When Ideologies Teach Hate

Originally posted on August 1, 2013

Several years ago I asked a question: can an ideology teach hate?

I asked the question as a result of a debate that happened on a popular anti-male feminist blog. I mentioned the abuse my feminist aunt subjected me to, and the feminists on the site proceeded to deny my aunt’s feminist status, deny that feminism played a role in her actions and attitude towards me and other males, and later deny that I was abused at all.

I the question because of a basic truth about feminism that I noted in my previous article:

This is the the same feminism that teaches that men collectively oppress women for the sole purpose of keeping all the power for themselves. The same feminism that claims that every male, regardless of his age or social status, benefits from this “patriarchy” at women’s expense. The same feminism that holds the fraction of men with power and the fraction men who commit violence as representative of the whole male population. The same feminism that views men as the ultimate enemy, one to be feared, distrusted, and suspected.

Would it surprise anyone that an ideology espousing that kind of hatred might cause a person to hurt someone?

The feminists on the anti-male blog dismissed that idea, yet a recent article on xoJane corroborates my position. Jennifer Levin wrote about her feminist mother taught her to hate men:

My mother’s brand of feminism went from wanting equal rights to wanting to smash the patriarchy, which she defined for my brother and me as “men’s historical oppression of women, which they continue to do today.” No man could escape complicity, not even little boys, she said. Suddenly, men were the root of all of women’s problems and since they had all the power, we had to fight them.

Men were always wrong. Men were aggressors; men were rapists; men were stupid; men were obsessed with their penises; men were responsible for forcing my mother into a heterosexual marriage and motherhood. Mary Daly and Andrea Dworkin had become her prophets. She never once said that “patriarchy” wasn’t synonymous with “men.” She used the terms interchangeably. She told us we’d been forced on her by the patriarchy and, given the choice, she would not have had us.

Jennifer also mentioned her mother’s attitude towards her brother:

Most of the women were nice to me and my brother but it was made clear to us that some of their friends wouldn’t come over because there was a teenage boy in the apartment. They were separatists and wanted to live completely apart from men.

I was stunned. “But he’s your son!”

“He’s still male,” my mom said. “And if I didn’t have a son, I’d probably be a sep, too.”

I wish I could unlearn this. I understood very well that there were all kinds of shitty dudes out there. I experienced this reality every day by virtue of taking public transportation to and attending my public high school. But my brother wasn’t a threat to my mom’s friends.

And yet her mother and the feminists she hung around treated Jennifer’s brother as a threat. Such was the nature of her mother’s view that she also taught her daughter that all heterosexual sex was rape:

My mom started encouraging me to “find a nice girl to fool around with.” She told me any woman who had sex with men wasn’t a feminist. She told me all heterosexual sex was rape “by definition.” When I asked her if she meant I was a product of rape, she told me I was “letting myself get raped” every time I had sex with my boyfriend.

If one reads the comments to the article, most of the feminists make excuses for Jennifer’s mother’s behavior. Some agree that her mother’s actions were bad, but deny that her mother’s views were feminist at all. Others argue that if her brother were to speak about his experiences he must make his comments specific to his mother and not about feminism or feminists. Others argue that this is not “their” brand of feminism. Even Jennifer defends feminism by absolving it from any complicity of her mother’s actions:

Misandry as an ironic or non-ironic Feminist pose might be cathartic for a while, but it has nothing to do with achieving equality. And espousing outright hatred and contempt for all men to your children is not a feminist act. It’s tantamount to child abuse.

Let us be clear: it is not tantamount to child abuse; it is child abuse. Let us not skirt the issue just because this woman is a feminist.

Secondly, the hatred and contempt for all men Jennifer’s mother showed is, unfortunately a feminist act. That kind of misandry is found in all corners of the feminist community. Like my aunt, Jennifer’s mother simply acted on the views feminism espouses. While no ideology can make a person commit an act, it takes incredible leaps in logic to think that hateful ideas will not eventually prompt someone to act on them. It is also true that many ideologies attract people looking for easy answers to their problems, and feminism is no different. I suspect that feminism attracts many people, particularly women, who already carry anger and the ideology only makes it worse.

