On misogyny

The Oxford English dictionary defines misogyny as:

“dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”

which by all accounts is a developed definition which is meant to capture the usage of the word more than it’s strict Greek roots. 

Is this developmental change in how we use the word – and indeed how women use the word – part of the problem men have with accepting the label?

Because frequently misogynists will tell you they “don’t hate women”. But I’m more interested in your cultural, knee-jerk attitude – indeed, your ingrained prejudice. 

I accept that a man who blames a woman for not divorcing an abusive husband does not “hate women” but he does have a compeltely skewed understanding of the position of women in society and of the realities of abusive relationships for the abused partner. 

I accept that a man who says women could succeed in politics if they just tries harder does not “hate women” but he does fail to grasp the long-standing historical barriers that even 21st century entrants into politics must overcome.

I accept that allowing someone to represent your party despite being given evidence of their abusive character towards women does not mean you “hate women” but it does mean you are complicit in allowing someone whose personal life indicates a shall we say shaky attitude towards equality to continue working in an influential position despite their ingrained prejudice. 

So if I call you out on your misogyny, rather than shouting at me with your instantaneous outrage that I dare to do so, maybe you should consider why I am using such a powerful word. Perhaps it’s to try and counter your abuse of power. And perhaps your failure to consider my rationale is just one more example of your ingrained prejudice that you are somehow superior to me. And perhaps your not seeing your own misogyny is why feminists talk about structural barriers as well as individual hurdles. Remember the word ingrained. Not intentional (necessarily), not something you have done deliberately (necessarily) but an ingrained attitude you have betrayed and I have pointed out. Now fix it. 

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17 thoughts on “On misogyny

  1. I hate the way you write. It’s deconstructive and unhelpful for both women and men. Yes, I’m a man, and yes “I don’t hate women”, but I’m sure you’ll just say that I’m a misogynist anyway. It’s offensive.

      • Because misogyny is offensive. I don’t use the word lightly. I use it in an attempt to shake attitudes. If you accept misogynistic attitudes and I call you on that and you are offended then so be it.

      • Your perception of the situation is significantly incorrect.By intentionally offending me, in some ways you are as bad as a misogynist. Few if any would contest that misogyny is offensive, in the same way that noone would contest that ‘murder’ is offensive (to say the least!). Your ‘attempt to shake attitudes’ will (has) annoy the men who do not hold these view and will not impact at all on the men who do hold these views. I do not ‘accept misogynist attitudes’ – I also do not accept badly thought out rants by women who believe they are entitled to offend men just to try ‘calling us’. Maybe do a bit of research next time to *talking* to some men?

    • Sigh. Why, oh, why do so many men insist that their hurt feelings are more important than a woman’s experience of a patriarchal (and yes, misogynistic) system that continues to oppress us?

      Ooooh. You are offended. Cry me a river.

      Get back to me when it is MEN who are the VAST majority of victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

      Get back to me when it is MEN who face additional hurdles to get into positions of senior management, and even when they do, they are compensated at much lower rates than their female colleagues.

      Get back to me when it is MEN who can’t walk into their local corner store without facing an entire wall of magazines that reinforce the message that their entire value as a human being is assessed on how closely they manage to achieve an unrealistic, air-brushed, surgically enhanced aesthetic ideal.

      Oh, and get back to me when it is WOMEN who overwhelming control political positions and discourse in this country.

      Until then, if truly don’t “hate women”, try listening to them when they speak. Try understanding how frustrating it can be to be a woman in what is still very much a man’s world. If you really don’t “hate women” try letting your male feelings and privilege– FOR ONCE — take a back seat to a women’s experiences.

      P.S. the word “deconstructive” does not mean what you think it means.

      (PPSS Google: tone policing)

  2. You have some interesting points (and personally I don’t care about grammar and spelling if I can follow what you’re saying, I have to have someone read over my blogs for me sometimes, I’m terrible at grammar).

    One question I have for you is why you call people out as being misogynists? Not as a general thing (like this blog) but in real life. If someone does something you view as misogynistic why say “you’re a misogynist”? I find that words like this are too emotive. People stop listening and get defensive. If I want someone to consider or change their behavior I’ll discuss it with them. Maybe ask what made them say that in the first place. People tend to respond more freely then. An example: my mother said recently of a story of a friend’s house being broken into after a wedding, “oh, I bet it was one of the servers”. My first response was outrage. Why assume that just because a person is working in a “lower” profession that they are more likely to be the thief? I could have just said to her: “you’re prejudice, stop it”, and been mad at her for her opinions. But instead I asked her why she assumed that, and what led her to that assumption. We had an open and honest communication that led her to explaining her view more deeply (in fact, it came less from prejudice and more from heist movies where people get jobs as servers to “case” a location for future robberies). In this case, she thought more about how her words came across and I was able to understand why she said what she did because we were able to talk about what she said.

    Now, all situations and people are different, and some people are misogynistic and will talk down to you and ignore you, but I’ve found that if I want a person to think about or change their behavior than emotive, negative words are not the way to do so.
    Obviously, if the person has hurt you and you just feel like verbally attacking them one day then I completely understand, but that’s a whole different reason for calling someone out on their behavior.

    • I totally agree with you, and could be accused of exaggeration for effect!

      I wouldn’t go straight to insult in any situation, and certainly not in discussing gender equality.

      My frustration stems from situations where ingrained attitudes are somehow excused, and then an accusation of misogyny denied, over time.

      As I said, I don’t use the term lightly, and indeed it saddens me when it’s application is the only conclusion.

  3. In-grained. Yes. Mysogyny is ingrained in our society. Sadly it is articulated and communicated by both men and women. If it is solely considered as a male problem our society will not change. We need to address society’s negative attitude to women in general. As a parent with 2 daughters, now young women I have become acutely aware of how society in general is negative towards women, judges women more harshly then men, and that this starts as soon as they hit their teens. Sadly the prejudice is often led and articulated by women.

  4. Sometimes the introduction or rather, revelation of such a profoundly important issue such as the one you have vividly portrayed requires a psychical disgruntling, which you have boldly provoked.
    Whereas ideas, beliefs and actions shall be defined based on the subjective view of the observer, hopefully one day we will all realize, male and female, that though we each bear varying levels of emotional, sexual and academic intelligence we are all still human,and thus we are all equal.

    To have a superior intelligence within any of these fields does not make one superior to the opposing gender.

    Some may not get it, but i think i do. Kudos, blessings to you and yours.

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