Misogynistic

Misogyny /mɪˈsɒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women.[1][2] Misogyny has been characterised as a prominent feature of the mythologies of the ancient world as well as of various religions. In addition, many influential Western philosophers have been described as misogynistic.[1] The counterpart of misogyny is misandry, the hatred or dislike of men; the antonym of misogyny is philogyny, the love or fondness of women.

Definitions

According to sociologist Allan G. Johnson, "misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female." Johnson argues that:

"Misogyny .... is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel toward their own bodies."[3]

Michael Flood defines misogyny as the hatred of women, and notes:

"Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making. [...] Aristotle contended that women exist as natural deformities or imperfect males [...] Ever since, women in Western cultures have internalised their role as societal scapegoats, influenced in the twenty-first century by multimedia objectification of women with its culturally sanctioned self-loathing and fixations on plastic surgery, anorexia and bulimia."[4]

Dictionaries define misogyny as 'hatred of women'[5][6][7] and as "hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women".[8] In 2012, primarily in response to events occurring in the Australian Parliament, the Macquarie Dictionary (which documents Australian English and New Zealand English) expanded the definition to include not only hatred of women but also "entrenched prejudices against women".[9]

Classical Greece


In his book City of Sokrates: An Introduction to Classical Athens, J.W. Roberts argues that older than tragedy and comedy was a misogynistic tradition in Greek literature, reaching back at least as far as Hesiod.[10]

Misogyny comes into English from the ancient Greek word, misogunia (μισογυνία), which survives in two passages.[11]

The earlier, longer and more complete passage comes from a stoic philosopher called Antipater of Tarsus in a moral tract known as On Marriage (c. 150 BC).[12][13] Antipater argues that marriage is the foundation of the state, and considers it to be based on divine (polytheistic) decree. Antipater uses misogunia to describe Euripides' usual writing—tēn misogunian en tō graphein (τὴν μισογυνίαν ἐν τῷ γράφειν "the misogyny in the writing").[13]

However, he mentions this by way of contrast. He goes on to quote Euripides at some length, writing in praise of wives. Antipater does not tell us what it is about Euripides' writing that he believes is misogynistic, he simply expresses his belief that even a man thought to hate women (namely Euripides) praises wives, so concluding his argument for the importance of marriage. He says, "This thing is truly heroic."[13]

Euripides' reputation as a misogynist is known from another source. Athenaeus, in Deipnosophistae or Banquet of the Learned, has one of the diners quoting Hieronymus of Cardia who confirms the view was widespread, while offering Sophocles' comment on the matter.

Euripides the poet, also, was much addicted to women: at all events Hieronymus in his Historical Commentaries speaks as follows,—"When some one told Sophocles that Euripides was a woman-hater, 'He may be,' said he, 'in his tragedies, but in his bed he is very fond of women.'"
—Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 2nd/3rd century.

Despite Euripides' reputation, Antipater is not the only writer to see appreciation of women in his writing. Katherine Henderson and Barbara McManus consider he "showed more empathy for women than any other ancient writer", citing "relatively modern critics" to support their claim.[14]

The other surviving use of the original Greek word is by Chrysippus, in a fragment from On affections, quoted by Galen in Hippocrates on Affections.[15] Here, misogyny is the first in a short list of three "disaffections"—women (misogunian), wine (misoinian, μισοινίαν) and humanity (misanthrōpian, μισανθρωπίαν).

Chrysippus' point is more abstract than Antipater's, and Galen quotes the passage as an example of an opinion contrary to his own. What is clear, however, is that he groups hatred of women with hatred of humanity generally, and even hatred of wine. "It was the prevailing medical opinion of his day that wine strengthens body and soul alike."[16]

So, as with his fellow stoic, Antipater, misogyny is viewed negatively, a disease, a dislike of something that is good. It is this issue of conflicted or alternating emotions that was philosophically contentious to the ancient writers. Ricardo Salles suggests the general stoic view was that, "A man may not only alternate between philogyny and misogyny, philanthropy and misanthropy, but be prompted to each by the other."[17]


Aristotle has also been accused of being a misogynist; He has written that women were inferior to men. For example, to cite Cynthia Freeland's catalogue: "Aristotle says that the courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman's lies in obeying; that "matter yearns for form, as the female for the male and the ugly for the beautiful;" that women have fewer teeth than men; that a female is an incomplete male or "as it were, a deformity": which contributes only matter and not form to the generation of offspring; that in general "a woman is perhaps an inferior being"; that female characters in a tragedy will be inappropriate if they are too brave or too clever" (Freeland 1994: 145-46)[18]

In the Routledge philosophy guidebook to Plato and the Republic, Nickolas Pappas describes the "problem of misogyny" and states

