There is a great Urban Myth abounding in conversations about men that needs clarifying.
It appears that we have forgotten what it means to use language appropriately. We want to group everyone together and place a label around people so we know where they fit. I do not like labels, and I dislike the incorrect use of potentially damaging words more.
As a young woman, I tackled the world head on. I did not label people by race, by religion or by gender (and still don’t). Moreover, I was determined that none of the labels other people used would ever limit my future possibilities.
I remember the time I was first called a Feminist. I was horrified. I did not buy into the label and I certainly was not going to categorized into something that was segregating men and women. I just wanted to be a woman who had a voice.
Feminism by definition is
~ The advocacy for women’s rights, on equality of the sexes
The point was not lost on me, that the Feminist movement was needed in the world, and that it was due to it’s foundations that I had rights and privileges that were not afforded to my mother’s generation. However, even as a young woman, I saw great inequality in what was taking place because of that movement and it did not sit well with me.
What I did not know was that my strong connection to men and their rights and issues would later cause me to be labeled as Misogynist.
There is no doubt that Misogyny exists in the world. Violence, hatred, and contempt toward women purely because of their gender is abhorrent and intolerable.
We hear about it in the news, in relation to politics, differing cultures, rape, and other crimes committed against women and girls, purely because of their gender. It is simply not OK.
Misogyny by definition indicates reviling a group of people
~ Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women
However there is a problem.
The use of the word is appearing in every day conversations used as a metaphor for any man (or woman) who stands up for a man’s right to equality. In that context the label is erroneously applied, and it hurts.
I speak with men about how they show up in the world and how they want to be present in every day life. They share with me their honest and heartfelt accounts of what matters to them, in their parenting, the respect they receive, the removal of authority, and their desire to reclaim their assertiveness. They do not like being labeled as Misogynists simply for speaking up. Neither do I.
The men I have spoken to regarding this subject agree wholeheartedly that Misogyny exists and they abhor the very nature of it. They also express great fear of accusations against them, purely for speaking up or defending their rights as a man.
There are two Myths that I believe cause us to misapply this label.
Myth #1 — Standing Up for the Rights of Men Makes You a Misogynist
No, being pro-men does not mean that you harbor dislike, contempt, or prejudice against women.
What it does is makes you a supporter of men’s rights, nothing more. When a man chooses to speak up and make a stand for his entitlements, which is equal to that of a woman’s (right to equal childcare, to speak up against violence, or equality in employment), he is not a Misogynist.
This man is expressing his desires of the world, access to his children, for instance. He is letting you know that violence and abuse against men is real, it’s happening to him, and it’s hurting him. He is telling you that he feels belittled, by having to ask for what is rightfully his. He is telling you the story of his pain.
Myth #2 — Disagreeing with a Feminist Statement Automatically Makes You a Misogynist
No, it means there is a countering opinion.
Our culture likes to label by extremes, so if you are a person who dares to disagree with a Feminist statement, you must then be Misogynist by default.
“Either you are a feminist or you are a sexist/misogynist. There is no box marked ‘other.” ~Ani DiFranco
Quotes like this from feminist songwriter Ani DiFranco confirm the paradoxical view that there is only one way to equality, Feminism. The argument itself is inherently flawed. True Gender Equality is not about being for one side or the other, it is about equality which means being for both.
Any man or woman who fits the true definition of Misogyny will certainly be an Anti Feminist, but that does not make any man who wants to restore balance a Misogynist.
Let us not forget the elephant in the room. The opposite of Misogyny is Misandry ~ the hatred of men — which was endured by many during the early Feminist movement and has followed into our modern day thinking. We need to be mindful that we do not now turn the tables and start labelling women with Misandry, because that would be unfair……right?
These men must have a voice. I implore you to do not shut them down with an ill fitting label because you fear them. Listen to their pain. Hear their voice. Have an opinion – we need more discussion, but be mindful of the labels you use.