by Lou Owen
What To Do
When The Man-Bashing Starts
As extremist feminists become more boldly and openly
anti-male in their attitudes, more and more men are
encountering blatant man-bashing at work and in their
It's a recurring question among men: what do you do when
the man-bashing starts? Some men say you should just
ignore it -- take it like a man. But that might just be
the worst thing you can do -- and it might just let the
anti-male attitudes become so strong and entrenched that
you will have to face it sooner or later. If it's
"later," it might be too late.
Sociologists have studied group dynamics to see what
happens when one person begins denigrating another person
who is absent. It often happens that the denigration will
escalate and others will join in if no one objects to it.
But if just one person speaks up -- even with a mild
disagreement or a question -- then the denigration is
often sidetracked. The first denigrating comment is sort
of a test to see how others will react. If no one
objects, then others feel free to join in the attack. If
it goes on long enough, the denigrating comments become
the accepted norm.
Let's say a group of coworkers start discussing Joe, who
is not there. One person blames Joe for messing up a
project. Everyone either nods or remains silent. The
speaker then goes on to criticize Joe's handling of other
assignments, getting in a few digs about his personality.
It's now established that attacking Joe is not going to
be met with much resistance. So someone else joins in.
The attack gets reinforced, and it's obvious from the
group dynamics that attacking Joe is acceptable. If this
goes on long enough, attacking Joe will become the norm.
In fact, people might actually feel obligated to attack
Joe if they want to feel like they belong to the group.
Now let's back up to the point where the person first
blamed Joe for messing up the project. Sociologists note
that if just one person says something like "Maybe
Joe wasn't given enough time to finish that job,"
the criticism might be largely defused. Often the attack
will go no further -- unless someone really has a
vendetta against Joe.
Many feminists are coming from environments where the
criticism of men was rampant, acceptable, and expected.
Feminists originally had many legitimate grievances. But
they were aired in an atmosphere without any restraints
on the extent that men could be bashed, blamed,
denigrated, stereotyped, and hated. Bashing men became
the norm. Men are like the "Joe" character. If
people in the feminists' movement had regularly spoken up
with statement like "I don't think we should blame
men for everything, including our own choices," the
man-bashing might have been muted. But instead, most
feminists took the easy way out. They sat silently as the
extremists bashed men, so man-bashing became the norm. If
they spoke out against man-bashing, it was usually
because they though man-bashing was hurting feminism's
Once man-bashing became the norm, we saw the next phase:
many feminists felt obligated to join in the bashing just
to feel like they belonged to the group. It's at this
stage that we see, for example, women who invent false
rape accusations so that they can feel part of the
"Take Back The Night" movement.
All in all, feminist "consciousness-raising"
often consists of reducing men to stereotypes. Such
feminists look on men with open hostility, and still
think they are being "moral" for doing so. We
can't do much about the professional haters like the
National Organization for Women. But what should you do
when feminists start bashing men in the work place? It's
a tough question, but every man has to be prepared with a
plan. Otherwise you are at the mercy of a movement not
noted for its mercifulness. So here are Six Rules we urge
you to keep in mind.
The first two are:
I. Don't overreact.
II. Don't get angry.
Remember, women today are often consider a
"protected minority" in many work places. A
woman might be able to get away with calling you a
"prick" or a "dickhead," but you
might well be fired for replying with a similar
anatomical reference. That happened in a recent case at
the Miller Brewing Co., where one woman worker used
gutter language to describe the male anatomy. However,
when a male coworker made an oblique reference to the
word "clitoris," she complained about him and
he was fired. (The good news is that the man sued the
company and the woman, and won. Still, losing your job is
a tough way to prove a point, and most men don't have the
liberty of doing this.)
The next rule:
III. Judge how serious (and how feminist) the
anti-male attitude is.
If the comments involve a woman's minor irritations
or good-humored grievances against men, don't let it
bother you. Women will always complain about men leaving
the lid up, and men will always complain about women
taking so long to get ready. That's part of the age-old
The comments you have to be concerned about are the ones
with a political agenda behind them -- an agenda of
discriminating against men. Comments like "all men
are potential rapists," or "men hold too much
power," or "men have screwed up the
world," etc., signal to you that a feminist thinks
she is morally and intellectually superior to you, or
that she thinks she is "oppressed" and
deserving special perks and programs at your expense.
When you see that the comments have a seriously anti-male
agenda behind them, you have to be aware of the "Joe
process." Remember, the first comment is sort of a
test to see if the speaker can get away with bashing men.
If she gets away with it, it tells her that anti-male
attitudes are acceptable. Once it is established that
anti-male attitudes are acceptable, they will only get
bolder, uglier, and more filled with hate. We've seen how
that happens in modern feminism's slide from a supposedly
egalitarian movement down into stereotype-slinging,
discrimination-advocating demagoguery. Anti-male
attitudes are like rust. You can't hope that it's just
going to get better if you ignore it.
So how do you respond? That's Rule Four:
IV. Make a calm response pointing out that anti-male
attitudes are not good for the work place.
When the feminist says "Why do men think they
can just go on raping the whole planet?" say to her
"Stereotypes really don't help any of us get
along," or "most anti-male attitudes tend to be
counter-productive." Make your reply a general
statement rather than a personal attack. Stress the good
of the work place.
She might reply, "That's not an anti-male
attitude." (Feminists do not readily admit to
holding any stereotypes or anti-male attitudes.) If so,
don't argue with her. Just say "Okay, I just felt
that bashing any group at all doesn't help us here."
