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The Real Misandry, Knights and Knaves

Posted in Editorials on October 30th, 2012

Sometime in 1994, I was an eleven year old girl at a sleepover. My best friend, and her younger sister, and I were curled up in our sleeping bags watching Labyrinth. I was filled with popcorn, soda, and more than a vague interest in what was under David Bowie’s leotard.

Labyrinth is a cultural touchstone for geek girls. And while the swooning over David Bowie is what we seem to remember most, there was also an introduction to a famous logic puzzle:

ALPH: You can only ask one of us.
RALPH: It’s in the rules. One of us always tells the truth, and one of us always lies. He always lies.
ALPH: I do not! I tell the truth!
RALPH: Oh, what a lie!
SARAH: All right. Answer yes or no. Would he [points to Ralph] tell me that this door leads to the castle?
ALPH: Uh… Yes.
SARAH: Then the other door leads to the castle, and this door leads to certain death…. I’ve figured it out! I think I’m getting smarter!

It’s also known as the “knights and knaves” puzzle and more than just an exercise in critical thinking, it reminds me of a dilemma women, especially straight women, are placed in every day.

Pervocracy calls it The Myth of the Boner Werewolf. Dudes on the internet are fond of insisting that “a hard dick has no conscience.” Men tell me every day that an attack on creepshots is an attack on male sexuality, as if it were always inherently predatory. And there’s also the ever present victim blaming brigade that ask assaulted women “What did you expect?” as if rape were a natural and unstoppable reflex, and not the conscious decision of the rapist.

Instead of knaves who always lie, we have rapists saying that all men are rapists. And some women believe them. Rather than of knights who always tell the truth, we have feminists and their allies who say that men are capable of decent behavior and there is nothing inherently evil about male sexuality.

The idea that men cannot control their sexuality is dehumanizing. Men do not face systematic oppression simply for being men. But our cultural myth that men are always precariously on the edge of raping a woman, or that we cannot expect otherwise is hateful toward men, and something I will never object to being labeled misandry.

Women embrace this lie about men out of self preservation, similar to the reasons women resort to victim-blaming. If you act as if men are not in control of their sexuality, you might save yourself from being assaulted, unlike those poor other girls who didn’t have the common sense not to trust men. But believing this does not make it true. This myth has been around for centuries and has not stopped a single man from raping a woman. Instead, it protects rapists as being helpless victims of circumstances rather than deliberately violent assailants.

Just as feminism calls for treating women as full and equal human beings, it also holds men accountable for their actions, and rejects the idea that they cannot help themselves simply because of who they are.

6 Responses to “The Real Misandry, Knights and Knaves”

  1. Steve Bowen Says:

    Yep! And it’s the same excuse that is used for Hijabs and Burkas, or the insistance that women should be modest and demure. The assumption that the male brain is incapable of even basic self control around female flesh is demeaning to men, and so many of us seem to subscribe to it.

  2. Pvblivs Says:

    I find that it is feminism that states that all men are rapists and holds many innocent men “responsible” for things they have never done. It isn’t “patriarchy/” There is no “patriarchy. No feminist will allow a definition of this nebulous “patriarchy” to be nailed down. It’s a lot like the “god of the gaps” christians have.

    The real misandry comes from feminism, which claims to want equality but wants nothing of the kind.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    And I find people who make grand claims without any evidence to be wholly unreliable.

    Patriarchy is one of many systems of oppression. Academic feminism has been around for decades. Dismiss it if you like, but don’t pretend that it does not exist. It only makes you look ignorant.

  4. Cobol Says:

    Thanks for this article. I’ve been emotionally confused for some time because of misandry, and that quote about patriarchy was one of the biggest sources of my confusion. But thanks to this article, I’m not confused or unsure anymore. (At least not as much…stupid riddle, acting like your so much smarter than me.) Seriously though, you severely helped me with this. You have no idea how close I came to giving up. I thank you once again for helping me keep my sanity for another day. One last thing…HOW IN THE WORLD DID SHE SOLVE THAT RIDDLE!

  5. Annie Nomis Says:

    Just a quick note on your link to Breaking the Glasses: That blog happens to be written by a woman, and you’re either badly mischaracterizing the article, or badly mischaracterizing male sexuality.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    The gender of whoever wrote that post is irrelevant to me. I’m not mischaracterizing anything. Here’s the direct quote:

    The resulting brouhaha was rooted in a serious, compelling, and frequently discussed men’s rights issue: The denigration of male sexuality. While not everything within the controversy can apply to every man, the pared down, unvarnished reality is that the basis for targeting creepshots and by extension violentacrez was that the target audience for the sub was men.

    The author of the blog is saying that an attack on creephots is an attack on male sexuality. This is a myth. This is the point of my post – that when you say things to imply that all men are predators, you are a misandrist.

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