I am a feminist. Categorically, indubitably, unfalteringly a feminist. Misogyny really, really gets my goat. As a card-carrying member of the human race, however, I feel just as strongly about misandry. The OED defines misogyny as “hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women”, and misandry is the male equivalent.  The old myth that feminism is linked to the hatred of men is one that still permeates much of society, and is an active hindrance in the long-overdue acceptance of feminism as simply the rational belief that men and women are equal, and should be treated as such: feminist and misandrist are not synonymous.

The publication of the ‘Gender Agenda’ by the CUSU Women’s Campaign- which describes itself as the “student voice for gender equality in the university”- last week has once again highlighted this as an issue that needs addressing if feminism is to escape from its perpetual marginalisation. The very first page of the publication features a cartoon of an angry woman with the caption “I see you douchebag, don’t you fucking dare”, and this aggressive language sets the tone for much of the rest of the edition.

At this point I should point out that the CUSU Women’s Campaign is incredibly valuable: without them and without the hard work of college Women’s Officers many important issues in Cambridge would be all too easily side-lined. The ‘Gender Agenda’, too, is a great idea, and much of its content is excellent, particularly the article that emphasises the importance of educating yourself, with the (readily available) facts about rape, and it is impossible to do anything but applaud the bravery and recognise the importance of those who come forward with their experiences of sexual assault.

Yet almost consistently throughout the publication men are portrayed as this definite ‘other’, a malign concept, a homogenous mass of sexual urges and the desire to oppress. One article includes an incredibly patronising list of commandments outlining in no uncertain terms what men should and shouldn’t do. Imposing behavioural and social limitations on others because of their gender? Isn’t that essentially what we’re fighting against in the first place?

The notion that men don’t have the right to contribute to debate about feminist issues is divisive, regressive and petty: obviously men have a pretty negligible amount of first-hand experience when it comes to actually being in possession of a vagina and all that entails, but continuing to cultivate the idea of feminism and ‘women’s issues’ as a very separate club that only women are allowed to join is phenomenally unhelpful in terms of inspiring any actual change. Purposefully remaining on the fringes is actively obtrusive.

The debunking of rape myths is another key issue well addressed in the ‘Gender Agenda’, the assertion that “what rape myths are really saying is that women aren’t really human, they are sex objects” valid and important. But don’t do the same disservice to men. Don’t assume that every member of the male sex is a sexually voracious libido-fiend who seeks to perpetuate these enabling fictions: that, also, is categorising an entire group of people as sex objects, albeit of a more predatory kind.

Feminsim, sexism and all that these impressively divisive terms encompass have been in the public consciousness more than usual lately, whether due to the reactivated debate on the 12 week limit on abortions, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s impressive attack on her misogynist opponent in parliament or the revelations about Jimmy Saville’s sexual abuse. Now is the time to be pushing feminism forward as common sense, shared by both men and women, not to be perpetuating the tired stereotypes of man-hating feminists that the ‘Gender Agenda’ unfortunately repeatedly succumbs to. Think about it. Be angry; oh by all means be angry: it’s a way to fight apathy, to get things done. But above all, be rational. Don’t sink into hypocrisy and misandry: two wrongs really have never been particularly productive in creating rights.