JULIA SERRA | OPINION COLUMNIST
The word “feminist” conjures images of the man-hating bra-burner. She is angry, irrational and vengeful and the target of this wrath is the cause of her oppression: all men. Most people who have any sort of familiarity with the feminist movement are aware that very few of these women actually exist.
Feminism is not about degrading men, but rather empowering women and deconstructing stereotypes and expectations associated with gender. It’s an agenda based on gender equality, not creating a matriarchal culture. Somehow, despite the outspokenness of the feminist movement, this misconception continues. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a woman say something to the effect of, “I’m not a feminist because I don’t hate men.” It’s out of perspectives like this that came the controversial practice of ironic misandry, a frustrated reaction to the faulted social structure and the stereotypes that were thwarting their mission to get rid of it.
Misandry, by definition, is prejudice against men. It’s the crime every feminist has been accused of committing. Somehow, by fighting for the empowerment of women, the rights of men have been severely threatened. As retaliation to these slightly absurd notions, ironic misandry has become one of the most powerful and popular weapons of the feminist movement. You can purchase a mug labeled “male tears” or needlepoint pillows reading “kill all men.”
It should be relatively obvious that feminist don’t really want a planet void of men; they are simply satirizing the stereotype that’s been discounting their plight for social justice since the fight for suffrage. If we look further than satire, the misandrist statements leaking into popular culture aren’t attacking men; they are attacking our culture’s concept of masculinity and the hierarchy it creates. Instead of channeling frustration through violence or legitimate misandry, irony serves as a means to show the absurdities of anti-feminist accusations.
Despite its somewhat polarizing effect, ironic misandry still manages to highlight both the unity and the complexity within the feminist movement. While some women object to any sort of association with the method, it addresses something that all feminists can agree upon: what we are not. We are not the bra-burners or the man-haters. We are joined together by a common desire for gender equality. Saying that this is the extent of our goals and assuming that all members of the movement subscribe to the same ideas oversimplifies a highly complex group of people. Ironic misandry reminds them of the common goal while still allowing each feminist to pursue their goals in the method they see fit.
The controversy thickens when the satirical element is overlooked. Some claim that because misogyny is generally considered distasteful in both ironic and non-ironic situations, misandry should be held to the same standard. However, ironic misandry doesn’t have the same effects as its counterpart because of the hierarchy society has created. Ironic misandry is a method of empowerment, while its counterpart has nothing to empower; men already hold a superior position in out culture.
Misogyny is a problem that countless women face on a daily basis. I can’t be on the sidewalks without being catcalled, and every time I consume any sort of media, I’m bombarded with images of the woman I’m expected to be despite the impossibility that comes along with it. Misogyny is terrifyingly entwined into American culture, to the point where I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to comb it out.
Misandry simply does not have the same oppressive affects as misogyny, and while non-ironic misandry is hateful, and ultimately unacceptable, drinking tea out of a “male tears” mug does not recall any extreme disadvantages brought on by the massive faults in society. Men are still in the primary position of power, and satirizing false images of feminism is merely another means to let go of the hierarchy.
A Women’s Liberation march in Washington, D.C., 1970 | Warren K. Leffler