The aftermath of the recent sexual assault and murder of a young woman in Melbourne is depressingly familiar.
Most reasonable people feel anger, sadness or both as we mourn and reflect on the fact that the innocent victim could just as easily have been someone close to us. That's how you react if you have a shred of empathy anyway. There is a very different reaction from a small but vocal segment of society that is just as familiar.
This smug and clichéd response is used almost universally by all manner of MRAs, alt-right edgelords and old-fashioned chauvinists (or at least the half of them that can manage three-syllable words) in response to almost any criticism from a woman.
The trouble is, it’s not.
There is a huge ideological gulf between misandrists and the type of submissive women these men seem to want to see in society. Most women occupy the space in between, where they are not afraid to call out unacceptable behaviour of an individual, but have no problem with the male gender as a whole.
It is no misandry for a woman to criticise a man or group of men for their behaviour, anymore than it is misogyny for men to do the same of women. I am constantly critical of a number of women, especially Pauline Hanson, but I have yet to be called a misogynist.
Pointing out the rates women are being murdered by men is not misandry. Demanding that it not be normalised through victim-blaming isn’t either. There is nothing misandrist about demanding that the onus and burden for changing behaviour patterns should lie with the perpetrators.
“Not all men…”
Yes, I know not all of us are violent or abusive. Did anyone say we were? However all men and women have a minor part to play in reshaping a society that is proving itself to have a problem with violence, especially towards women. It doesn’t lessen me as a man to hear and acknowledge this. I would, however, be much less of a person, if I respond by attacking the messenger because I don’t like what I am hearing. If you don’t like hearing about the statistics of violence towards women, be angry at the men who are committing the crimes, not the people trying to do something about it.
I use the term ‘boys’ in the title deliberately and with disdain. If your masculinity is so weak and fragile that it is threatened by simply admitting a statistical fact, then you have a lot of growing up to do.
Now since he is such a defender of free speech, David “It was just normal abuse” Leyonhjelm won’t mind me saying that he is a moral vacuum and a bitter creep of the highest order. Last year I wrote about how unfit he was to hold a seat in our parliament- even as a faux independent who is pretty much there to rubber stamp Coalition policy and whine about gun control- so I won’t write much about his abuse and slut-shaming of Senator Hanson-Young last year. The incident has in my view already generated more than enough news headlines, some of them particularly tasteless (I’m talking to you Sky News).
But I will quickly touch on one aspect of it, because it perfectly encapsulates the way the term misandry is overused as a reflexive defence by men like Leyonhjelm.
In the same week, Leyonhjelm, told Hanson-Young she would have to stop having sex with men and claimed on national television that there were rumours about her liking men. But he still felt no contradiction in calling her a misandrist. Which is it, Mr Leyonhjelm, she either likes men or hates them? You can’t have it both ways.