OK, so I have been called, more than once by now, a man hater. Honestly, it's not something that much bothers me, or that I even correct much of the time. But this is a post I've been sort of putting off writing for a while, and now is as good a time (and this as good a reason) as any.
First, to be clear: I am partnered with a man and have been for years. While it's not perfect, this partnership is happy and healthy. The man is a good man. This man is a man with whom I have every intention of spending my life. My last serious relationship with also with a man. While it wasn't always happy and healthy, whose is in their late teens and early twenties? Parts of it were great, and I don't have any ill will towards that man either. I am neither a lesbian nor a separatist.
I also have other men in my life. Some of them (co-workers, family members) are in my life by chance, but the majority of them are chosen. They are my friends.
I have never been a victim of serious abuse at the hands of a man. Sure, my dad is a fuck-up, but he's never had a large role in my life. I got into with my step-dad a few times as a kid and teen, but he's a mostly good guy. I've never been raped or molested. I've suffered only fairly inconsequential sexual harassment. I've never hit the glass ceiling. Yeah, I've had some bad experiences (a boss calling me a cunt when I was 14 comes immediately to mind, as does every time some dude has ever grabbed my ass), but nothing bad enough to be considered out-of-the-ordinary.
Despite all of the above, I don't find it hard to make a categorical statement against men. I don't find it particularly insulting to hear myself called a "man-hater." Why? Because just because these horrible things haven't happened to me doesn't mean that they haven't happened. Because it is possible to despise men as a class and still like and even love a few specific ones. Because my brain is big enough to hold more than one idea at a time.
The reality is that men as a class are very, very bad for women, as a class. From huge crimes like beating us, raping us, and killing us, to the more mundane expecting us to do all the housework and paying us less for the same job, they're not good for us. And it is both dangerous and stupid to let yourself forget that because the men in your life aren't like that, or it isn't happening to you. First, some of it is probably happening to you, whether you like to admit it or not, and secondly, even if it's not happening to you, it's happening. All over the world, all the time. And that's a damn good reason to hate. There's a word for only caring about things that happen to you directly--narcissistic.
What does it mean, then, to "hate" men and still have them in your life? Well, for me, mostly, it means caution. I have a higher natural level of caution towards men in general, and particularly towards men I don't know, than towards women. That could, I suppose, be called sexism. Given the world in which I live, I'd call it good sense.
It also means that I go out of way to involve women in my life rather than involving men. I choose female doctors, I frequent women-only or mostly-women spaces. This is, at least in part, because I believe that I am safer with women than with men, but it's also because I prefer to be around women. Even if they are in no way directly threatening me, men are likely to irritate me. Your average man (no, not EVERY man, your average man) doesn't think a whole lot about his privilege. That bugs me. And I don't want to have to spend every minute of every day trying to cajole, convince, and educate. I'd much rather be surrounded by people who get it already, and those people are more likely to be women.
So yes, if it makes you feel better to call me a man hater, go right ahead. It might do you some good to think, though, not about why I hate men (because I've been abused or had bad relationships seem to be the going theories), but why you don't. Do you really disbelieve the harm men have collectively done? They've been in charge for centuries, and look where they've gotten us! Or is it maybe just because it's easier to believe the problem is little hysterical me and not something as monolithic as an oppressor class? Maybe thinking about the systematic problem caused by men as a class would bum you out, or cause you to have to change the way you're living your life?
Just a thought.