In today’s social climate, everyone has an opinion on feminism.
It seems that every movie, song and work of fiction is studied and scrutinized through the lens of feminism for any hint of misogyny or similar problematic undertones.
But when asked about misandry, the general public is perhaps a little less than informed.
Misandry is most simply described as a hatred of the male sex but has been manifested in today’s world as discrimination or denigration of men in general.
Many feminists tend to scoff at the idea of men having their rights infringed upon in any way that is comparable to the stifling of women’s rights.
This week, Vice magazine published an article by Michael Toledano on a meeting of men’s rights activists, also known as “MRAs,” in Toronto to discuss the topic of men and boys in crisis.
Problems enumerated by these groups include discrimination toward men in situations such as custody rights and sexual harassment cases.
“The MRAs who met in Toronto attribute all of these problems to a single threat — a radical feminist ideology that has taken hold of our institutions and is actively oppressing men, even if most people with power in these institutions are still men,” Toledano wrote.
On certain grounds, these men may have a point.
Last month, Buzzfeed published a controversial list of 26 male survivors of sexual assault holding up signs quoting their attackers.
Reactions to the list were mixed: many were shocked and sympathetic toward the confessions while others were still skeptical about the reality of men being victims.
It’s important to examine these reactions toward male suffering in our culture. While it may be the case that some men’s rights activists are purely seeking to be combative and denounce feminism, we cannot dismiss the plight of an entire sex who have also been silenced and attacked in their own ways.
However, in the case of the MRAs in Toronto, Toledano echoed the sentiment of many feminists, saying their claims were unfounded and themselves discriminatory.
“Blaming women for the problems of men is thinly veiled misogyny,” Toledano wrote. “It goes hand in hand with the open misogyny that a few men’s rights activists, such as one who joked about ‘fat’ and ‘flat chicks,’ could barely contain at the rally. This feeling of male subjugation also extends into particularly dangerous territory when MRAs see accusation of rape as a tool women use to oppress men.”
While I believe that feminism can and should be used to educate and improve the quality of life for both sexes, there are some intrinsic problems with claiming that women are the only group of people who deserve to be heard.
By doing this, we discount not only the male sex but the different attributes of womankind as a whole, such as race or sexual orientation.
It is only when we broaden our scope of feminism to listen and learn from every marginalized group that we can truly be aware of all the injustices and discriminatory practices around us and then try to change them.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @lolonghi