Sunday, May 10, 2009

Misogyny, Misandry and What Lies Beneath

DuWayne has been very, very bad. We're talking horribly evile and possibly even stoopid. Recently, I had the gall to use the term misogyny, while totally failing to counterpoint it with accusations of misandry after being attacked with an apparent attempt at misandrist rhetoric. Worse, it was then noted that in all my posts about gender, I have only mentioned misogyny once and never mention misandry. Apparently it didn't matter that the time I posted about misogyny, it was to chastise someone who made a flagrantly bullshit accusation of misogyny. No, what matters is that I have completely ignored misandry.

Evile I tell you, I am totally evile...

Or am I?

There is a reason that I haven't really discussed misogyny and misandry. While I definitely do not approve of either, I am far more interested in writing about the roots of misogyny and misandry. Rather than focusing on specific incidents of M&M, I want to focus on why I think these are persistent problems in society and the evidence that suggests that I'm correct in my perception of the underlying problems. And while there are plenty of folks discussing specific incidents of M or M, there aren't so many discussing how to deal with the root causes.

While I am not one to shy from illustrative anecdotes, I tend to be a rather abstract thinker. I am more interested in the why than I am in the specific whats. The why is important, because until we understand the why, we can't deal with the whats and ultimately we'll just be stuck in a reactionary mode that will never accomplish anything.

But I think there are some very important points to be made about M&M. Accusations of M or M tend to fly way too freely. Like many other sorts of accusations, the overuse of M&M has gotten to the point that both words, especially misogyny, have been rendered virtually meaningless. Like the post I wrote about misogyny - accusing someone who is criticizing someone else of misogyny, simply because the person being criticized happens to be a women is absolutely absurd on it's face. Likewise, taking the lying gameplaying insult at Greg's blog and assuming that it exemplifies misandry is absurd. It was a personal insult leveled at me and men who share some similarities with me - it was far from a generalized statement of man hating.

These should be very powerful words, yet like many powerful words they are rapidly becoming useless. When I was a child, bigot was a word of similar power and while it is still a relatively nasty word, one can't assume that a person being accused of bigotry has said or done really horrible things. It has gotten to the point where we just use too many damned power words in inappropriate places. We just destroy the potency that such words should have and render them useless when it is appropriate. And I say we because unfortunately, I am occasionally guilty of it as well.

What's really rather ironic, is that I didn't really think that the original post that fostered this discussion (warning: there are rather nasty trolls on this thread, do not read scroll down that thread if you have bloodpressure problems) was showing something that is inherently misogynistic. Rather, the very old childrens book pictured perpetuates gender roles that lend themselves to misogyny and destructive gender role conflicts. That book and the bullshit it perpetuated is definitely worthy of discussion and I plan on writing about it at some point. But even that is not worthy of accusations of misogyny. Rather, it is worthy of fostering a discussion of what lies beneath misogynistic attitudes and ultimately misandrist attitudes that were fostered in the backlash of the social gender constructs that book fosters.

But even beyond the discussion of M&M, it would really behoove us to quit acting like complete and utter fucking morons and use power words sparingly, so that they can retain their power.


Anonymous said...

I viewed the cartoons in the childrens book, and I am not sure that the stereotypical depictions would lead to misogyny. I could understand how those stereotypical attitudes would become an impediment to women collectively. Although I am convinced that the cartoon depictions are symptoms of an already existing cultural prejudice against women,i.e. the symptom rather than the disease or what leads to the disease. Also I am not sure that the preexisting stereotypical sentiments stems from "hatred for women".

Most of those stereotypical depictions have been destroyed anyway, and for the better, so I don't see what the argument was about anyway, dealing with a person like that is just a waste of your valuable energy and time.

Remember what Freud said- "I think the idea of misogyny is a stimulant to feminists, it's rather like anti-Semites looking for Jewish noses everywhere."

DuWayne Brayton said...

Anon -

First, please do me a favor and use a name - any name to sign with. It becomes a huge pain to know who says what if people don't.