The aftermath in these situations is never good. No matter what ideology one focuses on, whenever an ideology harbors such biased views someone will eventually act on them. The proper response is not to absolve the ideology of any responsibility for what happened. Rather, the proper response is to look at that ideology and ask why it led someone to behave that way.

I do not expect many feminists to agree with that position as it relates to feminism, although I am sure they would agree if I directed it at Evangelical Christianity. However, that is the discussion we need to have, and that is unfortunately not the discussion happening on xoJane.

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21 thoughts on “When Ideologies Teach Hate

  1. At least we can thank feminists for exposing what hateful bullies women can be, even if they don’t acknowledge it.

  2. “I do not expect many feminists to agree with that position as it relates to feminism”

    I was having a discussion with a self-identified feminist on another forum a few years back who was banging on about believing in equality and whatnot, then mentioned that she considers Andrea Dworkin to be a personal hero (or something along those lines).

    When I pointed out that claiming to believe in equality and saying that Andrea Dworkin is one of your heroes is like saying ‘I believe in equality for Jews and Adolf Hitler is one of my heroes’, she told me I was taking Dworkin out of context. I provided a number of quotes from Dworkin and asked her which of those had been taken out of context.

    Can you guess the reaction I got? If your answer is ‘silence’, you got it in one!

  3. Ok, apparently it was. I need to pay more attention to hyperlinks in articles, evidently. 😀

  4. Do you believe it’s possible to have non anti-male stuff in feminism? An egalitarian feminism of sorts?

    I do not think it is possible if feminism maintains the notion of “patriarchy.” I think that theory will in and of itself promote animosity towards men, which would again lead to bad behavior. I see the same problem in religions that position their believes as the “true” beliefs. No matter how well intentioned, those view inevitably lead to bias.

  5. Of course feminism can’t be held responsible for the atrocities committed by its most fervent and faithful advocates. Just like the Inquisition wasn’t ‘really’ Christianity’s fault.

  6. OrishM, I feel sick to my stomach reading the comment thread you posted. But I’m not surprised at the level of nonchalant hate-speech dressed up as progressive.

    Is it okay to call them psychopaths? Since the author actually laughs at the offense men put towards her misandry and her fellow followers are locked in goose-step, I can only think nothing in their brain is working properly if they find pleasure in hurting others.

    Heaven help the sons, brothers, uncles and other male friends of theirs. If they have any.

  7. Apparently female rapists are really really rare. 16% for lifetime and 40% for a 12 month period is not that rare, not the way the commenter was describing. Really really rare would be like 1%…

  8. Is it okay to call them psychopaths?

    I doubt they are psychopaths. What you see is the cognitive dissonance caused by their ideology and their general sense of morality. They know what this woman did to her children is wrong, they know her behavior was caused or influenced by feminism, and they know that they fundamentally agree with the message she taught her children. Yet they cannot reconcile those three things, hence jumbled logic in the comments.

    Since the author actually laughs at the offense men put towards her misandry and her fellow followers are locked in goose-step, I can only think nothing in their brain is working properly if they find pleasure in hurting others.

    I doubt that they find pleasure in hurting others, so much as they do not see what they are doing as hurtful or wrong. The question I would ask the feminists commenting on that thread is if they really have a problem with the mother’s ideas. Not what she did as a result of them, but the ideas in and of themselves. It would appear that even those criticizing “radical” voices still find those voices legitimate, just not appropriate for children. In other words, they appear to support the ideas even though they know where those ideas lead.

    Heaven help the sons, brothers, uncles and other male friends of theirs. If they have any.

    These situations have three results in my experience: 1) the male ends up self-loathing, 2) the male ends up submitting to whatever women say, and 3) the male harbors resent towards women. I know of no instance where a boy raised in a feminist home walked away without some sort of baggage.

  9. Is it okay to call them psychopaths? Since the author actually laughs at the offense men put towards her misandry and her fellow followers are locked in goose-step, I can only think nothing in their brain is working properly if they find pleasure in hurting others.

    I don’t think they truly see what they’re doing as harmful – though I can’t see how thinking that doesn’t dehumanise men in the process. They may rationalise it away in terms of men having power, but in practice I don’t see much difference between the two.

    Apparently her brother has weighed in on the comment thread now as well and he mentioned writing his own article. They both still seem to be supportive of feminism though, and I wonder if XoJane would be as amenable to telling their stories if they rejected it completely as a result of their upbringing.

