“Men hate women”
Feminists say it pretty often and they genuinely believe it to be true. However, most men vehemently disagree.
How can he hate women? He thinks about the women in his life: his sisters, his mother. He remembers the women he has been attracted to throughout his life and all the things he has done for them. He even held the door open for a random woman the other day. How could he possibly hate women?
After all, he doesn’t wish evil upon them. He wouldn’t want any harm to befall them. Most (male-run) societies venerate their women, protect them and project them as paragons of virtue. All the major religions have prominent female figures who are praised and lauded. How could they possibly hate women?
The fundamental problem here is his definition of hate. He thinks that if he isn’t walking around with an active, burning malice directed at women, with intent to harm, then he cannot be said to hate them. However, the reality is a lot more nuanced than that.
Hate is broad, and encompasses a spectrum of thought/behaviour that ranges from a casual disdain for women, to a virulent hatred that drives men to kill women. It means male-run societies are fine with giving women respect and adulation, as long as their conduct falls within the narrow confines of propriety the societies have placed on them. Women who depart from the script are fair game to be dehumanised and demeaned. It is no surprise that the most patriarchal societies (like Saudi Arabia), where women are ostensibly most protected, also happen to be the ones where their freedoms are the most restricted.
It is readily evident that a lot of the things men (end even non-feminist women) consider to be good or bad for women aren’t necessarily so. Also society does not apply the same metrics for good and evil, depending on whether the subject in question is a man or woman.
There are a lot of examples of this:
- There are a lot of people who think that in a marriage, it is good for man to be wealthier than his spouse. A good amount of these same people don’t think it is good for the wife to be wealthier than her husband.
- We don’t want them to lead (at work, politically) because we think they’d be bad at it, despite the fact that majority of the leaders Nigeria has had are men that are bad at it. People think it is good for a woman to not be career focused, to spend most of her life cooking & managing domestic tasks for her family till the end of her days. But to them, this isn’t good for a man. We also pay the women who decide to work (despite all this) less than we do men.
- A lot of men think that it is good for their fellow men to have many sexual partners in the course of his life, even if this involves cheating on their partners (in the context of a monogamous relationship). A lot of those men think it is bad for women to do the same. When men do things that they consider immoral (like stealing & defrauding) for money, there are people who praise them for it. When women do things they consider immoral, like sleeping with men, they’re shamed. This is a particularly telling example because stealing people’s money is definitely worse than taking money that is willingly given.
- We think that that there are instances where they deserve to be beaten, raped, killed. A lot of the time, when a woman is raped by a man, she’s blamed: “Why did she wear this?”, “What was she doing there?”, as though it is deserved. The same people that blame women for her own rape do not apply this same principle when a man is raped.
- We place different, more stringent standards on them than we do men. We place arbitrary rules on what they wear, where they go, what they say and who they should sleep with.
- We belittle their concerns and interests. We think that they’re somehow more frivolous than what men care about. This applies to a broad variety of things from emotional intelligence to reality television vs sports.
- We seem to only care about women because of their relationship to a man (a sister, sexual partner, mother etc) and not because we see them as individuals that are equal to ourselves. Wanting to sleep with a woman isn’t the same as loving women. There were many white, slave owners who wanted to have sex with (and ended up raping) black women during slavery.
Anyway, it is clear that there’s a double standard. Majority of the proponents of the above tend to justify these double standards with arguments such as:
It is tradition, it is our culture, it is the way we do things. It is easy to observe how proponents of this argument do not apply it across the board to all aspects of their lives. There are so many things about the way the Nigerian lives their life that directly contravene “tradition” and are copied from the west. Christianity, for example, isn’t our culture, it is not the way we did things, but nobody complains about that. “We don’t do that” isn’t a good reason to not do something.
The other pervasive point of view is that men are fundamentally different from women and as such want & should be treated differently. While we can debate what things a group of people want, we should consider why we think that just because they were born with different genitals, they don’t deserve to be treated the way men are treated. If one elects to look closely at the way this plays out, it can be quickly discovered that we do not ascribe the same value to human beings because of things like their gender.
We as a society clearly place more value on men than women. It is apparent everywhere you look.
It is important to think about the word hate again. I think it is fair (and true) to say that you’re hated by someone, or a group of people, if they treated you as though you were actually of less value than themselves.
Lastly, it doesn’t matter how you feel, what matters is how the women feel. If they feel like the things we do as a society are tantamount to hatred, we should listen to them, because that’s what you do when value someone.