Woe Is Me! “I Have Begun to Despise Men. How Do I Co‑Exist With Them?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I have started to absolutely despise men to a level where I guess it’s becoming a sort of personality trait for me. And my hatred is deeply rooted in the experiences me and the women in my life [have] had with men. I have never come across a man who is also sort of a decent human being. I feel like men being nice is as questionable as there being a god. And at this point in my life, I need to figure out how to at least co-exist with men in peace because I’m sure this is how I will lose my sanity!”
AM: I think as long as you think of being around men for a stipulated amount of time, for eg., work, or being in a group of friends with men in it, it shouldn’t bother you. You choose whether you want to have conversations with them or not, or choose not to respond if they’re trying to talk to you. Just their being around shouldn’t bother you because the choice to engage them is yours. That said, if this personality trait is also coming in the way of being in relationships, then I think only spending enough time getting to know them will solve a problem. I know it’ll take a lot for you to do that, but that’s the only way. I still believe some good human beings exist, and some of these, fortunately, are men too.
ADT: I get it. I’ve felt the same often and I’m not ashamed of it. Sometimes, fate bodyslams you with multiple terrible men and it messes with your head, turns your world upside down and makes you wonder why exactly this keeps happening to you when all you want to do is mind your own business. What helped me, is personal reminders that horrible people belong to no gender, no race, no identity — they’re just horrible, and if they’re given power linked to their identity (like men), they use it to be terrible to the people they have power over (like women).
What also helps is mainly surrounding yourself with women and engaging bit by bit with trusted men like family and friends till you can slowly build back your tolerance for men — or hey, you could do this forever. There’s really no law against minimal engagement with men anyway. Also, find ways to channel this rage — pick up feminist readings, volunteer for women-oriented NGOs, go for protests, find power in standing up for what you believe in. Don’t despair yet — the world’s been shit for women as long as we’ve lived but we’re making it better bit by bit, and our legacy will make a difference and maybe will make allowances for stronger women and better men.
LG: It sounds like you’ve had some pretty terrible experiences with some pretty terrible men, and I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t like being the one to cry #notallmen, but well … writing off roughly half of the human race is exactly what feminism is trying to fight against. So, while it might be understandable, it’s also counterproductive to adopt patriarchy’s hatefulness. No need to love all men (or any men for that matter), but if this feeling is something that bothers you, it might be helpful to try to take gender out of the equation and ask — what is it about an individual that you like? what is it you dislike?
Make a pro and con list, if it’s helpful, but just make sure gender is not a factor on it. You may find you still have a lot of assholes, both male and female, in your life (though I hope not), but you may also find that the things you don’t like about them are not that different. These are the ones you put on your dartboard.
SM: Hi Ex-Men! I used to feel this way a lot when I was in college — a lot of resentment, anger, frustration, and ultimately resignation to the horrifying fact that even the closest male friend I had, was in some way, well, trash. ADT’s advice really resonates with me, and I think that’s exactly what I resorted to when I was in a similar space. I’m hoping that helps you overcome your problem so that you can at least co-exist with men peacefully. P.S. — I don’t think this sense of hate ever leaves you completely, and it can often creep up on you as blinding rage when something bad happens with you or a friend or with women in the world. It’s okay to feel that rage momentarily, take your time to think things through, and then channelize that rage into fighting the patriarchy.
PP: Hey, it just sucks that your experiences with men have pushed you to a point where you have been forced to generalize about the very nature of men. I’m sorry. There are two things you can do here: first, keep your interactions with men to a bare minimum, only when something needs to be done and they’re just … sort of there. Talk business, and then end the conversation. But at the same time, I would also gently remind you that it is generalizations about men and women that have gotten us here. Your perspective-turned-personality-trait will not only further cement the divisiveness feminism is (wrongly) notorious for cultivating, but also it will affect your personal life pretty seriously, I’d imagine.
I’d suggest therapy — don’t look it as a mental illness thing — to sound out your negative experiences with men and the possibly healthier ways you can cope with them, instead of shunning half the world’s population. Just have a chat, or five, with someone objective who can help you navigate the resentment you feel about men and their privilege. And most importantly: hang in there. We’ve all felt what you’re feeling; in fact, I feel a percentage of it on a daily basis. If that’s too passive for you, take up arms, as ADT said! Join protest rallies, work with NGOs, write about your experiences with men and try to relate them to the larger problem that feminism is trying to resolve, free the nipple — there are n number of things you can do to make men less shitty (systemically), and who knows, maybe you’ll find a few decent human allies along the way!
RD: Hey, my wise af colleagues have covered a lot of ground here and I agree with all of it. Channeling the very valid rage against the patriarchy can be a good way for you to preserve your mental health and still be able to engage with the issues that are making you feel this way. It’s important to remember though: men are not the patriarchy. They’re also affected and shaped by virtue (or vice) of having grown up in a patriarchal system.
Now, it’s a curse to be this enlightened (haha) because you can identify why certain groups of people act the way they do and still not be able to convince others to change; most of it is societal conditioning. It’s not your job to coddle the men in your life; nor is it your responsibility to pay any mind to them. But just know: the enemy is the patriarchal system and institutions that enable this power hierarchy in society, and all genders at some point are complicit in maintaining this hierarchy. Some envy for men’s place in this hierarchy is valid, but a better use of your resources would be to channel the rage at the right perpetrator.