"In the Apology, Socrates calls those who plead for their lives in court "no better than women" (35b)... The Timaeus warns men that if they live immorally they will be reincarnated as women (42b-c; cf. 75d-e). The Republic contains a number of comments in the same spirit (387e, 395d-e, 398e, 431b-c, 469d), evidence of nothing so much as of contempt toward women. Even Socrates' words for his bold new proposal about marriage... suggest that the women are to be "held in common" by men. He never says that the men might be held in common by the women... We also have to acknowledge Socrates' insistence that men surpass women at any task that both sexes attempt (455c, 456a), and his remark in Book 8 that one sign of democracy's moral failure is the sexual equality it promotes (563b)."[19]

Misogynist is also found in the Greek—misogunēs (μισογύνης)—in Deipnosophistae (above) and in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, where it is used as the title of Heracles in the history of Phocion.

It was also the title of a play by Menander, which we know of from book seven (concerning Alexandria) of Strabo's 17 volume Geography,[11][20] and quotations of Menander by Clement of Alexandria and Stobaeus that relate to marriage.[21]

Menander also wrote a play called Misoumenos (Μισούμενος) or The Man (She) Hated. Another Greek play with a similar name, Misogunos (Μισόγυνος) or Woman-hater, is reported by Cicero (in Latin) and attributed to (Marcus) Atilius (poet).[22]

Marcus Tullius Cicero reports that Greek philosophers considered misogyny to be caused by gynophobia, a fear of women.[23] The context is worth quoting in full, because it deals directly with matters already discussed in this article.

It is the same with other diseases; as the desire of glory, a passion for women, to which the Greeks give the name of philogyneia: and thus all other diseases and sicknesses are generated. But those feelings which are the contrary of these are supposed to have fear for their foundation, as a hatred of women, such as is displayed in the Woman-hater of Atilius; or the hatred of the whole human species, as Timon is reported to have done, whom they call the Misanthrope. Of the same kind is inhospitality. And all these diseases proceed from a certain dread of such things as they hate and avoid.
—Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, 1st century BC.[23]

The more common form of this general word for woman hating is misogunaios (μισογύναιος).[11]

  • There are also some persons easily sated with their connection with the same woman, being at once both mad for women and women haters. — Philo, Of Special Laws, 1st Century.[24]
  • Allied with Venus in honourable positions Saturn makes his subjects haters of women, lovers of antiquity, solitary, unpleasant to meet, unambitious, hating the beautiful, ... — Ptolemy, 'Of the Quality of the Soul', 2nd century.[25]
  • I will prove to you that this wonderful teacher, this woman-hater, is not satisfied with ordinary enjoyments during the night. — Alciphron, 'Thais to Euthyedmus', 2nd century.[26]

The word is also found in Vettius Valens' Anthology and Damascius' Principles.[27][28]

In summary, Greek literature considered misogyny to be a disease, an anti-social condition, in that it ran contrary to their perceptions of the value of women as wives, and of the family as the foundation of society. These points are widely noted in the secondary literature.[13]

In legislation

Petty treason in English common law included the murder of a husband by his wife, but not the murder of a wife by her husband.

Female criminals were also more likely to be burned at the stake as opposed to being hanged during execution.

Religion

Ancient Greek

In Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice, Jack Holland sees evidence of misogyny in the mythology of the ancient world. In Greek mythology according to Hesiod, the human race had already existed before the creation of women — a peaceful, autonomous existence as a companion to the gods. When Prometheus decides to steal the secret of fire from the gods, Zeus becomes infuriated and decides to punish humankind with an "evil thing for their delight" — Pandora, the first woman, who carried a jar (usually described — incorrectly — as a box) she was told to never open. Epimetheus (the brother of Prometheus) is overwhelmed by her beauty, disregards Prometheus' warnings about her, and marries her. Pandora cannot resist peeking into the jar, and by opening it all evil is unleashed into the world — labour, sickness, old age, and death.[29]

Buddhism

Main article: Women in Buddhism

In his book The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender, professor Bernard Faure of Columbia University argued generally that "Buddhism is paradoxically neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought." He remarked, "Many feminist scholars have emphasized the misogynistic (or at least androcentric) nature of Buddhism." He emphasised that Buddhism morally exalts its male monks while the mothers and wives of the monks also have important roles. He wrote as well:

"While some scholars see Buddhism as part of a movement of emancipation, others see it as a source of oppression. Perhaps this is only a distinction between optimists and pessimists, if not between idealists and realists... As we begin to realize, the term "Buddhism" does not designate a monolithic entity, but covers a number of doctrines, ideologies, and practices--some of which seem to invite, tolerate, and even cultivate "otherness" on their margins".[30]

Judaism

Jack Holland also sees evidence of misogyny in the Old Testament story of the Fall of Man from the Book of Genesis. In Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice, he characterizes the Fall of Man as "a myth that blames woman for the ills and sufferings of mankind."[31] (See also Original Sin.)

