it's raining, it's pouring / the old man is snoring / now is our chance
August 6, 2015 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Across the Internet, it was a time of peak misandry. Know Your Meme attributes the popularization of the term to various cultural artifacts few enthusiastic current misandrists will recognize. But, hilariously, the word (and the attendant attitude) seems to have gained visibility thanks to anti-feminists treating the concept as a real, widespread ideology, and therefore a personal threat. When feminists noticed the notion was a useful tool for poking the buttons of an especially nasty brand of sexist, a meme was born.
The Meme-ification of Misandry
posted by kagredon (161 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can men be misandrists?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:22 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'll be honest, while this was an interesting read and all, I was hoping to see a lot more hilarious Male Tears memes.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:24 AM on August 6, 2015 [32 favorites]


Good article, I appreciate that it took a critical look at the issue rather than just laughing off the idea that it can hurt a lot of people via collateral damage. I think I fall into the camp that thinks you just aren't going to find a healthy long term way to make jokes about murdering a large group of people not problematic. The lighter mockery is an issue too. Stuff like "Male Tears" is not helpful because it takes it's force as an insult from the toxic masculinity idea that men crying is shameful. There are other approaches to mocking men who deserve to be mocked that don't have that sort of baggage.

Other than that sort of stuff though, ironic misandry is fine and dandy to me.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:26 AM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


i am a huge lover of misandry jokes. i do get her points about "kill all men" - it might be why sometime in the last year i've taken to saying #BanMen on twitter instead. i don't want to imagine violence on them, not really (or usually, i guess), but i do want them to just generally stop with all the bullshit or at least do it away from me.

i'll keep my misandry jokes (and bracelet), but i also fist pumped at this part :
Contemporary misandry, in its current self-effacing form, is not enough for me because righteous female anger is not a joke to me. Female pain is not a joke. And the failures of men individually, and as a group, to correct or resist their instincts towards aggression, abuse, cruelty, social irresponsibility, and sexism are not a joke. This doesn’t mean the situation should be or even could be resolved in violence. But it does mean we need much more than a laugh.
i agree with her that it's not enough and i also agree with her elsewhere in the piece that just laughter is a good enough goal sometimes. i think both things can exist at the same time and i think these are good things to think over.
posted by nadawi at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2015 [36 favorites]


This went in interesting and unexpected (for me, at least) directions. Thanks very much for posting it.
posted by zarq at 9:29 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, in case anyone reads the pull-quote in this FPP and feels inspired make a drive-by comment, this is an article that's worth reading all the way through before commenting.
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on August 6, 2015 [39 favorites]


Also, in case anyone reads the pull-quote in this FPP and feels inspired make a drive-by comment, this is an article that's worth reading all the way through before commenting.

pb is great but I'm not sure the MeFi codebase supports that feature.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


see also

it's about 25% gif party and 75% anonymous men screaming obscenities and death threats.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


This FPP title is hilarious, first of all.

Second, I really enjoyed the article -- and yeah, you really need to read the whole thing, it unpacks in all sorts of ways I hadn't anticipated.

It left me feeling conflicted, in a way I often feel conflicted when I think about why we live in a world where Donald Trump is taken more seriously than Bernie Sanders as a potential presidential candidate. One (broadly stated) side of a spectrum is always self-examining for nuance, potential harm, and repercussions from their actions and course-correcting. The other (broadly stated) side of that spectrum is happy with simple ideas, repeated as loudly and often as possible, without giving a tinker's damn about who gets hurt.

I love the misandry stuff; I think it's hilarious and powerful in how it defuses and disarms the more noxious end of the Internet by openly mocking how ridiculous they are. But now I'm aware of how problematic it can be, and while I understand and support the reasons for walking back from it, I'm jealous that the GamerGaters get to use their blunt stupid hate tools and the people who oppose them are letting similar (i.e. simply phrased and easily repeated) tools drop, even though the reasons are solid and good.
posted by Shepherd at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [30 favorites]


Great, thoughtful piece, thanks for posting! I particularly liked this passage:
The most worthwhile and instructive aspect of misandry is its rejection of male approval. It flouts the notion that women should be deferential to men, that we should prioritize their comfort and pander to their egos. “Misandry is radical indifference to men,” explains Sarah Jeong, pointing to Mallory Ortberg’s definition. “It is radical because women are socialized to pay attention to all of those things, and to center men in their lives.”
This is the aspect of the 'misandry' meme that I've found most valuable by far. While I totally agree that laughing about this stuff does little to address womens' most serious issues, I think the jokes and laughter have a great role to play in dispelling these more chronic but less dangerous aspects of male and female socialization. I've found e.g. Ortberg's brand of 'misandry' very helpful in allowing me to move past the idea that I must always be making the men around me feel comfortable and that failing to do so is somehow actively hostile to men.

In my experience of the term, the 'misandry!' meme was largely reactive to men (specifically MRAs) claiming that misandry was the same as misogyny, not something that women came up with on their own just to make fun of men out of nowhere. It was a reaction to a baseless accusation at first, not an earnest thing in and of itself. It doesn't especially matter at this point, though - I'm very receptive to the idea that focusing on the 'misandry' stuff continues the problem of centering men in feminism, and that it comes with a lot of intersectional baggage that is often overlooked.
posted by dialetheia at 9:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [37 favorites]


The twin pillars of misandry are not laughing at unfunny jokes, and walking out of bad sex.

I love this so much, and tucked into that tidy package of a sentence are all sorts of implicit points about misogyny, patriarchy, and socialized gender norms.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:43 AM on August 6, 2015 [44 favorites]


I think it was the Notorious RBG who, when asked when how many women Justices it would take before she would consider the Supreme Court gender balanced, said something to the effect of "Nine. It was nine men for so long, having nine women would be just a start." That's how I feel about the whole "Is misandry real or ironic?" question. Even if it was 100% real, it would take a million Mallory Ortbergs a million years to bring misandry up to the standards of misogyny.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:43 AM on August 6, 2015 [55 favorites]


1. Actual discrimination against men ("misandry") exists for a fact at least occasionally: for instance men get harsher prison sentences than women when convicted of the same crime. This is in no way the fault of women or of feminism (at least not third-wave feminism); rather it is the usual patriarchal establishment at work.

2. More generally, regarding problems which statistically impact more men than women (e.g. homelessness, incarceration, suicide), the least privileged men are the most severely affected.

And that is why I don't laugh at "male tears", or think of gender politics as a zero-sum game.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:44 AM on August 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


This article is great, by the way.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:45 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. Actual discrimination against men ("misandry") exists for a fact at least occasionally: for instance men get harsher prison sentences than women when convicted of the same crime. This is in no way the fault of women or of feminism (at least not third-wave feminism); rather it is the usual patriarchal establishment at work.

but, as you say, that's not misandry, at least not in the way that anyone uses the term, especially women who use it as part of jokes.
posted by nadawi at 9:53 AM on August 6, 2015 [24 favorites]


Yeah, this article was really great.

I've always been a little uncomfortable with the misandry "jokes", and I generally identify as a (trans-inclusive) radical feminist. We have to all be in it together if anything's going to change.

The intersectionality argument is a good one to read. I feel like the thing to always remember is "YOU are not the center of the universe," and that applies to everyone equally. My point of view is not universal, even if it has been denied for so long and I ache for recognition and validation. My problems are not the most important, and I do not deserve special treatment. I think that internalizing that is the essence of feminism. Men who realize and live that truth are more feminist than those who label themselves.

I always found the "dick is abundant and of low value" an empowering thing to keep in mind while dating, as an inspiration to not put up with any bullshit. More like, "another one will come along any time now, don't bother wasting your time if you're not happy." I never took it as particularly misandrist, but I see now how it could be read that way.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I also liked the shoutout to the SCUM Manifesto. I recently read that new biography of Solanas, and read the manifesto in a reading group, and watched I Shot Andy Warhol. So I've been making a little study of it. It's amazing how such a weird little text has had such an enduring impact. I feel like it touches on a lot of truths in a really provocative way to be present in popular culture for so long. It's really incredible.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:58 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was involved in an argument on Twitter the other day that started with me responding to one man who was defending jokes about Cosby's victims, and ending up with about 4 or 5 assholes tweeting me shit - did you know there is no such thing as male privilege and there's no pay gap it's just that women choose not to work full time or take top positions? They also included the wish that I'd be in a crippling car crash with my family and sent me images of demonic feminist types. I really, really wish I'd had access to poffin boffin's tumblr link. So at the beginning of the article I thought it was going that way, and it was really thought provoking in the direction it took. It's a pain in the arse, though, to have a tool you really have to choose not to use because it can be harmful in itself to marginalised men, because the non-marginalised men sure as shit don't care who their stupid memes hurt.
posted by billiebee at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2015 [33 favorites]


sent me images of demonic feminist types

Please tell me they weren't unironically using Kate Beaton's Straw Feminists, because that is a crime and they should pay.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:03 AM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


> It's amazing how such a weird little text has had such an enduring impact

That surprises me; I feel like the only time I hear about it is when it's brought up is as a strawman argument against feminism.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:06 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


(jinx)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2015


Please tell me they weren't unironically using Kate Beaton's Straw Feminists

No it was much less subtle. I blocked them so I can't look through the thread so I just now went to google images and searched for "misogyny" to see if they were there and that was stupid and now I want to cry and also set something on fire
posted by billiebee at 10:09 AM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


This was an interesting article. Thanks for posting it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:15 AM on August 6, 2015


That sucks. And also, whatever they did is still a crime.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:16 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. Actual discrimination against men ("misandry") exists for a fact at least occasionally: for instance men get harsher prison sentences than women when convicted of the same crime.

