No, Dad, I Do Not Hate Men

I am a feminist. I don’t hide it and I don’t shirk away from the label. Recently it has come to my attention that because of this, I think my dad thinks I hate men. Sigh.

For the record, I most definitely do not hate the menfolk. I am quite fond of a huge number of them. I also dislike large quantities of people who annoy me, but that has nothing to do with their sex or gender, and everything to do with their shitty personality, willful ignorance, or utter stupidity. While I cannot claim that sweeping generalizations about men (and women) as a whole have never escaped my lips, it is not something I make a habit of, and it is most certainly not how I frame up any argument about gender equality.

I was upset when this realization dawned on me around Christmastime. He made a few comments about feminists being man-haters in a roundabout way, but then made a few more pointed remarks that got my mind spinning. Somebody brought over Cards Against Humanity, and while I was outside doing something, he made sure to pull out two cards that “I would find absolutely hilarious.” I don’t remember exactly what they said, but both revolved around some pretty fucked up shit happening to dudes. Even though I don’t mind being the feminist killjoy (this hangs in my office and is one of my most prized possessions, after all),

photo of a sign the reads "Feminist Killjoy" in pink sparkly letters with black heart on the end hanging above a burlap covered bulletin board with a picture of a stormtrooper wearing rainboots, and a This is What a Feminist Looks Like sticker

 I didn’t really want to ruin the rowdy fun that everyone was having, but I did say, “Why would I think this is funny? It’s actually pretty fucked up.” It really started to bother me that he thinks this is how I feel.

I am definitely the most liberal member of my family. A “bleeding heart socialist,” if you will. My dad is more conservative and old-fashioned about many things, but I am the way I am in large part because of him. He always made it clear to me that I could do anything I wanted, achieve any goal, and nothing could stand in my way. He encourages my assertiveness and has never told me to act more like a lady when I swear like a sailor or fart on my husband. He is proud that I am independent, strong-willed, and confident in my positions. He never expected stereotypical gender norms out of me.

All that being said, somehow there is an underlying feeling he has, whether it is conscious or not, that my outspokenness about equality for women translates into disdain or ill will towards men. Is it because I don’t cook for my husband? Is it because I don’t want children? Is it because I call out sexism (and many other -isms) when I see it? Is it because the media portrays feminists as a bunch of shrill, humorless harpies? I think it’s the latter, but it has made me start to wonder.

As a group here at P-Mag, I think we all do our best to check ourselves on various things. I try to be mindful of my privilege as a white, heterosexual, cis-gender woman. I try to be mindful of being inclusive, I try to be a good and responsible ally, and I try to make things a little bit better instead of being a jerk. In being honest, though, I’ve never thought to check my feminism rhetoric in regards to how it comes across to men. I would never want someone, particularly someone like my dad, who I care about more than almost anyone else on the planet, to think I harbor ill will towards men. I’m not really sure what it is I have done in the past to leave that impression, but it’s something for me to think about going forward. Not as a “make sure the men’s fee-fees don’t get hurt” sort of way, but in a way that makes my arguments and positions heard instead of dismissed.

Do you run into this situation with family and friends? Have you been able to trace it back to anything in particular? Is it upsetting to you to think your being perceived that way by someone whose opinion you value? To the comments!

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8 Comments No, Dad, I Do Not Hate Men

  1. Avatar of Bug EvansBug Evans

    I’ve never been accused of hating men because I’m a feminist, or at least never to my face. However any time a discussion involving feminism (or anything -ism) comes up and members of my family — men or women — share their opinions on the matter they always expect me to partake in the exchange and more often than not I disagree with them.
    The fact that I disagree with whatever they’re saying and present them with facts and explanations is always dismissed in the end with a simple “You always find something to be angry about, anyway.” Yes, I do and rightfully so! There’s always something to be angry about and to be changed but apparently, to some, being a feminist is just an other way of saying “angry woman who hates everything and everyone”.

    1. Avatar of Kym GKym G

      I will admit to using the “if you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention” line more than once and in more than a few different discussions. Sometimes I wish I could be blissfully ignorant of injustice, if only because it seems so much simpler. Then I remember that I am just not that kind of person.

  2. Avatar of nonsensikelnonsensikel

    I think you’re probably right about the media portrayal of feminists. Heck, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t outright call myself of feminist until a few years ago.

    But yeah, while I haven’t had this EXACT problem. I did have to have a conversation with my dad about me being liberal. I also come from a conservative family and I love my dad to death, but all of the “joking” comments, especially around the election really hurt. I did it when my parents came to visit. It was just the two of us and we were outside, drinking coffee. The conversation wasn’t perfect, but I got my feelings out and he listened. Are there still political jokes tossed between us? Sure, of course, but it’s nothing like it was before. Long answer short, talk to your dad. Maybe you’ll be better able to determine the root of his feelings? Is it really something YOU’RE doing, or is it like you guessed, something much bigger?

  3. Avatar of [M] freckle[M] freckle

    I think I’ve never called myself flat out a feminist near family, but everyone knows I’m The Activist and that somehow ..gives me more room for unwanted opinions, I think? But still, my dad crumples superfast if his little Freckle talks back, so I always underline that I disagree with the opinion, not the person.

  4. Avatar of [M] QoB[M] QoB

    Not as a “make sure the men’s fee-fees don’t get hurt” sort of way, but in a way that makes my arguments and positions heard instead of dismissed.

    Yeah, it’s a difficult one. I think one simple way is to name the action, not the person. “That sounds a bit sexist, Dad” rather than “You’re being sexist/misogynist” makes the person less likely to leap to their own defence and perhaps more likely to listen to you.

    But I’ve not got much other advice, really. It must be very hurtful to think that your dad thinks you hate him! I hope you’re able to discuss this with him over time.

  5. Avatar of JosephineJosephine

    I don’t think my dad thinks feminists hate men, but he definitely thinks feminism is stupid. My mom thinks my opinions are extreme (I think the entire concept of gender is a damaging construct; in other words, my opinions are extreme) but when we talk about it, she understands where I’m coming from. I think my mom used to think that some aspects of my feminist beliefs were a result of being sad to be a woman, but that isn’t the case and I think she knows that now.
    And I’ve been called a feminazi twice, so I think I should get some sort of a hat or pin for that!

  6. Avatar of RemiRemi

    I have yet to be accused of hating men but both my brothers are convinced that because I don’t see all women as competition (or as people not to be trusted) I must be a lesbian. I remember feeling offended and then ashamed of being offended. And its funny, they know about my not so ladylike escapades with teh menz and yet, I must be engaged in the love that dare not speak its name.

  7. Avatar of MarenaMarena

    I’ve never had anyone accuse me of hating men, but I’ve had a million and one plus people accuse me of hating white people (never family though). A few former friends of mine have even accused me of ~hating~ white people. Honestly, those were people who’s opinion’s mattered very little to me after that because, if after all of the discussions we’d had about issues of race, they could be so reductive and dismissive, I didn’t care to keep them as friends. I can’t imagine how that would feel coming from a loved family member or how I would handle that.

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