Misogyny Defined

reut-miso-e1350497963883The meaning of the word “misogyny” is literally “hatred of women.” Although that is the actual definition of the word, most misogynists think they love women. Misogyny usually manifests less as overt hatred and more as a general belief that men are better than women. They objectify women, belittle women, and control women.

The results of misogyny are rape, abuse, murder, lower pay, less opportunity, general discrimination and loss of power, restrictive gender roles, and more.

In it’s most basic form, it’s treating women as if their purpose on earth was for male pleasure and service, whether sexual, social, or professional. “Smile, sweetheart. You look so much prettier when you smile” is an example of every day misogyny, where the man is saying this to a strange woman on the street, suggesting that her very existence is to look pretty for him. He doesn’t take into consideration that her mother might have just died or she’s going through a divorce or struggling with a disease or a million other things that humans deal with. He interrupts her world to tell her to smile. It’s offensive.

This is an example of where he genuinely thinks he’s doing a nice thing, but the underlying cultural meaning is much deeper. He doesn’t realize it and she likely doesn’t either. It’s perpetuating the cultural understanding that women are supposed to be pretty and sexy and fuckable for men. Just look at any magazine on the shelves to see this. All those horrible star magazines about who’s fat and flabby in their swimsuits…they’re all women. They’re not showing men with beer bellies, they’re showing celebrity women aging or without their normal airbrushed perfection, and they’re mocking them for it.

The “smile, sweetheart” is a basic example, but the same intentions (whether conscious or not) are behind men who shout, “nice tits” or “I’d tap that” or the like at women on the street. It’s called street harassment.

As for the over-sexualization of women in our culture…It’s halloween, just look at the difference between the male costumes and the female costumes.

These are cultural examples. Both men and women perpetuate misogyny and rape culture without even knowing it. This is why it’s so important to talk about it and make people aware. Because, for the worst men, all of this gives them social license to continue more overt forms of misogyny, like abuse and rape. And they’ll get away with it, too. Most of them. 97% of rapists get away with it. Only 3% ever see even a single day in jail. Only 14% ever even see a trial.

Think about how the media handled the Steubenville Rape Case, where they lamented how those poor, poor rapists’ lives were ruined by that vindictive bitch. That is the mentality of the culture. Women rarely lie about rape, about 1.5-2% lie. That’s less than other false crime accusations, like theft or whatever, which are around 8%. What happened in Steubenville happens every weekend and hundreds of high schools around the country. That one just got some media attention. 600+ women are raped every single day.

Back to misogyny, “dizzy broad” “she must be on her period” “she’s overreacting” are all examples of every day misogyny. Shortly after we got Buster, our new dog, he got out one day we were away. Some guy found him and called the number on Buster’s tag. I thanked him over and over and went to pick Buster up. The guy wasn’t there when I did, but his father was. I thanked the father again, and he said I should thank his son, since it was he who found him and put Buster in the yard to keep him safe. So I did. I texted the son and said I couldn’t express the depth of my gratitude. He responded, “I can think of a few ways. You sounded hot over the phone. I’d like to see if I’m right.”

I was flabbergasted! He turned my gratitude for doing a decent thing into sexualized debt. Since I’m already a survivor of rape, I was terrified because he knew my address. I called the police to report it just in case it escalated, and they minimized it and dismissed it (just like the police did when I reported the rape, by the way…which is why 60% of women don’t report rape).

That’s misogyny.

Other examples of misogynistic speech:

  • “Calm down. You’re too emotional.” (Classic gaslighting.)
  • “She’s a spinner!” (normally said about a very thin, petite woman)
  • “Look at those tits/that ass!” (objectification)
  • “She needs to know her place.” or “Did you put her in her place?”
  • “I’d like to get me some of that.” (objectification)
  • Any comment meaning to control a woman or tell her what to do
  • Any comment that belittles a woman to a sexual object or a collection of body parts
  • Talking about a woman as if she has no other purpose than a life support system for her vagina
  • Supporting misogynistic industries like the bulk of (notice I did not say all) porn and overtly sexualized images of women
  • Treating women as if their sole purpose for existence is for your visual or sexual pleasure
  • Suggesting that a woman was “asking for it” or “deserved it”
  • Uttering the phrase “cry rape” under any circumstances
  • Phrases like “skull fucking” and “bone smoking,” “fish taco” and “carpet muncher”
  • “This is not just about sex. There are 30 women I could call right now who will fuck me.”
  • “Nice guys finish last, awesome guys finish on her face.
  • “Why can’t you look like her?”
  • Rape or roofie jokes of any sort.
  • “You throw/run/hit like a girl.”

My father is a misogynist. A serious misogynist. He is also a generous and kind and loving man. He has little idea he’s a misogynist. He was socialized that way and he has hurt a lot of people because of it, me and my mother not withstanding. He has become more aware of it over the years, but he’s still a pretty serious misogynist. I call him on it these days. One of the hardest things for me to grasp is that someone can do horrible abusive things and they can also do wonderful, loving things. It’s complex. The struggle to understand two completely opposite things like this is called cognitive dissonance. You might have come across the term in your medical studies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

Saying some of the things above doesn’t necessarily make someone a misogynist, because it’s been so immersed in our culture (especially the seemingly innocuous things like ‘you throw like a girl’), but as intelligent, compassionate people, it’s up to us to challenge the underlying cultural problems with perpetuating this type of thinking and become more self aware around the language we use.

Kids are being exposed to this kind of thinking and speech every day at every turn, it’s important to understand this so boys, especially, can be taught to view women as complete human beings, not entities put on earth to please them. That’s what’s called male entitlement, and it’s running rampant on college campuses and in high schools these days.