I suspect that's a product of patriarchy, not misandry. Unless there is evidence that men are given harsher sentences because the judges hate men, I expect it is more likely that women get less serious sentences because a patriarchal society won't take women seriously, even as criminals.
posted by maxsparber at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2015 [59 favorites]


I thought the misandry stuff was really just directed at men who actually go around crying about misandry and feminism. I didn't think it was actually directed at all men, or was really about laughing about killing people. But in general if we're doing something that others find hurtful, we should stop.
posted by bleep at 10:17 AM on August 6, 2015


If it helps any, I don't find it hurtful, I find it hurtLARIOUS.
posted by maxsparber at 10:18 AM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


(the title of the post is from Mallory Ortberg's Misandrist Lullabies, previously on Mefi.)
posted by kagredon at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought the misandry stuff was really just directed at men who actually go around crying about misandry and feminism.

Yeah, that was my take on it too. I almost never ever encounter ironic "misandry" and its accompanying memes except when it's discussed on a relatively niche, obscure site like MetaFilter.
posted by Nevin at 10:25 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


This article was a great read, and, as others have pointed out, it went in some really interesting directions. Was so very happy to see it address issues related to intersectionality.

Thank you for posting this, kagredon.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


moscaddie recently talked on twitter about not using "dick is abundant" anymore, but twitter search sucks so i can't find the whole thing. i'm pretty sure this tweet was part of that thought, but regardless i think it's pertinent here.

"i just want women to know their worth, that's all i really want out of life / this website. women, ur worth is abundant and high value" - @moscaddie
posted by nadawi at 10:50 AM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Intriguing indeed, however, another frustrating time when I thought I had my head wrapped around something to find out I didn't.
posted by Samizdata at 10:51 AM on August 6, 2015


Kill all misogelastic misomusist misanthropes.
posted by tempestuoso at 11:01 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: murdering misogelastic misomusist misantrhopes.
posted by Chuffy at 11:18 AM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


After reading through that tumblr blog, I am better able to process this meme...but nobody should care, because I'm a man.
posted by Chuffy at 11:20 AM on August 6, 2015


[One comment deleted. Sarcastic dismissals that don't seem to respond to the article at all are fightbait and not a great way to engage on a topic like this.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I understand the objections, and acknowledge that it's tricky to do in light of some of those factors.

However, I'm not giving it up. To me, the goal of misandry trolling (and trolling in general) is to get nasty people worked up about the most implausible, nonsensical, cartoonish thing possible. That is a difficult task with MRAs in particular because it's hard to think of something more outlandish than the things they actually believe.

But there is a really cool little built-in logic to it as well. Because the more sexist a man is, the easier he is to troll. There is a very common tenet of misogyny that holds that women are incapable of anything but pure po-faced literalism, so anyone except the most deranged misogynist will recognize that misandry is parody of real, existing and recent sexist beliefs.

I think most women have experienced the dynamic where the more oblivious and ignorant a given misogynist is, the more likely he is to think that he is smarter and more observant than you. And to me, misandry trolling is just exploiting that dynamic. The people who get trolled are the ones who need a trollin'.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:34 AM on August 6, 2015 [24 favorites]


The study of this is, of course, misanthropology.
posted by eriko at 11:41 AM on August 6, 2015 [26 favorites]


It's an odd dynamic. Everyone has a group that they're tired for various reasons and crack jokes about it. But yeah, group joking in a public space is bound to upset some individual, so it can get weird. Good to remember that any large group is composed of people who didn't ask for or match the group's stereotypes.

But sometimes a good joke is a really good joke
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:43 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


One (broadly stated) side of a spectrum is always self-examining for nuance, potential harm, and repercussions from their actions and course-correcting. The other (broadly stated) side of that spectrum is happy with simple ideas, repeated as loudly and often as possible, without giving a tinker's damn about who gets hurt.

I love the misandry stuff; I think it's hilarious and powerful in how it defuses and disarms the more noxious end of the Internet by openly mocking how ridiculous they are. But now I'm aware of how problematic it can be, and while I understand and support the reasons for walking back from it, I'm jealous that the GamerGaters get to use their blunt stupid hate tools and the people who oppose them are letting similar (i.e. simply phrased and easily repeated) tools drop, even though the reasons are solid and good.


I share your feelings: it seems unfair that "their" side does better than "ours" by being willing to use cruder methods. (Another example: trying to explain global warming with statistics and data, versus laughing about how cold it was this winter.) But then again, are those crude methods even compatible with "our" side's stated goals? Mocking global warming deniers might win people over on that one issue, but they would not be prepared to abandon mockery in favor of science when the next issue comes along. Same goes for misandry: sure it can be fun and cathartic, but if you get more people to take on the label "feminist" because they like putting down others based on their gender, you're getting further away from the goal of respecting all genders.
posted by Rangi at 11:45 AM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a dude it's fun to watch dudes who think everybody should have a thick skin and laugh at jokes targeting racial, gender, and sexual minorities freak the fuck out at ironic misandry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:46 AM on August 6, 2015 [88 favorites]


but if you get more people to take on the label "feminist" because they like putting down others based on their gender, you're getting further away from the goal of respecting all genders.

I don't think this is a recruitment tool. Not everything has to serve the function of forwarding the cause. Some things can just exist because they make laugh people who are usually the butt of the joke.

Ultimately, what misnadry jokes do is reverse a really old, stale narrative about feminists: that they don't have a sense of humor. Their sense of humor works fine. It turns out to be men who can't take a fucking joke.
posted by maxsparber at 11:48 AM on August 6, 2015 [43 favorites]


The study of this is, of course, misanthropology.


I actually joke that I did my doctorate in Misanthropology.

At the University of Chicago.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't think Shane is saying we shouldn't use misandry jokes or that they're only good for a quick laugh; I think what she's calling for is to be more thoughtful, careful, specific, and truthful (in the sense of using it to explicate real sources of anger and frustration) with misandry jokes.
posted by kagredon at 11:56 AM on August 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


yeah, charlotte shane is explicit about the fact that she's not calling for a ban, and in fact doesn't intend to stop misandry humor herself, just that there are things to consider about how we use it.
I still enjoy and participate in misandrist jokes; I don’t think they should be verboten. But my larger hope is that we find a way of engaging with each other that uses misandry’s cathartic power, condemnation of masculinity, and emphasis on female strength towards a more long-term restorative end. I want us to put our energies toward affecting change instead of letting that energy build into a pressure that can only be blown off instead of acted upon.
posted by nadawi at 11:59 AM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


I really want that mug now.
posted by odinsdream at 12:01 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, some jokes are there because the people who use them are shitty and don't care about seriously addressing the subject.

Some are there because they've tried to get others to address them seriously, gotten shitty responses, and just need a break.

It's good to look at who gets hurt from jokes, but I can understand that a good amount of the peeved injustice behind the jokes is because they've always been asked to look on behalf of white cis men.

Now if you could get MRAs to analyze as a group how they to use offensive jokes while addressing systemic oppression, I'd think I'd been warped to a parallel universe.
posted by halifix at 12:03 PM on August 6, 2015


(Btw I am in love with the male-tears tumblr, and though I will use it sparingly and with consideration of the good points raised in the article it is the best thing I have seen today. One quote from it which I've never seen before and which I may get tattooed about my person is "misogyny kills and misandry hurts feelings".)
posted by billiebee at 12:13 PM on August 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Well, and I love the misandry jokes, myself, BUT; one of the big unstated premises that make them funny is this: women can't actually hurt men. Because we are actually so oppressed and powerless! Ha!

In other words jokes about women killing men are only absurd because men overwhelmingly kill women.

