It was published earlier this month, but Prof. Suzanna Danuta Walters, director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, has a serious question: why can’t we hate all men. The column was featured in The Washington Post, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, folks:
…[W]e forget some universal facts.
Pretty much everywhere in the world, this is true: Women experience sexual violence, and the threat of that violence permeates our choices big and small. In addition, male violence is not restricted to intimate-partner attacks or sexual assault but plagues us in the form of terrorism and mass gun violence. Women are underrepresented in higher-wage jobs, local and federal government, business, educational leadership, etc.; wage inequality continues to permeate every economy and almost every industry; women continue to provide far higher rates of unpaid labor in the home (e.g., child care, elder care, care for disabled individuals, housework and food provision); women have less access to education, particularly at the higher levels; women have lower rates of property ownership.
So, in this moment, here in the land of legislatively legitimated toxic masculinity, is it really so illogical to hate men? For all the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp and the women’s marches, only a relatively few men have been called to task, and I’ve yet to see a mass wave of prosecutions or even serious recognition of wrongdoing. On the contrary, cries of “witch hunt” and the plotted resurrection of celebrity offenders came quick on the heels of the outcry over endemic sexual harassment and violence. But we’re not supposed to hate them because . . . #NotAllMen. I love Michelle Obama as much as the next woman, but when they have gone low for all of human history, maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their collective butts.
The world has little place for feminist anger. Women are supposed to support, not condemn, offer succor not dismissal. We’re supposed to feel more empathy for your fear of being called a harasser than we are for the women harassed. We are told he’s with us and #NotHim. But, truly, if he were with us, wouldn’t this all have ended a long time ago? If he really were with us, wouldn’t he reckon that one good way to change structural violence and inequity would be to refuse the power that comes with it?
So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your crocodile tears won’t be wiped away by us anymore. We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong. #BecausePatriarchy. It is long past time to play hard for Team Feminism. And win.
Whoa Nelly! Well, it seems hard to fix any issue through hate. It’s also almost next to impossible to fix any societal ill by demonizing half of the world’s population. This isan epic rant. And one that is suitable for college campuses. This isn’t about Halloween costumes or hurling some politically correct screed about the neo-colonial pseudo history that’s retroactively (and idiotically) applied to subjects, events, or matters that aren’t even political. This isn’t new. And college campuses should be places where you get challenged and maybe feel a little uncomfortable, maybe even a lot within reason. Don’t get me wrong; I’m staunchly opposed to everything she says, but this is also a good thing in the sense that I think most feminists are abhorred by the notion of hating half the human population. Isn’t that inherently antithetical to feminism?
Also, the notion that men should just abdicate from public service is nonsense. And no—I’m not voting for feminist women. I’m voting Republican. I’m voting for Trump, so these screeds are just another in-kind contrition to the Trump 2020 campaign. It shows feminism’s true face to some. Nevertheless, I find it interesting, so keep on writing about how you hate us, ladies. You’re only hurting your brand that’s already in a dismal state. The Atlantic’sConor Freidersdorf had a more thorough piece on how this tantrum falls short, calling the main point illogical:
Is it really so illogical to hate men?”
Yes, it is.
It is always illogical to hate an entire group of people for behavior perpetrated by a subset of its members and actively opposed or renounced by literally millions of them. It is every bit as easy, and more just, to assign collective rhetorical blame to groups that deserve it, like “murderers” or “rapists” or “domestic abusers” or “sexists.”
Indulging in collective hate validates hatred itself and the flawed premise of group rather than individual responsibility. It puts all groups at greater risk of suffering hatred, for there are bad individuals in any group and folks ready to hate every group. What’s more, any hate tends to harm the individual who harbors it.
Finally, group hate tends to make those who harbor it less able to see clearly, less likely to acknowledge nuance, and less able to improve the world, even as their wrongheaded ideas risk leading others into destructive errors.
For example, some of Walters’s less thoughtful readers might draw the conclusion that bad behavior by men damages women exclusively, and erroneously conclude that half the population—maybe their own half—has no strictly selfish interest in tackling the sundry forms of violence that are mostly caused by men. But (for instance) men are wildly overrepresented among both homicide perpetrators and homicide victims—according to the UN, 78 percent of homicide victims are male. Even the most self-interested man has a stake in perceiving, studying, and trying to remedy most ills men disproportionately inflict.
The overwhelming majority of feminists want equality, not male abdication of power and responsibility. In the name of feminism, Walters advocates for a future that few women want within a framework that mistakenly treats their project as zero sum.
There is much more to be said about the folly of hatred, and none of it best said by me. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that “darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that,” and that “hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Even this person who argues, “We have every right to hate [men],” will likely keep teaching them without much controversy, barring antagonistic classroom behavior. And that’s as it should be. Men, like all students, benefit from the implicit lesson that they are resilient and the explicit lessons gleaned from ostensibly hostile professors, the hostility of whom is more often than not overblown. So don’t hate Walters, men of Northeastern. And do consider taking her class. It is likely to forcefully convey a perspective very different from your own.
Couldn’t agree more with Freidersdorf, especially o the last point. Yeah, it may be nonsense, but hear her out. It can’t hurt. But, still, hating all men—yeah, I’ve heard this movie before. It’s been played since the 1970s and other feminists have espoused the same man-hating points. We’ll survive it.