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MISANDRY AS PRAXIS IN THE FACE OF MISOGYNY

As long as we live and die under a patriarchal system, misandry can never be a form of oppression.

Misandry (noun) — the dislike of, contempt for, or prejudice against men. 

When I call myself a misandrist, I’m only partly joking. For myself, and many of the folks I know with marginalized genders, misandry is a defense mechanism and a tool of survival—a praxis in the face of patriarchal oppressions, obstacles, limitations, and violences. There are arguments about whether or not misandry is even real. I maintain that it very much is. It’s just as real as misogyny and male supremacy. But unlike these things, misandry is not a form of oppression. It’s a direct response to and an attempt to cope with it, especially because it is often also a result of our fears and anxieties about men’s aggression. 

Misandry is not a form of systemic, institutional, or societal oppression (though it can be used as a form of harm or abuse on an individual level, which I would never condone) because folks of marginalized genders, as a social group, do not have the institutional power to oppress (cis) men. The reality that we live in is quite the opposite, in fact. Our systems, social settings, mainstream ideologies of gender and sexuality, cultural expectations and permissions, and more are all infected with and informed by misogyny, male supremacy, and androcentrism. These things are normalized and men are even encouraged to perform them as part of their masculinity, while the rest of us are strong-armed and indoctrinated into accepting the violence inherent to them as normal, and even necessary. 

The normalization and widely-held acceptance of misogyny, male supremacy, and androcentrism mean that (mostly cis) men having deeply held disdain for people of marginalized genders results in our dehumanization. They often seek us out to enact their violences. They abuse us, they harass us, they assault us, they murder us, they exploit us, they make laws to subjugate and immobilize us, they demand dominion over our bodies, and they punish us in one way or another if we deny them access. 

Damn near every space in this world is more unsafe and more detrimental to people of marginalized genders because of the ideas, policies, actions—and sometimes inaction and apathy—of men and the patriarchal system that benefits them. The same is not true when we harbor animosity towards patriarchy and its agents. These are points which I will not argue because the historical record holds overwhelming, devastating evidence of their truth. 

I see misandry as a natural response to living under these conditions, and as long as we live and die under a patriarchal system, misandry can never be a form of oppression. I practice it as merely one resistive form of self-defense against the violences we endure under this system. It is a way for many of us to cope with the seemingly inevitable and inescapable oppressions perpetrated and upheld by men, as well as the apologists who are complicit and invested in maintaining patriarchy. 

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Let me be exceedingly clear: the type of misandry I speak of and practice in my life—and recommend for others—is not to bring harm to anyone else, but to bring peace to myself. For me, it simply means acknowledging how absolutely shitty patriarchy is, maintaining a healthy amount of anger, distrust, and caution, and refusing the socially-prescribed and sanctioned practice of androcentrism. 

My misandry is a commitment to de-centering men’s feelings, de-pedestaling their opinions, declining to acquiesce their demands for me to shrink, revoking their access to me and my personal space to which they feel entitled, denying them the benefit of the intellectual and emotional labors they feel they are owed, and subverting patriarchal expectations in any and every way I please. Without remorse, without shame, without reservations, without permission. 

It is so because I and others have been taught our entire lives that it is our obligation to give every part of ourselves to men in these ways and more—to regard them as the most rational, most knowledgeable, most capable, most formidable, and most important people in the room and on the planet. We’ve been educated in the ways of making space for them, allowing them to talk over us, mishandle us, overthrow us. We’ve been socialized to accept mistreatment as a reality of our gendered interactions with men and sometimes taught that we are literally not allowed to say “no” to them, lest their egos be crushed beneath the weight of the word. They might even kill us for it. 

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The thing about misandry is that it can be a dangerous thing to practice. Particularly, when so many men have a visceral and violent reaction to rejection, assertiveness, conviction, and noncompliance from other genders. Men like this interpret these things as insubordination and aggression. This, alongside the intentional denial of the reality of gendered power dynamics, means that we have to wade through disingenuous arguments that misandry is equally as damaging as misogyny and male supremacy. When misandry mostly leaves men with hurt feelings and bruised egos, while institutionalized misogyny and male supremacy mostly leave countless trails of traumas, devastation, and death, the decision to claim that these things are identical forms of oppression is beyond contemptible. 

Regarding misandry as a necessary praxis in my life has been incredibly rewarding for my health and my peace. It’s a form of catharsis I am unwilling to relinquish for as long as we live and die under patriarchy. My last flying fuck yeeted itself right out of my life a long time ago and I have been blissfully bereft of fucks ever since—especially about things like being thought of as an “emasculating, man-hating, feminazi” by people who don’t understand the systems I’ve dedicated my life to studying. My misandry is a continued indictment of an oppressive patriarchal system that permits bad behavior from men (cis and otherwise)—on systemic, institutional, and interpersonal levels—and it also demands that these men put in the work to become better human beings because I believe that they are fully capable of doing so, in spite of their socialization. 

Sherronda J. Brown is a native North Carolinian with an academic background in Media Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, and African American & African Diaspora Studies. She is passionate about social justice, black feminisms, and zombies.

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