Which can really depress you if you think about it too much.
posted by emjaybee at 12:19 PM on August 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


One thing that I like about a lot of the "misandry" humor is that it avoids the woman physically beating the man-trope that often surfaces in the reverse with MRAs and bigots (the man slapping his woman in her place is still comedy gold in those dark corners of the internet). I think this is important because there ARE men who are beaten by women and those are often men that are minority in some way (social class and race especially). I think this redeems the whole "misandry" humor because it's aware enough that it only makes fun of the patently ridiculous—the idea that men's hurt feelings are more important that women, or that misandry and misogyny are in the same ballpark as far as institutional forces.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:21 PM on August 6, 2015


As zarq mentioned, it's worth reading the entire article all the way through on this one. To my mind, here's a bit that no one's talked about yet, so I'll just quote it here:
Black feminist Zoé Samudzi agrees that “misandry — like reverse racism — isn’t possible,” but “‘kill all men’ — even in jest — is a reminder of the historical role white women play in white masculine violence against men of color.” Black men are targets of institutional violence — a truth that’s acutely impossible to ignore in light of the rampant police murders of black Americans. And when Dylan Roof murdered nine black church congregants in South Carolina, reportedly attributing his brutality to “you rape our women,” white women’s tacit and active participation in white supremacy was brought even further to the fore
It's something I had never thought about before reading this. Really eye-opening.
“My people, families, friends of families, and so on, are already dying,” says Soha Kareem, a queer Palestinian-Iraqi woman. “It’s a joke that I can no longer support because I see death happen everywhere, with whiteness centered and protected.”
It reminds me pretty strongly of how POC feminists get frustrated at the insensitivity and obliviousness of white feminists. I imagine that POC feminists who are also active in, for instance, the Black Lives Matter movement might not really feel like "Kill All Men" is something they can get behind as a joke any more. Or that anyone involved in prison reform activism would pretty much not find this shit funny.

I think I need to look again at what I've favorited on twitter, and how I read a lot of feminism online.
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on August 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


If people are offended or outraged by #killallmen because it seems so ludicrous, so appalling, so hateful, so WEIRD to see such an incendiary statement, then I hope it makes people think about how I and every other woman I know has heard or read MANY "jokes" about raping or beating or dehumanizing women, sometimes in casual conversation, and it's fucked up that one of the reasons that doesn't seem so incendiary is because we've heard them so. many. times.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:50 PM on August 6, 2015 [22 favorites]


the dylan roof thing is particularly interesting because he said that terrible thing, and then killed mostly elderly black women. i absolutely think it behooves us white women to see how white supremacy uses us (and the idea of the protection of us) as cudgels to keep carrying on.
posted by nadawi at 12:52 PM on August 6, 2015 [25 favorites]


Great and insightful article. Thank you for posting
posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:52 PM on August 6, 2015


(And FWIW I'm not a huge fan of the #killallmen "joke" anyway, but I do get its irony, but the other part of it is that I don't think the men who post death and rape threats to the women who post that joke are really afraid that a woman will really kill them. But I can immediately remember two high-profile cases of men killing women (and other men) because they hated women.)
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:56 PM on August 6, 2015


there weren't a lot of male focused objections to "killallmen" in the article - it was mainly objections from women who point to white womanhood being used as an excuse to kill their men. i think it's a fair point.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on August 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well, and I love the misandry jokes, myself, BUT; one of the big unstated premises that make them funny is this: women can't actually hurt men. Because we are actually so oppressed and powerless! Ha!

In other words jokes about women killing men are only absurd because men overwhelmingly kill women.

Which can really depress you if you think about it too much.


Oh no I thought about it a bit too much.

I also find them funny because of how absolutely worked up and livid some dudes get at the mere thought, even in a hypothetical that a woman or women would just simply not like them or think less of them because they are a man. This is only funny because it's perfectly it's so common in reverse. Men thinking less of and not liking women because they're are women is just something normal that women have to deal with and be aware of by merely existing.

So yeah, depressing if you think about it.
posted by Jalliah at 1:07 PM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I also want to thank you for posting the article. Although I've never done the joke misandry thing and only occasionally come across it in my internet travels and giggled, the points about intersectionality are important. I can totally see how it's not funny when considered in the contexts and for the groups that are mentioned.
posted by Jalliah at 1:16 PM on August 6, 2015


I miss Andre all this time - he was one hell of a giant. And if that comment is too "me me", then make your OWN pun. One that actually makes sense. Please.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:23 PM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Can men be misandrists?
*meekly raises hand*
But then, I openly define it the way the misogynist males secretly do, as ANYthing showing disrespect for the Patriarchy. Maybe their "fear" comes out of the equally secret realization that White Male Domination of everything has held humanity back rather than pushed it forward and is irrevocably connected to so many of our other problems (our love of fossil fuels is at least partly due to the phallic symbolism of DRILLING into the earth).

I've had lapses in my own Male Privilege (often intentional; I frequently preferred working with a woman boss) but never shed a male tear over it.

But when I saw the post title "it's raining, it's pouring / the old man is snoring / now is our chance", I thought of the infamous post-disco hit song "It's Raining Men" and imagined thousands of male bodies hitting the ground "SPLAT". And I LOLed.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:52 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a dude it's fun to watch dudes who think everybody should have a thick skin and laugh at jokes targeting racial, gender, and sexual minorities freak the fuck out at ironic misandry.

Where the "equal opportunity offender" commedians when it comes time to make fun of white cisgendered men who aren't poor or unsightly?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Where the "equal opportunity offender" commedians when it comes time to make fun of white cisgendered men who aren't poor or unsightly?

I always thought the "slobs vs. snobs" comedy genre was white men's way of making fun of higher-status white men. (The fact that these movies almost always end up affirming the same awful, sexist paradigm they claim to make fun of is the glaring problem, but the impulse exists).
posted by ducky l'orange at 3:25 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


moscaddie recently talked on twitter about not using "dick is abundant" anymore, but twitter search sucks so i can't find the whole thing. i'm pretty sure this tweet was part of that thought, but regardless i think it's pertinent here.

She also addressed it in her recent AMA.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:55 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, if somebody displays a lot of ugly anti-male prejudice, what is the term for that? Not looking for some glib answer, here. For real. There are plenty of people who hate men. What do we call the kind of blanket loathing of males as a group that would, for example, inspire somebody to wear one of those old "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" shirts? (And if you wanna say, "Aw, that's just a joke," I would remind you that most feminists sure wouldn't take it as a harmless gag if somebody was selling shirts suggesting you should throw rocks at girls. In fact, telling feminists that they just can't take a joke is kind of what misogynist assholes do.)

What are we supposed to call the kind of hatred that inspires jokes about how it would be a lovely thing if an entire gender died in a fire? Because that hatred is a real thing, and there is a lot of talk online about how worthless, evil and obnoxious men are*. Misandry, or whatever you want to call it, has indeed been memefied, in the sense that there are lots and lots of memes out there about how males are evil stupid loathsome shit. But apparently we can't call it misandry, because misandry is a joke and it doesn't exist. It was made up by those horrible, stupid, contemptible men. Christ, why don't they all just die in a fire?



*I always have to point out that I am not a huge fan of men in general and I kind of hate having to defend them. But I feel like we're reaching a point in gender relations where it's way too OK to say prejudiced, hateful stuff about men as a group. If I was hearing a lot of misogynist stuff I'd certainly call bullshit on that too. No sane person on Metafilter is going to say women are shit. But you can crack a lot of jokes about how men are shit, and then sit back and watch the favorites roll in.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:17 PM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh wow, there's a lot of food for thought in this article, thank you for the FPP.

I love the misandry jokes, but this really spoke to me: Contemporary misandry, in its current self-effacing form, is not enough for me because righteous female anger is not a joke to me. Female pain is not a joke. And the failures of men individually, and as a group, to correct or resist their instincts towards aggression, abuse, cruelty, social irresponsibility, and sexism are not a joke.

Joking about misandry is a great release valve, but I'm with Shane on it not being enough for me. Because there is a lot that I am genuinely, righteously angry about, and Misandrist Lullabies can only do so much. What socially acceptable outlet is there for a woman's righteous anger? I can vent to friends and make jokes about misandry and ask with increasing seriousness "where is our lesbian separatist commune??" and even all those comparatively mild expressions of rejecting the patriarchy are met with handwringing or over the top anger from men. Expressing righteous anger as a woman feels genuinely unsafe.

That said, I too shy away from using "kill all men," because I'm uncomfortable with the violence of it and because, really, it should be more "kill all [rich white cis] men." It is not, after all, black or brown men who are actively working against my equality and personhood. Or at least, if they are, they don't have as much institutional power as the rich white men do.

My preference in terms of misandrist catchphrases is "MEN ARE FUCKING WEAK" said with maximum derision. Also "Masculinity is SO FUCKING FRAGILE" which isn't even a joke, it is the literal truth.
posted by yasaman at 5:18 PM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Ursula Hitler, I think it's one of those questions of discrimination+power verses just discrimination. I'm not really on board with the idea that racism is not racism if it isn't institutional (institutional racism is the phrase for institutional racism), but that is definitely how it's seen in the current social justice zeitgeist so it's the vocabulary we mostly have to work with. So, honestly, I don't have a specific word to suggest for hatred of men that acknowledges that it is not institutional. Maybe just stick with, "This person hates men."
posted by Drinky Die at 5:23 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, if somebody displays a lot of ugly anti-male prejudice, what is the term for that?

