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Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young are religious studies academics and co-researchers for a project funded by the Canadian government, Donner Canadian Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.[1][2] Results from the project are being published in a series of books on the subject of misandry, which Nathanson and Young assert is a form of prejudice and discrimination that has become institutionalized in North American society.

  • Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (2001)
  • Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men (2006)
  • Sanctifying Misandry: Goddess Ideology and the Fall of Man [1] (2010)
  • Transcending Misandry: From Feminist Ideology to Intersexual Dialogue [2] (upcoming)

The series is collectively titled Beyond The Fall Of Man. The book Spreading Misandry examines popular culture; Legalizing Misandry gives consideration to trends in law; Sanctifying Misandry explores modern goddess movement.

Concept of misandry Edit

Nathanson and Young define their specific use of the word misandry as "a collectively shared and culturally propagated worldview, not a personal emotion such as dislike or anger."[3] As a "culturally propagated worldview," misandry is thus, by definition, a form of sexismdualistic thinking analogous to other forms of prejudice such as racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia.

Those who hold dualistic worldviews internalize the source of good and identify it with themselves but externalize the source of evil and identify it with some other groups of human beings. 'We' are good, in short, and 'you' or 'they' are evil."
—Nathanson and Young, Spreading Misandry[4]

Nathanson and Young say that there is "nothing new" about this mindset, "only the names have changed." [5] Nathanson and Young write "misogyny, unlike misandry, has been carefully monitored, declared politically incorrect, and publicly excoriated."[6] They argue that "belief in the full humanity of men has been dangerously undermined by stereotypes based on ignorance and prejudice, just as that of Jews was.[7]

They argue that men are stereotyped in various ways that dehumanize them, and that would be considered unacceptable if applied to other groups such as women and minorities.

Misandry in popular culture Edit

In researching their book Spreading Misandry, Nathanson and Young observed the following types of man-hating behavior, which they see as prevalent in popular culture


Laughing at MenEdit

In this form of misandry, sexism is applied to popular forms of humor. Men are routinely made the objects of stereotypical ridicule in ways that would generate sustained outrage were the sexes reversed. Nathanson and Young note that feminists "may sometimes find it hard to laugh at themselves as feminists, though not as women, but seldom find it hard to laugh at men."

Looking Down on MenEdit

What Nathanson and Young call "misandric" feminists "... have convinced many people that women are somehow superior to men." Like other groups, feminists interpret differences between the sexes as "an excuse to assign superiority and inferiority" in the usual hierarchical fashion.

Bypassing menEdit

In this view, men are "not necessarily evil, just superfluous". Nathanson and Young give as example feminist writers like Andrea Dworkin, who urge as little contact as possible with men, separation of the sexes and indifference to men (rather than hostility toward men). Men are considered useless as lovers, husbands, fathers and as human beings.

Blaming MenEdit

To blame men for all of human history, "gender-feminists" use the conspiracy theory of history to claim that "all of human history can be reduced to a titanic conspiracy" of men oppressing women. Nathanson and Young note that "evidence is often deliberately falsified to make (misandric) political claims about gender." The result is that "men are collectively or vicariously responsible for most or all of human suffering."

Dehumanizing MenEdit

In this form of misandry, men are shown as inherently evil while women are seen as inherently good or even heroic. Men are highlighted as the evil predatory sex that preys on an innocent, morally superior sex as represented by women. In essence, men are considered morally irredeemable beasts while women are considered morally redeeming human beings.

In Nathanson and Young's critique of Disney's 1991 film Beauty and the Beast, while the "horrid Beast finally turns into a sweet prince," that "he is just another patriarchal villain for most of the story, a 'grouchy bison' who growls and snarls at everyone who fails to obey him instantly."[8]

Demonizing MenEdit

Men are shown as demonic, like sinister subhumans and evil superhumans. Men are directly demonized by being portrayed as devils or as evil aliens. They are also demonized indirectly by being relentlessly identified with aggressive men whose actions "either are not or cannot be explained entirely or adequately to viewers in rational terms."

Misandry in law Edit

Nathanson and Young devote their 2nd volume, Legalizing Misandry, to identifying trends in law.

How misandry is hiddenEdit

Nathanson and Young believe that "many ordinary men have a vested interest in not seeing the pervasive misandry of everyday life." For a man to see himself as a victim of attacks by women he would have to acknowledge his vulnerability and therefore become less masculine. This creates a double-bind for men vis a vis confronting misandry because men "who admit to feeling vulnerable are attacked as cowards, and by no group more effectively than women." Nathanson and Young assert that women can easily shame men into silence, "a form of abuse that few women today would tolerate."

Thus despite what Nathanson and Young argue is a "massive assault" on men's identities, most men remain too confused to honor their unconscious knowledge that something is wrong. Most are not "equipped to identify or analyze" misandry. Those few men who are able to see misandry for what it is are rarely rewarded and are usually shamed for speaking about it in public.

