Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salva reverentia) as a virile member of society. If the centre of his dress-consciousness were his cod-piece, his education directed to making him a spirited lover and meek paterfamilias; his interests held to be natural only in so far as they were sexual. If from school and lecture-room, Press and pulpit, he heard the persistent outpouring of a shrill and scolding voice, bidding him remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with seduction, how to play bridge without incurring the suspicion of impotence. If, instead of allowing with a smile that “women prefer cavemen,” he felt the unrelenting pressure of a while social structure forcing him to order all his goings in conformity with that pronouncement.
He would hear (and would he like hearing?) the female counterpart of Dr. P*** informing him: “I am no supporter of the Horseback Hall doctrine of ‘gun-tail, plough-tail and stud’ as the only spheres for masculine action; but we do need a more definite conception of the nature and scope of man’s life.” In any book on sociology he would find, after the main portion dealing with human needs and rights, a supplementary chapter devoted to “The Position of the Male in the Perfect State.” His newspaper would assist him with a “Men’s Corner,” telling him how, by the expenditure of a good deal of money and a couple of hours a day, he could attract the girls and retain his wife’s affection; and when he had succeeded in capturing a mate, his name would be taken from him, and society would present him with a special title to proclaim his achievement. People would write books called, “History of the Male,” or “Males of the Bible,” or “The Psychology of the Male,” and he would be regaled daily with headlines, such as “Gentleman-Doctor’s Discovery,” “Male-Secretary Wins Calcutta Sweep,” “Men-Artists at the Academy.” If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: “Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.” […]
He would be edified by solemn discussions about “Should Men Serve in Drapery Establishments?” and acrimonious ones about “Tea-Drinking Men”; by cross-shots of public affairs “from the masculine angle,” and by irritable correspondence about men who expose their anatomy on beaches (so masculine of them), conceal it in dressing-gowns (too feminine of them), think about nothing but women, pretend an unnatural indifference to women, exploit their sex to get jobs, lower the tone of the office by their sexless appearance, and generally fail to please a public opinion which demands the incompatible. And at dinner-parties he would hear the wheedling, unctuous, predatory female voice demand: “And why should you trouble your handsome little head about politics?”
If, after a few centuries of this kind of treatment, the male was a little self-conscious, a little on the defensive, and a little bewildered about what was required of him, I should not blame him. If he presented the world with a major social problem, I should scarcely be surprised. It would be more surprising if he retained any rag of sanity and self-respect.
grapefruitmilkshake asked: What are you views on misogyny and misandry?
My views are pretty well summed up by the Madeline Alpert article: misogyny is real and one of society’s organising principles. Misandry is both an internet joke - see The Toast’s misandrist lullabies - and a legitimate response to being alive in this society. Particularly for you and me with our current minister for women.
Or just see Valerie Solanas’ SCUM manifesto.
I am thrilled that someone - multiple someones - are following the misandry tag purely, it would appear, for the purposes of deserving it. A fedora! my glee knows no bounds.
The self-identified misandrists I know do not hate men as much as they are fed up with endlessly discussing trivial “feminist issues”. We don’t want to talk about whether or not wearing makeup is a “feminist act.” We are tired of the lack of serious discussion about race and class within feminist circles. We are done with holding back our opinions and critiques of kink and BDSM in fear of being admonished by sex positive feminists who relentlessly advocate that we keep our hands off the “private” world of sex (contradictorily, as “the personal is political” is a mantra expelled by all brands of feminists).
—and finally Madeline Alpert in XO Jane, Where’s Valerie Solanas when you need her? What it really means to man-hate in 2013. And I might add, 2014.
I am at work reading the SCUM manifesto - in book form, this is a library, and I could have found it online I suppose but it would have taken much longer than walkng twenty metres and squinting at the 791.43 shelf. Depressingly, Solanas in our catalogue is still defined by her relationship to Warhol. Anyway, while the manifesto is a bit much for today’s strident (shrill) feminist, it is still only that: a bit much. It was written almost fifty years ago and things have changed only a bit.
Feminists who want feminism to be respectable are afraid the “radicals” will go “too far.” That is, manhating gives the show away — we aren’t merely liberals; our complaints are drastic; we’re demanding, not asking; we’re breaking the mold in the most thorough way possible; we really mean it.
I find hating others morally preferable to hating oneself; it gives the human race a backbone. It is the first of all the biological virtues, self-preservation, and it takes more bravery than you might think. And before you sneer at self-preservation and declare that self-immolation is wonderful (especially for women) remember that self-sacrifice is a virtue always forced on oppressed groups.
Oh man I just want to quote the entire article, but I am not sure if that is okay in copyright terms. Joanna Russ, science fiction author, feminist writing in 1972 an article that is directly applicable today, from the men laughing about rape to self-sacrifice being easier for everyone to gaslighting to the watering down of feminism into a popularity contest.
Joanna Russ, The New Misandry: Man-hating in 1972. in the Village Voice.
link also via bookslut, which has given me lots of excellent reading this morning (as ever) as well as lots of righteous anger (as ever).