A non-representative sample.
posted by maxsparber at 5:25 PM on August 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


That said, I too shy away from using "kill all men," because I'm uncomfortable with the violence of it and because, really, it should be more "kill all [rich white cis] men." It is not, after all, black or brown men who are actively working against my equality and personhood.

That's kind of a western/white centered view though. It may be true in your circumstances but there are definitely places (probably by population more places?) where non-white people are the primary drivers of oppression of women. It's tough to figure out exactly who to name when we are talking online in a context that can be global at times.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:27 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


ugly anti-male prejudice

I would probably just call it anti-male prejudice. I see very few areas of our culture where this bias is institutionalized, so I really can't claim to be victimized by it. And for some people, the prejudice is rooted in their own lived experience and I hesitate to judge anyone for that.

As a white cis male, I sometimes read things on social justice-y blogs that hurt my feelings for a second or two, but that's why I read the blogs: to expose myself to perspectives I might not get elsewhere.
posted by ducky l'orange at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not really on board with the idea that racism is not racism if it isn't institutional (institutional racism is the phrase for institutional racism), but that is definitely how it's seen in the current social justice zeitgeist so it's the vocabulary we mostly have to work with.

It's more of a false equivalency thing, which is where the -ism+power thing comes in. Yes, there are PoCs who probably hate white people as a general rule, but, at least in the West, these people have very little ability to apply that hate in a systematic way. As opposed to the power of white people to hate PoCs and really make it stick, through unfair laws and unequal policing and all the rest of the racist system.

Similarly, I am sure there are women who hate men because they are men, but society really holds back those haters' ability to put that hate into practical action. I mean Valerie Solanas is probably the highest profile "man hater" ever, and she managed to what? non fatally shoot Andy Warhol. Men have as close to nothing to fear from "misandry" as it is possible to calculate. Now, compare the fear that most women have to deal with living in a society that tolerates open contempt and hatred of women with that tiny tiny fraction of a percent that men have to face in the "reverse situation."

Until the streets are running with the blood of men killed solely for being men, then we can take this argument seriously. Otherwise, it's just providing cover for misogynists and racists who exist in great and violent profusion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:50 PM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


I like misandry memes because they are funny, a quality which, as with all jokes, is orthogonal to their social acceptability.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:52 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's kind of a western/white centered view though. It may be true in your circumstances but there are definitely places (probably by population more places?) where non-white people are the primary drivers of oppression of women. It's tough to figure out exactly who to name when we are talking online in a context that can be global at times.

And if women living in those places want to adopt #banmen as a rallying cry, I will support them and point them to as many male tears gifsets as they like, but as someone who generally enjoys some degree of white/western privilege, I
1. Have no business telling women without that privilege what or who they should be angry at (see any discussion of the hijab, ever, if you want to see white feminists failing hard on this.)
2. Need to be aware that I'm speaking in a context that is affected by a white supremacist culture that is all too happy to paint men of color as predatory.

(also, because of the effects of global imperialism or capitalism, it is not at all a given to say that non-white people are the "primary drivers" of oppression of women anywhere, but that's another discussion.)
posted by kagredon at 5:59 PM on August 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


I like misandry memes because they are funny, a quality which, as with all jokes, is orthogonal to their social acceptability.

Hey, I like ironic sexist jokes for the same reason.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:05 PM on August 6, 2015


scratch an ironic sexist and all you have left is a sexist.
posted by nadawi at 6:27 PM on August 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


1. Have no business telling women without that privilege what or who they should be angry at

I've never really understood this attitude and I'd like someone to explain it. Privilege or not, you're entitled to offer an opinion on something. And, assuming that there's some sort of objective reality, some actors are quantifiably more to blame for some things than others.

Obviously no one is obliged to take you seriously, and it's a good idea to take into heavy consideration the opinions of people directly involved in any situation, but I don't see saying that you have "no business" expressing an opinion on something.

Thanks for posting the article, btw.
posted by Maugrim at 6:33 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Scratch an ironic sexist and all you have left is a sexist

I'm fairly certain that was the point being made.
posted by Maugrim at 6:35 PM on August 6, 2015


Privilege or not, you're entitled to offer an opinion on something.

Oh dear god no you aren't.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:36 PM on August 6, 2015 [21 favorites]


scratch an ironic sexist and all you have left is a sexist.

But a sexist covered in scratches, so there is that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:39 PM on August 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


when i want to talk about the ways that men who aren't white oppress women who also aren't white, i generally don't and just signal boost the women talking about it. for instance, flag snatching hero bree newsom was on twitter all day today talking about how black men denigrate and abuse black women, even within the context of the activism she participates in. it's not my place to speak on it, but that doesn't mean ignoring that it happens. just sometimes my voice isn't the one that's needed to unpack it.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 PM on August 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


Oh dear god no you aren't.

Ok then.
posted by Maugrim at 6:40 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've never really understood this attitude and I'd like someone to explain it. Privilege or not, you're entitled to offer an opinion on something.

I'm flattered that you took time out of your busy night to comment on my FPP, Mr. Trump.
posted by kagredon at 6:42 PM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Obviously no one is obliged to take you seriously,

I kind of get where you are coming from, but you need to take it further -- unless you can keep your ego and privilege out of it, having absolutely zero resentment when the people whose struggle you are butting in on tell you to push off maybe not so nicely, you aren't ready to play by the rules you are setting up here.

Because by sharing that opinion, you are demanding those people's attention and time, and that's a precious resource.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:48 PM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


More seriously though, the reason why I feel that way is that women of color have said, repeatedly, that white feminists swooping in to tell them what they should or should not feel oppressed by is alienating and takes time, energy, and platforms that they would prefer to use on their priorities. If you really think that "Privilege or not, you're entitled to offer an opinion on something," I think there's a gap in your understanding of privilege, entitlement, and/or opinions.
posted by kagredon at 7:14 PM on August 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


That's kind of a western/white centered view though. It may be true in your circumstances but there are definitely places (probably by population more places?) where non-white people are the primary drivers of oppression of women. It's tough to figure out exactly who to name when we are talking online in a context that can be global at times.

Well, yes, but I can only really speak for myself. I thought Shane's piece did a good job of covering contexts in which "kill all men" and similar jokey misandry fail at intersectionality.

I'm Afghan, I'm more than aware of the places where non-white men are the primary drivers of oppression of women. There's a not so distant alternative universe where I'm in Herat or Kabul and have a keen, personal awareness of that oppression. But I'm also American, and white-passing, and economically privileged, and the Taliban and Da'esh have little to no influence on my daily life, so as much as they'd probably love to see me stoned to death, they're shit out of luck. On a day to day basis, I'm generally more concerned with whatever asshole old white dude of the week is trying to defund Planned Parenthood or whatever. If alternate universe me in Herat or women like her want to use "kill all men," jokingly (or hell, sincerely, they've probably got more than enough reason), I understand that.
posted by yasaman at 7:43 PM on August 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


What do we call the kind of blanket loathing of males as a group that would, for example, inspire somebody to wear one of those old "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" shirts? (And if you wanna say, "Aw, that's just a joke," I would remind you that most feminists sure wouldn't take it as a harmless gag if somebody was selling shirts suggesting you should throw rocks at girls.

"Throw rocks at boys" shirts are funny because girls don't throw rocks at boys for being boys. "Throw rocks at girls" shirts are not funny, because boys do target girls just for being girls (which is the other half of the reason a "throw rocks at boys" shirt is, for some people, cathartically funny).
posted by straight at 10:10 PM on August 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


(our love of fossil fuels is at least partly due to the phallic symbolism of DRILLING into the earth)

I thought it was due to the energy storage capability and easy handling of liquid hydrocarbons. Gasoline stores >40 MJ/kg whereas even the best lithium batteries store 0.5-1 MJ/kg.

I mean, sure, the "drilling" metaphor is kind of fun, but you don't create and sustain a multi-trillion dollar industry out of a juvenile "heh heh penis"-style joke if you're not creating trillions of dollars of economic utility for customers.

(Although you could argue that a multi-billion dollar industry - Hollywood - is doing very well with such jokes.)
posted by theorique at 3:17 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like misandry memes because they are funny, a quality which, as with all jokes, is orthogonal to their social acceptability.

Hey, I like ironic sexist jokes for the same reason.


Comedy is comedy - it's transgressive for a reason. A comedy club or show is a construct where the performer and audience essentially agree: "OK, we're going to break some social rules here a little bit - for entertainment, for insight, for emotional release, etc".

Conflicts arise when people's mental picture of what is "acceptable" social rule breaking differ. We'd be upset if a kids performer went outside jokes about homework and younger siblings and started talking about ISIS and Boko Haram beheading people. The debate about rape as content for a joke (is it always/sometimes/never OK?) is an ongoing example of how the social rules differ for different people and groups.
posted by theorique at 3:23 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's the basic "punch up, not down" rule for comedy: white cishet dude making sexist or racist jokes isn't funny because it isn't risky -- they're the goddamned easiest and laziest possible jokes for him to make, because he doesn't have a single skin cell in the game. Meanwhile his audience of women and POC shift uncomfortably because he's making light of a real and actual threat they face on a daily basis. It's punching down.

