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Debunking the Myth of the Man-Hating Feminist

How feminist women have been seriously misunderstood.

Key points

  • Feminism is often misrepresented as an anti-men ideology.
  • Misogynistic men use the misandry trope as just cause for threats and abuse toward feminist women.
  • Research shows that feminists do not hold more hostility toward men than non-feminists or other men.
  • For women’s safety, it is important to resist and dispel misperceptions of feminism as anti-men.

Feminists hold a strong belief that patriarchy harms everyone, including men, and that liberation will be had by all when we dismantle patriarchy and the sexist oppression it props up. Despite that, feminists remain seen by some as little more than man-hating misandrists.

Misandry refers to prejudice, discrimination, or hatred directed toward men that is rooted exclusively in their gender. Opponents of feminism, both men and women, believe that feminists are misandrists who serve only to create division and “gender wars.” Contemporary U.S.-based polls indicate that almost 50 percent of men and women view feminism as an ideology that unfairly penalizes men for women’s issues (Barraso, 2020; Hamel et al., 2016).

Even among feminists, there is some divide about whether misandry exists and, if it does, whether it is useful. Some feminists believe that outrage and anger toward men are useful for keeping the boot to the throat of oppressive systems that impede women’s liberation (Agostini & van Zomeren, 2021; Morgan, 2014). Other feminists, however, view those mechanisms as antithetical to the feminist movement, citing the need to invite and include allies in the work of fighting injustice toward women (hooks, 2000).

The public perception of feminists as misandrists has real-world consequences. Indeed, a rising cohort of men who identify as “men’s rights activists” or MRAs view themselves as an oppressed class, and name feminists as their oppressors (Pry & Valiente, 2013). Their contempt toward feminist women has escalated, with these men believing that both digital and physical intimidation or abuse of feminists is the natural consequence of their man-hating behavior (Beale et al., 2019; Diaz & Valji, 2019). But are their perceptions of feminists as misandrists valid, or simply a fabrication from their own minds?

Contemporary Research on Misandry in Feminism

A recent study (Hopkins-Doyle, Peterson, Leach et al., 2024) revealed that misandry as a feminist trait appears to be a myth. Their research, spanning across six studies and including almost 10,000 participants, provided several key insights about feminism and misandry. First, they found that feminist women, on the whole, do not hold any harsher opinions of men than non-feminist women or other men.

Second, feminists actually tend to hold a positive regard for men, but unsurprisingly, that regard is mediated by how safe or threatening they perceive a man to be.

Third, they found that feminists generally perceive men as fundamentally similar to women, and that the differences we see in our genders have more to do with the ills of patriarchy than core differences in our natures. Their issue, then, is with patriarchy and the sexist oppression it upholds, rather than with men directly.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly when it comes to men’s perceptions of misandry, feminist women in the study were not significantly more hostile toward men than non-feminist women, but were significantly less benevolent toward them. This indicates that although feminist women do not hold hostile views toward men, they are less likely than non-feminist women to coddle men, to give them a pass for their intentional harms, or to practice meekness and humility when correcting them. This suggests that men—particularly those who spend time in MRA circles—perceive feminist women’s refusal to capitulate to men as a sign of hostility and misandry, which, it should be noted, is not accurate.

What Does This Tell Us About the Future of Feminism?

Misandry is a myth. Although it is true that there are some feminists who identify as misandrists, those women are the exception, not the norm. To those men who apply “not all men” arguments to every discussion about men’s harms toward women, this should be a relatively easy concept for them to grasp.

There is some empirical evidence suggesting that women are more likely to identify as misandrists when they have first gained consciousness of their own oppression (Downing & Roush, 1985). Over time, as they become more aware of the systems that underpin sexism and sexist oppression in a patriarchal culture, they disengage from the hatred of individual men and begin engaging with systems instead. If misandry exists at all, it appears to be a belief system with a short half-life that exists in only a small portion of all self-identified feminists.

Men who are dedicated to viewing feminists as misandrists may never be convinced otherwise. However, since those men view their misguided perception of misandry as a justifiable excuse for threatening and abusing women, we must try to dispel these misconceptions anyway. To keep women safe, perhaps feminists who have realized that fighting systems is better than fighting individual men should engage compassionately with women who aren’t there yet. They should gently urge those women to channel their anger and outrage toward dismantling systems of oppression that can actually lead to our liberation, rather than espousing hate toward individual men, or men as a whole. It is not a matter of protecting men’s egos, but rather of keeping women safe. After all, anger is a worthy, valid, and useful tool in the feminist movement. But perhaps, for our safety, it is just better reserved for the systems of power.

No doubt, part of challenging those systems will mean engaging with individual men who do not support our liberation. In those scenarios, anger is justified and perhaps even necessary. So, a safe and successful future for feminist women may mean applying anger and outrage where they are useful, fighting systems of power rather than individuals, and resisting misinformed stereotypes that depict feminists as misandrists.


Agostini M., van Zomeren M. (2021). Toward a comprehensive and potentially cross-cultural model of why people engage in collective action: A quantitative research synthesis of four motivations and structural constraints. Psychological Bulletin, 147(7), 667–700.

Barroso A. (2020, July 7). 61% of U.S. women say ‘feminist’ describes them well; many see feminism as empowering, polarizing. Pew Research Center.

Baele S, Brace L, Coan T (2019) From ‘Incel’ to ‘saint’: analyzing the violent worldview behind the 2018 Toronto attack. Terrorism and Political Violence.

Díaz PC, Valji N (2019) Symbiosis of misogyny and violent extremism: new understandings and policy implications. Journal of International Affairs 72(2): 37–56.

Downing N. E., Roush K. L. (1985). From passive acceptance to active commitment: A model of feminist identity development for women. The Counseling Psychologist, 13(4), 695–709.

Hamel L., Firth J., Clement S., Brodie M. (2016, January 28). Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation Feminism Survey. Kaiser Family Foundation.

hooks B. (1984). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Taylor & Francis Group.

Hopkins-Doyle, A., Petterson, A. L., Leach, S., et al. (2024). The Misandry Myth: An Inaccurate Stereotype About Feminists’ Attitudes Toward Men. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 48(1), 8-37.

Morgan R. (2014). Going too far: The personal chronicle of a feminist. Open Road Media.

Pry A, Valiente A (2013) Women battle online anti-women hate from the ‘manosphere’. ABC News, 16 October.

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