“I Hate Men” (2020) by Pauline Harmange

Non-fiction, translated by Natasha Lehrer, published by HarperCollins Publishers, August 2020,112 pages. ISBN: 978-0-00-845758-7.
I Hate Men | Prose & Paper

Have you ever heard of the Streisand effect?

The Streisand effect is a phenomenon whereby the attempt to suppress something only brings more attention or notoriety to it.


In 2003, Barbra Streisand sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for a photo of her Malibu beach house, which he had taken and published online. Why? Well, she didn’t want people to know where she lived. When the photo was published, only a few people had seen it. By suing the photographer, Streisand and her lawyers created more attention to the picture than they wanted.

PR professionals, especially those who are experienced in crisis management, know the Streisand effect all too well. So does Pauline Harmange, the author of I Hate Men (orig. Moi les hommes, je les déteste): Shortly after her essay was published, Ralph Zurmély, an adviser to the French ministry for gender equality, demanded a retraction of the essay. His attempt to censorship attracted so much media attention that the demand for the feminist book skyrocketed.

According to the publisher, I Hate Men is an interrogation of modern attitudes to feminism and “a rallying cry for women to find a greater love for each other and themselves”. It explores what misandry is and how to define it. It encourages women not to hide it when they hate men, not to be quiet about their misandry, if they are misandrous.

Misandry and misogyny cannot be compared, quite simply because the former exists only in reaction to the latter.

She makes the point that women only hate or dislike men because of their actions, their violence and their sexist behavior. She wonders

why men are as they are. They’re violent, selfish, lazy and cowardly. It doesn’t stop me wondering why we women are supposed graciously to accept their flaws – what am I saying, I mean their deficiencies – even though men beat, rape and murder us. Boys will be boys.

Her misandry is directed against the patriarchy: it is a detachment from patriarchal structures and a conscious rejection of existing power relations. Harmange suggests women focus on themselves, their friendships and solidarity, on self-love and self-care – as a starting point for change.

I would have liked references to other feminist writers and a definition of her understanding of feminism. In describing her own personal experiences, she describes experiences of a white woman in a Western culture. Which, obviously, she is, but she does not discuss her privilege as a white women. So we are dealing with a white feminism here which I found really disappointing.