Wearing a "Throw rocks at boys" tee or drinking your coffee from a Male Tears mug is funny, because it's punching up. Literally no one is legitimately threatened by it. Punch up.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:17 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Honestly, can we not have the "rape jokes are sometimes funny!" argument again here? You think they're transgressive and funny - great! Maybe keep it to yourself or discuss with other rape joke sympathizers somewhere else. We've gone over this multiple times before and it's a super ugly and awful thing that I don't want to see ruin this otherwise good thread.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:49 AM on August 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Wearing a "Throw rocks at boys" tee or drinking your coffee from a Male Tears mug is funny, because it's punching up. Literally no one is legitimately threatened by it. Punch up.

The problem with those jokes is that the punches land on more than just the intended target. Lots of young boys have experienced abuse at the hands of women. That is not a made up fictional thing. They aren't allowed to cry about it. It's not ideal for them to live in a world where classmates have shirts that joke about violence against them and the idea that they might cry is considered hilarious.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:40 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


is there a rash of male tears mugs in elementary schools that i don't know about? also - it has always been my impression that the male tears jokes are about men's expressions of anger, not sadness. the joke is most often deployed when men are screaming at women. it's pointing out the ridiculousness of that anger - and yes, using the trope that women cry too much to point out that men's anger in these moments is actually whining - it's saying no one is impressed by the chest beating.
posted by nadawi at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Wearing a "Throw rocks at boys" tee or drinking your coffee from a Male Tears mug is funny, because it's punching up. Literally no one is legitimately threatened by it. Punch up.

That sort of thing makes me uncomfortable because it's still inciting violence against others in a public space. You're totally right that men have much less to fear from the women, but it still doesn't seem right to punch up by calling for violence in public, even jokingly.

If Blacks or Hispanics went around America wearing t-shirts with "Throw rocks at white people" it would be just as troubling, even though the situations are different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:04 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


is there a rash of male tears mugs in elementary schools that i don't know about?

The throw rocks t-shirts were marketed towards young girls, that's why I mentioned classmates.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:15 AM on August 7, 2015


"throw rocks at boys" exist in space where girls are told constantly "boys will be boys" (in reaction to actual violence and harassment foisted on the girls) and "girls have cooties!" and "no girls allowed!" it's a childish joke that only has wide traction as something to fight against because noted men's rights asshole, glenn sacks made it a cause about how men are really the victims of institutional sexism.
posted by nadawi at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


well, there might be a little bit of a context issue with your comparison, brandon- like the stereotype of black-on-white violence and how it's been used to suppress black people. That makes a pretty huge difference when we talk about satire. There isn't terrifying history of women being lynched because men have an ungrounded fear that women murder men.

SO yeah so different the comparison doesn't make any sense.
posted by Blisterlips at 8:21 AM on August 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


"throw rocks at boys" exist in space where girls are told constantly "boys will be boys"

It also exists in a space where many boys suffer violence. Society is a thing with many spaces, if you take a laser focus on the concerns of one group at the expense of others, your punches are going to land in places you don't intend.

Young boys have zero institutional power over grown women. Don't unintentionally punch at them.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:21 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Society is a thing with many spaces, if you take a laser focus on the concerns of one group at the expense of others, your punches are going to land in places you don't intend.

This is a good thing to remember when taking a laser focus on a single t-shirt at the expense of fighting back against the crushing power of misogyny in said society.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:25 AM on August 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


do grown women wear these shirts? are these shirts even still made? any other men's rights talking points from the early 2000s you want to air out in a thread about the recent uptick of misandry as a meme?
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


This is a good thing to remember when taking a laser focus on a single t-shirt at the expense of fighting back against the crushing power of misogyny in said society.

I suspect DD is speaking to the larger issue of belittling men/boys as a group in order to empower women/girls.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've looked back on my comments and, if read with good faith, I think they come off as entirely reasonable. I don't think I have anything more to say on the subject of the shirts.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:35 AM on August 7, 2015


What is all this nonsense about a shirt nobody has ever heard of? And where are these mythical schools with hordes of girls roaming the playgrounds belittling boys?
posted by dialetheia at 8:39 AM on August 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


It also exists in a space where many boys suffer violence.

But not because of their sex. This is an #alllivesmatter argument.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 AM on August 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


It also exists in a space where many boys suffer violence.

But not because of their sex.


I never said it was. But, really? You've never heard of an abused boy who was abused to toughen him up and "make a man out of him?" I would not be surprised if that is one of the most popular reasons to abuse boys of all types and orientation. But regardless, the reasons for the abuse don't matter. The idea that it's promoted as funny is an issue regardless of the cause. If that is an #AllLivesMatter argument so is the friggin article that makes these sorts of points about unintended consequences multiple times.

But where are the hordes of...?

No, I never said it was popular. UH brought it up, other people defended it as punching down, I said there are unintended situations where it isn't. It isn't an argument that relies on it being a prominent thing. Not prominent things can also be problematic.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:56 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


i thought you said you were done with the shirt argument? seems like it'd be best since it's something that was popular a decade ago (and only exists now as a talking point for mens rights groups).
posted by nadawi at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


If that is an #AllLivesMatter argument so is the friggin article that makes these sorts of points about unintended consequences multiple times.

The article specifically addresses #killallmen precisely because it erases institutional violence against PoC in the same manner as #alllivesmatter. I doubt the author would be on board with an argument that erases the institutional violence against women as examples of the problems of unintended consequences.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:02 AM on August 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them t-shirt was released in 2003. It was designed by a man, Todd Goldman, and was pretty roundly criticized when it came out. I don't know what their sales were like, but I have literally never seen one of these shirts in the wild, and would be surprised if sightings are common. There is no mass-market trend to release shirts denigrating boys, it doesn't seem to be a common issue in schools, it certainly doesn't represent a wider trend, and it represents poorly the discussion happening here, which is about ironic misandry in the adult sphere. It is, however, still a popular talking point among MRA groups, probably because it is one of the few examples and most public examples of so-called minsadrist humor becoming public in any way whatsoever.

I suppose I'm not surprised it has shown up here, but unless somebody can point out more than a few extremely rare circumstances of some little boy having his feelings hurt by the shirt in public, this isn't actually an issue, and is certainly far afield from what we are discussing here.
posted by maxsparber at 9:13 AM on August 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


The article specifically addresses #killallmen precisely because it erases institutional violence against PoC in the same manner as #alllivesmatter.

Not really, the issue the article focuses on is much deeper than erasure of violence against black men. It's also, very importantly, about the participation of white women in violence against black men. That is something that is erased by feminist women thinking there are no problematic issues if they joke about killing men. The issue isn't just that white women erase, it's that they are beneficiaries of and participants in the violence. That is the greater reason for self-reflection on violent humor than simple erasure.

Black feminist Zoé Samudzi agrees that “misandry — like reverse racism — isn’t possible,” but “‘kill all men’ — even in jest — is a reminder of the historical role white women play in white masculine violence against men of color.” Black men are targets of institutional violence — a truth that’s acutely impossible to ignore in light of the rampant police murders of black Americans. And when Dylan Roof murdered nine black church congregants in South Carolina, reportedly attributing his brutality to “you rape our women,” white women’s tacit and active participation in white supremacy was brought even further to the fore
posted by Drinky Die at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2015


yeah as a feminist I have a really strong distaste for all of the cutesy "boys are gross!/girls have cooties!" stuff that gets directed at young children (reinforcing essentialist ideas that boys and girls are just inherently *different* and subtly at war), and I do not think it is of a piece with the use of deliberately winking OTT misandry and am not sure why I need to defend it to make jokes about male tears.
posted by kagredon at 9:24 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


In all sincerity in any other conversation I would be posting Male Tears gifs at this point in the thread and the staggering irony of that is definitely a thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:31 AM on August 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a really strong distaste for all of the cutesy "boys are gross!/girls have cooties!" stuff that gets directed at young children (reinforcing essentialist ideas that boys and girls are just inherently *different* and subtly at war), and I do not think it is of a piece with the use of deliberately winking OTT misandry and am not sure why I need to defend it to make jokes about male tears.

From the perspective of me 15 years ago, I think it's hard to see how "boys and girls are just inherently different and subtly at war" isn't directly reinforced by "male tears." I'm not where I was 15 years ago, but I probably couldn't successfully explain that to my past self in ten hours or less.
posted by Phyltre at 9:32 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unless I have misread everything, it seems to me that the "male tears" joke is primarily in reference to men who just utterly lose their shit whenever women's issue's come up, and sincerely believe there is some misandrist conspiracy afoot. The sort of men who geneuinely believe that women would delight in drinking men's tears.

