Why can’t we hate men?

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY SUZANNA DANUTA WAL­TERS Suzanna Danuta Wal­ters, a pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy and di­rec­tor of the Women’s, Gen­der, and Sex­u­al­ity Stud­ies Pro­gram at North­east­ern Univer­sity, is the edi­tor of the gen­der stud­ies jour­nal Signs.

It’s not that Eric Sch­nei­der­man (the now-for­mer New York at­tor­ney gen­eral ac­cused of abuse by mul­ti­ple women) pushed me over the edge. My edge has been crossed for a long time, be­fore Pres­i­dent Trump, be­fore Har­vey We­in­stein, be­fore “mansplain­ing” and “in­cels.” Be­fore livestream­ing sex­ual as­saults and red pill men’s groups and rape camps as a tool of war and the dead­en­ing ba­nal­ity of male pre­rog­a­tive.

Seen in this in­dis­putably true con­text, it seems log­i­cal to hate men. I can’t lie, I’ve al­ways had a soft spot for the rad­i­cal fem­i­nist smack­down, for nam­ing the prob­lem in no un­cer­tain terms. I’ve ran­kled at the “but we don’t hate men” protes­ta­tions of gen­er­a­tions of would-be fem­i­nists and found the “men are not the prob­lem, this sys­tem is” ob­fus­ca­tion too pre­cious by half.

But, of course, the crit­i­cisms of this blan­ket con­dem­na­tion of men — from transna­tional fem­i­nists who de­cry such glib uni­ver­sal­ism to U.S. women of color who de­mand an in­ter­sec­tional per­spec­tive — are mostly on the mark. These crit­ics rightly in­sist on an anal­y­sis of male power as in­sti­tu­tional, not nar­rowly per­sonal or in­di­vid­ual or bi­o­log­i­cally based in male bod­ies. Grow­ing move­ments to chal­lenge a mas­culin­ity built on dom­i­na­tion and vi­o­lence and to en­gage boys and men in fem­i­nism are both grat­i­fy­ing and nec­es­sary. Please con­tinue.

But this recog­ni­tion of the com­plex­ity of male dom­i­na­tion (how dif­fer­ent it can be in dif­fer­ent parts of the world, how racism shapes it) should not — must not — mean we for­get some uni­ver­sal facts.

Pretty much ev­ery­where in the world, this is true: Women ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual vi­o­lence, and the threat of that vi­o­lence per­me­ates our choices big and small. In ad­di­tion, male vi­o­lence is not re­stricted to in­ti­mate-part­ner at­tacks or sex­ual as­sault but plagues us in the form of ter­ror­ism and mass gun vi­o­lence. Women are un­der­rep­re­sented in higher-wage jobs, lo­cal and fed­eral govern­ment, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship, etc.; wage in­equal­ity con­tin­ues to per­me­ate ev­ery econ­omy and al­most ev­ery in­dus­try; women con­tinue to pro­vide far higher rates of un­paid la­bor in the home (e.g., child care, el­der care, care for dis­abled in­di­vid­u­als, house­work and food pro­vi­sion); women have less ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly at the higher lev­els; women have lower rates of prop­erty own­er­ship.

The list goes on. It varies by coun­try, but these global re­al­i­ties — of women’s eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and sex­ual vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties — are, well, real. In­deed, the na­tions in which these in­equities have been rad­i­cally min­i­mized (e.g., Ice­land) are those in which de­lib­er­ate ef­fort has been made to both own up to gen­der dis­par­i­ties and to ad­dress them di­rectly and con­cretely.

So, in this mo­ment, here in the land of leg­isla­tively le­git­i­mated toxic mas­culin­ity, is it re­ally so il­log­i­cal to hate men? For all the power of #MeToo and #TimesUp and the women’s marches, only a rel­a­tively few men have been called to task, and I’ve yet to see a mass wave of pros­e­cu­tions or even se­ri­ous recog­ni­tion of wrong­do­ing. On the con­trary, cries of “witch hunt” and the plot­ted res­ur­rec­tion of celebrity of­fend­ers came quick on the heels of the out­cry over en­demic sex­ual ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence. But we’re not sup­posed to hate them be­cause . . . #NotAl­lMen. I love Michelle Obama as much as the next woman, but when they have gone low for all of hu­man his­tory, maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their col­lec­tive butts.

The world has lit­tle place for fem­i­nist anger. Women are sup­posed to sup­port, not con­demn, of­fer suc­cor not dis­missal. We’re sup­posed to feel more em­pa­thy for your fear of be­ing called a ha­rasser than we are for the women ha­rassed. We are told he’s with us and #NotHim. But, truly, if he were with us, wouldn’t this all have ended a long time ago? If he re­ally were with us, wouldn’t he reckon that one good way to change struc­tural vi­o­lence and in­equity would be to refuse the power that comes with it?

So men, if you re­ally are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the mil­len­nia of woe you have pro­duced and ben­e­fited from, start with this: Lean out so we can ac­tu­ally just stand up with­out be­ing beaten down. Pledge to vote for fem­i­nist women only. Don’t run for of­fice. Don’t be in charge of any­thing. Step away from the power. We got this. And please know that your croc­o­dile tears won’t be wiped away by us any­more. We have ev­ery right to hate you. You have done us wrong. #Be­causePa­tri­archy. It is long past time to play hard for Team Fem­i­nism. And win.

Clockwise from top left, for­mer New York at­tor­ney gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man; for­mer NBC “To­day” show host Matt Lauer; film pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein; and ac­tor Bill Cosby.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MARY ALTAFFER/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS; LU­CAS JACK­SON/REUTERS; KEVIN HAGEN/GETTY IMAGES; MATT ROURKE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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