If she's spreading feminist propaganda, you don't have to
debate her. Your goal is not to win an argument. Your
goal it to send the message that anti-male attitudes are
not going to be condoned or be met with passive
acceptance. Don't be hostile, just let her know it's
disruptive. You could say: "I don't think that's
true. Anyway, men and women should work together, and
statements like that won't help achieve that."
So Rule Five is:
V. Do not argue or debate with them.
The work place is not a debating society, and you are
not going to change their cherished opinions in what
little time you have. If you argue with them, you might
get a reputation as being argumentative. Moreover, they
might just be probing you for any statement or opinion
they can take out of context or use as a weapon against
Do not try to appeal to the conscience of a feminist who
is engaging in bigoted or demeaning behavior. If she had
a conscience, she would already know these things are
You might encounter a male who is willing to condone or
support anti-male attitudes. This is common in men who
are women-pleasers and those who are ashamed of being
male. You're not going to talk them out of their
self-loathing, so don't try. But when they defend the
man-bashing by saying "I wasn't offended by that
remark," tell them "Let's be aware that others
might be." Tell him that whether people are right or
wrong about feeling offended, it's not beneficial to job
performance when people feel like they're being
Keep the goal in mind: you're not going to settle all the
controversies over feminism or vanquish their arguments.
You're just making sure her anti-male hatreds do not find
a "safe and nurturing environment."
Remember to object to the statement rather than attack
the speaker -- especially if the work place considers her
a "protected minority." You can talk about
anti-male attitudes, just don't call her a man-hater
(even if she is.)
If you do these things well, you might even gain a
reputation for good managerial skills -- someone able to
defuse a difficult situation. Most people don't really
like the man-hating attitudes of modern feminism. A lot
of people are glad when someone sidetracks the disruptive
anti-male bigot before they work up a real head of steam.
You will find many people who are glad you spoke up, and
they might start speaking up themselves. The situation
could turn completely around from the anti-male attitude
the feminist wished to create.
There will be times when nothing you say or do will be
able to stem the tide of anti-male hatred in the work
place. Many bureaucracies will side with a feminist no
matter how abusive or disruptive she becomes -- they will
protect her no matter what she does. You have to pick
your battles. If you think you can set a tone in which
anti-male attitudes are discouraged, then go for it. But
if the feminists are already free to practice anti-male
hatred with impunity, then the situation has probably
already gone too far.
If that's the case, document everything. Get a notebook
or set up a floppy disk you know you can keep
confidential. Then whenever you experience man-bashing,
write it down. Make sure that you describe the statement
or action and record the speaker, the time, the date the
place and anything you think is relevant. Do this
religiously, whether the man-bashing occurs every day or
once every six months. This is very important. In court
cases, judges and juries are very respectful of
documentation. When you have the anti-male actions
written down, with dates and names all noted, it builds
your credibility immensely. And it shows that the
situation was serious enough that you felt that you had
to document what was going on.
It is all the more important to do this because the news
media is today so biased in favor of feminists. They run
with microphones at the ready when feminists cry sexism
in the work place, but they tend not to be so interested
when it's feminists practicing the sexism. The news media
will do the documenting for the feminists. You need to
protect yourself by doing your own documentation.
And finally, never, ever, underestimate an extremist
feminist's capacity and desire for revenge. There are
feminists who believe that you have committed an offense
simply by disagreeing with them. They are right, and if
you disagree with them, you are an oppressor determined
to keep women down. It does not matter if you are merely
saying that you do not want to be discriminated against.
In their minds, this translates to "He wants to keep
women down and preserve all the male privileges of the
patriarchy." (Anyone who has objected to anti-male
discrimination during a Usenet discussion is familiar
with this reaction.) Well, feminists who react like that
are not merely on the Usenet. They are out there in the
real world. They are coworkers and supervisors, they are
politicians and bureaucrats and reporters. When they've
decided that you are the oppressor-scum, any low blow
they can aim at you will seem justified in their minds.
So when you are objecting to man-bashing, you have to
watch your back. Be aware of who you are talking to. Keep
your ears open for the grapevine. Many extremist
feminists will practice character assassination as a way
of punishing you for the sin of disagreeing with them.
So you already know that Rule Six is:
VI. Document everything.
Document, document, document. It will help protect
you if any feminist decides to launch a smear campaign
because you objected to man-bashing. Your documentation
will help catch them in any inconsistencies they might
have, and it will expose their anti-male attitudes and
also point out their motive for attacking you. But more
than that, by documenting anti-male biases, you are doing
more than protecting yourself. You are writing the
history that politically correct academia will not yet
write. Someday -- perhaps not today, but someday -- the
wider audience is going to finally be told the full story
of extremist, hate-mongering feminists and the
McCarthyesque tactics they use.
Most of all, make sure that your story is
documented for the day when society is finally ready to
take an honest look at the bigotry that has been hiding
beneath the mask of gender equality. So remember what to
do when the man-bashing starts:
how serious (and how feminist) the anti-male
- Make a
calm response pointing out that anti-male
attitudes are not good for the work place.
- Do not
argue or debate with them
- And most
important, document everything.
Lou Owen escaped from the world of cities in 1968
and ran away to the Keeweenaw in Michigan's remote Upper
Peninsula where he lives with his wife Liz. He has two
grown children and works teaching High School and College
history courses. Packpacking, canoeing, chess bridge,
dogs and good movies fill his time but on occasion he
meditates on the meaning of being a man.