I mean, yes, it's complicated satire, and the target isn't always clear in satire (which is the greatest problem with the kill all men thing), but, then, it's not that complicated.
posted by maxsparber at 9:41 AM on August 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Okay, let me try to explain it to literally a hypothetical person: the difference is that the male tears/comical misandry meme started as a response to frustrating and threatening interactions that grown women were experiencing from grown men in voluntary adult interaction. That is very different from the casual ways boys and girls are pitted against each other constantly from the moment they start being co-socialized. In fact, the article points out that one of the problems with it becoming a reflexive/out-of-context joke is that it loses that power.
posted by kagredon at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I understand the context, I am saying that the average high-school or younger male probably knows about as much about feminism-as-a-movement as they do about office politics.

It took me several years to really understand feminism. I think it's important to remember that one of the inherent problems with humor is that you ultimately don't get to choose the audience in a public space, and as a result, many of these finer (or bigger-picture) points go unappreciated or misunderstood. So I don't see how we can say "I hate these things that are addressed at kids" while we have no way to stop what we are saying and doing from hitting those kids in exactly the same way.

Punching up and punching down both look an awful lot like a fist-fight to outsiders.
posted by Phyltre at 10:06 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I understand the context, I am saying that the average high-school or younger male probably knows about as much about feminism-as-a-movement as they do about office politics.

Is a lot of this reaching high school males?
posted by maxsparber at 10:13 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was replying to kagredon's mention of toxic things that get addressed to children.
posted by Phyltre at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2015


i honestly and frankly do not care what men think about my feminist humor, including misandry jokes. one of the strong points of this write up is how it doesn't center men or their concerns it its critiques. it's unsurprising that this thread has screeched to a halt over the hurt feelings of imaginary boys who hung out in hot topic 10+ years ago.
posted by nadawi at 10:18 AM on August 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


When feminist humor gets posted to a general audience like Metafilter, which includes a lot of men (50%?), men will be discussing their opinions of it too. I understand that memes like Male Tears are funny within an all-feminist community because they're indirectly mocking similar anti-women memes which are more prevalent in the general culture; but of course when [demographic] finds out that [subculture] is "punching up/down" at them, some will get offended, especially when that offense is itself trivialized.
posted by Rangi at 11:03 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The jokes are making fun of a particular (offensive, documented, harmful) behavior. If you don't engage in that behavior then you're not being made fun of.
posted by bleep at 11:07 AM on August 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


When feminist humor gets posted to a general audience like Metafilter, which includes a lot of men (50%?), men will be discussing their opinions of it too.

Okay, but those opinions can also be wrong, and an opinion given which lacks context and perspective is even more likely to be wrong. Insisting that you should be given a platform to broadcast a purposefully-ignorant opinion to a group of people who almost certainly have more context and more at stake is a selfish and privileged act.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


i would be nice if (#notall)men found a way resist the temptation to center themselves in discussions on feminism no matter how general interest a site is. i'm not holding my breath, but it'd be nice.
posted by nadawi at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


I understand the context, I am saying that the average high-school or younger male probably knows about as much about feminism-as-a-movement as they do about office politics.

last I checked, teenage boys are capable of reading and learning things, same as everyone else.

why do you act like teenage boys are stupid. why do you hate teenage boys so much.
posted by kagredon at 11:10 AM on August 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Men being offended by the Male Tears mug is objectively ridiculous.
posted by odinsdream at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


men will be discussing their opinions of it too

That's not, like, the law or anything though. Men can choose to not discuss their opinions of it.

especially when that offense is itself trivialized

This goes back to the misandry memes - not necessarily the killallmen (which I've never seen irl) - but the ones which are designed to trivialise and laugh at men's offence because (gasp) women are supposed to soothe the male ego not poke fun at it, amirite? There are days when I truly don't give a miniscule rat's fart about men's offense because I don't get compensated to do so in any way (the EL thread has been the best thing ever for this kind of realisation). You can get offended but I genuinely don't have to give a shit. I'll save my concern for the women who are offended by actual comments which may actually harm them, like a rape victim I know who had to field disgusting tweets after she spoke out. When she's offended by misogyny I will never trivialise it because she has already literally been hurt by rape culture. When (white cishet) men are offended by mugs and t-shirts? Yeah, no.
posted by billiebee at 11:39 AM on August 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Okay, but those opinions can also be wrong, and an opinion given which lacks context and perspective is even more likely to be wrong.

I think that's exactly the point at hand, shakespeherian. I don't see how we can reconcile "men are reacting wrong-headedly to feminist humor because they're not getting it" with "I don't care what men think about feminist jokes". There's no audience-selector button on humor.

Feminism asserts--correctly--that patriarchal baggage and systemic privilege harm us all every day. The people who don't get feminism are the problem. And I don't think that discussing the problem, which so far as I know we'd all agree is those people, is "centering" them in any way. It would be like having a legal system that didn't address disincentivizing crime.

I think there is a difference between the "please hold my feels" emotional-labor that lots of men try to pull in the face of opposition to patriarchy re: mansplaining and so on, and genuinely trying to address the good-faith path from being someone who is completely unfamiliar with feminism and doesn't yet know why they should care to someone who is actually active in a positive way in this space.
posted by Phyltre at 11:48 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually feel the best way to be a feminist ally, as a man, is to assume that women can find their own course in how they wish to represent their experiences, and how they wish to express it to the world, and, if I don't understand it, or it bothers me, well, that's not really my business.

Because, honestly, any time a man comes into the discussion saying, oh, but these may not be the best tactics, or, oh, maybe you're not getting your message across the right way, or whatever, I think, how do you know? You haven't experienced this. You haven't done the work. You don't live with this.

I know I don't. So if women make cup of tears jokes, I think I can safely say that I don't know whether this is the best tactic or not, I don't know how this sort of humor will play out, I don't know for sure how it's being used, but women find it valuable and useful just now, and, in truth, it doesn't really affect me, and if it doesn't work out for women, I am sure they can figure it out and change tactics without the help of my decidedly non-expert opinion.
posted by maxsparber at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


By saying that feminist conversation, humor, etc. needs to keep in mind a potential male audience, you are centering men in the conversation. You're confusing men as subject and men as object-- as you point out, feminism will quite often need to discuss men and their actions (read: patriarchy, etc.), but this can be a conversation entirely between women. When you insist that this conversation must be accessible to men, that's a different centering-- that's insisting that men must always be potential participants. Women are not afforded the privilege of infinite subjectivity.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


When you insist that this conversation must be accessible to men, that's a different centering-- that's insisting that men must always be potential participants.

There is no more an audience selector on rhetoric than there is on humor. And there are many women who don't understand feminism as well, so it's not just about the mens. I live in a conservative state and the negative crap I've heard about feminism certainly didn't all come from men.

Is assuming good faith emotional labor? I'm honestly not sure and feel like strong arguments could be made either way, but I think that really gets to the heart of the dynamics here.
posted by Phyltre at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2015


Is assuming good faith emotional labor?

I would say definitely. Not the fault of the speaker all the time, but there is so much infuriating bad faith around these topics that it is asking for real work to ask for people to assume good faith. Depending on the venue, it can be a reasonable request or not a reasonable request.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:09 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is no more an audience selector on rhetoric than there is on humor.

Okay? I'm not suggesting men are not allowed to listen. I am saying that not all conversations are necessarily intended for men to participate in, and that that is okay. If women are talking about something, men should feel free to allow that to happen without insisting that they also be heard. If women are talking about something which a man does not understand, but he is still able to hear it, it is rude and insulting for that man to insist that those women explain to him what they're talking about and to couch the entirety of their conversation in terms which he deems acceptable.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


i also don't much care what anti-feminist women think about my feminist humor (and as an aside, i'm also southern, if that matters). they're free to react if they're in a place to hear it, but i don't have to consider it. not everything feminists do is geared towards recruitment. sometimes we blow off steam. i think it's great to discuss how the ways feminists sometimes choose to blow off steam can affect other feminists from an intersectional perspective (which is why this piece by charlotte shane is great), but well meaning outsiders or straight up anti-feminist viewpoints don't need an equal seat in the discussion.
posted by nadawi at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't see how we can reconcile "men are reacting wrong-headedly to feminist humor because they're not getting it" with "I don't care what men think about feminist jokes". There's no audience-selector button on humor.

The argument a lot of men (even in this here thread) make around the whole misandry-humor thing can be summed up as "women shouldn't make or propagate this kind of humor because it makes men mad and that is Bad For Feminism" which is an assertion of authority on women's actions and on feminism from men in the realms of both a) what women should or should not be saying or doing and b) whether certain actions women take are good or not good for feminism. All within the context of how men feel in the presence of this humor which if they're not assholes or utterly oblivious to context is not even directed toward them.

Is it really so difficult to see why someone would find this assertion of authority incredibly obnoxious?
posted by griphus at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's also an echo of the thing women have to put up with all the damned time -- say it nicer, dear, or we won't listen.

