Misandry and Ask Metafilter.
A few months ago we had a watershed moment here in MetaTalk. We established that AskMe, even perhaps Metafilter itself, was and perhaps still is, a boys club. That misogyny ran rampant here and that it made the women uncomfortable when it reared its ugly head. That was an important discussion and there is no two-ways about it. It's good that we had that discussion and hopefully things have started to change. Now it's time we had another discussion about a less well known topic. Indeed, it is a topic that is described by a word that even my spell checker, which recognizes the word 'misogyny' with ease, dosen't know. That word?
Most of you may be unfamiliar with the word. This is understandable. Google Fight shows that 'misogyny' beats 'misandry' with a score of 1,740,000 hits to a mere 153,000 hits
. So just what is misandry? Those of you who did not read the linked Wikipedia article will read that it is a "hatred (or contempt) of men or boys" and that it is "parallel to misogyny - the hatred of women."
I have to say I've not seen much examples of misandry on Metafilter, but Ask Metafilter is full of examples. Far too many to link to here, in fact. But time and time again we see examples in AskMe, mostly in relationship-filter questions, where men are denigrated and put down for no other reason than that they are men and must be, at least in some way, evil.
Jessamyn would (and does) disagree with me. Recently I expressed this feeling to which she replied
"I'm sorry a question you asked there once went badly, but I really don't see this as the case generally."
I have the greatest respect and admiration for the job that the moderators do here, but I feel that this is an issue that’s slipping under the radar. And I owe jessamyn a great deal and though we are likely bound to disagree on this topic, I know (hope?) she’ll understand that I hold her in high esteem but also that she’ll understand why I feel this way. As she said, a question I once asked about my own relationship, one which I regret asking and one which I freely admit sounded misogynistic but which was asked when I really wasn’t in the clearest state of mind, turned into a blood bath with most people calling me a misogynist, a claim I still resent and refute to this day. And ironically, the more I recanted, the more I tried to defend myself, the bigger a misogynist I seemed to become. At least according to most of those who participated in the thread.
This is why I’m posting this in my sockpuppet account. That, and a fear that the mere fact I have raised this topic as a matter of concern for discussion will once again paint me as a misogynist.
Back to the topic at hand; jessamyn does not see this as the case but I do and I wonder if the community would do as well, when presented with some evidence (or at the very least the notion in general). For the purposes of this discussion, it is very important to differentiate between those AskMe questions that are misandristic in nature and those that are not
, as I have no issue with the latter. Those that aren’t are questions that are along the lines of "My boyfriend is beating me" or "My husband drinks a lot and gambles away all my money" or something similar within which people answer DTMFA. This is an entirely understandable response to that situation and certainly the best course of action as these are quite often clear cut cases in which the man in question deserves to be called out for the loser that he is.
But all too often a woman will ask a question like "I love my boyfriend and he loves me but I have a fear of commitment" or "My husband and I had an argument the other night about money. He treats me well but I think he spends irresponsibly sometimes. How can I rectify the problem?", and the answers will invariably come back as "DTMFA." All to often a man will ask “One of my girlfriends habits is a problem for me. How can I overcome it?”, only to be shouted down as controlling, abusive, passive aggressive and, you guessed it, a misogynist.
In my view, AskMe always seems to come down on the side of women and more often than not seems to imply that men are vile pigs who can't ever be trusted so just don't.
Recent examples include this question
, in which a woman explains that she has been with her boyfriend for five years and they get along great but she is freaking out about moving in with someone. She's never lived with anyone before and so its understandable that she'd be a little nervous, right? Well according to some, she should run because the guy is probably being a tad misogynistic in his behavior towards her. Says Lesser Shrew
"Run. Don't do it. In fact, take a vacation by yourself right now.... If I am reading this right, your need for solitude is a defining feature of you. And your boyfriend shrugs this off as a "quirk," feels free to tell you that what you think and feel about your own thoughts and feelings is less important than his own opinion that "you'll be fine."