According to Nathanson and Young, until very recently the "few feminists who dared to speak out against misandry were usually declared enemies of feminism, or even enemies of women, and thus effectively silenced." They state that "most feminists deny misandry" and that "when challenged" most feminists excuse, justify, and/or trivialize misandry. They note that "despite the vaunted capacity of women for empathy, only a few feminist publications, albeit ones of profound moral significance, have so far expressed sympathy for men in general, except as a way of encouraging men to believe that feminism is in their own interest."

Misandry and feminism Edit

Nathanson and Young conclude that "one form of feminism—one that has had a great deal of influence, whether directly or indirectly, on both popular culture and elite culture—is profoundly misandric."[9] They call this branch of feminism "ideological feminism."

Gynocentrism Edit

By the 1990s, androcentrism was increasingly being replaced by gynocentrism in popular culture and much of elite culture"
—Nathanson and Young, Spreading Misandry preface[10]

Nathanson and Young argue that all schools of feminism are "gynocentric" (i.e. centered on the needs and concerns of women),[11] but that "being woman-centered, by definition, gynocentrism ignores the needs and problems of men."[12] In their view, gynocentrism doesn't necessarily lead to misandry on its own, but "even though misandry is not an inherent feature of gynocentrism, it is an inherent possibility."[13] Nathanson and Young believe that gynocentrism can easily lead to misandry: "all it takes to produce misandry is the ideological proposition that 'they' are not merely irrelevant but inadequate or evil."[13]

Ideological feminism Edit

Ideological feminism is the direct heir of both the Enlightenment and Romanticism. From the former it takes the theory of class conflict, merely substituting "gender" for "class" and "patriarchy" for "bourgeoisie." From the latter it takes the notion of nation or even race, focusing ultimately on the innate biological differences between women and men. The worldview of ideological feminism, like that of both Marxism and National Socialism—our analogies are between ways of thinking, not between specific ideas—is profoundly dualistic. In effect, "we" (women) are good, "they" (men) are evil. Or, to use the prevalent lingo, "we" are victims, "they" are oppressors.
—Nathanson and Young, Spreading Misandry preface[14]

Nathanson and Young give two reasons for using the term ideological feminism:

  1. to distinguish it from what they call egalitarian feminism. Nathanson and Young argue that while egalitarian feminists "supported the reforms that had improved women's lives over the past century, they recognized that reforms carried too far were creating injustices for men and boys," and that "two wrongs, they agreed, did not make a right."[15]
  2. to "link ideological feminism with other political ideologies on both the political left and the political right."[15] Nathanson and Young offer this characterization of what they call ideological feminism:

They describe features (besides dualism) of ideological feminism:

  • Essentialism ("calling attention to the unique qualities of women")
  • Hierarchy ("alleging directly or indirectly that women are superior to men")
  • Collectivism ("asserting that the rights of individual men are less important than the communal goals of women")
  • Utopianism ("establishing an ideal social order within history")
  • Selective cynicism ("directing systematic suspicion only toward men")
  • Revolutionism ("adopting a political program that goes beyond reform")
  • Consequentialism ("asserting the beliefs that ends can justify means")
  • Quasi-religiousity ("creating what amounts to a secular religion")

Nathanson and Young argue that ideological feminism has been influential in spreading misandry, or in making it acceptable to exploit misandric ideas that already existed.[9]

The debate over institutionalized misandryEdit

Other writers argue like Nathanson and Young that misandry is a feature of Western culture.

In Why Men Are The Way They Are, Warren Farrell devotes a chapter to what he calls the "new sexism", sexism against men,[16] which he later began calling "misandry."[17] Many members of the men's rights movement criticize misandry, such as Glenn Sacks.

Responses to Nathanson and Young Edit

Criticism Edit

In book reviews, Nancy Lewis-Horne (sociologist, SUNY) and Dorothy E. Chunn (sociologist, Simon Fraser University) argue that the books have several flaws:

Lack of theoretical connectionEdit

[C]ontrary to the authors’ comment that work on gender means work about women, there is an excellent literature examining the social construction of masculinity.
—Nancy Lewis-Horne, The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology[18]
[B]ecause they are making moral arguments, they are free to make blanket, unreferenced assertions, such as the following: "Some people are aware of misandry but fervently believe that hatred toward men should be regarded as a legitimate exception to the general rule against hatred toward other groups."
—Dorothy E. Chunn , Canadian Journal of Family Law[19]

Inconsistencies in methodologyEdit

[T]he methodology that selectively examines some examples of popular culture and not others and then asks us to accept their interpretation as relevant and not others severely limits the potential of the research findings.
—Nancy Lewis-Horne, The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology[18]
Their somewhat laissez-faire approach to methodology raises questions about the validity and reliability of the data the authors do use to support generalizations and conclusions about the issues the discuss.
—Dorothy E. Chunn , Canadian Journal of Family Law[19]

Failure to demonstrate misandry on a structural levelEdit

[H]ad the authors made this important connection between culture and structure they would see that there is no negative outcome of misandric stereotypes of men in popular culture. In fact, stereotypes that link men to power, technology and dirt (as Tim Allen) continue to ensure gendered hierarchies in the work force that reward men.
—Nancy Lewis-Horne, The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology[18]
[T]hey fail to provide compelling evidence in support of their overarching argument that "ideological feminists" have gained such direct and indirect power and control over law and policy that they have been able to institutionalize systemic discrimination against men.
—Dorothy E. Chunn , Canadian Journal of Family Law[19]

Legalizing Misandry notes that criticisms of methodology beg the question, since Spreading Misandry was "based primarily on moral arguments,"[20] not sociological methodology, and urge that "Someone in the social sciences should do this research."[21]

PraiseEdit

Charlotte Hays (editor, The Women's Quarterly) and Jean Bethke Elshtain (neoconservative feminist political philosopher) note the quality of the analysis, and seriousness of issue.

