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Masculinity & Misandry - Matthew Wilkin

The media representation of patriarchy has long been highlighted and discussed in Sociology from the Feminist perspective in particular, but is this view now rather outdated? Many theorists are noting how the tables have turned and that it is now the male that has become the media victim of ridicule and belittlement.


Typing the word ‘Misandry’ into a simple word document provides you with a rather un-fetching red squiggly blemish on your screen due to the fact that it is a word not recognised within the database. The same cannot be said of its complete opposite ‘Misogyny’ and perhaps it is within this discrepancy that the issue begins.

Misandry refers to the hatred of males and is a far less recognised and accepted term than that of mysogony or even patriarchy. The term however is useful to describe how many recent forms of post-modern media portray the contemporary male. Television adverts and recent chart songs often contain an element of male mocking or disrespect.


Mark James from The Times newspaper refers to this process in the media as “The dorking of men” while Loaded magazine writer Martin Daubney suggests there is an image of “Castrated dweebs”. Both phrases reflect this current trend for advertisers to display the male as lazy, inadequate or just a general waste of space.



Adverts from past decades, as documented by Feminist writers, often depicted a rather sexist and patriarchal viewpoint, but there is strong evidence to show that gender representations have become more equal and less stereotyped that those of the past. McRobbie (1999) describes how adverts now encourage females ‘to be assertive, confident and supportive of each other’. Gauntlett (2002) continues this discussion by stating that ‘Female and male characters are likely to be as intelligent, talented and resourceful as each other’.


However, many researchers believe that the pendulum has in fact swung passed equality and moved into the area of sexism towards males. A discussion on the website ‘ (May 2009) highlights how the image of females certainly has improved but the image of males seems to have gone in to reverse “Take a look at how a woman normally appears in such ads.  Almost invariably she will be a smart, intelligent, good-looking person, in full control of her life. If she has a fault it will only be the mocking, pitying way in which she treats the men in her life.  This is not surprising as such men folk are constantly portrayed as wimps, oafs or cretins”


A recent advert for Oven Pride demonstrates this view, the advert features a reluctant man being forced to clean the oven by his long suffering wife, the adverts finishes with the tag line


‘Oven pride is so easy, even a man can use it’  (Left: click on video clip to watch the advert)


The advertising  standards authority (ASA) has received over 1000 complaints (90% of them from men) but remains on our screens, a spokesman for Oven pride justified the advert by stating “The reality is while some men do, many male partners don’t pull their weight at home and this advert simply portrays that”


The general acceptance of this male image is a concern as pointed out by Nathanson and Young (2001) “Misandry is now pervasive and we should be as alert to it as we are misogyny”. Further British adverts often portray the male as a loser in a competitive situation or made to look weak or pathetic:


Despite some adverts being no more than a comic dig at a male’s lack of domesticity, there are further adverts that perhaps push the barriers of distaste even further. An American condom manufacturer ‘Trojan’ caused controversy in 2007 with an advert that shows a bar filled with attractive women surrounded by fat pigs. The women reject the men, disgusted, until one of the men visits the bathroom and buys a condom. He emerges as a hot guy, and the girl at the bar is thrilled to talk to him. The suggestion that all men are pigs and only occasionally break this mould understandably caused more than a few complaints.


A further recent U.K. radio campaign regarding sexual diseases comprises of groups of girls discussing how it is up to personal responsibility to check themselves out and use protection as males are riddled with disease and cannot be trusted to consider the issues or take responsibility for any of their own actions.



Away from adverts, in 2005 The BBC issued an apology over the programme ‘Bring Your Husband to Heel ‘after receiving complaints it was sexist towards men. The BBC Two show featured dog trainer Annie Clayton using her techniques to teach women how to modify their husbands' behaviour. The premise of the show, produced by independent firm Talkback, sees Clayton tackle stereotypical "husband problems" such as computer addiction and failing to do chores.


Viewers complained to the BBC by telephone and on the Points of View website, with one viewer calling it "insulting to men and insulting the intelligence of women“, another called the programme "sexist, degrading, insulting drivel".  This backs up concerns noted by Nathanson and Young (2001) that “Men are routinely defined by a limited set of negative stereotypes: the man as a fool, slob or irrelevance”


Music and Song lyrics

This trend of misandry is perhaps even more noticeable in a spate of recent chart hits that all seem to have a dig at a male’s insufficiencies and lack of capabilities. In the first half of 2009 alone there have been three notable top ten UK hits that follow this pattern:


Does he wash up? Never wash up

Does he clean up? No, he never cleans up

Does he brush up? Never brushed up

He does nothing the boy does nothing


These are the lyrics from the chorus of the Alesha Dixon song ‘The boy does nothing’ using a very stereotypical assumption that males do not, or will not help out around the home


