Silencing Black Female Voices: The Difference Between Misandry & Critique

To say that I have an active twitter life would be an understatement as many of you who read my blog know. I use my twitter to address a lot of different topics and to critique politics and social interactions that deal with race, class, weight discrimination and gender. When talking about the African American community I often address the ways in which black men oppress black women and how patriarchal masculinity affects black men. For some reason any and all critique of black men or men in general is read as a HATRED of men and I think it is unfair that any time male sexism is called onto the carpet, men are allowed to declare that you simply hate all men and dismiss what you have to say. It’s not pretty, describing the ways in which men contribute to a culture that excuses things like rape, female objectification etc. but pointing things like this out should not be labeled as hatred. There are a lot of things in our society, in our culture, that are atrocious and that are upsetting. There are people who are complicit in maintaining the oppressive status quo, why then is it considered hatred to address those people? What I find interesting is that black men seem to believe they are above reproach. They will agree with you when you talk about how white men are complicit in white supremacy which in turn oppresses people of color and drives capitalism but don’t you dare mention how black men contribute to the gender based oppression of black women. Calling cultural critiquing “hatred” silences and redirects a conversation that MUST be had, not only to the benefit of those suffering under the oppression but those who are perpetrating that oppression. It is especially hard to reach men of color because they experience oppression based on their race and that victimization seduces them into believing that they cannot in turn victimize but black women know this is not true. Does black male patriarchy mean every black man is a horrible person; does black male patriarchy render solidarity between black women and men impossible? NO. But it is not up to those who profit/perpetrate a system of oppression to silence those that are victims of it. Progress in the black community is seriously stunted when an open and honest discussion about sexism and patriarchy cannot be had and the opinions of black women are continually dismissed as misandry.

 

There is a difference between hating men and critiquing men in an effort to improve the lives of those oppressed under male rule and the lives of the men contributing to patriarchy. bell hooks talks about the ways in which patriarchal masculinity effect men in her book “The Will To Change: Men Masculinity and Love”. According to hooks, patriarchal masculinity robs black men of their humanity; it alienates them from their loved ones and encourages them towards behavior that slowly kills them, like violence. Patriarchal masculinity shows men that being vulnerable and expressing any emotion besides anger or lust makes you subject to losing your manhood and those privileges that come with manhood. The way that bell hooks critiques patriarchal masculinity is out of love, a desire to show men how their version of masculinity contributes to their own unhappiness. We cannot always critique patriarchy from a standpoint of “this is how patriarchy is damaging men” because patriarchy also has ill effects on women, ones that are more immediate. Pointing out these ill effects in conjunction with the ill effects of patriarchy on the men who are supposed to be profiting from it, makes for a holistic critique of a damaging social system. The problem is that even when we take this holistic approach to critiquing sexism in the black community, those old ideas about sexism come back up. There is a belief that if anyone critiques black men they are not for black communal freedom from racism. There is a belief that if you critique black men you are showing the world their weaknesses and thereby betraying your own community and exposing yourself as a man hater. The labels that come with critiquing black men can seriously silence black women who have something important to say! There is also the idea that a WOMAN cannot critique black men because her opinion will be biased. Women and men alike will be biased regardless of whether or not they are critiquing their own gender or another gender, it is human error. This does not mean that what they have to say is not legitimate or cannot be used for the betterment of the community. We have to get past this belief that calling out patriarchy is hatred for the patriarchs. Not every feminist/womanist talks about patriarchy from a holistic point of view, not every advocate for female social justice uses language that makes men comfortable but it is important to remember that victims of oppression do not HAVE to ensure the comfort of those they are critiquing! Some of us do because we know that progress will come easier if our words are like honey but it should not be a requirement. You can aggressively talk about male oppression and be speaking generally and that NOT be HATRED. For some of us it is hard to sound nice when we feel a foot on our necks and being in a position where you are critiquing the people that hurt you is difficult. But again, there is a difference between genuinely hating men and angrily critiquing them. Misandry is the hatred of men, hatred is extreme dislike or ill will towards someone, is exposing patriarchy and suggesting a better way for both men and women HATRED? No. Sometimes what is said sounds aggressive or angry but the content of discourse will indicate the difference between a critique and misandry.

 

“Fuck men, all men are alike, they are all rapists and vile violent pieces of shit”……yeah, that’s misandry. That is hatred, Cut and dried, obvious……”Fuck patriarchy! It tells men that they are entitled to female bodies if they are violent enough, and dehumanizes the men that are supposed to profit from it”…….do you see the difference? Both are angry statements but one is about hatred and one is a frustrated statement about a system of oppression. Why then does the second statement silence the voices of social advocates? If men … especially men of color, for the purposes of this post, are really interested in racial solidarity with black women, then SEXISM has GOT to be discussed and addressed. It is not possible to have this discussion without a little bit of anger and even bitterness or resentment by those who have been oppressed but these emotions do not stem from hatred and associating them with hatred is counterproductive to growth. I think it is time we stop calling every critique of patriarchal behavior, HATRED, and start calling it a CRITIQUE. I know that these critiques often sound like accusations and that is why they are hard to stomach and easy to file away as hatred but the introspection called for by these critiques are beneficial to all. All knowledge and understanding that requires you to change is hard to stomach but it doesn’t mean it is negative.

 

*This article can be found at its original source athere*