On hating men

7 Nov

Hating men


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?







20 Responses to “On hating men”

  1. The Nurdler November 7, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Very well said, and thank you for not lumping us ‘normal’ men in with those pricks and utter bastards. (I seriously run out of words that properly describe assholes like those 4 under investigation for the utterly despicable and disgusting incident at Geelong)
    I would love to hear ideas on how we can as a society raise boys that understand right from wrong and adhere to a ‘do no harm’ policy for their life.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. hudsongodfrey November 7, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I was reminded of this from Arlo Guthrie – The Pause Of Mr. Claus

    “Well, wait a minute. It’s hard to be an FBI man. I mean, first
    of all, being an FBI man, you have to be over 40 years old.
    And the reason is that it takes at least 25 years with the
    organization to be that much of a bastard. It’s true. You just
    can’t join, you know. It needs an atmosphere where your
    natural bastardness can grow and develop and take a
    meaningful shape in today’s complex society.”

    In a way he was right, most cops have to deal with bad people on their best days and sometimes with good people having their worst days. It might make some of them into bastards in the eyes of those of us whose only interaction with them is a negative one, or they could just be bastards. It gets to be a chicken and egg kind of question.

    I get the sense from the hashtag that for every misogynist there really ought not to be a misandrist in waiting but Ford has just gone right ahead and overlooked that without thinking.

    If you just read misanthrope for “misogynist”, “misandrist” and “bastard” alike then I think you’ve pretty well covered it.


  3. myzania3350 November 7, 2015 at 4:02 pm #



  4. freya November 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    Oh dear! And it’s not even funny or clever. Contrived, and as subtle as a sledgehammer. Feminists don’t need this kind of PR. I’m all for angry women but do it with humour or at least gusto!


  5. doug quixote November 7, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    One may doubt whether those born with a vulva can claim to always exercise immaculate behaviour and think saintly thoughts.

    Some men kill; some men assault.

    All generalisations are dangerous, even this one. (Dumas)


    • freya November 8, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      That is true and campaigns like this only alienate. I missed the point that the campaign started as a response to abduction and rape, so I was wrong to criticise it for lack of humour, which would have been obviously inappropriate, but one of the major criticisms of the domestic violence coming from the right is that it’s blaming all men. This is complete crap of course, but this current hashtag is only reinforcing that impression.


  6. simon November 8, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    I often wonder about the distorted idea that the best sperm is a strong Alpha Male sperm, hence forgiving all thuggery forever (even living with the devil) ….. it is about a protective ‘packaging’ for the new Jesus, we all have a collective dream that becomes the nightmare of the one at peace…….. and so it goes on and on, a million devils running lose …..Watch out world !

    Liked by 1 person

    • hudsongodfrey November 8, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      I think we’d probably share a certain disdain for what passes for an alpha male in most of our societies, but I don’t think genetics is a social construct. We’re stuck with that for very different evolutionary reasons.

      To make any such theory workable then it isn’t just a matter of persuading the women of today to select in favour of better men. It requires that these couples, along with whatever positive contribution we hope same sex families will add, breed us a race of more better men or perhaps alpha females.

      By the end of the thought it all sounded a great deal more eugenic than I’m comfortable with and turned me towards hoping that it’s nurture rather than nature that could make all the difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • simon November 9, 2015 at 12:56 am #

        well it may be good for ;society; to take responsibility and perform a form of social engineering, as I am concerned that the offspring is in the cross hairs of acceptable competitive violence, the human as consumer monkey – as a loyal and rewarded subject ?


      • Jennifer Wilson November 9, 2015 at 4:12 am #

        I’m with you HG, on the nature v nurture debate, tho I concede it’s very difficult to tell when the “nurture” is prescribed by a society that considers alpha males its highest achievement, which the orthodoxy of this one undoubtedly does.

        Liked by 1 person

        • hudsongodfrey November 9, 2015 at 8:59 am #

          There’s nothing surer to frustrate anyone looking for solutions than circular arguments so rather than say nature versus nurture in the case of the orthodox domination of society maybe the chicken and egg are nature and nurture themselves.

          If we look to who dominates and why then having identified a whole gender that doesn’t you’re forced either to look to genetics and fail, or to the kind of women most likely to succeed on society’s current terms. Without putting too fine a point on cleverly wrapping things up, some kind of useful generalisation might be found in the observation that the quality we expect of any leader male and female alike is a dominant nature not a nurturing one.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson November 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Watch out world indeed…


  7. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 8, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Nailed, like a kid’s dog to a fence.

    Perhaps it might be helpful to identify attempts to apply generalizing labels as a warning sign of the approach of a would-be control freak? Especially so, perhaps, among younger male-only groups, when made with(out) respect to women.

    Now as to the matter of gutter immolations, there is an apocryphal story about a man who once made such a declaration. It was viewed as ‘conduct unbecoming’, and the said gentleman was duly required to make a public apology to the intended target(?) of his ‘spray'(?) in the presence of all who had heard it. He duly did, saying “Whereas I said of AB that I would not piss on him if he was on fire in the gutter, I apologise profoundly. Let me make it quite clear that in fact I would piss on him!”

    Toward a secular forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson November 8, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

      Your analogy is horrible, Forrest.

      And of course I will “forgive,” which in my terms means attaining a neutrality in which there is no hurt left and no imagining of retributive harm or disdain.
      But only when I’m bloody well ready

      Liked by 1 person

  8. LSWCHP November 8, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    My ex wife used to beat me, which is one of the many reasons she’s no longer my wife. I despise her, but I don’t hate all women as a result of what she did because it would be beyond silly to do so.

    Once again you’ve captured the essence of the issue. Generic hatred for a group due to the actions of some of that group makes no sense and causes more harm than good. It harms the members of the group, and it also harms the hater.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rabbitwithfangs November 8, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    I’m inclined to think all of Clem Ford’s forays are far more about Clem Ford than they are about feminism to be honest. I think she’s seen an opening for minor celebrity and jumped on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lisi November 10, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    Personally, I do not like the hashtag. It simply breeds negativity. The men who repeatedly raped the 14 year old girl (and then took her to other locations where she could be raped again by other men) are truly animals, but these kinds of social media publicity stunts don’t help. And I agree with Rabbitwithfangs. Whilst Ford is a gifted writer, I do question many of her actions. She’s more a shit-stirring celebrity with thousands of Clementine-ettes doing her bidding than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Naming and shaming | No Place For Sheep - December 3, 2015

    […] I don’t always agree with feminist writer and activist Clementine Ford. I disliked her “Fuck Abbott” t-shirts and wouldn’t be caught dead in one. I disliked even more her “I hate men” hashtag on Twitter. […]


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