine examples.
I could tell you about the rape threats against Zerlina Maxwell, or the death and rape threats against Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency. I could mention the hurricane of misogynistic cruelty that vandalized Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia page and manipulated her Google search results to read “Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist video blogger and a bitch.”
Go to Reddit or 4chan, or even YouTube. Go to Craigslist, read the comments on the CHVRCHES Facebook page, or search for the name Stella Creasy and you’ll find more of the same kind of verbal abuse, same attacks, same kind of threats. Men’s rights activists tend to cry foul whenever these issues are brought up – and now women, proudly or jokingly, are starting to use the term themselves. Even women who As men (I love my husband, father, brother and son, for example) can understand why women can use the word misandry. Because maybe, outside of the rampant misogyny on the internet, they have, at some point in their lives, been abused by a man. Maybe it was a guy, or a bunch of guys, who abused a woman in her twenties. Or maybe it was just all of the men – you know, the patriarchy.
Men understand it. This includes my husband, who, when I told him I was writing this story, said, “Yeah, men suck.” It doesn’t make him a man who hates himself, it just makes him a man who understands the problems men can cause.
And because women, even the most rowdy of women – after all, this generation’s interest in crafts began under the Riot Grrrl movement, where girls first embroidered “feminist” on pillows and trained knitting groups called “Stitch ‘n Bitch” – like being a girl and hard, the message of misandry evolved in the form of arts and crafts. Check Etsy for the word misandry and you’ll find some super cute pom-pom knit hats with “misandry” emblazoned between rows of hearts. You will also find lavender and white heart shaped misandry hair barrettes, a plastic misandry necklace and a heart shaped felt brooch embellished with misandry with pearls.
That’s not all. There are also works of art, like this vintage photo of a woman looking somewhere in the distance (maybe into the future of women’s suffrage?), Encased in a sepia pink heart.
Men who like to blame feminists for the end of men will, I’m sure, troll these Etsy sites to the end of time, moaning as they click “I told you so.” This is one of the reasons why misandry crafting might be an answer to that sentiment: Do you think we hate you so much? Alright, you’re right. We wear it on our sleeve now. Or around our necks. Or on our heads. Or like a pin.
But the truth is that feminists as a whole, despite what has been perpetuated, do not hate men and do not wish for the torment of men. This does not mean that male disparagement does not exist. It also doesn’t mean that male denigration is somehow equivalent to female denigration. There is nothing like threats of rape, sorry. And as Lindy West of Jezebel writes, “The most powerful proponent of misandry in modern Internet discourse is [men] – in particular, your stubborn insistence that misandry is a genuine, systemic and oppressive force on par with misogyny.
Of course, there is a flip side. There are women who hate men shamelessly. While browsing Instagram the other day, I noticed an author whose work I admire wearing a misandry t-shirt. She suggested that it should be a “staff uniform” for her magazine. When I emailed her to her if the t-shirt was ironic, she replied, “For me, there is nothing ironic about misandry. I really hate men. A lot.”
For most of the women who embrace the idea of misandry, however, it usually sounds more complicated, or maybe just a play on words. One of the Etsy artists I spoke to said there was no other reason she created her misandry craft than because a “friend asked me to make it for her.” a tailor-made one. After posting a photo online, I started getting a lot of orders for them. Even the Misandry-Mermaid Tumblr tagline states, “This feminist Tumblr strives for intersectionality and inclusiveness.” Yet this reflection and understood the mission statement is written under a photo of a mermaid which reads: “Forever bathe in your male tears”.
The hardest part for me to come to terms with misandry is that it’s not that simple. I’ve met and treated some really, really crappy men in my life. But I have had some really great guys who helped me through my divorce, took me out of dark places, and listened to me deal with some of the darker fears about me. Maybe I need to buy some misandry t shirts for these men, that way they can get the word back without irony, and finally feel free.