  10. Pingback: No Misandry, Just Feminism | tabutalks

  11. Pingback: NO MISANDRY, JUST FEMINISM | tabútalks

  12. Misandry as an ironic or non-ironic Feminist pose might be cathartic for a while, but it has nothing to do with achieving equality.

    And yet, thousands of tumblrfems, Manboobz readers, and members of reddit’s SRS do the “ironic” version all the time.

    Of course, the fact that it’s ironic or not, by Jennifer’s own admission, is irrelevant, unless she wanted to imply that some forms of misandry are insincere and thus not as serious. It says something that despite describing all the harm her mother’s feminism has done to her, she still doesn’t quite manage to say misandry is actually harmful, IIRC. The closest she comes is messed up. There doesn’t seem to be any concern about her brother’s e

    And, of course, any comments actually critical of feminism itself, despite the article itself ostensibly being so, get downvoted. I especially like the part where “MRAs” are called out for not “supporting the author” or discussing how the mum’s “strain of feminism came to be”, when none of the feminist comments – or the article itself – are doing the latter either. There’s a plank in their collective eye.

    It would be fair to stipulate that my mother had dark emotional issues unrelated to feminism. However, I was a kid. I didn’t understand that her grasp of the academic feminist theory she was so proudly touting might not have been firm. There was no Internet on which to fact-check. I took her at face value.

    Did…did she just NAFALT her own mother?

  13. @Archy:

    Do you believe it’s possible to have non anti-male stuff in feminism? An egalitarian feminism of sorts?

    I do know of several egalitarian feminists. Most of them have rejected mainstream feminist beliefs wholly or entirely.

  14. SYABM, I left this comment in response to the one you linked to:

    In fairness, I do not see anyone discussing “why this particular strain of feminism came to be and issues with it.” If anything, people seem to dodge that discussion by either marginalizing this woman’s ideology, denying that her actions were influenced by her ideology, or denying that she is a feminist at all.

    I think that is most unhelpful. It insults victims of feminist violence such as myself by implying that what happened to us is some sort of unicorn happenstance. It also ignores the more pressing issue: this woman’s belief that men are oppressors is a very common feminist view. Yet no one wants to talk about how that thinking can lead to abusive behavior.

    As a non-feminist, I accept that feminists are not inclined to listen to me. However, I do not think telling people who are not part of your movement yet are affected by it to shut up will win over outsiders. As a victim of feminist violence, I already have a reason to distrust you. Telling me that I do not sound credible because I question your movement will not make me more trusting of feminists. It will only prove my wariness valid.

    We will see how long it remains up. It would appear that the author or moderators simply remove critical comments. I do find it ironic how defensive the feminist became once challenged.

  15. All you women haters on this message board speak as if the female sex is dominating society, as if they hog up the majority of high-paying jobs, as if their questioning of patriarchal society was actually the trendiest thing to do.

    How do you guys sleep at night, you biased men and men-lovers? Just be glad the majority of society is on your side, that most Hollywood films cater to your tastes, that most businesses and politicians agree with your overly-masculinized viewpoints.

  16. All you women haters on this message board speak as if the female sex is dominating society, as if they hog up the majority of high-paying jobs, as if their questioning of patriarchal society was actually the trendiest thing to do.

    Setting your srawman arguments aside, what does any of that have to do with a feminist teaching her daughter and son to hate men?

    How do you guys sleep at night, you biased men and men-lovers?

    I cannot tell if your question is simply misandrous or also homophobic. What is wrong with loving men?

    Just be glad the majority of society is on your side, that most Hollywood films cater to your tastes, that most businesses and politicians agree with your overly-masculinized viewpoints.

    Again, setting your strawman arguments aside, what does any of that have to do with the actual post? Would you not that teaching a boy to think of himself as rapist and taking him around people who hate him because he is male is an abusive act? Would you not agree that any ideology that prompts its followers to fear, scapegoat, and hate another group of people is a problem?

  17. Who hates women? I love women and want full equality, safety, etc for both women and men. Does that make me a misogynist?

    Btw just because many areas are male dominated in society doesn’t mean males will be helped in areas such as rape prevention and counseling….

  18. Pingback: When Ideologies Teach Hate | Manosphere.com

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