When I was in college, a French politician came to speak at our school. I wish I could remember her name, but, oh, well, them's the ravages of age for you.
She came to speak to us about the then recently passed Parity Laws in France. I won't pretend to be familiar with the French political system, but it has something to do with ensuring that in every list of candidates, 50% are male and 50% are female. Apparently at the time France had some rather dismal levels of female representation in government so they legislated a solution.
In any case, I remember the speaker addressed the concerns of her critics. She said (and obviously I'm paraphrasing here) something like:
"Well, people ask me if giving this much opportunity to women won't hurt men. And I say, well, no, it's not a pro-women law. It's a parity law. If we ever get to the point where there's 60% or 70% of the government made up of women, then this same law will swing the pendulum back in the opposite direction for men. It's parity. 50/50."
I found myself thinking about this speech again for the first time in years a few days ago. A good friend of mine was apparently sitting having a private conversation with another woman about the #yesallwomen movement, which I've discussed in a little more depth here and here. And wouldn't you know it? A guy - a stranger, mind you - decided to jump in and tell my friend that #notallmen were like that, and, oh, yeah, she only thought that way because she was a misandrist.
Luckily, my friend is not thin-skinned and the irony of a real-life mansplainer jumping into the middle of a private discussion was not lost on her friends and family, so we all had a good chuckle about it and, I assume, are none the worse for wear. But ever since this incident the word "misandry" has been running through my head and what makes it different from misogyny.
And the answer is simple.
I've been affected by misandry precisely - and, I'm digging deep into my past to come up with this number - zero times in my life. I've never lost a job because I'm a man. I've never been scared to go somewhere because I'm a man. I've never walked into a bar or a social setting and been made to feel unwelcome because I'm a man. And I wasn't exaggerating at the beginning of this paragraph, I have wracked my brain for days to try to come up with an example of a time I've been discriminated against because of my gender.
There's just...nothing meaningful I can come up with. I just don't really run into genuine misandry all that much. It's so odd, in fact, that it seems noteworthy. One of my wife's relatives is a man-hater. Maybe a couple of people I've ever run across. Ever. And that's about it.
And, yeah, I know, it's a terrible idea to use anecdotal evidence or personal experience to back anything up. Because somebody else can easily jump into the comments and say, "I've suffered misandry and here's an example so nyah!" Well, okay. I'm pretty sure we can come up with isolated heres and theres. But statistically what is the effect of misandry on the average American man? How many court cases are there about this? How much of an issue is it really?
The answer is not much of one. And that's the point. Discrimination against women is institutional, ingrained, and widespread. It happens all the time, every day, to every woman. That's the whole point of the #yesallwomen movement. If misandry and misogyny affected men and women equally - if 50% of men were discriminated against and 50% of women - then I would say, "Hell, yeah, let's fight this together, men are victims, too!"
But we ain't. Not in that way. Because the world is wide and seven billion of us live on it now and we have 10,000 years or so of recorded history, pretty much everything that could possibly happen has happened. If you go scrounging you'll be able to find examples of men being discriminated against and that sort of thing. But doing that and then declaring that sexism is a two-edged knife is missing the point.
I think, in a way, false equivalencies are one of the most poisonous intrusions into helpful discourse that exists today. Feminism is an obvious example, but discussions of racism are also rife with this problem.
"Black lives matter" is a statement of principle, an assertion against institutional racism and head-turning that preponderantly affects one segment of the population.
"All lives matter" is a platitude, an empty slogan about as helpful and meaningful to our great, ongoing national conversation about race as "Cranberries are delicious." But more importantly, it's a chickenshit way of asserting that "White lives matter" - which is really just a chickenshit way of asserting that "White lives matter more than black lives." But even the sort of racists who believe this know better than to say it out loud.
But the point is still there. "Black lives matter." This is not taken as a given by our society. Therefore it needs to be positively asserted. "White lives matter." Yes, but that's not really an issue, is it? Because there's no parity. Racism is disproportionately used as a weapon against the black population of this country. And, yes, I know there was that "genocide" against white farmers in South Africa and you could probably find a wacky here-or-there story about a white guy who got fired because his black boss was racist or something, but these are not fair examples because there is no parity.
Not even close. Not even remotely goddamned close. Not even Don Adams squeaking, "Missed it by thaaaaat much" close. It's comparing goddamned apples and octopuses.
I'm going to make one more comparison and then that'll be it. (Although I could go on all day, it's not good for my blood pressure.) Pretty much ever since Obergefell and Hodges (well, since always, but it's gone into hyperdrive since then) there's a certain segment of Chicken Littles who have decided that gay marriage means Christians are being discriminated against in this country. And they even manage to pull out the odd example, like a baker who was sued for not making a wedding cake, or a county clerk who was sued for not issuing marriage licenses, both cases supposedly because of the defendants profound faiths.
And even if I take these sad sack tales at face value (which I don't, because they're both bullshit) I still have to think to myself, "Gosh, those two Christians paid a small financial penalty for their faith because it conflicted with the law. Of course, most gays have to live in pretty much constant fear of discrimination and ridicule at best and being beaten up, 'fag-dragged' behind a truck, and murdered at worst. So I'm not sure that there's necessarily parity there."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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