French men are good for life

Hatred of men as a woman's right? A bizarre debate spills over from France

In an essay, a French author explains why she detests all men. The little book caused a stir - also because an official wanted to stop the sale of the text.

Censorship rarely produces the desired effects, we have known that for a while. In France, for example, in the 18th century the authorities had to notice again and again that bans on writings that were blasphemous or critical of the king drew the masses' attention even more to the perishable texts. Unfortunately, people don't learn much from history. And since officials are only human, a book that a representative of the authorities had on the hit list has just become a hit in France.

The fact that the man works as a representative of the Ministry for Equality and Diversity is less surprising than the topic that bothered him: no book that was insufficiently transgender-sensitive, no gay or misogynist book irritated him, no, he was offended by a treatise against men excited. “Moi les hommes, je les déteste” is the title of the essay that the official wanted to take out of circulation when he discovered it in mid-August on the list of publications of a small publisher. Obviously, he wrote to the publishers, the book was in praise of misandry (hatred of men, for those who are not familiar with the word) and, as is well known, inciting hatred against persons or groups is forbidden by law.

Out of stock after a few weeks

His superiors did not want to stand behind the procedure and described it as a private initiative. But that didn't matter, because when the official's attempt to print became known, interest in the little essay skyrocketed. The first edition of 450 copies was nowhere, and the mini-publishing house was overwhelmed with reprints and deliveries after 2500 editions. In the meantime the book is out of print or has been transferred to the renowned publisher Seuil. This will bring it out fresh in October and is already planning a paperback edition.

While the publishers rub their hands, the reader touches the head: The title of the treatise is actually meant seriously and is intended to be a feminist statement. Pauline Harmange, the 25-year-old author, is married to a man, but on 80 pages she defends her right to hate men - not certain men, but all men. She defines the misandry that she defends as a “negative feeling” towards all representatives of the male sex, whereby the rejection can range from simple suspicion to resolute hostility.

Only the others are sexist

Anyone who finds this sexist is, according to Harmange, completely misguided. The author explains that it is impossible to measure misogyny and misandry by the same yardstick, since the man-hating women firstly acted from a position of oppression and, secondly, lived their hatred in a completely different way than the men. Harmange is convinced that every single woman experiences contempt for women in homicides and milder forms of male violence. But if women, reacting to this evil, disregard all men, it will not hurt anyone and, on the contrary, it will do women good. Siblings, united in purely female circles, could each discover their strengths, which the men constantly suppressed.

This line of argument is of course not punishable, and anyone who only wants to live with women should do so. But anyone who thinks that they are promoting feminism with flat generalizations must have lost touch with reality. Instead of stimulating discussion about legitimate concerns, the book can only promote those sterile debates about the essence of the sexes that we had in the premodern. We will certainly talk again extensively about the tiresome old topics in the German-speaking countries, the translation rights for the book have already been sold to Rowohlt. Thanks to the zeal of the officials.