Saturday, March 26, 2005

EOTM: Hate Bounces

How man hating and man bashing harms women: the making of a misogynist

Misogynists are not born they are made.

Once, a long time ago when the world was young, I loved women with all my heart and soul. I grew up among strong competent women who understood that all living things need to be taken care of and will flourish if that happens. The men I grew up with knew that as well. Everyone knew that people must live and work together and find ways to cooperate and just deal with the inevitable differences that arise and keep them in perspective. They knew that people are not perfect, but that most of them try to be as good as they can manage. They took the measure of a person in wholeness, and if there was more good than bad to a person, they accepted that person's faults as being part of the package which was still valuable, if a bit flawed. After all, nobody really is perfect. We all knew that.

Then, something happened. And that something was called feminism. I remember the early days of the movement when it was called "Women's Liberation" which was a high sounding and noble cause in a country which is founded on a document which cites liberty as one of 3 inalienable rights that every person has. No one with a sense of fairness and an understanding of civics could be against women being liberated and treated fairly. And, there was also the promise that some of the ways men were being treated unfairly would change along with it.

And, as the old joke goes: if you believe that one, then I have some lakefront property in the Mojave Desert I'd like to talk to you about.

I learned very quickly that feminism wasn't about liberating PEOPLE from their previously too restrictive roles which were assigned to them based on the plumbing they displayed at birth, but rather was founded on a number of absolute falsehoods which had nothing to do with freedom, equality, or fairness. The fundamental premise that men had MORE power, not just a different kind of power and in a different area of society as a whole, but MORE power in a complete and absolute sense was something that I vehemently disagreed with. I could come up with thousands of examples of circumstances in which women had more power than men did. And in every example they gave of where men did have any power, I could easily point out the uneven distribution of power among men, and how a few men at the top of the wealth/influence pyramid had a lot of power, but that the vast majority of men had very little.

The strangest thing was that most of the situations in which I was being told I had or was exercising "power" seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. When I was a college freshman, one day I was walking across campus toward the student union. I reached the door about a half step ahead of a female student so, as I had been brought up to do, I hastened my last couple of steps and held the door open for her. Instead of the smile and nod that I had been used to in response to such simple acts of social courtesy, she flew into a rage and started screaming at me about how what a male chauvinist PIG I was, that she was perfectly capable of opening that door for herself and didn't need any g-- damned MAN to do it for her, and kicked me in the knee.

"Shock" is a totally inadequate word to describe my response.

I was at a loss to understand any of her reaction. She couldn't have been any more totally, completely, and absolutely wrong about my motivations and purposes. I instantly assigned her to the categories of "mentally defective", "hate filled", and female. Over the next several years, a lot of women joined her company.

A couple of years later, a woman that I was dating described her feminist "consciousness raising" group as consisting of "perfectly satisfying man hating sessions." Again, I was bewildered. I asked why she found hating me(n) so "perfectly satisfying". I don't remember the answer she gave, but she soon proved to me just how true that statement was of her. Like the knee-kicker in response to having a door opened, it seemed that anything and everything I did was proof that I deserved her hatred and rancor. At least 10 years later, she called me out of the blue to apologize. She said she realized that she had just gotten swept up in a group consciousness of hatred and had finally realized what had happened and that I had not deserved the bile she had spewed on me.

It was, I suppose, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but it was too little and too late. Because, by then I had encountered so many other women who acted in pretty much the same way that it had simply become part of my view of what women were. Somewhere, deep down inside, either hidden or proudly displayed, women hated men. Women came in a variety of sizes and shapes, most had breasts and female genitals, but they all seemed to come with a hatred and fundamental contempt for men. One woman I dated while Jimmy Carter was still president, spoke of "my hatred of men" in the same mattter-of-fact tone that she might say "my nose". It was just an integral part of her.

Needless to say, this presented me with a significant paradox and source of internal conflict. Being a healthy heterosexual male, I had the natural and universal desire that men have to have a love relationship with a woman. But, how is it possible to love someone that returns hate for that love?

So, over time I began to develop a wary distrustful posture toward women. I still dated them, but I had become so conditioned to expect hatred from them that I simply accepted it as part of the price I had to pay in order to be involved with one. My desire for a relationship was still strong, but was opposed by a distrust and unwillingness to let someone who hated me get the upper hand over me. Thus, in my mind the concept of "commitment" became one and the same as "trapped in a relationship with someone who hates me." I was indeed one of those men who "wouldn't make a commitment."

The worst part of this, for me, is that it blinded me to the warning signals of some truly sick personalities. The hostility which I had become accustomed to enduring from women became only a matter of degree - greater or lesser. And, with a baseline of being kicked in the knee for the courtesy of opening a door, and learning how "satisfying" man hating is to some women, I had no yardstick to sort out the seriously sick and deranged women from any of the rest. As a result, I ended up in some relationships that were truly horrible and very damaging to me. And, of course, each of these left scars which over time built up so much emotional scar tissue that I began to lose all the positive feelings I once had for women.

That is the personal side. And, I won't bore you with the details of all the stories. But, there eventually got to be so many that I developed the attitude that the question was not "whether" a woman would burn me if let her get close enough to do so, but "when" and "how soon" it would happen.

On the political side, things were just as bad if not worse. About the same time I started becoming the target of violent physical attacks by individual women for what I perceived as courtesy, I also became the target of vicious verbal attacks by women collectively - just for being a man.

