No One Hates You For Being a Man: You Might Just Be an Asshole

I recently wrote an article for my column on Psychology today called Debunking the Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist: How Feminist Women Have Been Seriously Misunderstood. It spoke of contemporary research showing that, by and large, feminist women don’t hate men. In fact, across six studies including almost 10,000 participants, the researchers found that feminist women did not demonstrate significantly higher hostility toward men than feminist women or other men.

Sure, some misandry does exist in feminism. But, on the whole, the idea that feminists are man-haters is fundamentally false.

Interestingly, the research revealed that although feminists are no more likely to have hostility toward men than non-feminist women, they are less likely than non-feminist women to be benevolent toward men. Meaning, feminists are less likely to coddle, mollify, or excuse men who behave poorly.

I believe this is actually where the majority of some men’s complaints of feminists as man-haters comes from. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, this perception is born from a place of fragility.

I’ve observed feminist women and feminist discourse in online spaces for some time now. Something I’ve noticed is that, when left to their own devices, feminist women tend to speak mainly about women’s issues. They speak about closing the pay gap, ending workplace harassment, advocating for equitable labor in the household, putting an end to human trafficking, securing safe and affordable abortion rights, and so on. Their discourse and advocacy are primarily centered around systemic issues that affect women.

However, because these topics tend to upset the sensitivities of some men, feminist speakers and influencers often find themselves having to do business with those men’s false and aggressive rebuttals. They call out their sexist attitudes, they push back sharply against shitty ideologies, and they do it without pulling their punches. This can appear, to someone who is looking for proof that feminists hate men, that feminist women are constantly calling out men and that’s all they ever do.

But the majority of the time, in my observation at least, women are not initiating these aggressive exchanges, but rather, they are simply refusing to ignore them. They are responding to them. Indeed, they would probably prefer that antagonistic men just leave them alone so they can talk about what matters to them, but men keep derailing the conversation.

If some men consider it misandry for women to match the energy of their aggressive and sexist commentary on women’s issues, then again, we must conclude that fragility has taken the wheel. And if those men are so fragile, entitled, and audacious to think they are allowed to speak to women however they please and that’s “giving a dissenting opinion,” but when women respond unfavorably they are man-haters, then I’d argue those men are just assholes.

It’s interesting that women who push back against men’s bad behavior are labeled by men as man-haters, but the men who engage in the bad behavior toward women don’t consider themselves women-haters. Do they not see this obvious flaw in their thinking? Are those men actually oblivious to these things, or do they know and just refuse to acknowledge them? I ponder this question often.

Either way, the problem isn’t that most feminists hate men. It’s that most feminists hate assholes. And the majority of men being the loudest about feminists hating men are, in fact, assholes.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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