British author Matt Haig, who wrote the memoir Reasons to Stay Alive, and novels The Radleys and The Last Family in England, became the target of an onslaught of Twitter abuse after suggesting his next book might tackle the subject of masculinity. “Maybe I am missing something,” Haig wrote. “There may be too many books about and by men, but not many looking at the perils of masculinity. Am I wrong?” He continued: “Unless you want to DO AWAY WITH MEN, then we need to look at what masculinity is and why its current interpretation causes problems.” After Haig sent the following tweet, he was quickly met with criticism.
One user, whom Haig retweeted, wrote, “I think Matt Haig should stop talking about feminism now. Somebody stop him, please,” and “He has been mansplaining feminism all day.” Haig continued to clarify his points:
“The sad thing about the Twitter age is that people can be crucified for a rushed thought,” Haig wrote. “Seems there is a certain kind of harcore feminist (the kind who’d be Clarkson if they’d been born male) who think men CAN’T be feminist.” He said men need to talk more about feelings, not less, and that cries of “mansplaining” end up silencing men.
The author was clear that if he were to write a book on masculinity, it would not be antifeminist. “How clear can I put this?” he wrote. “I am not denying female oppression, I am trying to stop it by calling for a more fluid masculinity. … I have never felt oppressed by women, or that feminism is a problem. I do think boys find it hard to like things seen as feminine. I want my son not to feel self-conscious he likes ballet and my daughter to carry on playing Han Solo, that’s all.”
Haig spoke with The Guardian, saying that he “knew that gender is a sensitive and potentially heated subject, and that Twitter can be a bubbling cauldron of animosity.” But the response to his tweets still shocked him. “The moment I said I was writing a book about masculinity, and at first that is all I said, I had people telling me that it was antifeminist,” he said.
The Guardian reports that Haig had “abandoned the idea of the book,” but has since changed his mind, feeling that “the Twitter reaction shows it needs to be written.” If he finds a publisher, Haig said he will go forward with the book.