Yesterday, feminist author and journalist Clementine Ford started the Twitter hashtag How can I hate men.
It was, of course, a question both rhetorical and bitterly sarcastic, driven by an anger and loathing we can all feel over attacks such as this:
Clementine Ford @clementine_ford 12h12 hours ago
#HowCanIHateMen they never go out in packs and abduct 14 year old girls from parks to rape them.
Most tweets dealt with lesser evils such as mansplaining, objectification, misogyny expressed in many and varied ways, and efforts to control women’s bodies.
While I agreed with much of the material contained in the 140 character communications, I baulked at using the hashtag. The truth is, I don’t hate men.
There’s only one man I’ve hated in my adult life and I still hate him. I’m taking hate to mean, in this instance, that I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire in the gutter and if I heard he’d died, I think, good, about time, and move on.
I can make sense of this hate, as a reaction to extreme personal damage done to me that remains unacknowledged, and that almost cost me my life. But I can’t extrapolate any of that to men in general, and I don’t see why I should.
In the same way, I can’t agree with Senator David Leyonhjelm’s comment that all cops are bastards. There’s no doubt some cops are bastards but the two male officers I’ve had dealings with over the last few months have been outstanding people who’ve done me a great deal of good, so I’m not about to condemn the entire police force as practitioners of bastardry.
I don’t know what is achieved by generalised hatred, be it aimed at a gender, a particular profession, religion, ethnic group or any human grouping, some members of which have caused offence and committed crimes, great and small. For mine, hate is as profoundly personal as love, and often as binding, and I don’t love men in general either.
That old insult, fuck you and everybody who looks like you is telling, and what it tells is how hurt can provoke a general hatred of anyone who might remind you of the one who did you harm. At its most extreme it’s a driver for serial killers, but there’s a continuum.
I guess the question is, do I really want to spend my life hating everyone with a penis because someone with a penis did me awful damage? Someone with a penis did good things for me, someone else with a penis was the love of my life so how can I, without employing a vast amount of cognitive dissonance, hate men, and why would I do that to myself?
I’m as angry as the next feminist at the violence and injustice inflicted on women, largely by men. Each and every one of those men ought to be made accountable, by other men as well as women.
But I’m damned if I can, in good faith, use that hash tag, and I can’t help but wonder how it would be received if the word “men” was replaced by, say, Muslims, gays, atheists, or, god forbid, women?