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.