I didn't say that they lead to misogyny, I said that the book fostered gender constructs that fostered misogyny and ultimately misandrist sentiments in the form of backlash. I don't see what the argument was about anyway, dealing with a person like that is just a waste of your valuable energy and time.Did you actually read the "argument?" Because the earlier argument wasn't much of one. And the latter one that I actually linked to had little to do with misogyny.

And the entire point of my post here, was to discuss the overuse of the terms misogyny and misandry, so I'm not sure the point of the Freud quote. In the context I used it in that thread, it was entirely appropriate. The ideas being espoused were in fact based in misogyny - note I didn't accuse the idiot perpetuating those ideas of being a misogynist - merely that the ideas he was espousing a Belief, that was outdated and steeped in misogyny.

Dan J said...

Hi DuWayne. Love the blog here, as well as your posts elsewhere.

I don't know that there is an overuse of both the terms misogyny and misandry as much as there is misuse. I count myself guilty of this misuse as much as any other.

I think that perhaps both of these terms are used in places where "chauvinism" would be more apt. My only reasoning for this is that I assume a level of "hatred" to a certain degree when misogyny or misandry are used. When there is an implication only of superiority rather than outright hatred, "chauvinism" seems a more appropriate term.

Robert, who posted in the comments back at Greg's place, would definitely not qualify as a misogynist in my book. If he were, I doubt his home life with his wife would exist at all. I do believe that his chauvinistic ideas support misogyny.

Miss Ginny said...

Yeah, you were right: using the term misogyny diffuses the effect and the 'outreach' of the word misandry. Like early feminists were careful to do with statisticts, facts, and counterpoints that contradicted their own, I believe we should limit if not outright refuse to use the terms of the oppressor( in this case the college edumicated middle class suburban white woman and her insistence that she is a victim). Terms like Massageny; masseuserism;misogeristicism; Miss Odd ginny, and ol'Massa' Ginny are better substitutes, because every time you utter the word in print, you give it power, and lend your own credence to it as a social force that is bigger tyhan it really is( re: the Google hits' analogy of misandry -v miso...well, you know the word.)

DuWayne Brayton said...

No miss ginny, you fucking moron, every time you utter a word when it is not appropriate, it loses it's effectiveness for those times when it is appropriate. And if your reading comprehension exceeded the second grade, you would actually understand what I said. But of course you must not, because if you could comprehend English, you would have stopped characterizing what I said here and over at Greg's.

Of course you did start on the thread at Greg's with dishonest bullshit games, so maybe you are just an all around lying sack of shit.

DuWayne Brayton said...

DanJ -

Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you like it...

I look at misuse/overuse as much the same. And it's not always mere overuse - the post that I wrote about misogyny, was a definite case of overuse or using it inappropriately.

I also didn't assume that Robert is a misogynist. The whole use of the word misogyny in that thread, was really to describe the foundations of the ideas that Robert was espousing. I don't assume that everyone who buys into that bullshit is inherently misogynistic, some of them are merely ignorant.

I do disagree with characterizing misogyny as only reaching a level of hatred - when chauvinism becomes virtually pathological, I consider it misogyny. Likewise, when women get the same attitudes about men in general, I would consider it misandry. Absolute hatred is simply not inherent. And while I don't believe that Robert is a misogynist, it is very possible for a misogynist or a misandrist to be partnered with a member of the sex they treat rather degradingly. There are men that will put up with it from women and women who put up with it from men.

Dan J said...

I just had a thought which I wanted to share. Misogyny and misandry brought to mind the recent legislative rumble about hate crimes. Any idea whether hatred toward either gender has ever been used as grounds for a hate crime conviction?

Anonymous said...

Well I was the person who posted the first response so I apologize that I didn't use a name.You responded to "Thompson's" post by saying quote:,"Pretending that science supports misogynistic bullshit Beliefs - check

Pretending to wish that supposed "evidence" supporting misogynistic bullshit Beliefs didn't - check"

I read all of his post and I didn't interpret his sexist and stereotypical statements as being based on misogynistic beliefs, that is all I was pointing out.

