We live in a world that hates women and children.
That is a harsh statement, and one that many men and women would reject. When I have made that statement in public talks, men typically strenuously object. “I don’t hate women, I love them. I’m married to a woman I love, and I love my children,” they say. Women often defend the men in their lives, saying they feel loved by them.
By asserting that this is a woman-hating world, I am not suggesting that every man hates every woman. Nor am I saying that all men engage in overtly misogynistic behavior. When we talk about trends in a society, we are trying to understand patterns, and to identify a pattern in human affairs is not to assert that every single person behaves the same way. But that individual variation does not mean we cannot identify patterns and learn from them.
I learned that men hate women, and I was trained to hate women, in the locker room. Not just in actual gym locker rooms, but in all-male spaces, in those places where men are alone with each other and talk with the knowledge that no woman will hear them. In those spaces, men talk about how they really feel, or think they are supposed to feel, about women. It is very often a language of contempt, a frank discussion of what women are really good for.
We can all see how men hate women and children by a simple observation: No society would let happen what happens to women and children in this culture if at some level it did not have contempt for them. We allow women and children to be raped at a rate that can lead to no other conclusion than that we place a lesser value on their lives.
Men have a stake in believing we are not really like that. Women have a stake in believing men don’t really see them that way. For each party, facing the truth feels like it is too much to bear. So we turn away and pretend.
— Robert Jensen, Getting Off
Many men I talk to say things like, “I didn’t slap a woman with my dick today, so I’m not oppressing women.” What they don’t want to see is that the system does the slapping for them. While they sit back, do nothing about it, and congratulate themselves for being good guys.