Social Question

Pingu's avatar

What has been your experience with misogyny?

Asked by Pingu (692 points ) January 10th, 2013

Directly or indirectly, have you ever had to deal with misogyny? When and where did you encounter it? What was your reaction at the time? Have you ever been a participant? I’d like to hear some of your experiences and then I’ll weigh in with my own.

On the flip side of this question, what do you or do you not consider misogyny? For example, many people don’t see cat-calling or workplace sexual harassment as a form of misogyny. If you don’t think these examples count, can you tell me why?

Merriam-Webster defines misogyny as a hatred of women.

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11 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I tend to lean towards the following: our culture is very sexist, many people are sexist (of all genders) and they can’t all really truly hate women. Funnily enough, as I’m writing up my mini-ethnography on cat-calling (as we speak), I am making an argument against some prominent feminists (that I really dislike anyway, like Mackinnon) which state that every person harassing women simply doesn’t know them well or hates them or is abusing power. The line, for me, between someone who harasses and doesn’t is FAR more blurred. I really don’t believe people who cat-call, for example, hate women. Some do, but that’s not specific to men. And the whole thing is far more complicated, in my opinion, than just saying ‘oh, you hate women, now let’s do xyz.’ When all of us, men and women and transpeople, are raised in a society that marks (in so many ways) women as less than men (even if, officially, on paper, that’s not how it looks), we can’t help but (consciously or not) devalue femininity and many things we link with women (even though we shouldn’t link those things to gender, in general).

Anyway, as a person perceived as a woman by most people who do not know me (I don’t identify as such), I experience lots of sexism but not a lot of misogyny (if we take your definition). I mean it’s hard to tell, I guess, if something happens because someone really hates an entire gender. They don’t really ever explain their actions that way.

Some people have no difficulty defining misogyny. I do because I go with nuance, rather than clear-cut generalizations. Even when it comes to horrific things like throwing acid on women when they ‘dishonor’ men or the family, it’s not just about (if at all) hatred of women though it seems, of course, like such a heinous act. There is a lot involved in that kind of thing, religion, tradition, culture, control, etc.

I also don’t think concluding something is sexist or misogynist is the end of the road. I don’t care what you think it’s about, I want to know how and why it happens and what it means and if there is anything we can do to change that it’s happening. I hate when groups (say men or women or black people) are placed somehow outside society and explained away without evidence. I say we’re all in this shithole of a world together, let’s figure out how we’re ALL responsible, instead of just placing blame. It’s so careless to do so and it doesn’t solve anything. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about identifying where sexism takes place and who does what, but it’s not about making sure I can wag my finger at them, it’s about something more, beyond that.

Pingu's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir do you think that sexism in this country is mostly inadvertent?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pingu I think it is not seen as sexism because it’s so normalized and expected. It’s in how we raise our children, it’s in how we treat behavior (boys will be boys, you don’t want her wearing that). It’s inadvertent because it’s everywhere. I think people really do think men and women are different and they buy into a lot of what that kind of thinking leads to and it just spills over into our workplaces, politics, etc. I really can’t say. I mean, I need you to ask me something more specific, other than ‘sexism in this country.’

Pingu's avatar

Okay. Do you think that when a guy gropes a girl at a party, or when a man rapes a woman, or when your boss touches you in ways that makes you uncomfortable when he’s supposed to be training you – are these things symptomatic of misogyny, or do these behaviors not have to do with hatred of women at all? (These are all things that I’ve experienced, from people who were otherwise (mostly) normal, and I have to wonder how and why they happen.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pingu I consider all of these to be unacceptable behaviors, let me just make that clear. I consider all of these behaviors worthy of brainstorming and fighting head on, in as many ways as we can. Do all of these people hate women? I honestly don’t know. Do all of these people think they are entitled to women’s bodies and emotions and can a lot of that be because of how we do not question gender norms much in this society? Yes.

Pingu's avatar

Okay, then my next question for you would be do you think terms like misogyny and misandry to be unhelpful generalizations that don’t really explain anything about why people think and act the way they do towards members of the other sex.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think they are helpful to explain the degree of something – if someone does actually hate all women, then misogyny rather that sexism alone should be used, as a term.

Pingu's avatar

@Simone I’m curious as to how you have seen sexism in women toward their own gender. Do you see it as mostly a perpetuation of stereotypes or have you seen other things going on?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Pingu As there are many kinds of femininities, women holding certain types can be very derogatory and sexist towards others. That is, if we define sexism in this case as individual action, etc. If we define sexism as a systemic problem, only men can be sexist.

bookish1's avatar

I was raised in a misogynistic household, and I was expected to be a woman. I was supposed to act like a domestic and eventually grow up into one, even at the same time that I was expected to perform excellently in school. It was confusing.

I am very lucky in that I did not experience much misogyny at school or work. I think this had to do mostly with the fact that some of the tenets of second wave feminism have generally trickled down to public school teachers and college professors. So, girls or people perceived as such are encouraged to speak up in class, are not discouraged from studying math or science, etc. I am grateful for these experiences.

I have, however, experienced much homophobia since high school and transphobia/cissexism more recently. These are all manifestations of sexism, as far as I am concerned—the idea that people’s behaviors, indeed their entire lives, should be determined by their sex chromosomes.

Blackberry's avatar

I know a few guys in the military that don’t think women should be on ships in the navy because they’re “a distraction” and they use their feminine prowess to play helpless and get out of work, i.e. “I can’t carry this, can you do it for me?”

They seem almost distraught that a woman could be successful in the military without having had given oral for it, lol.

There’s some stupid people out there.

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