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January 28, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: MANHATER

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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Ears Have It

It’s 6am, the sun is only just nudging its way through the clouds. I am up early to write my Soapbox. I was going to write on something else, but this morning when I woke and stumbled to my desk I saw my open diary: 22 January, Michael’s birthday. He would have been 61 today.

‘It’s hard to hear isn’t it? We never want to talk about it, but we need to. We need to hate that type of masculinity.’ Mandy owns her position.

As a feminist there are many times I have been called a manhater. It’s the go to put down to extinguish or disqualify legitimate rage. Rage at social injustice, at sexual assault, at murder; things that should make us angry. It’s that classic technique of using a personal insult to swing the narrative away from the subject at hand. I’m a heterosexual woman, clearly being a manhater is not in my best interests. Guess I better wash my manhatin’ mouth.

I find myself justifying my position by saying, I don’t hate men – I’m married – I have a son. Of course I love men. It’s just a minority of men that I hate; the ones that beat and kill us. I don’t know them to actually hate them personally, I just don’t understand or condone their behaviour. See how I acquiesce? Men are used to women making the world comfortable for them. We fluff the doona, we cook their food, we wash their clothes, and we sanitise our rage. We apologise for being angry at what oppression has done to us. We apologise for being angry that our sisters are murdered and beaten. Or raped. We count rapes, not rapists. We still have to fight for the agency of our voice because it’s moderated by patriarchy’s gatekeepers where hatefulness towards men will not be tolerated.

When Dolly Parton was asked if she was a feminist she said ‘No, I love men’. I was shocked when I heard her say that. That even someone as smart as Dolly, whom I have huge respect for, would sell her sisters down the line like that. That she would feed into that boring old tome that all feminists are manhaters. That she would participate in confirming the narrative that delegitimises feminist solidarity and our rage. That boring narrative that disallows us from holding toxic masculine culture accountable for the harm it has caused us.

When Dolly answered that question I know it was underwritten by her intention of never really taking a stand on anything because she has a very diverse and massive fan base – but to keep that group of femmo-fearing men, she had to put the boot into feminism. Into us. It’s sad when we sisters sell each other down the line for the approval of a tiny group of blokes who are scared of female empowerment. From the woman who sang the 9-5 anthem for women’s workplace equality, it had a certain sting. So why would Dolly do that? I actually think Dolly Parton is a feminist, like many women are, they’re just too scared to use the word. It’s the manhatin’ thing.

We are called manhaters to dilute our position. It frightens other women. No one wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with a manhater. It doesn’t bode well for how the world perceives us. Sure we can vote, and there’s lipservice to equitable pay… but we shouldn’t get so cranky about the deeply entrenched patriarchal structures that have us nailed to the floor. That’s just unhealthy.

No one wants to be a manhater. It’s yucky. It means you’re a bad woman. That your perception is tainted by rage. We are not allowed to hate men. None of us. We have to love them. All of them. No matter what.

I say I love men, but do I? I don’t think I do actually. I love the men I choose to love, but no, not all. Not the ones that pull us into a car when we are walking home at night, or punch us in the head when they’re drunk, or go onto the dark web for explicit images of children. I don’t love the men that leave us raped and bitten, covered in leaves in a public park. It’s hard to hear isn’t it? We never want to talk about it, but we need to. We need to hate that type of masculinity. If two women die every week at the hands of their male partner or their ex, isn’t it okay to be little bit manhater? Maybe more men need to start some manhating too.

Stay tuned in 2021 for my new podcast Manhater!

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  1. coming from a proud suffragette family, i find the loaded term man-hater offence, disingenuously used to garner clicks, rather than meaningfully moving the cause forwards.

  2. Men ( male ) from birth are brought up by the female , mother , grandmother ,kindergarten , preschool , primary school teachers . Minimal input by other males
    why is there this anger towards the female by some males . Is it the controlling factor . Is the male confused with his role in adulthood .

  3. I can’t believe that women still have to choose our title from 3 – Ms, Mrs and Miss and men just have 1. It’s these anti-feminist women who insist on denoting whether they are attached to a man or not. Surely it’s time to get rid of Miss and Mrs. It was first mooted in the NY Times in 1986 and 34 years later we’re still hanging on to this antiquated concept. It really aggravates me that I’m asked my title when I only want to be known as Ms regardless of whether I am married or not. Such little things go to show how society drags its feet over equality for women.

