Last fall, Slate ran a trend piece titled “The Rise of the Ironic Man-Hater.” They covered the misandry themed shirts, cross-stitches, and mugs, but I mostly remember it for the gifs popular on GT at the time, often involving fish for some strange reason. The gifs aren’t around so much anymore, for such is the nature of memes, but I did just see Slate’s new entry on the subject — “Ironic Misandry Claims its First Victim.” Ironic spoiler alert: said victim is not a man.
One of the attractions of the BAN MEN in-jokes was that they consistently sent MRAs completely round the bend. Instant tantrum material. That tantrum was recently focused on Bahar Mustafa, a grad student over at Goldsmiths, University of London. She’s the welfare and diversity officer for the student union, and the kerfuffle started with her attempt to restrict attendance at an upcoming meeting to women and minorities. Of course, numerous white men found themselves VERY OFFENDED at the idea of being banned from an event they would otherwise have zero interest in attending.
Soon, local tabloids scooped up the story, delighted by the irony of a “diversity officer” banning students by race. While some members of the Goldsmiths student union pledged their support of Mustafa, an anonymous faction of students filed a petition with the union early this month calling for a vote of “no confidence” in her. They alleged that Mustafa had repeatedly posted hashtags like #Misandry and #KillAllWhiteMen to her personal Twitter account. This constituted “hate speech based on race and gender,” they argued. Some students felt “intimidated” and “silenced” by her tone.
Someone even went crying all the way to Scotland Yard, which confirmed that an official complaint of “racially motivated malicious communication” had been made, and that an investigation had been opened. The core of this is a bad faith argument, where your MRA types pretend that #AllMenMustDie is a direct physical threat the authorities need to take Very Seriously. The ironic misandrist attempts to explain, but all jokes fail in the explanation, so she just ends up twisting in the wind of official disapproval and deleted social media accounts.
I’m reminded of the whole deal with Saida Grundy and Boston University over the past week. A female POC in a position of authority at the school suddenly becomes the target of an organized campaign accusing them of being racist and sexist towards white men. Fox News type outlets gleefully jump in and build the story to the point where it becomes legit international news. Like Amanda Hess said in Slate, “So, that escalated quickly.” I think this stuff goes so far so fast because people are already primed to be highly offended at the existence of outspoken minority women. Then there’s the cynical pantomime where people who are actually very loud and angry pretend to feel silenced and intimidated, and the women find themselves hoisted on their own diversity petard.
Mustafa identifies as a “queer, anti-racist feminist killjoy.” She got her master’s degree in gender and media studies from Goldsmiths last year, where she performed Foucauldian readings of Japanese anime porn. She uses the term safe space. She is, in short, anti-feminists’ nightmare. And now, they’ve alighted on the rare opportunity to turn her own PC tools against her. Forget ironic misandry: For a certain class of white male (and his allies), crying racism, co-opting the Change.org petition, and appealing to the cops provides its own ironic thrill.