Loony yes but misogynistic, no. I don't understand how those depictions foster misogyny that is a hatred for women.I would understand those sentiments if indeed the cartoon depictions were those of lets say a domineering wife or an evil mother in law,or a femme fatale, all I saw was stereotypical gender roles.

To provide an example take Shakespears Hamlet in which it is stated "Frailty thy name is women!" that doesn't necessarily mean that sentiment fostered gender constructs that fostered misogyny.

Also why waste time with useless ad hominem in defending your opinion on an issue? Disproving or proving a claim is subverted by ad hominem, it is below your character.

Anyway just take what I posted with a grain of salt it's just another opinion, an just an opinion from an old man who finds your blog to be interesting to some degree.


Anonymous said...

Misogyny is a behavioural manifestation of a psychosexual disorder.Misogyny is considered by psychologist as a result of a childhood environment where the male child is subject to physical abuse,extreme neglect,or psychosexual abuse by a women.

The male child might have suffered emotional,sexual,or psychological and physical abuse at the hands of a woman that results in a intense hatred for women.

Whatever the causation, misogyny is a psychosexual disorder and is an intense hatred for women.Gender roles are a set of behavioral norms assigned to males and females, although sometimes stereotypical they are not based on hatred of any gender.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Hey John, thanks for signing off this time. It makes it a lot easier to differentiate...

I do think that ad hominen is rather non-productive, but I am also something of an asshole. I realize that it doesn't paint me in the best light, but I accept who I am and the fact that I am not all that good at stifling my distaste for people who piss me off.

Anon, not John -

First, please put a name to your posts - I really don't care if it's made up or even absurd, it becomes a huge pain to figure out who is saying what.

Whatever the causation, misogyny is a psychosexual disorder and is an intense hatred for women.And if I am talking in terms of clinical psych, I mean exactly that. But this is not clinical psych and in the context of gender theory, prejudice against women or men, is identified as misogyny and misandry respectively.

Gender roles are a set of behavioral norms assigned to males and females, although sometimes stereotypical they are not based on hatred of any gender.Which I agree with entirely. But what I said is that archetypal social gender constructs, such as the ones depicted in the childrens book I talked about, are the basis for most misogyny. It doesn't mean or even imply that everyone who follows those gender constructs is a misogynist. What it means is that most misogyny stems from those constructs.

Jason Thibeault said...

DuWayne: I honestly don't know why this guy started calling me out by name, but I'm going to start fighting alongside you for real. I guess the troll has won, as I'm now fighting him, which is what trolls aim for.

I'll leave his arguments against your points, to you, and take up the points he throws at me, as a form of division of labor. I honestly thought you were unequivocally winning the argument when I first said I was surprised the thread was still going, though the rage you're displaying now is dampening the effectiveness of the points you're making, and probably making him laugh (which is the other goal of a troll). I don't mean to stop swearing or anything, he's an asshole and deserves every word of it, just be careful your points don't get lost in the e-shouting, huh?

Does this count as some kind of collusion or conspiracy to team up against him? If so, hooray!

DuWayne Brayton said...

Fuck it Jason, I'm giving it up. He went from mildly irritating to actually pissing me off with his fucking bigotry. I don't have the energy to spare on garbage like him, so I'm bowing out.

Becca said...

Look, I'm drawn to conflict like a moth to the candle, but that thread is just icky.
I couldn't bring myself to read all of it carefully, so my apologies if any of this has already been stated.

Actually, I think Crazy McTrolly had a point. Misandry is a less common word than misogyny. Firefox is even underlining it as a misspelling (though it has no problem with misogyny). I had to Google to check the spelling (Google knows everything- Misogyny:Misandry = 4:1. Equally revealing is that the top three hits for misogyny are wiki, and two dictionary hits. For misandry it's wiki, and a book on Amazon. This hints that people are arguing more about what misogyny means; which would possibly be consistent with your view that it's overused. I think of "misandry" as a 'higher level' vocabulary word as well, but that might just be my weird take).
Even if you want to reserve both words for situations where truly egregious behavior* is evident, there's still a reason one is more common than the other.

