Misandry is sexism against men and boys as a group, or against individual men and boys based on their status as males. It can be expressed in a myriad of ways. One way is by expressing hostility - either by direct insults, or by implying that males are inherently unintelligent, unnecessary, or dangerous. It is expressed by speaking of men and boys as if they deserve our indifference, which has the effect of dehumanizing them and rendering them more vulnerable to the slings and arrows of the world. It is expressed by acting as if the well-being and vulnerabilities of women and girls are more important than those of men and boys, or by enforcing one rule for men, and another for women.
In education especially, misandry can be expressed by the assertion that a particular action, idea, body of knowledge, perspective or invention is illegitimate simply because it was created or performed by someone with a Y-chromosome. When certain individuals act like or claim that there is a dark side to male nature and a good side to female nature, while denying, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is a dark side to female nature and a good side to male nature by dismissing them as “just myths and stereotypes,” they are in effect saying men are bad and women are good, which is misandry. Misandry is the belief that the worst among males is representative of men and boys in general, or “normative masculinity,” or “male culture,” or whatever broad brush is used to tar men as a group.
I believe that suspending a 9-year-old boy for calling a teacher “cute,” or for singing “I’m sexy and I know it,” or for punishing boys – but not girls – who spank the bottoms of their classmates is also a product of misandry. In this sense, almost everything that I will cover in The War on Male Students – from the neglect of their educational needs, to the presence of anti-male hostility, to the systemic destruction of their civil rights - is a product or byproduct of misandry. But what I will address in this particular line of videos and blog posts titled “Misandry in Education” is not so much misandry in the form of actions, but misandry as it appears in the spoken and written word. And while it can be reasonably said that not all, or even most, faculty, administrators, or even students express sexism against men and boys, it also bears mention that they don’t have to. Prejudice and hatred for men and boys – just as it is for any other group – does not have to be consistently all-encompassing to create a hostile learning environment. All it has to be is consistently unopposed.
Here, we will be unapologetically critical of the misandry of Radical Feminism and its influence in education. Moderate Feminists are quick to tell us that “not all Feminists are like that.” While that is certainly true - and I do name the exceptions – it is not a justifiable reason in and of itself to ignore or sweep under the carpet the sexism expressed by those who are like that.
At first, the lack of opposition to misandry by faculty and administrators may seem understandable. Decades ago, like the frog in the boiling water, many of them could not even identify the problem. And also, most of the misandry in academia is a politicized form of sexism, and political disagreements are often best avoided.
But when prejudice develops from an attitude among a scattered few to a connected subculture, when that subculture becomes entrenched, and when it metastasizes to the point that it begins to eat away at the civil rights of those it targets, remaining silent is no longer a virtue. As we will see, misandry in education is not merely a collection of infrequent and disassociated anomalies arising from individuals uninfluenced by supportive or acquiescent peer groups. On the contrary, it is a culturally pervasive in education in a way that cannot be reasonably characterized as incidental, coincidental, or even accidental.
On a related note, there are good-faith efforts springing up within academia to help men and boys, particularly in terms of educational attainment. I created a video and blogged about one of them, which is Project MALES at UT Austin, which hosted two symposia which I attended, at one of which I volunteered. While good hearts and good minds are working in such groups, they do have limitations. First, many such groups and initiatives (with few exceptions, one of them being Project MALES) are isolated, poorly funded, and live only as long as they can produce immediate results, or as long as the particular educator who champions that particular cause remain employed at that facility, a phenomenon Richard Whitmire documented in his book Why Boys Fail.
Second, absolutely none of them as of right now, September 2012, are addressing the destruction of the civil rights of male students, and none of them are investigating and developing the means to combat the subculture of misandry which contributes to a hostile learning environment for male students. And while these groups do have their hands full with the issue of educational attainment alone, the fact remains that we need a strong and networked voice in education to stand up for men and boys who are denigrated by sexism or have their civil rights violated, and currently no such voice in academia exists.
Furthermore, after reviewing the general culture and structure of academia for some time, I am convinced that groups which focus on the inequities in educational attainment for men and boys will never get enough funding for operations on a large enough scale, nor will they ever get the approval they need from the right people in the right places, nor will academia ever engage the lion’s share of its networking and funding potential to helping male students until the cultural barriers of misandry and careerism are weakened or removed.
And with that being said, let us begin.