If you scroll through popular social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, you’ll probably come across popular phrases and jokes like “men are trash” and “I hate men but…” videos.
Though these are clearly jokes, it sends a mixed message to young women on how we should view men in our lives. More harmful phrases like “kill all men” and “male tears” are also popular, drawing a clear line between comedy and misandry.
Unfortunately, misandry and feminism have become almost interchangeable over the past few years, which is truly sad because feminism is supposed to be about equality. This leads to the question: Have man-hating jokes gone too far?
Man-Hating Is Mainstream
We all know that the dictionary definition of feminism is a movement working for equality between the sexes, but radical feminists today often ignore this notion (which is one of the many reasons why women are leaving the feminist movement) and embrace misandry — a.k.a. man-hating.
This is the antithesis of the original feminist goal of gender equality, as author Cathy Young writes, “A lot of feminist rhetoric today does cross the line from attacks on sexism into attacks on men, with a strong focus on personal behavior: the way they talk, the way they approach relationships, even the way they sit on public transit. Male faults are stated as sweeping condemnations; objecting to such generalizations is taken as a sign of complicity. Meanwhile, similar indictments of women would be considered grossly misogynistic.”
Young continues, “This gender antagonism does nothing to advance the unfinished business of equality. If anything, the fixation on men behaving badly is a distraction from more fundamental issues, such as changes in the workplace to promote work-life balance. What’s more, male-bashing not only sours many men — and quite a few women — on feminism. It often drives them into Internet subcultures where critiques of feminism mix with hostility toward women.”
This new wave of feminism has made misandry a staple in the feminist movement, making misandry more acceptable in mainstream society.
Where Do You Draw the Line between Humor and Misandry?
Let’s be real, most of us have been on a bad date or through a bad breakup that has resulted in us swearing off men forever and joining a nunnery. Jokes like these and that “men are trash” are often used in good humor, but sometimes these jokes contradict themselves and take it too far.
Take the “I hate all men but…” trend on TikTok. The videos begin with a girl or woman saying that she hates all men, and the “but” comes in when a man (usually a boyfriend or husband) treats her with love and respect. The trend reminds me of the Paramore song “The Only Exception,” (a song about a girl who swears off love after seeing her parents divorce but changes her mind when she meets the right man) with a little dash of misandry.
The joke contradicts itself because it shows that the creator of the video doesn’t actually hate men at all. She’s likely had some men treat her poorly in the past (most of us, myself included, have been there) but finally found the right guy for her. Like the popular phrase “men are trash,” it’s clear that these posts are meant to be funny, but it can turn into misandry in a drop of a hat.
Before TikTok came along and “men are trash” became a popular phrase, it was common to see phrases like “ban all men” and mugs that said “male tears.” Sarah Begley of Time Magazine predicted that these jokes could easily go too far back in 2014. She wrote, “Inherent in this word ‘misandry’ is hatred. And inherent in phrases like ‘ban men’ and ‘male tears’ are cruelty and violence. If a man wore a tee shirt that said ‘misogynist,’ even if he were a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, wearing it tongue-in-cheek, it would not be funny. It would be misguided.”
Think about it. Would feminists think it was funny if guys drank their coffee out of “female tears” mugs or tweeted about how all women were trash? No.
There can be a blurry line when it comes to jokes, because comedy is often allowed to go places where sincere conversation can’t, but asking yourself what the intention is and if it would be okay if the genders were reversed are good ideas.
We Often Forget What True Masculinity Is
One thing I find fascinating about modern-day feminism and misandry is the belief that "all masculinity is toxic," but those who believe this don’t seem to know what real masculinity is. True masculinity is far from toxic; it’s about leadership, virtue, respect, and strength. Though we often associate masculinity with predatory men or men who disrespect women, I’d argue that truly masculine men respect women and are family men.
The inability to distinguish truly masculine men from bad men creates misandrist ideas (and society in the long run), which are especially confusing to boys and young men who are learning what it means to be male. Author and philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers discusses this issue in the short video below, highlighting the fallacy of holding up the tiny percentage of actually toxic men as the definition of masculinity.
There’s a difference between joking that men are trash after a bad date and embracing misandry. Unfortunately, the line between the two is blurring as misandry becomes a standard part of modern-day feminism and the jokes are turned into man-hating slogans.
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