Hate On Me

Posted: July 31, 2010 in Feminism, Masculinities

Bidisha sees hatred wherever she goes. I would not want to walk in her shoes. Her latest article in Guardian CIF describes a world full of casual sexism, fuelled by men’s hatred of women. The anecdotes she recounts, of misogynist language, sexual harassment and gender imbalance at work and in the home, I am sure are all true. But to place all gender inequality at the hands of women-hating men, makes me really angry.

I spoke online to a few men about the article and their general response was a resounding: ‘meh’.  Maybe they didn’t take her (not very well expressed) argument seriously. Maybe they couldn’t be bothered to read the piece at all. Maybe they didn’t know how to react to such bile. Maybe one or two of them were reluctant to challenge such an accusation, as it could lead to further accusations against them and cries of ‘misogynist’! Sometimes some men say they can’t win. In this instance I think they would be right.

Look at this paragraph about the domestic division of labour in the home:

‘Any man who thinks it’s OK to live in a household where the woman does the overwhelming majority of all the housework, childcare and family admin is a woman-hater’.

All families are affected by gender inequality to some degree, both from within and beyond the domestic sphere. But to say categorically that this inequality is always the result of the hatred of men for the women they are supposed to love, I find quite astounding and insulting to everyone concerned.

I don’t hate Bidisha. I am no fan of her analysis of gender, though.  She seems to hold a very low opinion of men, women and everyone that does not identify as either man or woman (who she completely ignores in her analysis by the way). When she hates on people, she hates on me. And I don’t like haterz.

  1. Thanks Karl. I think Bidisha should go and have a chat with Jill Scott. She’d put her straight!

  2. TS says:

    Problem is, you do seem to hate Bidisha and cannot bring yourself to agree with a single word she says… even though some of what she says is valid. And if you can’t disagree, you resort to calling her boring. You say she projects her personal issues onto society, but you definitely seem to have some personal issues with her… and it makes you sound *bitchy*…

    • Hi TS

      I don’t agree with many words Bidisha says; particularly not in the order in which she places them.

      Does my criticism of her amount to hatred? No. Am I bitchy sometimes? Most definitely. Maybe it is my ‘false consciousness’ being bitchy.

  3. Mark says:

    I don’t know anything about heterosexual relationships, or any kind of relationships for that matter, and always, always leave the toilet seat up – but I do know that some people should try living without the word ‘misogyny’ for just one day.

    • I agree Mark, or we will have to join Fathers For Justice in re-instating that hateful term, ‘Misandry’.

      An ex partner once gave me a lecture about misogyny whilst he was in the process of kicking the shit out of me. Compared to that unforgettable lesson in ‘meta-misogyny’ I find nearly all feminists’ use of the term pretty inaccurate.

  4. AND, she does not either produce rigorous research, or give an account of her own experience in any detail. It is just a string of unrelated incidents, turned into an ideological theory of how the world is. It’s fucking terrible journalism/research/writing.

  5. Sorry–gotta laugh about the housework quote because I know of at least two counter-examples where the couple sat down and negotiated the household chores and the result was she does the overwhelming share of them. In one case, it was because she wanted out of the work-outside-the-house world. In the other, she’s a submissive who gets off on cleaning naked.

    Lots of assumptions in the claim.

  6. TS says:

    Whilst questioning the appropriateness of the term misogyny is certainly valid in this instance – particularly as it seems to involve physical violence in your reading of the word – much of her article resounded with the women who read it. Because much of it does happen. A lot. And they do just get on it with life and feel obliged to do so. Some men support the article too – many of whom are nice, toilet-seat droppers, who do not wish to see their partners do the triple job of being child-carer, housewife and worker and who know they sometimes let the comments and behaviour of others slide even though it makes them uncomfortable because that’s the why society is set up.

    Limited length ‘Comment’ sections rarely provide rigorous research and if she’d banged on about her own experience in detail, she’d get criticised for being self-obsessed and playing the victim.

    Your experience of talking to a few men online hardly provides a rigorous rebuttal either… and so it still reads like you simply just don’t like her and will argue against anything she says. Which isn’t exactly world-class writing either… and is a shame because I suspect you have some truly valid points to make…

    • Well I think those nice toilet-seat droppers are idiots, if they can’t see they are being implicated in this diatribe. The discourse of hatred does not distinguish; it taints everyone with the same brush.

  7. Actually TS I used to like some of Bidisha’s stuff. It took some careful reading and a few terrible pieces by her to change my view. If you trawl through the cif comments on her articles, you will see me saying some very nice things to her. (I don’t recommend this you might lose the will to live!)

    I have written a PhD on gender. You are welcome to read that if you wish. I don’t think I use the term ‘misogyny’ once in it, though. I just did not encounter any hatred of women in the four years I spent interviewing men and women about gender inequality.

  8. TS says:

    I agree with questioning misogyny and hate in this context, but her point that casual sexism is ubiquitous and harmful is valid. And of course this applies to both genders but it is more prevalent against women and she was writing for the women’s section of the newspaper.

    Also agree she has written a few terrible pieces in the past, but she has also written some strong, measured and thoughtful pieces too and hope you both continue to do so in the future.

  9. Kimboosan says:

    In reading the comments here, it occurs to me that it is a matter of perspective; misogyny and sexism are everywhere and systemic to the social environment, I think we (you, me, & Bidisha) can agree on that, right? It’s more a matter of what you do with that information. Hate men? Scream and yell and throw hissy fits? Withdraw from reality and live on a separatist feminist commune? Open the dialog and try to educate people?

    The example you gave of her writing shows me someone who has simplified her arguments for the sake of volume – she’s getting the message out, despite the cost of alienating part of her audience. I understand exactly what she is /trying/ to say, and why; but I’m more of a negotiator, and so I immediately think of the feminists I know who opted to be stay at home mothers to raise the children/run the house while the husband goes and works one or two shitty jobs to keep food in the pantry. Bidisha has immediately eliminated those women from the discussion, or belittled them, much less the men. And that kind of activism will always bother me.

  10. redpesto says:

    Well, if a writer keeps conflating sexism with misogyny, articles such as Bidisha’s are inevitably the result. Equating the division of domestic chores with the latter is, as Kimboosan says ‘someone who has simplified her arguments for the sake of volume’ – and shouting at the top of her lungs for effect. By contrast feminist and sex-activist Pat Califia once wrote: ‘I resent attempts like this to distort my perceptions of reality and make me unduly afraid. I do not get assaulted or verbally harassed every time I walk out my front door – and I have a crew cut.’

  11. Hi redpesto I love Pat Califia.

    I resent attempts like this to distort my perceptions of reality and make me unduly afraid as well.

  12. I wouldn’t mind reading your Phd on gender…

    As for the subject at hand, I’m a little torn. I had never read any of Bidisha’s work before today and I quite like her style. However, I don’t agree that every single example that she has cited is an example of men who hate woman. She takes that analysis a little too far, especially when she claims that all men who don’t react to the inequality of labour within their households are woman-haters.

    Also, to be fair denigration of the “other” is not necessarily a gender issue, or at least not in some of her examples. I think that some people are just as quick to say the same thing about men in regards to them being assholes or speaking of the physical appearance in a derogatory manner.

    I ho however think that her overall point is valid, as is yours.

  13. thanks Olga. You are so reasonable and balanced.

    I lack such qualities I am afraid and some things just make me see red. I have actually written about the use of language to reinforce gender inequality in my PHD but there is no way I’d expect you to trawl through the whole thing.

    I might find some excerpts or at least some references from it though. Maybe Bidisha could do with a reading list herself!

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