“Wait, so you just hate men?”

When my best friend’s (now) ex-boyfriend said this to me during a casual meet-up in her living room; I couldn’t believe my ears. My astonishment had somehow traveled all the way down my throat, rendering me unable to speak.

This was definitely not the first time a man had assumed that my feminism translated to hatred towards men. And despite the fact that I’m not one to ever be hushed—especially by such a clichéd trick—this specific encounter was different. This time, I actually fell for it. He had successfully fooled me into thinking that he gave a damn or two about my beliefs.

And so, what had started as a conversation revolving around him asking me about why women need safe spaces had now turned into possibly the most derailed thing in the world.

“Okay hold up; if I were to ask you about the film we just watched, what would you describe the male lead as?”

And he had me fooled again.

So in my state of utter oblivion, I began explaining to him how the wife of the male lead repeatedly tells him to get his life together and when he doesn’t, she just says “Oh, alright then!” and that is portrayed as some fucked up form of a “happy ever after”.

“But that’s exactly why this film is my favorite. It’s just so close to reality”, he said.

I shuddered but mustered up the patience to say “I think you’re just saying that because the male lead gets his way around things. But it’s not that great a tale from his wife’s point of view; from her perspective, this film reeks of patriarchal coercion.”

“Coercion?” he said in a tone, every fiber in my body now loathes.

“Yes, coercion. We, women, are raised to cosset male egos and in return not ask for “too much” from them or risk losing everything that society says a woman should cherish: male attention, approval, and affection. We are constantly told not to rock the boat by demanding what is rightfully ours: maturity and an equal partnership.”

I almost expected him to ask how he could further implement the equality I had referred to, earlier in his relationship.

But all I got was a blatant “Wait, so you just hate men?”

For all the unpaid psychic drudgery I had put into explaining to him my frame of mind, all the times I had tried to break down to him the fact that the problems my best friend and I faced on a daily basis weren’t trivial, I’d probably go back in time and yell out a frustrated “Well, if all men are like you, then yes, maybe I do!”

But that statement would have been discriminatory.

It would just be the outcome of the frustration that comes with every poorly matched relationship that, in this case, (thankfully) didn’t last.

So to all the male specimens reading this, if you think I or any other feminist woman you’re dating hates you just because you’re a man; you’re wrong. Our feminism translates to men and women getting the same amount of love, support, and recognition for putting in the same level of effort.

Hence, if I do hate you, it’s probably a lot deeper than you weighing 200 pounds and being able to beat the daylights out of someone.

It’s probably because of the way you choose to view my feminism and then ignorantly translate it to assume that I’m a man-hater or because you just can’t handle the fact that man-children exist and are coddled on a daily basis, by their significant others.

This encounter has, however, made me question a lot of things.

For starters, where are the men who are willing to understand our pain? And how many of these godly male specimens understand just how obsessed our society is with preserving patriarchal norms?

While there are men who disagree with sexist notions, how many of them are willing to grab a pickaxe and dismantle them with us?

Yes, some men think it’s great that the women they love have thriving careers and choose not to change their surnames after marriage, but who’s actually interested in doing the laborious work of decolonizing heteronormative relationships?

I don’t know. But I do know this: If your favorite romantic film revolves around a man driving a woman insane, you ain’t it.