IrrefutableEdit

[T]hey provide straightforward and insightful discussions of many individual programs and films ... no esoteric analysis of the copious examples cited is required to demonstrate clearly that in popular television programs and films, men are routinely ridiculed, demeaned, demonized in ways that would not be tolerated if applied to women.... What they have done ... is present a basic argument that I believe is irrefutable: popular culture today is saturated with misandry.


ImpressiveEdit

The evidence they have amassed is impressive and concerning. ... Anyone who cares about the human goods of justice and equality should take note. ... Nathanson and Young do not find attractive a society that makes ugly assumptions about half of its members. None of us should.
—Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Times Literary Supplement[23]

Intelligent and insightfulEdit

Genuinely intelligent and insightful. Spreading Misandry is provocative in the very best sense and will help point the way toward social harmony and away from bickering and fingerpointing.

Elshtain notes a threat to women's impartiality, "women now have a very heavy investment in the rhetoric of victimhood", and reflects that, "ideological feminists cannot unambiguously celebrate ... recent decades."[23]

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. "Illuminiating Marriage conference - May 18–20, 2005". Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture. Archived from the original on 2006-07-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20060720092608/http://www.marriageinstitute.ca/IM/presenters.html. Retrieved 2007-12-21. Bios for both Nathanson and Young.
  2. "Alumnotes". McGill News. McGill University. 2004-07-14. Archived from the original on 2004-10-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20041023053256/http://www.mcgill.ca/news/2002/fall/alumnotes/. Retrieved 2007-12-21. ""PAUL NATHANSON, BA'68, MLS'71, BTh'78, PhD'89, began his academic career by writing Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America ..."
  3. "Introduction". Spreading Misandry. http://mensightmagazine.com/Articles/Nathanson,%20Paul/022006.htm.
  4. Template:Harv
  5. Template:Harv "One specific group of people is identified as the threatening source of all suffering and another as the promising source of all healing. There is nothing new about this theory; only the names have changed. At various times ... nations, classes, and ethnicities have replaced religions as the representatives, or incarnations, of good and evil. Today that is true of the two sexes as well."
  6. Template:Harv
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  8. Template:Harv "An example of this problem is Disney's acclaimed animated feature, Beauty and the Beast ... in which maleness is associated, both metaphorically and literally, with beastliness."
  9. 9.0 9.1 Template:Harv
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  13. 13.0 13.1 Template:Harv
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  16. Farrell, Warren (1985). Why men are the way they are. New York: Berkeley Books. ISBN 5553667666. ISBN 042511094X.
  17. Farrell, Warren (1999). Women can't hear what men don't say. New York: Tarcher. ISBN 1585420611. ISBN 087477988X.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Lewis-Horne, Nancy. "Book Review PAUL NATHANSON and KATHERINE K. YOUNG, Spreading Misandry". The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association. Archived from the original on 2006-02-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20060221214150/http://www.csaa.ca/CRSA/BookReview/Reviews/200311/200311NATHANSON.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-06. "I am not convinced that misandry is a pervasive cultural pattern."
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Chunn, Dorothy E. (2007). "Book Review: Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men" (fee required). Canadian Journal of Family Law 23 (1): 93–103. Archived from the original on 2007-08-28. http://web.archive.org/web/20070828083924/http://faculty.law.ubc.ca/cdnjfl/art/2312007.html. Retrieved 2007-04-15. "Legalizing Misandry is an exemplar of reaction and resistance to feminism as the turn of the twenty-first century.".
  20. Template:Harv
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  22. Hays, Charlotte (2003). "The worse half" (fee required). The Journal of Men's Studies, Men's Studies Press, LLC. 11 (3): pp. 340–342. http://mensstudies.com/newlook/online/archive/toc/toc.php?id=81. "Spreading Misandry is an innovative and courageous book that focuses on an important phenomenon in contemporary culture that has been systematically ignored by virtually all academic authors and all but a few scholars and public intellectuals who aim their work at a general audience.".
  23. 23.0 23.1 Elshtain, Jean Bethke (30 March). "Legalizing Misandry". The Times Literary Supplement

BibliographyEdit

  • Nathanson, Paul; Young, Katherine R. (2001). Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture. Harper Paperbacks. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 9780773530997
  • Nathanson, Paul; Young, Katherine R. (2006). Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 9780773528628
  • Nathanson, Paul; Young, Katherine R. (2010). Sanctifying Misandry: Goddess Ideology and the Fall of Men. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 9780773536159

External linksEdit

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