If I were a boy even just for a day

I'd roll out of bed in the morning

And throw on what I wanted

And go drink beer with the guys


If I were a boy

I would turn off my phone

Tell everyone it's broken

So they'd think that I was sleeping alone


I'd put myself first

And make the rules as I go

'Cause I know that she'd be faithful

Waiting for me to come home, to come home


But you're just a boy

You don't understand

And you don't understand, oh

How it feels to love a girl

Someday you wish you were a better man


This shows a selection of verses from the recent Beyonce Knowles track entitled ‘If I were a boy’. The track again follows a very over simplifed and stereotyped viewpoint that males are lazy, controlling and uncaring within a relationship


There's just one thing that's getting in the way

When we go up to bed you're just no good

Its such a shame

I look into your eyes I want to get to know you

And then you make this noise and its apparent it's all over


It's not fair

And I think you're really mean

I think you're really mean

I think you're really mean

Oh you're supposed to care

But you never make me scream

You never make me scream


Not fair’ by Lily Allen describes how her man has lots of good qualities but he ultimately fails due to his poor performance in bed.


These lyrics demonstrate a direct attack on masculinity and that despite being a nice person; a man who cannot perform sexually is practically useless.


The question or concern that many sociologists focus on is ‘What impact is this type of media having on younger generations of males’? Mac An Ghaill (1994) uses the phrase ‘crisis in masculinity’ to describe the insecurity faced by men and that their traditional masculine identity is no longer relevant, yet they are not comfortable with alternative male identities. It would seem clear that many males would certainly feel uncomfortable with the male identity portrayed in the described adverts and lyrics.


Mac an Ghaill goes on to say that many men may respond to this crisis by becoming depressed, fatalistic, turning to crime or by struggling to find an identity that fits into society. This confusion for young men as to what a man is supposed to be is highlighted in 2 songs by the same band in a short space of time:


The shoes on my feet, I've bought it

The clothes I'm wearing, I've bought it

The rock I'm rockin‘, I've bought it

'Cause I depend on me

If I wanted the watch you're wearin‘

,I'll buy it

The house I live in, I've bought it

The car I'm driving, I've bought it

I depend on me (I depend on me)


All the women who are independent

Throw your hands up at me

All the honeys who makin' money

Throw your hands up at me

All the mommas who profit dollas

Throw your hands up at me

All the ladies who truly feel me

Throw your hands up at me

(Independent women 2000)



I need a soldier


That ain't scared to stand up for me

Known to carry big things

If you know what I mean

If your status ain't hood

I ain't checkin' for him

Betta be street if he looking at me

I need a soldier

That ain't scared to stand up for me

Gotta know to get dough

And he betta be street

(Soldier 2004)


Independent woman (2000) by Destiny’s child proved to be a massive hit and enforced the view that females can look after themselves, buy their own house, their own clothes and that a woman does not have to rely on a man, she can make it all by herself. This was followed up by Survivor (2002) but then a compromising track called ‘Soldier’ was released in (2004) which proclaimed a female need for a strong man who needs to make dough (money) and well endowed.  


This  could send rather mixed messages to the male youth causing a confusion as to what a man’s role is, what is he expected to be in a relationship?, is he expected to provide financially or not? And will he be out the door if his manhood is not up to scratch?



Few would argue with Feminist writers that in that past the media were awash with patriarchal images and terminology. It seems now however that sexism unfortunately still exists, but it is now a two way process and of course, two wrongs do not make a right.  The post modern world will continue to throw up a diverse and complex range of behaviours for both genders  but whether the word misandry will one day become as recognised and discussed to the degree of misogyny remains to be seen.



Gauntlett, D. (2002) Media, gender & Identity. London. Routledge


Mac An Ghaill, M (1994) The making of men: Masculinities, sexualities and schooling’. Buckingham. Open university press


McRobbie, A (1999) In the culture society: Art, fashion and popular music. London. Routledge.


Nathanson & Young (2001) Spreading misandry: The teaching of contempt for men in popular culture. Queens university press


Sacks, G (2007) Poisoning our culture against men. Article from (May 2009) discussion

Matthew Wilkin is a Sociology lecturer at Bellerbys college in Brighton, he has previosly taught Sociology in Kenya and Spain and writes textbooks for Collins publishers. Matthew is the main editor and moderator for the Podology website.


Below is a small extract form the Podolgy podcast on Misandry. For more information on how you can download the Podcast series click here

Oven Pride advert

Mr. Muscle advert

Alesha Dixon - The boy does nothing

Lily Allen - Not fair

Beyonce - If I were a boy

Scroll down for more -

Destiny's child - Independent woman

Destiny's child- Soldier

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