  4. Mandy – a truly FABULOUS article. Thank you so much! You made your point clearly and focused on the woman-hating, violent and degrading behaviours that some men exhibit.
    The point about delegitimising women and women’s concerns is so true. I recall when NSW’s first woman Supreme Court judge (Virginia Bell) was appointed people said things like “she’s done very well for a women” and “they had to have a women or they’d be criticised for being old fashioned”. Talk about negative gender bias!
    Nowadays people realise that over the past decades as women have fought for opportunities and gained more rights that some men feel threatened. Some people (including a few women) think assertive women are over the top. Remember the 1970s saying “men can be assertive but an assertive women is seen as aggressive”?
    I should add the idea that women who have intimate relationships with other women ie. love another woman, are naturally man-haters (Dolly P’s example) is simplistic, homophobic and passe in this 21st century. Overwhelming it is heterosexual women who suffer male violence and abuse such that violence against women – any woman, all women – is a systemic global phallocentric culture. Apologies re using socio-philosophical terms but it’s the extent of woman-hating thinking and behaviours, which others call toxic masculinity, that’s the problem. And by the way I’m not saying women are perfect, but how many women are responsible for mass shootings, stalkings, spouse killings etc.?
    Thanks again Mandy – spot on as usual.

  5. Say what you like Mandy, and but this male bashing rant will have the desired effect of reassuring ‘the sisterhood’ while provoking outrage from the ones you kick at . Hey it’s all good copy,and saves having to think about any real issues, hey ?
    Cheers, G”)

  6. Yeah, I am a ‘man’ and I accept the term ‘manhater’. At different times in life I have felt a deep hate and guilt for my gender. Growing up I felt quite uncomfortable and alienated with the representations of masculinity on display- a bit like going to the store and all that is on offer is that stodgy crappy white bread- it will keep you alive, but it’s bad for ya guts, makes you feel like shit and it will eventually kill you!! But if that is all that is on offer you don’t know anything else! As a young man I carried around a whole mix of emotions about my masculinity, most of it unconscious. Feeling like wanting to belong, not being one of the lads, but of also not even feeling like I wanted to be!! But there was scant else on offer that I could relate to. How sad is that!! So many mixed messages for boys and men. Yes there is a lot of toxic masculinity out there and a lot of males just following dumb stereotypes and story-lines that are obviously destructive and painful to themselves and those around them. Many men if they are honest with themselves feel trapped in social roles and expectations of what it means to be a ‘man’. While in no way invalidating women’s pain anger and suffering at the hands of patriarchy and individual men, our societal gender constructs are at worst fucked up and dysfunctional and at best needing a desperate update to the latest software version. We need to challenge these dysfunctional patterns at every turn and find ways of being that are more dare I say ‘humane’- flexible, compassionate, fluid, connected, soft, open to change and being challenged. Our gender stereotypes go hand in hand with the destructive capitalist continuous growth cancer that is currently in its advanced stages on this planet and within the psyche of humanity. I am so grateful to feminism, I see it as one of the most powerful movements in history. As women have stood up, raged, challenged and questioned the bullshit it has forced men to start to question themselves. This is a good thing! Change is hard to gauge…..are men changing and waking up to other ways of being? or are most men stuck in unconscious patterns? I know things that have helped me: men’s support groups, and festivals, being around opinionated strong loud angry women, having other male role models that I could see were challenging stereotypes and provided a ray of light in the prison cell of traditional masculinity…….. thanks

    • Wonderful comment Rohan – well done for being smart enough to recognise, and brave enough to call out, the BS of the dominant paradigm of masculinity! The world needs more men you.

  7. No healthy bloke will disagree: some men are disgusting. It’s very well known what are the characteristics of men that make them hateful; the law also agrees. I am thirsty to see women embrace and promote the sort of men they crave for. That by means of enumerating their qualities these men, us, have a goal to grow to and to spread the conscience to the youngsters. I don’t want to see tribalism, women vs men. I want to see mature men and women pointing at the right path to both walk in harmony.

  8. Journos are usually encouraged to see the two angles, at least that.. you look at the Taming of the Shrew and you see the two protagonist’s points of view, masculine culture where a wife is bought and owned, and a kind of women’s world that wants no part of it. Was Shakespeare writing a comedy or tragedy? It ends all well like a comedy but there is also the other. Desdamona submitted her whole obediance to Othello who she revered, and was caught in a male trap, despite her husband’s total love of her. There was the other male, Iago, who from greed or envy betrayed them both, but still a question of the male-dominated world. Then there is the question of Delilah and Jezebel. If feminism means anything it goes beyond simple questions of right and wrong, black and white, with me against me. It might even mean rereading a few books. And maybe some substantiation. How many men are abusers, rapists, paedophiles, out of the total population? How much detrimental masculinity is just hormones, wrong place, wrong time, too young, too much else? How much feminism is not a study, but a cult?


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