Women too powerful?


Graphic by Beatrice Levine

“Kill all men” — a controversial and often misinterpreted phrase that has plagued the internet since 2014.  Many young men take the phrase in a literal sense, disregarding the nuance of the dark provocative slogan and immediately assume that all women hold negative attitudes towards men. This failure to understand the deeper context behind this phrase can warp their perception of the feminist movement as a whole, believing it to be violent and men-hating rather than a journey towards equality and justice.

The phrase began as a social media hashtag used by women to cope with the realities of misogyny in a humorous way, and was never understood as a call to action. The anger in response to the “Kill all men’’ hashtag has led to the birth of another popular phrase, “Not all men.” Many men are angered by the overgeneralized frustration and fear that women bear towards the opposite sex. However, using “not all men” as a response to female harassment diminishes that fact that one in five women experience rape in their lifetime, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Saying that it is irrational for women to fear men when so many women are affected is in itself a sign of privilege. Those who say “not all men” are not the affected demographic and do not understand how women are living in very real fear. 

Misandry is real and a problem — like any other stereotype. The problem of gender-based violence is more significant than an individual feeling wronged due to generalization. For the stereotype to disappear, it is crucial to address the issues that contributed to its creation.

The idea of feminism as misandrist is a result of patriarchal conditioning. Men have had power, control over women’s bodies, property and rights for so long that they perceive women’s equality to be threatening to their long held dominance. Feminism is also misinterpreted as the belief that women deserve more rights than men, rather than its true motivation to create a society in which women and men are viewed and treated as equals. This misinterpretation is why some men do not agree with the views of the feminist movement and perceive feminism as being misandrist. 

This misconception that the goal of the feminist movement is to disempower men leads many young men to follow popular social figures such as Andrew Tate who promote traditional oppressive gender roles, toxic masculinity and spread harmful ideas about women. Their appeal to men and boys stems from the perceived lack of strong male voices in today’s media. They fail to acknowledge the male dominated political environment, business community as well as other STEM fields. Men still have most of the power and wealth in society. The perception that feminists are out to get men creates resentment in young men who fear the loss of this power. Though it is true that there are women who identify as feminists while harboring misandrist ideals, it is important that anyone who does not view the feminist movement as a journey towards equality between the sexes does not represent feminism at all.

Although it may appear that women gaining more political and social power in society is an attempt to take power away from men, it is important to recognize that our current societal structures have been built by men, and for men. Even today when women gain power, they face huge opposition and harassment compared to men. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, a report in 2016 discovered that 44% of elected female politicians were subjected to threats of rape, beatings or abductions. Many men obviously feel threatened by women in power.

With the vast range of opinions, labels and phrases that flood modern day media, it is easy for one to get lost in the possible interpretations of others’ words. This is one reason why many young men may feel targeted on social media and in real life. Men are still privileged and can misinterpret Feminist messages without understanding the real oppression women still face globally. However, whenever encountering opposing opinions, it is important to understand the true intention behind their words, even if they initially seem hurtful. Peace and compromise can only be achieved with flexibility. Women do not want to kill all men, they just want a chance to live their lives in safety and equality.