As a feminist I’ve spent a great deal of time worrying about one thing: misogyny, that is, the hatred of women for being women. Over the past few days, however, something has come to my attention: it doesn’t actually exist! You know that global phenomenon whereby women and girls are valued less than men and boys – paid less, silenced, treated as goods to be exchanged? Turns out it’s all a massive coincidence. It might look like there’s more to it than that but don’t worry – it’s all one big misandrist fib (NB misandry does exist, obviously).
You might think that, say, gender stereotyping in toys and clothing was linked to attempts to “naturalise” oppressive gender roles. Turns out it isn’t. Gender stereotypes are totally cool; the only trouble is we keep giving the wrong toys to the wrong kids, a bit like getting odd socks out of the wash. Once we’ve got that sorted it’ll be fine to keep stereotyping by gender (there won’t be any actual reason to do so, but still, it’s got nothing to do with misogyny, since that’s a figment of our collective imagination). In the meantime the important thing is to remember that all mix-ups harm boys just as much as they harm girls – otherwise that wouldn’t be fair, right?
Then you get onto the real abuse of women and girls – the stuff that no one in the right wing press ever bothers to mention unless they a) want to justify invading another country, b) want to have a pop at feminists for discussing gender stereotyping rather than the real abuse of women and girls or c) want to have a pop at men of other races and religions for the real abuse of women and girls. If you’re someone like Tim Stanley you might even be able to do more than one of these things in just one column. Anyhow, the point is, all of this stuff that looks like a hierarchy which positions women and girls below men and boys – hey, let’s call it patriarchy – is actually all fragmented and random. It’s religion. It’s foreigners. It’s getting socks mixed up. Whatever it is, it’s not misogyny. Mention misogyny and it’s like you’re blaming ALL MEN EVER and that’s just MEAN. On the other hand, if you dress it up as “other cultures” and keep harping on about how “the elephant in the room” is that no one dares to blame these “other cultures” for the mistreatment of “their women” (no one, that is, apart from every mainstream columnist going), then that’s totally fine.
I was discussing this on twitter yesterday with some friends, or should I say, fellow misandrists (at this point we still believed misogyny was A Thing). Our conversation was noticed by some noble defenders of truth who stepped in to demonstrate just how wrong we were. Helpfully, they did this through the medium of rape threats, images of dead women and observations such as “if every man is a rapist, every woman is a cunt”. It was brilliant. What this made clear above all was there’s no such thing as the hatred of women for being women. There’s no broad sense of entitlement and ownership of women’s discourse and bodies. When men tell you they hate you it’s obviously because you hated them first. If you hadn’t claimed misogyny existed, you wouldn’t experience it at all (you would of course experience all those other random things that make it look like misogyny exists, but this is all a complete coincidence).
Quite where this leaves feminism I’m not sure. You can’t focus on little things like stereotyping because they’re too unimportant, and you can’t focus on big things like rape and slavery because they’re not really to do with misogyny (apparently). I think the logical conclusion would be that women need to shut up and not do any dot-joining ever again. The trouble is, whenever you do that, the picture shows still misogyny and under patriarchy (which is also made up) that’s just not allowed.