A recent report shows that 1 in 10 adolescents (between the ages of 12 and 17) have sexually assaulted a classmate, mostly because they don’t know what they’re doing is sexual assault. Forcing someone to kiss them, grabbing someone’s ass or breasts, snapping a bra strap, those are all instances of unwanted sexual contact; i. e. sexual assault. Having sex with someone too drunk to consent is rape. People can say “No Means No” until they’re blue in the face, but when a wo/man says no and the other doesn’t stop but continues pushing pushing pushing past hours of NO until they finally get a yes, that’s coercive rape. It’s not a yes. It’s a coerced yes. If s/he says no. Stop. Period.

We must start teaching enthusiastic consent to where it’s not a “yes” mumbled through fear or tears or coercion, it’s a YES! YES! YES! said either through their lips or their actions. It’s a beautiful dance for two people to come together in this way. No coercion. No begging or breaking down barriers. Enthusiastic consent only, then there is no question. We must start to teach our sons and daughters that sex isn’t something a man pursues at all costs and women are not the gatekeepers. Sex is something two adults choose to do together an expression of love and/or desire for one another. It is not a power tool. It is not a duty or something owed. A woman is not an ejaculatory machine to be discarded after use. We must teach respect.

Just think:

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now. You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt, skank. Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy, I’ve even heard the term “mangina.” Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. No tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” – Jessica Valenti, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

~ by omgrey on October 28, 2013.

13 Responses to “Misogyny Defined”

  1. Powerful stuff, relevant and true. Thank you for stating it so coherently.

  2. You know what’s amazing? I cant watch TV or a movie these days, without a sex/kiss scene, and 99% of the “first kiss” scenes are the male grabbing the woman’s face/head. It’s an assault — regardless of her response. You know how hard it is to get away when someone’s holding your face/head? Really hard. There is no consent included, anymore – -it’s just an assault — and if it turns out she likes it, then good for him and her. And of course she always likes it, unless it’s shown intentionally as a rape scene. So the message is that that’s how to kiss a woman, grab her so she can’t get away without a fight.

    • That’s a really good point, Donna. Assault is assault, and rape is rape. If she liked it or wasn’t traumatized by it, they both got lucky.

      I feel the same way watching TV/movies these days. So much misogyny, sexism, assault, and rape. So, so much.

  3. Today I attended a viewing of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In on Campus presentation where she talked about combating gender bias. She asked the men in the room to raise their hands if they were called “bossy” when they were little, and then she asked the same question of the women. I knew there would be a huge difference, but it was still shocking to see no man in our viewing room raise his hand (granted we didn’t have many guys in attendance) and half the women raise theirs. We have to deal with misogyny since we were three years old. That’s how ingrained it is, and it’s something I’ve only started to realize.

    • Very interesting, and not surprising. I bet none of those men were ever called “slut” or “tease” or “prude,” either. I bet those men don’t have a “rape plan” or walk with their keys between their fingers.

      Those exercises are very beneficial, indeed.

  4. Well put. I like that you didn’t automatically label someone a misogynist just because they’d made a few mistakes in it all. The person’s overall intent and attitude need to be taken into account.

    Fighting this sort of thing is hard, because it’s learned at such an early age. I was shocked a few years ago when my 12 year old stepson commented on our neighbor’s picture, “I’d tap that.” I don’t think he even really knew what it meant at the time, or he wouldn’t have posted it where we would see it. My wife and I discussed it with him at length, including why the young lady (also 12 at the time) shouldn’t have been posting a sexualized photo of herself and how he needed to show her more respect and ensure that he held her up with dignity rather than objectifying her. We’ve revisited the issue several times since then, just to make sure he really gets what’s going on. He’s a good kid, but society is often a bad influence on the best of us.

    I mean, we live in a world where 10 year old girls are wearing a brand of clothing called “Juicy”. NOT RIGHT.

    • We live in a world where girls are taught that unless their fuckable, they’re worthless. Then they get called a slut for appearing fuckable. They can’t win.

      It’s a sad state, indeed. 10 and 12 years old…breaks my heart. I remember having the concept of “looking sexy” when I was 5 years old. I kid you not.

      As soon we, as a socieity, begin to value women for who they are rather than how they look, things will change. It’s starts with conversations like you had with your son. Just as you didn’t blame him for repeating what he heard, you can’t blame the girl for doing what she learns every. single. day. as the key to being accepted and liked.

  5. R Hans Miller: as soon as i read: “Well put. I like that you didn’t automatically label someone a misogynist just because they’d made a few mistakes in it all. The person’s overall intent and attitude need to be taken into account,” — i knew the posting was from a man. Sorry , you get no pass from me. We victims do NOT have to take your “ov e rall attitude and intent” into account. We are DONE. And the more you say that crap, the more you reinforce that women and girls should be sugar and spice and everything nice, while boys get to be … “will be boys.” F you.

  6. He’s a “good k id”? No, he’s not, anymore. He may have been born good, and raised good by his parents, but after society has affected him, as you yourself claim – he is no longer a “good kid.” He needs to be locked in his room, or whatever you do to discipline your kids — not just talked to. What wo uld the world look like if women mattered? It would be treated with the seriousness it deserves, THAT”S how you prevent your son from becoming a future (?) harasser/rapist.

  7. Gee, i do hope i’m not sounding too “bossy,” here or “bitchy.” I’ll bet i just became unfuckable, unless it was a revenge f uck, right — teach me a lesson, huh… seriously, man, stop spouting that “he didnt mean anything by it” crap.

  8. […] the same age-old misogynistic […]

  9. […] 10 years ago, I wrote a post on my alter-ego’s blog Caught in the Cogs called “Misogyny Defined.” I’d like to share that post with you […]

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