Fuck that. Fuck niceness, fuck tone arguments, fuck the idea that a man's opinion is even remotely relevant to feminist humor.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's certainly obnoxious because it feels (and is) very men-first and intrusive. Unfortunately, those same people who don't get feminism are the embodiment of the problem and I don't see how feminism as a force of change can move forward without addressing the problem. When the sentiment comes across--sometimes clearly--as "fuck the idea that a man's opinion is even remotely relevant to feminist humor", it is going to feel very clearly men-versus-women to the men who don't already intuitively understand feminism.

And I mean, sure, fuck them, except those people are the reason everyone needs feminism in the first place. I just don't see how we can expect it to get better, it's nobody's responsibility but I want it to get better.
posted by Phyltre at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, those same people who don't get feminism are the embodiment of the problem and I don't see how feminism as a force of change can move forward without addressing the problem.

There are other tools for educating the ignorant masses. Not everything feminists do need be done worrying about what men will think, as has repeatedly been stated in this thread.
posted by maxsparber at 12:44 PM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I don't see how feminism as a force of change can move forward without addressing the problem.

we are addressing the problem, but we don't have to stop EVERY TIME and address the problem. The really annoying expectation is that every single time there is a dude who is like BUT BUT BUT ME- for some reason we are supposed to stop the conversation to pat them on the butt and explain it better because that's the *real* problem?

no dude. it's being handled- but we don't have to handle it according to the needs of the whiney dude in room.
posted by Blisterlips at 12:45 PM on August 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Unfortunately, those same people who don't get feminism are the embodiment of the problem and I don't see how feminism as a force of change can move forward without addressing the problem.

I say something like this now in almost every thread where this kind of comment comes up, but: sometimes women just say things because they want to say them, maybe to other women, but without the purpose of communicating to men. It's like we're people with interior lives of our own instead of goal-focused machines. Related: I hope one day to have the self-confidence about my place in the universe of a mediocre white man.
posted by immlass at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


For fuck's sake.

Violence against men is a serious topic. Intimate partner violence (IPV) against men by grown ups in their domestic relationships is a serious problem: a complex, nuanced topic that could really use more attention. Men under-report incidents for many reasons, including stigmas perpetuated & encouraged by gender stereotypes, and expected roles in Human (not just Western) societies.

And you know, it's a topic mefi members would most likely be capable of discussing rationally. But instead of actually talking about shit that you know, matters and affects people, some of the guys in this thread are harping on a fucking t-shirt and desperately trying to make it relevant to the topic at hand.

Seriously? I can't believe y'all are trying to shoehorn it into this thread in the most ridiculous way possible, where let's be honest: it doesn't belong. Would you listen to yourselves? Please?

You're trivializing an actual, serious problem which the linked article in this post doesn't really touch upon. You keep bringing up hypotheticals that pretty much affect no one. Especially the example that hasn't been relevant for a decade or more. All so... what? So you can score questionable points against feminists?

Man, I am concerned about domestic violence against men. But if I want to talk about it on mefi, I'd sure as hell rather make a post where it can be discussed properly and on topic, instead of posturing about it in a thread about feminism. Instead of trying to re-center a thread whose topics are intersectional feminism and how rhetoric can unexpectedly affect minority groups, around men.

Misandry jokes don't exacerbate violence against men. No one in their life ever read a t-shirt and thought, "HEY I SHOULD STONE SOME SCHOOLBOYS." And if they did, then they're insane and not representative of anyone but themselves.
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on August 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


I think I have noted this before, but it always strikes me that in general, when a man tells a joke that seems a little sketchy, other men rally to their defense, saying "Well, it's comedy, you have to push envelopes, etc." but when women tell jokes that men find sketchy, suddenly those jokes are somehow bad for women, or for little boys, or for feminism, or whatever.

Not to point any fingers here, but instead to describe a general trend, on the site and off, and one I think that is undeniably sexist.
posted by maxsparber at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


On the other hand, if other women find the jokes sketchy & unfunny for serious reasons, that's what we should be paying attention to and thinking about. Like the article that was the topic of this thread.
posted by bleep at 1:39 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Agreed.
posted by maxsparber at 1:53 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking only for myself (a woman-ish non-binaryish feminist), I like some misandry humor but not the jokes based in violence or the "male tears" meme, for all the reasons above, so I tend not to write or repost them. But I also try to keep my opinions to myself because I'm aware of the context: clever, button-pushing rebuttals to MRAs, not some kind of systemic oppression of men by women. I get tired of every action by a woman being evaluated as good or bad for feminism; people just need a break once in a while, you know? Misogyny never lets up. But the jokes aren't really my thing, for whatever that's worth.
posted by thetortoise at 2:23 PM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


But, really? You've never heard of an abused boy who was abused to toughen him up and "make a man out of him?" I would not be surprised if that is one of the most popular reasons to abuse boys of all types and orientation.

This reason for abusing boys and men is fundamentally misogynistic. Boys need to be "made into men" because the alternative is that they will be girls. It's why "ladies" is used as an inter-insult among men. It's why "one of the guys" is a complement for women. The entire premise relies on the assumption that not even women want to be women.

I have loved a lot of the misandry humor because it pushes back that in a variety of ways, and because it genuinely makes me laugh. I've also been heartened by the fact that feminist humor sites like The Toast have been making visible efforts to be intersectional by including the voices of men of color as well as a wide variety of women of color. It could always be better, but I really feel like they are headed in the right direction and I'm on board.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


This reason for abusing boys and men is fundamentally misogynistic. Boys need to be "made into men" because the alternative is that they will be girls. It's why "ladies" is used as an inter-insult among men. It's why "one of the guys" is a complement for women. The entire premise relies on the assumption that not even women want to be women.

I agree with that 100%, thanks for pointing it out.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I realized I had a little more to say about this. I have no desire to tell women how to use humor. In a public space, I'm not going to call out a woman for a "male tears" joke or tweet that it's offensive or something. But if this is a space where we can talk about our personal discomfort in a way that isn't perceived as lecturing others, I would say that some of it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it's because I work in kids' media, so I'm super-sensitive to stuff that sends stigmatizing messages to kids of all genders. War-of-the-sexes tropes and mockery of "feminine" emotion get under my skin in a big way. I know that's not the purpose of the humor, and feel free to disregard this as just the opinion of some schmuck on the internet, as needed.
posted by thetortoise at 3:26 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This reason for abusing boys and men is fundamentally misogynistic.

The Patriarchy ruins everything, even for men trying to find a way to make women making fun of men a hate crime. It's like the Patriarchy doesn't care about most men, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:17 PM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is assuming good faith emotional labor?

I would say definitely. Not the fault of the speaker all the time, but there is so much infuriating bad faith around these topics that it is asking for real work to ask for people to assume good faith.


Not only is it actual work, but when you've attempted it a number of times (as I have), you find that it is actually completely pointless. I have sympathy for people who genuinely don't get it and feel offended and hurt, but people taking help that we may offer and then using it as a weapon against us is a real thing and is a microaggression in itself. So not giving someone the benefit of good faith is, imo, entirely justified.

This is an area where I think people need to educate themselves. Luckily this is a thing which is not only entirely possible, but also not that difficult. It may involve some degree of discomfort at first, as a person will come to recognize their culpability in a harmful and damaging system, but if they can get past that, they can actually come out on the other side much better person. There are a ton of guys right here in this thread that have done that work and are (in my opinion) valuable allies. I've done it (and continue to do it) around the very specific intersection of feminism and race, especially with regard to the white women's tears meme. When I first learned about it, were my hackels raised? Did I feel defensive? Absolutely. I'm not racist! I'm a feminist! But I kept reading about it, and I kept reading what women of color had to say about their experiences, and over time, I started to get it. And after awhile, I started to see regular occurrences of the very specific microaggressions used by white women towards women of color, both on the internet and in day-to-day life over and over again. They don't even realize they're doing it. And learning about it by reading about it and listening (without talking or objecting!) to what WOC were saying with an open mind was the best way to learn it. Demanding that any marginalized group hold my hand and guide me to understanding what they experience instead of doing the minimal work required to just figure it out myself is a horrible and nasty little aggression, and really just the most current manifestation of the ever-evolving ways to be sexist (or racist).