Lesser Shrew repeats this pattern of misandrystic behavior quite often, it seems. In this question
, a woman questions her compatibility with her boyfriend. She says "I love my boyfriend but I fear we aren't compatible for the long term. How to know if it these are things that are important enough to justify breaking up sooner rather than later." The questioner goes on to say that her boyfriend is "a lovely man [who] treats me really well, and I love him" Lesser Shrew disagrees, painting this man to be the misogynistic pig his girlfriend clearly dosen't know he is
"If he owes you any money at all, even eight bucks, get out now. Also, it's entirely possible that he doesn't "settle" so much as he does whatever comes along that doesn't cause him to much trouble and get in the way of the rest of his life.
Another woman asks
"I think I've met The One. Or, I thought I had. At the three-month mark, insecurities are plaguing me. I'm a long-time commitmentphobe. Help?" Isn't that great folks? She's met The One! She's happy but afraid of commitment but he's The One so she needs help getting past that. But according to Lesser Shrew, she needs to realise this man is bad news. Seizing upon an admission that The One often comments on the attractiveness of other women, she opines
"Exactly how and why does he tells you other women are hot? If you are in fact commenting, and saying "do you think she is hot?" Stop. No good will come of that. Men have days when they think the bat wing upper arms of elderly woman who just lost 86 pounds are hot. Let it go. If he is volunteering the information that other women are hot, well, then relax, enjoy this for what it is now, and don't forget to notice other men in case you need a new boyfriend in a month or two...
So clearly he's not The One. He'll probably be gone in a month or two but in the meantime, accept that all men will have sex with anything that breathes. That's just how men are.
I don’t mean to single Lesser Shrew out, however, as she is not the only person to display such misandrystic behavior. For instance, a woman asks Metafilter about communication problems with her "wonderful S.O"
She clearly states she does not want advice that suggests she DTMFA. What kind of advice does she end up getting? Apart from a lot of advice that essentially says "Well, I'd say DTMFA but you've ruled that out", she also gets this pearl of wisdom from beccyjoe
"i think he is being manipulative by not saying "i love you" - he knows you'd like to hear it. he holds so much power over you by holding back. what's so hard -if he does love you- about saying it? if he has trouble getting the words out he could write it on a card. past traumas my ass.
Clearly her wonderful S.O is a manipulative misogynist! His past experiences in love and life matter naught! He's controlling you! Run! Run now while there's still time!
How about this question
, where a woman asks for help about her boyfriend who doesn’t seem to like her dog? Advice in that thread ranges from more examples of "His feelings don't matter and he should get over it
", advice that he's a jerk and being passive-aggressive
and of course, that old chestnut, DTMFA
Then there was the question
about the boyfriend described as "kind and loving and thoughtful in almost all ways" who, after three years of dating, had displayed some potentially misogynistic behavior. In a conversation he had had with his girlfriend, he had explained a tradition in his family wherein the women serve the men at Thanksgiving dinners. Granted, the tradition sounds entirely sexist in its roots but bear in mind that after three years, this conversation was the first time he had ever displayed any kind of misogynistic behavior, and that it had only arisen in reference to a tradition his family holds, one that he was explaining to his girlfriend to prepare her for what might be expected of her when she visited his family for the holidays. I don't need to link to examples of how that thread went. I think you can pretty much guess for yourself.
I could go on but I won't. The point I'm trying to make here is that in light of our conversation here in MetaTalk a few months ago where we realized that misogyny and sexism are two things that should not be tolerated here on Metafilter (and rightly so!), AskMe allows a disturbing amount of misandry to go unchecked.
If women were being routinely put down in such ways on AskMe, I strongly argue that it would NOT be tolerated. If a man asked "My wife wants me serve her food at Christmas and I feel uncomfortable about it, is she a misandrist?" the answer would be "get over it you baby." If a man asked how he could get his girlfriend to like his dog, the answer would be "dispose of the dog and stop trying to control her, you pig!"
AskMe appears to routinely reinforce the notion that misandry is fine, that men are by and large misogynists and that their feelings in relationships matter little to not at all when compared to those of their women.
Does the community agree that this is the case? If so, should this change, or at the very least be more heavily moderated than it currently is? If not, why is one form of apparent sexism tolerable in comparison to another that is not?