The 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 sone 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).
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 yet, 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.
“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
Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and it’s newly released sequel, of sorts, Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.
Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com