I remember the first time I saw the slogan "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle", I knew knew my face had just been spit in. Men were not just useless to women, we were irrelevant. We had no purpose in a woman's life, and did not belong in her world at all. It was a message of hate, dismissal, and refutation. But, I also saw it as a warning of what was to come. It was like seeing clouds on the horizon, and knowing that it is time to get under cover because a storm is brewing. And, since it was obviously smearing shit in my face, it was going to be a shit storm.

Soon it became apparent that women could say any damn thing they wanted about men - no matter how wrong, no matter how hateful, no matter how unfair - and that was fine, but every time I stood up to that and said "no, that is wrong, there is another point of view" I'd get some little fem-bot harpy in my face shrieking the same old tired slogans, like a mindless Chatty Cathy doll, about how I was threatened by losing my power, wanted to keep women "in their place", was probably violent, and was a misogynist. The dull predictability and regularity of it all was only kept from being terminally boring by the shrillness and sheer vehemence of the attacks.

There is a belief among those who believe in magic that one must speak a spell 3 times in order for it to become binding and true. It took being called a misogynist a lot more than 3 times to become true, more like 300+, but in time it did become true.

I began to see women as vicious creatures whose only agenda when it came to me, or any man, was to see how much they could get from the man - then when he had nothing left to give because they had taken it all, toss him out with yesterday's garbage. In short - as nothing but users. Feminist author Wendy Dennis came out with a book in the early 1990s called "Hot and Bothered: sex and love in the 90s." Among many other astute observations in the book was that nothing was more classically typical of the state of male/female relations than the woman who complained bitterly about every aspect of men, then couldn't figure out why she couldn't get one of these awful creatures to fall madly in love with her. I had observed the same thing so many times that I had simply concluded that such women were simply not very bright. In stark contrast to the mythology of how socially adept women are, I was baffled that such women were so stupid that they didn't realize that no living thing will respond to such projections of distaste, contempt, and hatred with anything except return animosity.

I took to avoiding women, particularly groups of them, because I could never sit quietly and put up with the bashing and would always challenge it, which ended me up in a lot of fights and added greatly the count of times that I got called "misogynist." I noticed that women seemed to do it habitually, without thinking, and would confront my female friends over and over until they learned not to do it in my presence.

And, after 3 decades of listening to it, and hating it, and trying to keep the animosity which had been building in me over it - when the husband of a woman friend of mine (who had been very dishonest about her motivations for our friendship and had been trying to harass me into turning our friendship sexual) threatened to kill me and she said "I don't know why you are making such a big deal about it", I caved in and began to really hate women.

Most of the time this hatred lies dormant. I figure that the best thing I can do for myself and for women is to keep the contact I must have with them to a minimum, and to keep as much distance between them and myself as possible. It is rather like hanging a sign on a fence that says "Beware of VERY bad dog." Stay outside the fence, and everything is fine. But, come through the gate at your own risk. Leave me the hell alone and I will leave you alone.

Misogynists are not born, they are made.

I am still baffled at all the women who seem to expect men to live on a steady diet of hatred and man bashing, and somehow magically metabolize this toxic diet into "love" for women and a desire to see good things come to them. When I work real hard, I can make the anger cold and take no joy when bad things happen to women, simply regard it with indifference. When I hear a woman whine about being victimized, I simply tune her out and go elsewhere.

When a woman smiles at me, I think of an old ethic bashing joke - "What does a ______ say instead of 'fuck you'?" answer "Trust Me."

I will not allow most women in my house unless I have known her a long time and she is old enough to have escaped being infected with the plague of man hating or is escorted by someone I trust, nor will I enter theirs except on the same conditions. If I pass a woman stranded on the road, I will not stop to help her because it is as likely as not that she will be afraid of me. That's fine. She's a fish without a bicycle - I have no place in her world, nor her in mine.

Man bashing and man hating harms women, because it makes men hate them back - eventually. A puppy returns love for love, but if you beat it will eventually turn mean and will one day turn on you when you raise your fist or your stick (or the club of words) to hit it. Men are no different. When women talk about treating men like dogs, I wish they would. It would be an improvement. Most women treat their dogs far better than they treat their men.

Somewhere along the line, I went through a metamorphosis. I changed from a man who loved women and thought they were just about the greatest thing in the world, to a man who can't stand them, or anything about them.

I'm sick and tired of the lies that women tell about men, I'm sick and tired of their victim games, I'm sick and tired of hatred and bashing I have to put up with when I am around them. I am sick and tired of the arrogant contempt in which they seem to hold me and all other men. I am sick to death of the way that some of them feel the need to seek me out to piss me off. A couple of years back, at the funeral of my uncle, as fine a man as I have ever known, some woman felt the need to start a conversation with me as I sat with my private grief. She wanted me to agree with her that men don't ask for directions.

How could anyone be so stupid and socially incompetent? When men came up to me to talk, it was always with something like "Your uncle was a fine man", not "aren't men headstrong and stupid?"

Invariably, when I tell a woman about all this, she tries to argue with me and say something like "get over it", or "why don't you take the gender out of it?" In return I ask, "why the hell don't you women get over it, and take the gender out of it?"

I would like nothing better than to be left in peace, and allow women to enjoy the absence of my company which they find so annoying and unpleasant. Every day, a few more men got through the transformation and become like me. We don't get our guns and shoot a few women; we don't beat them up; because what women have been saying about us all these years is just flat wrong. But, there's no point in trying to tell women that because they have become so certain of their superiority that the best way to deal with them is to leave them to it, and the company of their other fishy friends

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The Intimate Journal of Henri Amiel: September 17, 1880