I’m not talking about being dismissive or condescending, either. I mean hatred – the kind of red-hot rage that wants nothing better than to grind its foe into abject humiliation. When I turn on the television, I often get a sense from popular culture that men must somehow prove their collective dominance over women through – at its mildest –degrading language and acts of petty meanness to – at its most virulent – rape, violence and murder.
From American TV shows like Manswers and The Man Show where women are defined exclusively by their body parts, to Hip hop and rap music whose hatred of women has never been in doubt, to local radio shows where domestic violence is implicitly sanctioned, it is clear that there is a real anger in the air. And it is directed entirely against women.
David Brooks wrote about it in a 2003 article in the Atlantic:
...these men have not a hint of any quality that might make them attractive to progressive and mature women. Their world has been vacuumed free of empathy, sensitivity, and sophistication. It is as if millions of American men—many of them well educated—took a look at the lifestyle prescribed by modern feminism and decided, No thanks, we'd rather be pigs.
A rather satirical article by Daniel Wong on Cracked.com provided an insight as to why. In it, he listed 5 ways modern men are taught to hate women. The number one was that ultimately men feel powerless when it comes to women:
So where you see a world in which males dominate the boards of the Fortune 500, and own Congress, and sit at the head of all but a handful of the world's nations, men see themselves as utterly helpless. Because all of those powerful people only became powerful because they heard that women like power.
According to him, the main reason why men do anything is so that they can impress women and get themselves a mate:
This is why no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace -- it won't matter. You're still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.
This helps explain to me why, as women are gaining more power (In 2010, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history) there has been a corresponding rise in explicit misogyny in popular culture.
Which makes me wonder: Do we women need men at all?
Don’t get me wrong, I love men. I think they’re sexy and fun and I believe that having a partner as a support through the process of raising children is very important – as any single mom will tell you. But to be honest, sometimes the thought of marrying a man wearies me.
Studies show that even though men and women are now working outside the home at almost equal rates, women are still doing the bulk of the housework and childcare. Studies also show that women tend to be less satisfied with their lives after they get married (whereas men tend to be more satisfied. Studies also show that men are more devastated by the loss of their partners through divorce than women).
If all this holds true – if no amount of female appeasement will stem the anger many men feel towards women, if it will only increase as women gain more power over their own lives, if it means that after marriage most women can look forward to double loads of laundry and dirty dishes – or at least fights about them – while at the same time constantly reassuring their husbands that they aren't powerless because they may have less successful careers – then why are we women even dancing this dance?
A recent experience at a writing workshop gave me a clue. The women there were united in their opinion that the men who hold the power in society treated women badly. They traded horrific stories of men who abandoned, humiliated, beat and even killed their wives – all because they could. Yet, when it came down to crafting stories in which the rules could be changed to make men and women’s positions more equitable, these women would consistently side with maintaining the rules of the patriarchy. Anything else wouldn’t be “realistic,” they argued, “This was the way it was.”
Sometimes it felt as if I was listening to people who were in pain because they were on fire – but who refused any attempt to put out the flames that consumed them. I suppose that the only way to maintain any system of subjugation is if, on some level, you can get the oppressed to agree to remain in chains.
Because the truth is, it’s possible to raise a perfectly healthy child without a man in your life and more women are opting to do so. It is possible for a woman to live a fulfilling and happy life without ever getting married at all – and many are already doing so. And it is possible to fulfil one’s need for companionship through a supportive network of caring women – rather than pinning all of one’s hopes and needs on a single individual (which, let’s face it, is never a good idea). It is possible for women to live without men, and frankly, if the current level of society's misogyny continues, I don't see why one day we won't decide to just do so.