Rabbis explaining the two biblical accounts of the creation of man explained that before God created Eve, he created Lilith as Adam’s first wife. Lilith was created along with Adam and formed from the earth, just as he had been; however, God used filth and sediment instead of pure dust to create her.[32] Adam and Lilith never had a harmonious relationship because she often challenged his authority. Lilith took offense to having to lie beneath Adam during sexual intercourse, often retorting, ‘Why must I lie beneath you, I was also made of dust, and am therefore your equal.’ Lilith eventually deserts Adam and becomes a demoness who from her union with Adam produces innumerable demons who continue to plague mankind. As the story goes, Yahweh later avoids the problem of a woman’s defiance and claim of equality by creating Eve from Adam’s rib, an insignificant part of the human anatomy.

Besides the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib establishing male authority, the Bible further establishes this relationship through Eve’s role in the temptation of Adam and the “fall of man.” After eating fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, Yahweh asks Adam if he had eaten the fruit and Adam replies, ‘Eve gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ God then curses Eve, saying ‘I will multiply your labour and sorrow; you will bear children in pain; you will yearn for your husband, and be ruled by him! Eve’s action introduced death into the world of humanity, but she also convinced the other animals to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and initiated death into their world as well. Eve is the Hebrew version of the Greek Pandora. Unlike all the other religions of the area Judaism lacked female angels and priestesses thereby disavowing any notion of divine femininity or power derived therefrom.

Bible archaeologist and priest Roland de Vaux relates: The social and legal position of an Israelite wife was inferior to the position a wife occupied in the great countries round about. . . . A husband could divorce his wife . . . women on the other hand could not ask for a divorce . . . the wife addressed her husband Ba’al or master; she also called him adon or lord; she addressed him in fact as a slave addressed his master or subject, his king. The Decalogue includes a man’s wife among his possessions . . . all her life she remains a minor. The wife does not inherit from her husband, nor daughters from their father, except when there is no male heir.[33]

Christianity

Main article: Women in Christianity

Differences in tradition and interpretations of scripture have caused sects of Christianity to differ in their beliefs with regard misogyny.

Katharine M. Rogers in The Troublesome Helpmate alleges Christianity to be misogynistic, listing what she says are specific examples from the New Testament letters of the Christian apostle Paul of Tarsus. She argues that the legacy of Christian misogyny was consolidated by the so-called "Fathers" of the Church, like Tertullian, who thought a woman was not only "the gateway of the devil" but also "a temple built over a sewer."[34] Rogers states:

The foundations of early Christian misogyny — its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction — are all in St. Paul's epistles.[35]

Other scholars, however, have argued that Christianity does or should not include misogynistic principles. David M. Scholer, a Biblical scholar at

Islam

Main article: Islam and women

The fourth chapter (or sura) of the Qur'an is called Women (An-Nisa). The 34th verse is a key verse in feminist criticism of Islam.[41] The verse reads: "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."

Taj Hashmi discusses misogyny in relation to Muslim culture, and Bangladesh specifically, in the book Popular Islam and Misogyny: A Case Study of Bangladesh.

[T]hanks to the subjective interpretations of the Quran (almost exclusively by men), the preponderance of the misogynic mullahs and the regressive Shariah law in most “Muslim” countries, Islam is synonymously known as a promoter of misogyny in its worst form. Although there is no way of defending the so-called “great” traditions of Islam as libertarian and egalitarian with regard to women, we may draw a line between the Quranic texts and the corpus of avowedly misogynic writing and spoken words by the mullah having very little or no relevance to the Quran.[42]

In a Washington Post article, Asra Q. Nomani discussed An-Nisa, 34 and stated that "Domestic violence is prevalent today in non-Muslim communities as well, but the apparent religious sanction in Islam makes the challenge especially difficult." She further wrote that although "Islamic historians agree that the prophet Muhammad never hit a woman, it is also clear that Muslim communities face a domestic violence problem." Nomani notes that in his book No god but God, University of Southern California professor Reza Aslan wrote that "misogynistic interpretation" has dogged An-Nisa, 34 because Koranic commentary "has been the exclusive domain of Muslim men."[43]

Sikhism

Scholars William M. Reynolds and Julie A. Webber have written that Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith tradition, was a "fighter for women's rights" that was "in no way misogynistic" in contrast to some of his contemporaries.[44] However, domestic violence and honour killings are also part of Sikh culture because of misogynistic cultural interpretations.

