I hate men by Pauline Harmange
Suppose one day you start thinking that the heterosexual couple exists only to provide a housekeeper for men, and you keep asking yourself why women think they can’t live without a man. If that’s the case, I hate men by Pauline Harmange (Natasha Lehrer English translater) is the book for you.
I read it two years ago, soon after it was published, and I chose to reread it now after the recent facts that pushed me to write The waves. Pauline Harmanage was born in 1995, and she could easily be my granddaughter. She’s a blogger and a feminist, quite the kind of person I would love to speak to, to ask about feminism today, women’s life today, and much more.
I hate men, the title of her essay, is a phrase that hits me because I have the feeling, I have never heard it before. It’s daring to say it out loud. It’s nearly a blasphemy, needing an immediate and necessary explanation or request for forgiveness. It strikes me as much as misandry, a term I didn’t know before reading the book, while I know, even too well, the term misogyny from a long time ago. I read much more than the average in Europe, I teach and translate, but I never met with it. Maybe it’s not frequently used? Impossible to not see in this a cultural brainwashing to shape men’s privileges.
Whenever I meet a new word, I look it up in the dictionary.
Misandry: a hatred of men. First known use in 1898.” (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)
I’ve never read a shorter definition in that dictionary. I prefer Pauline Harmange’s analyses when she writes:
“If misandry is a characteristic of someone who hates men, and misogyny that of someone who hates women, it has to be conceded that in reality, the two concepts are not equal, either in terms of danger posed to their targets or the means to express it. […] Misandry and Misogyny cannot be compared, quite simply because the former exists only in reaction to the latter.”
Furthermore, I think of words like women, men or love, hate, as they were container words that, in my opinion, mean nothing because they mean too much. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to speak without container words, but if you use them, it’s impossible to get to something that has to do with reality. They are generalizations mainly used to talk about something we cannot control. All human beings want and have the illusion they can control complexity.
The reasons supporting her need to roar, I hate men, are facts, numbers, and women’s lives. Looking at the picture she paints, except for life-risking violence, there is nothing I have not lived in my lifetime, and honestly, I have had an everyday life like many other women of my generation.
Pauline Harmange has a husband, quite a challenge for a feminist, but she doesn’t let it divert her; she defines men as “violent, selfish, lazy and cowardly”. It is often true, and they are just that, but I must add that they are also much more. I must find a loophole because I will never know if I raised my son as I dreamt when I was a young feminist mother. Only a partner or a wife can say it. As she writes with the men in our lives “the little voice inside our head that would prefer us to take it on the chin instead of making waves”.
What does not match my life experience is the sisterhood that Pauline Harmange enthusiastically embraces. I admire women more than men, but sisterhood has never lasted long if I look back on my life experience. It has been frequently replaced by competitiveness, jealousy, and unproductive fighting. On the other hand, it is nothing new; it’s the most ancient of behaviours; it’s what the female half of humankind has done from the time we lived in caves.
here we go again…or maybe not
Finally, what is clear after reading the book and looking at what is happening around me is the necessity for change in the heterosexual relationship. Males’ emancipation from patriarchy is slow, dead slow, and will happen only when it’s unavoidable. Many years ago, closing a conference about the exiguity of women in parliament in Italy, the speaker, whose name I regrettably can’t remember, said to inspire our feminist commitment: “No one should be under any illusion. No man will ever stand up and leave you, his chair.”
So here we are, back to ‘ the private is political ‘, and women must still fight for equal access to choice and to gain a place, if not a chair. Sixty years after the conference mentioned above and the first use of the slogan that is still effective today, I think it’s time to change something. I must say I like the course change is developing. Wouldn’t it be better to fight together so all human beings have the right to live according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
I like here to quote Article 2:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
I want to thank Pauline Harmange because her essay has been an excellent ‘re-starting’ point for me. More thanks for having cleared the possibility of saying I hate men. When a feeling is shared, it can be explored and evolve.
If you haven’t read the book yet, give it a chance. Men too!
© Photo copyright Patrizia Verrecchia. All rights reserved.
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