What Is This Feeling, So Sudden and New? It’s Misandry

“Misandry is born out of and nourished by anger. Feminism is the interface between private anger, which belongs in the domestic space, and public anger; ‘the personal is political’, whether we’re talking about the gender pay gap or which person in a couple has remembered to put on the washing. Yet for a very long time, women’s anger struggled to express itself as feminist. The thing is, no one likes emotions spilling over, even less so when they’re from a woman, and so it took a long time to reclaim this anger. Now it’s begun to find its voice, and the taboos that have stifled it for centuries are being stripped away: people have started to write about it, to reflect on its causes, to compare it to male anger. It exists.” — Pauline Harmange, I Hate Men

For the first time in a long time, if ever, I am owning my anger toward men.

I could say patriarchy. I could say masculinity. I could say some men and tiptoe around offending the men whom I love and trust. But that’s the entire problem, isn’t it? The constant en pointe performance to not crush their feelings. I could have an MFA in dance after three decades of practice.

I am delighted to announce that I have finally evicted all the men from my life who are offended by my distrust of their gender. As such I will dispense with the caveats.

I am experiencing feelings of anger, resentment and disgust toward men. I would call it a struggle—I am struggling with my anger toward men—but I actually quite enjoy it. It feels wonderful to acknowledge my ambivalence after years of attempting to ignore it. It no longer festers like a canker sore at the corner of my mouth, begging to be poked with my tongue.

My anger spills out of me. That’s okay. I am not trying to contain it. I write mean posts about men on social media and a surprising amount of people like them. For this brief window of time after the Texas abortion ban, my anger is palatable to a wide audience. The window will close and my anger will seem pathological again, a sign of mental illness or misandry that threatens the social order. Perhaps I will lose followers when fury with men stops trending.

But perhaps not. Women reach out to me to say thank you. On Instagram they comment with applause emojis. They seem startled but relieved to see their feelings spout from another woman’s mouth. That is my favorite compliment to receive: thank you for articulating this for me.

Sometimes men reply to my posts, with humor or irony or earnest concern. I find their tweets annoying but there is something almost comforting about it, how practicable it is. You can say to men directly I am not interested in what you have to say, and they each believe they are the lone exception.

Other men, men who are my friends, men whose company I have intentionally cultivated, apologize to me. It is so sweet. I am gracious and effusive in my reply, oh no, not you! You’re welcome here. This is why I keep them. They do not take me for granted. They never assume that I am interested in their lives. On the contrary, I find their lack of entitlement very interesting. How are you this way, I want to ask. Their existence stands as proof that not all men are garbage, but I do not live by the mantra of not all men anymore. Men must earn access now.

I feel it in my fingertips even now, that itching insecurity to add a caveat. I might anger them, I might alienate my patrons or turn away potential lovers. Wouldn’t that be the worst, to offend men I haven’t even met? The horror.

I recently interviewed for a two-month gig as a part-time consultant for a media company. When I didn’t hear from them for weeks, I imagined the male director of the department reading my tweets. I imagined him calling my former boss, the woman trying to hire me, and reading my words aloud: I want nothing to do with men right now. We can’t offer her the contract. What would Human Resources think of Ella?

(What does my ex-boyfriend think of me? And his parents? Have I gone mad in their eyes? Do they congratulate each other for dodging a bullet? Do they marvel over the red flags they so graciously ignored over the years? A women’s studies major from a broken home. And that blog of hers, well.)

In the end I got the job. I will try not to tweet about hating men during work hours.

As an experiment I tweeted the rudest, most honest thing I could think of: “I would love for men to shut the fuck up! Don’t talk to me! Don’t reply to my tweets!”

Miraculously, finally, it worked. In the silence of my notifications, I relaxed.

This essay was first published on my Patreon, where I write exclusive essays about intimacy and relationships each month. Subscribe here.

Posted by

Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.