In the past year, I've gotten into Star Trek. I'm working my way through The Next Generation right now, and let me tell you, it's a great show full of interesting ideas and important social concepts. However, one episode has been niggling at me ever since I saw it.
In "Angel One," the team visits a planet occupied by a misandristic society, in which men have few to no rights. This society is depicted through a simple role reversal between men and women--and it's really, in my opinion, not at all accurate to what a misandristic society what look like. Sexism derives from a deeper and more complex base that would lead to many more differences between such a society and our own patriarchal culture. The very core idea of misogyny, after all, is that the feminine is inherently lesser than the masculine. What exactly we call "feminine" and "masculine" does differ between cultures, but I think that in looking at the biological differences between the sexes, we can get something of an idea of what a society that values the feminine over the masculine would look like:
*Contains discussion of the human body, including sexual characteristics and sexual attraction*
In a misandristic society, women would be seen as the more rational gender, while men would be seen as overemotional and unstable: "testerical" as opposed to our own "hysterical." Because testosterone, the "male" hormone, increases both aggression and thrill-seeking behaviors, it's likely that anger, violence, and other physically risky activities would be looked down upon. This does not mean that war, cruelty, and the systematic destruction of marginalized groups would not occur, as they do in our society. However, these horrors would likely be performed in a cool and clinical manner, through official channels, and, most likely, through medical and biological means rather than explosions and hand to hand combat. They would be treated as "kindnesses" rather than as violence: literally, killing with kindness.
Because women carry and give birth to children, motherhood--and parenthood in general--would be venerated. Pregnancy would be seen as the ideal state and childbirth as the greatest human triumph. The most high-paying and prestigious jobs in this society might relate to childcare, such as teaching, pediatrics, and media written for children. However, it's also possible that all of the positive energy would be focused solely on pregnancy and childbirth, and that the actual raising of the child afterwards would still be seen as a lesser duty. In that case, the most high-paying jobs would continue to be those in business and scientific fields. Nonetheless, because physical strength and musculature are more emphasized in the male body, sports would not be taken as seriously.
Possibly one of the most ridiculous parts of the "Angel One" episode is the way it depicts beauty ideals, most notably through the outfits worn by men.
In our society, the "ideal body" for both men and women is based off of what men consider to be attractive. Multiple studies have shown that the image of the rough, muscular, chiseled man that we see most often in the media is in fact what men see as ideal. In a misandristic society, beauty standards would be based instead off of what women see as ideal--and incidentally, it's not what "Angel One" shows.
According to the studies, women are generally attracted to men with soft but solid features: larger eyes and lips, a clean jawline, less bulky musculature, and a decent height. This is because women instinctively seek out men who look as though they would make devoted partners and fathers. These men need to have low enough testosterone levels to be loyal and gentle, rather than promiscuous and violent, but also the strength to act as protectors when necessary. Women seek out the features that best reflect this. As such, men would most likely wear makeup that enhances the eyes and lips and softens the angles of the body. Bodybuilding would not be a thing, but neither would men with smaller statures be idealized.
Women are also most drawn to the movements of men's upper bodies, particularly their arms, so the "sexy outfits" of men in a misandristic society would emphasize this area. Most likely, men would be entirely shirtless, with jewelry that draws attention to the arms, and their lower body would be covered. There might be some added attention to the genital area, but it wouldn't be shown in the outfits like in the pictures above. Rather, I can imagine men feeling pressure to emphasize the size of their genitals, as women do in our society with breasts, by stuffing their underwear. (Length, incidentally, would not be the primary issue, as it makes little difference in female sexual pleasure. Girth would be the primary focus.)
Additional beauty standards would place the female body as the ideal. Because women's bodies are curvier and have larger fat deposits, and because the body during pregnancy is even larger than usual, thinness would be seen as a negative in this society. Ideal bodies would have many curves, and cellulite and stretch marks would probably be considered beautiful. However, because body hair is thicker on men than on women, it would likely still be seen as a negative--but the pressure to remove body hair would be much stronger on men than on women. Additionally, higher pitched voices would be considered beautiful, whereas men's lower voices might at times be an auditory annoyance.
This is the misandrist base upon which all of the more overt and recognizable symptoms of sexism would stand. Women would be the heroes of almost all storytelling, with men appearing only as tools for the women's needs. Male friendship would not appear in the media. Women would not be encouraged to care about or listen to men's stories. Women would be the majority in all positions of power, political and business, and men would be paid less and would likely perform the majority of unpaid work. Medical science would focus on the female body, and male-predominant health issues would be ignored or seen as another sign of "testerica." In any wrongdoings done by women towards men, people would blame or ignore the man, rather than giving him justice or protection. If we move this misandristic society further still, past the advances we've made in our own society, men would not be allowed to work or have voting or property rights. They would, in fact, be considered property, and their entire existence would be at the whims of women. Whatever a woman did to a man would be seen as justified. Nothing a man said would matter.
Now, I could be wrong about the details of this depiction. This is all theoretical. But the point here is that the writers of "Angel One," failed to recognize the true depths of sexism and how even the fundamentals of a society are altered by prejudice. A truly misandristic society, like our own misogynistic society, would run more than surface deep. Prejudice truly is woven through everything.
What do you think? What would a truly misandristic society look like?
Thanks for reading, my friends, and I will return on Wednesday.
Images via Star Trek on YouTube, theomegasector.com, and flashbak.com.
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