Is It Okay to Hate Men?
Recently the Washington Post (online edition if not print edition) published an opinion column by a feminist asking “Why can’t we hate men?” She rightly pointed out the painful history of men abusing women and especially the recent seeming avalanche of celebrity examples of such. That history of male mistreatment of women (and I will add other men) is sordid and calls out for angry responses and penalties.
I am not even going to attempt to respond to everything the columnist wrote. I will just point out a few things people who read her essay might think about.
*Sidebar: The opinions expressed here are my own (or those of the guest writer); I do not speak for any other person, group or organization; nor do I imply that the opinions expressed here reflect those of any other person, group or organization unless I say so specifically. Before commenting read the entire post and the “Note to commenters” at its end.*
First, female anger toward men is understandable; if I were a woman I would be extremely angry that I cannot just go anywhere, anytime, even in a “safe neighborhood” at night, without worrying about being attacked. I would be extremely angry that I cannot go on a date without being afraid of being raped. The whole situation of valid female fear for safety does justify anger and men should be angry for women and should get involved in making sure women are safe and their attackers punished. I am angry for women and I ought to do more for them. All men should be involved in promoting safety for women.
Second, “hate men” is not helpful to the cause of women; expressing hatred toward all men, even those who have never mistreated a woman, risks justifying (in the minds of many people) the accusation that feminists are “feminazis.” Women need men on their side and many men have sided with women in their rise to self-determination and empowerment. Advocating women hating men may undermine the feminist cause.
Third, hate never really contributes to constructive solutions to social problems. Expressing hatred toward a group of people, even those regarded as oppressors, may help a person psychologically to “vent their spleen” but it is not ethically right or helpful.
Fourth, hatred has consequences—both for the hater and the hated. Hatred toward an entire group of people is corrosive to the hater’s personality. Also, hatred implies a wish that everyone in that group—even those innocent of atrocities or crimes—be punished.
Fifth, fourth above raises a question that the writer of the column and those who agree with her ought to stop and consider: At what age does a boy become a man worthy of hatred? Or does hatred toward all men include all boys? Where would she and those who agree with her draw the line—backwards in age? Presumably when she wrote the column she meant mature men. But we know from history that hating a group of people always sweeps up in the group even those too young to be guilty of anything—other than belonging to the hated group. If the feminist writer’s seeming wish would come true, then female teachers would be justified in punishing boys just for being boys. At the very least, someone advocating or even implying justified hatred toward men ought to think it through more fully.
Sixth, why would it be justified to hate all men because some (far, far too many!) have been and are violent—especially toward women (that being the context here)? Is there any other group of people it would be right to hate based on the horrible misdeeds of some of them? History is littered with cases of that but most of us (educated and thoughtful people) know that’s wrong. It’s called “globalizing” whenever we gather up into a negative stereotype all people of a certain type because some, even many, of them are bad people who do bad things. Advocating hatred of men (which the columnist seems to stop short of but raises the possibility that it would be justified) cannot help but justify hating other groups of people—just because some or even many of them are evil. This a well-known fallacy and an academic or highly educated person should know that and avoid it.
Over the years of my life I have known women who seemed to hate men—as a whole group—collectively. One thing I notice, however, is that they often make exceptions for individual men such as their father, brothers, husband, sons. This seems to me like an immature and childish reaction to what is, admittedly, a very, very bad situation in our culture (and many others) where women are not safe because some men are very dangerous to them.
The Black Lives Matter movement has, to the best of my knowledge, stopped short of expressing hatred toward all law enforcement people, even all white law enforcement people, even though many have turned out to be inimical in their attitudes and behavior toward black people.
I do believe that this seeming justification of hatred toward all men (whatever nuances and exceptions were implied) is not a mature, helpful response to the misdeeds of especially so many male celebrities (and others). I am surprised the Washington Post even published it. Would that newspaper publish a column raising the question whether it might be justified to hate all Muslims because of the misdeeds of some? Of course not. At least I hope not!
But I would ask the author of the column this question: Do you think it might be okay to hate all or even most Muslims because some have been and are terrorists? I’m sure she would say no. Then why is it okay to even raise the question whether it might be okay to hate men?
Of course, I can hear her probably answer and some who will respond here: Because men are powerful and hating them isn’t going to harm them. I disagree; not all men are powerful. And expressing hatred toward any group, even by implying that it might be justified, opens the door to punishing innocent people because of the misdeeds of some in their group.
Hatred toward any group of fellow human beings is ethically wrong and immature, even if it is sometimes understandable.
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