I’ve received any number of insults in the years since I began writing publicly. Lest you feel sorry for me, let me state up front that insults are a fact of life that any writer must learn to roll with, particularly if one writes for an online audience.
But I must admit that there is one insult or label that I receive more frequently than others. It’s the big, ugly “M” word: MISOGYNIST.
Now, this insult always leaves me scratching my head. Given that the official definition of a misogynist is “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women,” I find it hard to figure how I, as a member of the feminine sex, can somehow be accused of hating my fellow females, or myself, for that matter.
I don’t, for the record.
In fact, it might surprise some to realize that I’m actually quite concerned about women. I see many of my female compatriots who have a deep desire to raise a family and be a mother in the traditional sense, happily working alongside the men in their lives. However, many of these same women feel obligated to get an extensive education and use that training in a high-end corporate job. As a result, they put extreme pressure on themselves to do both, creating a situation which even feminist-minded Michelle Obama recently declared impossible.
Unfortunately, this concern for women does not fit the common narrative. Women, society declares, are oppressed, maligned, harassed, and denied opportunity. To right these wrongs, women must stand up, assert themselves, reject any connection with traditional family, and turn on the men who have placed them in such positions.
This attitude seems to be playing out particularly in today’s accusations of “toxic masculinity,” variations of which appear in everything from official documents from the American Psychological Association or, as many have alleged, in commercial marketing messages.
Beyond just the label of “toxic masculinity,” men are maligned for their interest in rough and tumble activities. They are scolded for not being inclusive to women in everything. And they are shamed for any chivalric manners they extend toward women, even if the intention is perfectly polite and civil. Given these facts, it’s not a surprise that many males are struggling to find their footing and make friends, hold on to jobs, be a faithful father and provider, keep up with females in academics, and any number of other things.
Like those who go against the common societal mantra for women, those who question the idea of “toxic masculinity” running rampant throughout the male species are likely to be labeled as misogynists.
In that sense, then yes, I might well be termed a misogynist. In fact, it appears I can’t avoid the title, because to do so, it seems one must tear down both men and women in order to lift up the feminist ideal.
To me, that seems not only morally wrong, but also highly prejudicial against women to assert that their greatest strength in advancing themselves lies in tearing down the opposite sex. And if such a stance is highly prejudicial against women, then one has to wonder… who are the real misogynists in today’s culture?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.