Scientology

L. Ron Hubbard wrote the following passages in his 1965 book Scientology: A New Slant on Life:

"A society in which women are taught anything but the management of a family, the care of men, and the creation of the future generation is a society which is on its way out."
"The historian can peg the point where a society begins its sharpest decline at the instant when women begin to take part, on an equal footing with men, in political and business affairs, since this means that the men are decadent and the women are no longer women. This is not a sermon on the role or position of women; it is a statement of bald and basic fact."

These have been criticised by Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice as expressions of hatred towards women.[45] However, Baylor University professor Dr. J. Gordon Melton has written that Hubbard disregarded and abrogated much of his earlier views about women, which Melton views as merely echos of common prejudices at the time. Melton has also stated that the Church of Scientology welcomes both genders equally at all levels from leadership positions to auditing and so on since Scientologists view people as spiritual beings.[46]

18th- and 19th-century philosophers

Weininger

Otto Weininger has been accused of misogyny in his book Sex and Character, in which he characterizes the "woman" part of each individual as being essentially "nothing," and having no real existence, having no effective consciousness or rationality.[47]

Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer has been accused of misogyny for his essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." He also noted that "Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies."

Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche stated that every higher form of civilization implied stricter controls on women (Beyond Good and Evil, 7:238). He is known to have said "Women are less than shallow," and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!"[48] Whether or not this amounts to misogyny, whether his polemic against women is meant to be taken literally, and the exact nature of his opinions of women, are controversial.[49]

Kant

Charlotte Witt wrote in the Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy that Kant's and Aristotle's writings contained overt statements of sexism and racism. She found derogatory remarks about women in Kant's Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime.[50]

Hegel

Hegel's view of women has been said to be misogynist.[51] Passages from Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right are frequently used to illustrate Hegel's supposed misogyny:

"Women are capable of education, but they are not made for activities which demand a universal faculty such as the more advanced sciences, philosophy and certain forms of artistic production... Women regulate their actions not by the demands of universality, but by arbitrary inclinations and opinions."[52] G.W.F Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, quoted in Alanen, Lilli and Witt, Charlotte, Feminist reflections on the history of philosophy'

Feminist theory

In the late 20th century, second wave feminism theorists claimed that misogyny is both a cause and result of patriarchal social structures.[53]

Traditional feminist theorists describe many different attitudes as misogyny. According to feminists, in its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female.

In feminist theory, other forms of misogyny may be less overt. Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Subscribers to one model claim that some misogynists think in terms of the mother/whore dichotomy, where they hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant model is the one alleging that certain men think in terms of a virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to an Abrahamic standard of moral purity are considered "whores".

The term misogynist is frequently used in a looser sense as a term of derision to describe anyone who is considered to hold a prejudiced view about women as a group. Therefore, someone like Schopenhauer who proposes that women are naturally subservient to men, has been criticised by some scholars as a misogynist. As another example, a man who is considered by many to be a "womanizer", is often regarded as being misogynist. Examples of this type of man would be Giacomo Casanova and Don Juan, who were both reputed to have had many libertine affairs with women.

In feminist theory, misogyny is a negative attitude towards women as a group, and so need not fully determine a misogynist's attitude towards each individual woman. The fact that someone holds misogynist views may not prevent him or her from having positive relationships with some women. Conversely, simply having negative relationships with some women does not necessarily mean someone holds misogynistic views. The term, like most negative descriptions of attitudes, is applied to a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes.

Feminist theorist Marilyn Frye claims that misogyny is phallogocentric and homoerotic at its root. In Politics of Reality, Frye analyzes the alleged misogyny characteristic of the fiction and Christian apologetics of C.S. Lewis. Frye argues that such misogyny privileges the masculine as a subject of erotic attention. She compares the alleged misogyny characteristic of Lewis' ideal of gender relations to underground male prostitution rings, which allegedly share the quality of men seeking to dominate subjects seen as less likely to take on submissive roles by a patriarchal society, but in both cases doing so as a theatrical mockery of women.[54]

In comparing misogyny with misandry, sociologist Michael Flood, at the University of Wollongong, has argued that "misandry lacks the systemic, transhistoric, institutionalized, and legislated antipathy of misogyny.",[55] while Dr. Warren Farrell and others point out that almost universally, men have been considered the 'disposable' gender, and that misandry has likewise been embodied in all cultures for all times, as for example by society's willingness to force men but not women to serve as soldiers to defend their culture when it comes under military attack.

Camille Paglia,[56] a self-described "dissident feminist" who has often been at odds with other academic feminists, argues that the Marxist-inspired interpretation of misogyny so prevalent in second-wave feminism is seriously flawed. In contrast, Paglia argues that a close reading of historical texts find that men do not hate women but fear them.

See also

Notes and references

Bibliography

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External links

  • Misogyny, Misandry, and Misanthropy

German

Greek

  • Volume 3.

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