Men may feel defensive and upset at Men's Tears, and then the further realization that women aren't going to be catering to and/or soothing their feelings on this, when they're so used to that being the usual thing that happens that they don't even notice it - I get how that can feel like an act of aggression towards men. But the more that women stop refusing to be a part of the neverending cycle of Doing Shit For Men; and the more that these men see other men get on board with the women on these issues, they then come to face a couple of choices. One, they can either do whatever is needed to address their own discomfort in a productive way (either by educating themselves or talking to other guys who don't seem bothered by these things); or two, they can continue to be pissy and hurt until the end of time and become like the racist old white people who are still bitter and twisted about civil rights. I'd suggest that if a person doesn't understand and doesn't make even the most cursory effort to help themselves, then they're not actually looking for education or guidance, they're looking to assert their power and put women back in the familiar and comfortable role of making them feel better. Or in other words, to revert to the same old gender roles that are damaging to me but comfortable for them. They almost certainly don't even recognize this is what they're doing, just like the modern racist would swear on their mother's name (and probably mean it) that they're not being racist, they just feel really strongly about states' rights (or whatever). And just as we know that states' rights and racism are one and the same (even though a lot of people have separated them out in their brains and haven't done the self-reflection needed to understand that there's no difference); it is also true that making women responsible for men's comfort and misogyny are also one and the same. My time is wasted on people like this. So, yeah, pretty pointless.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:33 PM on August 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's certainly obnoxious because it feels (and is) very men-first and intrusive. Unfortunately, those same people who don't get feminism are the embodiment of the problem

Hey, this is kind of random but I've been rewatching South Park lately. Obviously, it's a show with about a million problems when it comes to how it handles topics related to social justice. But this one episode I just watched has to be one of the most excellent looks at why "Male Tears" is a thing I have ever seen. Basically, Cartman spends the entire episode relentlessly, misogynistically bullying Wendy. When she gets fed up with it, she refuses his private attempt at an apology and in pretty justified anger threatens to beat him up. This is when the "Male Tears" comes in. Cartman tells his mom Wendy threatened to beat him up and she confronts her parents about it with Cartman crying in the background. But, when nobody is looking, he makes mocking facial expressions to Wendy. With Wendy restrained by her parents, Cartman immediately resumes bullying her in front of the entire class. Eventually, the principal tells Wendy she will look the other way if she does it because holy shit Cartman obviously won't be stopped any other way and she shouldn't have to put up with it.

The other boys tell Cartman they don't think any less of him for being beaten up by a girl, which he takes as a sign they care about his feelings and think he is great. But what they are trying to say is they don't think any less of him because they hate him and literally can't think any less of him. Boy is that how I feel about anyone who intentionally bullies people they have privilege over, especially the obliviously stupid and hateful MRA types.

So, this story isn't really that fictional. There are a lot of Cartmans out there. It's okay to point out when feminist humor is being hurtful, we all have to self-evaluate, but it is most important to recognize feminist frustration and anger comes from a very valid place. I don't think it's best to focus on how best to educate stupid young men because educating men isn't the main purpose for the humor. How do you educate men? Well, I mean, in this case South Park made a good effort at it for their often immature audience. It's a stupid usually anti-social justice show but it still made a good point this time. Maybe the people who should worry most about how to educate men is men. Maybe the people who need to spend the most time evaluating their use of humor is men who watch a show that has been as relentlessly hateful towards transgender people as South Park has been.

So, nobody is perfect. That's not a crime. But, it's important to reflect on the choices we make so we can try and do better in the future. Having an attitude that is open to change is much more important than a perfect educational script.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2015


Also, the Wiki article describes the Cartman/MRA attitude so well: Cartman as a narcissistic psychopath does not particularly care if people like him or not; merely that they see him as superior.

That's why mockery of MRA people or people who display MRA type attitudes is so prevalent. It's really hard to effectively confront them without confronting their sense of superiority. Nothing pops that bubble as well as good mockery.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:04 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Continuing my rewatch , Eat Prey Queef definitely also has "male total freakout anger at minor slights is inherently ridiculous compared to the major slights they aim against others" vibes. I'm curious about why they started to notice this sort of thing and include it in their satire, most of the show's run ranged from oblivious to openly hostile to women's concerns. Sorry if this stuff sounds deraily, it's just I'm shocked at how much this thread has made me notice stuff I didn't notice before. Thanks for posting, folks.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2015


[Drinky Die, maybe let the South Park thing rest there.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:46 PM on August 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, NP. As I stated in my previous comment, I am aware it is slightly deraily.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:35 PM on August 8, 2015


"This reason for abusing boys and men is fundamentally misogynistic. Boys need to be "made into men" because the alternative is that they will be girls. It's why "ladies" is used as an inter-insult among men. It's why "one of the guys" is a complement for women. The entire premise relies on the assumption that not even women want to be women."

This does not track with my experience of it, which is that the alternative to "men" is not "women" — it's "boys." (E.g. "Separate the men from the boys.") There are definitely misogynistic versions of this — see plenty of gym class "ladies" — but coding "made into men" simply as "fundamentally misogynistic" is mistaken.
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This does not track with my experience of it, which is that the alternative to "men" is not "women" — it's "boys."

Yeah, but the whole point is that boys are weak because they're not fully grown into men and therefore are girly.
posted by jaguar at 9:46 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, the distinction between "man" and "boy" can exist without any reference to girls at all. It frequently does. Boys are weak because they're not fully grown into men and therefore childlike; that girls (and women) are presumed to be weak and childlike can be invoked but is not necessarily present. Boys can be abused "to make a man out of him" without women coming into it. You could argue that this relates to the general patriarchal structure of ignoring women or treating them as non-entities, but again, coding "made into men" as "fundamentally misogynistic" is mistaken.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 PM on August 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I... fundamentally disagree. Boys are "not men," and "not men" is coded as feminine. This is a fairly well-established thing. The whole concept of "toxic masculinity" is the idea that men have to strive to be the opposite of anything coded as feminine.

There *can* be a concept of masculinity that is not anti-femininity, but it's not the strain that's beating boys "to make them into men." Or that's beating boys, or anyone, period.
posted by jaguar at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I... fundamentally disagree. Boys are "not men," and "not men" is coded as feminine. This is a fairly well-established thing. The whole concept of "toxic masculinity" is the idea that men have to strive to be the opposite of anything coded as feminine. "

Well, you can fundamentally disagree or you can accept that I'm an authority on my experience. There are plenty of times when "not man" is not coded as feminine — part of andronormativity is that "not man" doesn't have to be defined beyond the tautological. "Feminine" is one subset of "not man," but it is not congruent with the full set. To collapse "not man" to purely "feminine," you miss other parts of the constructed masculine identity, like "able bodied" and "adult." To flip to the converse, I don't think you'd say that every time a girl is told she's becoming a woman that means she's acting more masculine because she's not as weak.

Again, boys can be beaten to "make them men" without having femininity be a part of that. "Toxic masculinity" can be entirely intra-masculinely focused; it often is.
posted by klangklangston at 12:49 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno klang, for the most part I think you make a good point, but my own recollection of that sort of thing from when I was a boy was that the implication of femininity was always lurking there in the background even in cases where it was not at all directly stated. I think you are correct that boy/man is a thing but I don't think it can be as clearly separated from boy/girl in the way you experienced. Obviously, I can't argue you out of your own experience, but I don't think this is one where your experience was the standard one. I could be wrong there.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:53 AM on August 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can speak from my own experience. There was a thin line between "men don't cry" and "are you going to cry like a little girl." The act of pushing someone to be a man, where I experienced it and witnessed it, often included a rejection of girlishness.

That being said, toxic masculinity is a product of the patriarchy, and is still based in policing clearly defined gender roles. Regardless of whether this is explicit, the attempt to mold a boy into a man is always the attempt to make them something defined as not being like a woman. Beating a boy to make him a man is very different than trying to make him an adult.
posted by maxsparber at 5:44 AM on August 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


"I dunno klang, for the most part I think you make a good point, but my own recollection of that sort of thing from when I was a boy was that the implication of femininity was always lurking there in the background even in cases where it was not at all directly stated."

There were more than a couple families in my neighborhood growing up where "be a man" was frequently enforced physically and often had no reference to femininity because femininity was an irrelevant, unarticulated subset of "not man," and "baby" was the proximal "not man" referent.

I'm not denying that the "be a man" is often toxically coded as "don't be a girl," but the reading that sees all of it as primarily misogynistic, including requiring a secondary coding of "baby" as feminine, implies an attention to femininity that was often absent from these experiences. It's like arguing that toxic school pride can only exist in reference to a rival school, instead of recognizing that it can be an in-group phenomenon. I believe women can come up with theories of femininity — healthy and unhealthy — that aren't reactive against a concept of masculinity. I know that guys can because I've seen it. I'm willing to believe that if there were no women, men would still be able to construct toxic theories of masculinity.

Maybe this is an artifact of the large amounts of time I spent as a kid socializing in the effective absence of women — from seven to about 14, there were just no families that had girls in our project's lot, but about 20 boys within three years of me, plus or minus. The only women were adult mothers. And when Jami's dad whipped him with a belt in front of his house, when he told him not to cry and be a baby, and would mock him with "Wah-wah" baby shit. It was a toxic expression of masculinity that was about a nominal construction of adult roles (one that sticks out was about sneaking cigarettes) that didn't need any anti-feminine notions to be coherent.
posted by klangklangston at 11:57 AM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really liked this comic on the subject. Not arguing with you by posting it klang, I think you make a strong case too.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:00 AM on August 10, 2015


[A few comments deleted. Please drop the men/boys derail here, and Drinky Die, please try harder to avoid leading the discussion in various avenues that are mostly your own stream of thought. You've commented quite a bit here on aspects that are not part of the original topic and it's getting to be a struggle for folks to wade against that to discuss the article.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:09 AM on August 11, 2015 [12 favorites]


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