Fighting Misogyny - What's Wrong With Men Call Me Things

When I first heard of the Men Call Me Things campaign on Twitter, I was deeply concerned. Not because I disagree with the aim of the campaign - feminist writers using the #mencallmethings exposing the vile misogynistic comments, including threats of rape and murder, they receive from pieces of distended monkey rectum who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet whilst calling themselves "men".  I was horrified at the sheer extent and nastiness (if that is not too mild a term) of the abuse that some of the victims, including Mel Tankard Reist, Emily Maguire, and Nina Funnel, have been subjected to. I am not denying for one second that there is an undertone of misogyny to much of our culture or that there is great structural inequality inherent in our society. It manifests in the most horrific way on the Internet in the cowards who hurl women-hating abuse at the women who dare to speak out about it.

Given all that, I just can't help but wish that those involved in this worthwhile campaign had called it something other than Men Call Me Things. There's the problem - men. Not some men, awful men, men who disgrace the rest of them, but generic men who are carrying out these acts. I think in the long term, it does the cause of feminism more harm than good to paint "men" as the enemy. Please don't misunderstand me - I am not suggesting men are the victims here, nor am I saying that we have to be nice to men in the hope they will decide to let us share the power.

Tarring all men with the same brush, however, only serves to perpetuate the belief in some sections that hating women is what men do. Confusing misogyny with men in general helps to normalise these attitudes.If hating women was stigmatised as the view of a disturbed subsection of the male community, more young men would be driven to reject it. If boys grow up hearing the message "men are awful" there's a very real risk some of them will internalise it; say to themselves "yes we are and yes I am". This is the last thing any of us should want. The message I want my son to grow up hearing is not that he is a male (working on the assumption for the sake of this post that he will self-identify as male) and males do awful things; but that he is a male and he must join in upholding attitudes and behaviours which respect women and disdain those few males who do not have that respect.

Twitter is great, but it has it's limits (140 characters, in fact); so I hope I've been able to make myself a little clearer here.

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