It’s hard to write about one particular criticism against men that we need to move away from when, unequivocally, the criticisms aimed at women are far more severe.
When women are being attacked online, they’ve reported fearing for their lives and the lives of their families. They receive death threats, rape threats, and, if their online assailant is feeling mild, they’re called dumb, ugly, fat whores.
When men are criticised, the conversation is far more likely to actually stick to what they’ve said or what they’ve done, and while it can still be vitriolic, they’re not torn apart to the same extent as their female peers.
But oppression isn’t as simple as men versus women. It’s just not. Certain rhetoric hurts us all, and particular perceptions and arguments do more harm than good.
Like the currently popular insult: manbaby. A man who gets angry and upset. A man who is too sensitive. A man who is vulnerable.
Often, the insinuation is that these men feel they’ve been mistreated by women, or are hurt by something women experience far more often. Which, yes, is extremely infuriating to watch.
Last night, writer Clementine Ford posted an apology to radio host Ben Fordham for unintentionally misrepresenting a conversation they had in a recent column.
2GB host Ben Fordham. Image: Instagram
The majority of the comments left on the Facebook post were, simply put, horrible. They were vile against Ford. They were aggressive towards other commenters. They were nasty about Fordham.
And it's here I noticed how unhelpful and potentially problematic the 'manbaby' insult is. These were some of the comments:
"It's telling that all the boy babies are having a hissy fit. It is what separates men the from boy babies."
"Careful he doesn't draw the attention from real trolls for his princessism. Toughen up mate."
"Wow blokes.. grow a friggin vagina and harden up.. great big man babies."
"Why is Ben getting so worked up over a relatively trivial comment made three years ago...what a man-baby."