And yes, that includes misandry.
Originally posted on just-smith.tumblr.com
When I was a little boy, I can remember as thinking of myself as different from the other little boys. I didn’t like being around them. I didn’t want to play pirates, I wanted to go and do arts and crafts with the little girls. The more I hung about shyly around the little girls, the more I wanted to be like them. They were everything that I wanted to be. I felt like I was a little girl. When the other boys wanted to grow up to be firemen or astronauts, I wanted to grow up to be a woman.
At the time, I didn’t know that I had a choice. I’ve only just found out that I do, and, happily, I’m comfortable with being a man now. But had I had the choice at the time, I’m fairly sure that my child mind knew what it wanted.
Now, I wasn’t allowed near the (other?) little girls. The carers looking after us always shepherded me back to be with the little boys, where I stood about awkwardly. I never felt like I belonged. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in a corner at my nursery, aged 5 or under, bitterly crying at the constant bullying. That became the story of my childhood. I would follow groups of girls around, waiting patiently for them to involve me, until I got chased away for being creepy. I tried to be like them, but if I went near them they ran away or had to go and wash their hands. After all, I was a boy. Why shouldn’t they act like that? We had been taught that girls were made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” that they were neat and quiet and behaved. Boys, on the other hand, were made of “slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails,” and we were dirty, loud, messy and violent creatures. Don’t pretend you didn’t grow up knowing that as well, because it was these stereotypes that have defined my life (no 10-year-old should spend months contemplating suicide after never having made a single friend in their childhood, being excluded and derided by both groups, simply because of enforced gender segregation). No other boy went near the girls, and no girl went near the boys. Later on, a few tom-boys emerged, but feminism had become a part of our society, and we were also taught that women could act like a man if they chose to. We were never taught that men could act like women, because that wasn’t relevant to the feminist cause.
So yeah, all of my teachers and carers from age 3 to age 11 were women. They helped us believe that men were nasty strangers that we should be careful of, whilst women were caring. They enforced the stereotypes about nice little girls and naughty little boys. They wanted to believe these stereotypes. I was told to stay away from the girls because I was obviously making them uncomfortable, when they literally referred to be as a disease, and told to run along and play with other messy, dirty boys. I saw boys punished because a girl tripped over and the women in charge saw her crying with a boy nearby and put two and two together. I could go on.
But at the end of the day, this isn’t about transphobia, just as hostility to me being feminine wasn’t homophobia. It was sexism. It was because I was a disgusting boy child, and I couldn’t be allowed to taint the perfect girl children. It was because boys and girls are intrinsically different, and that they need to be kept apart. This is the gender binary. This is the gender binary, which tells men that they can’t be like women and women that they can’ t be like men. It’s this binary which cause misogyny and misandry, and heterosexism and cissexism are applications of this. You can’t therefore be supportive of gay men or trans people without realising that the binary targets them as men. It isn’t some separate mechanism. They suffer because they are men and they aren’t doing what men are supposed to do, just as women are punished for not doing what women are supposed to do. If you deny misandry exists, you can’t help these people, because you refuse to understand the stereotypes underlying their oppression. Every man is hurt by these stereotypes and restrictions, it is just that the men who challenge them the most suffer the most. Men who literally try to become women are punished, men who try to have the sexual preferences women should have are punished, but men who merely act like women are punished for the same reasons.
The bullying I have had continues into adult life. Men are still blamed for crimes they didn’t commit, still disproportionately charged more frequently and severely than women are. Men are still seen as crude, dirty, and violent, whilst women are seen as calm and neat. Yes, this binary disadvantages women in some ways, but it also advantages them in some ways. Yes, this binary advantages men in some ways, but it also disadvantages them in some ways. In the courtroom it helps to be seen as weak; in the workplace it helps to be seen as strong. Every stereotype has advantages and disadvantages, and we can’t just pick and choose which we want to exist. From an early age, we are told that men are like this and do these things, and women are like this and do these things. We all need to go back to these basics. This is the patriarchal binary, and this is the root of all gender based evil. It clearly restricts men equally and oppositely to how it restricts women, and it is counter-productive to deny the existence of one half of the suffering or one half of the privilege simply because it sounds nice to you, or for ideological purposes. You can’t just erase people like that. This binary causes misandry as well as misogyny, and that is clear for anyone with an open mind to see (I have demonstrated it more fully elsewhere, if you still need convincing). But, as heterosexism and cissexism also come from this binary, if you deny misandry you don’t just perpetuate sexism against men, but you make it impossible to properly address the problems of men affected by non-hetero or non-cis men when these problems are rooted in this misandry. If you deny misandry because it is an inconvenient truth to you, you are no ally to these people, and you are in fact implicitly misandric yourself.
You refuse to see men as victims, because the patriarchal stereotypes (men are strong, they can’t be hurt, they just need to man up and take it) and dogma (conveniently written entirely by women, and therefore only noticing the suffering which affects women) tell you that this is not what men are like. If you really want to believe that, then stop pretending that you can help any male sufferers from the patriarchy at all, because you are their worst enemy.