Now, trolly assumes this is because we can't see misandry and/or we don't call it out. I assume it's because misogyny is more common.

*Something interesting happened to me as I was writing this comment. I was going to say parenthetically that I don't actually find misogyny to be emotionally charged enough to care how it's used, but I could see how you would since I have thought the same thing about the term "racist". Then it hit me.

"OH WAIT. That's because of who I am. 'Misogyny' is not emotionally charged for me because I'm not afraid of being seen as a misogynist. On the other hand, the idea of being perceived as racist is highly distressing."

Interesting how that works. Wonder if it's just me.

Jason Thibeault said...

Becca, to me, the difference between misogyny and mere sexism is that misogyny is an active hatred of women. Crazy McTrolly is right that it's being misused by society, but he's also more guilty of it than the other examples in the thread, and probably more guilty than the vast majority of the uses on Google.

I agree that misandry is much less well known, but "man-hater" or "feminazi" is probably better known. And I'm guessing the backlash results from the overuse of "misogynist" as a cry for equality beyond the point where it's really necessary to fight for equality -- when you push and push for equal rights, then you get them, and keep fighting, then you get backlash from the other side where they say "that's it, enough", then you get reactionists like our troll.

Sorry DuWayne. I'll take up the fight for a while. I'll probably bow out eventually too. I don't think I have this nutbar's stamina.

Becca said...

Jason- are you a linguistic prescriptivist? Do you believe all words have One True Meaning, and that we should all agree on it, and that language never evolves, and that we should take the most literal definition possible (ideally derived from Greek/Latin roots)?

If so, dislike of misuse of words, any words, makes a lot of sense.
But I detect a lot more vigor in attacking "incorrect" uses of misogyny than other words.
Just as I would attack "incorrect" uses of the word racist. But that wouldn't be because 'racist' is only used with one meaning, it would be because of my own fear of being termed that. Moreover, when I believe I have a right to determine how other people use the word (MORESO than other words)- that is just another way I haven't gotten past my privilege.

If you're a linguistic prescriptivist, you're going to have a lot of arguments over defintions. That's ok; I'm suceptible to them too, but they do tend to get boring.
If you just don't like this word being used this way, ask yourself- are you resistent to the idea someone else might see your behavior as misogynistic?
If you operate from the perspective of "I'm not a misogynist, so anyone who is describing any behavior I might exhibit as misogynistic is wrong" I think you'll miss some opportunities to grow as a person.
The difference between "behavior" and "identity" (a misogynistic thought/act and a misogynistic person) is a helpful distinction here.

Jason Thibeault said...

Becca: Me? Prescriptivist? Not at all. I am fascinated with etymology of words, enjoy using archaic meanings for words that trip people up in conversation on the odd occasion I can employ one without alienating myself, and often employ "new" words or slang. I realize, and accept happily, that languages evolve regionally over time. I have argued with people over blatantly incorrect uses of words in the past, but generally let slide use of words that have shades of meaning similar to what's intended.

In this case, my issue with the "misuse" of the word misogyny is that it is indeed a power word as DuWayne said, and as such it loses its power every time it's used when a "softer" word describes the behaviour adequately. The (wholly uncited and conspiracy-theory level) examples described by Meme suggest active plots to undermine men as a whole (e.g. misandry) when there's no evidence of such, and as a result, betray his own misogyny, in the sense that he hates women in general, as he perceives them as perpetrating some great premeditated evil. This is a level above and beyond misogyny in the sense of treating women as inferior or such, so I think it's useful to have a more powerful word to describe the more egregious instances.

If my arguing against the use of the word in the less-egregious instances left you with the impression that I'm covering for my own misogyny, well, that kind of sucks. I dunno what I can do to counter that idea, and suspect there isn't anything I CAN do in fact.

Jason Thibeault said...

By the way: the asshat is sullying my own blog now. If your blood pressure is down at all, and you're interested, it's here:

Otherwise, don't worry about it. I got this.

Hap said...

Whether the meaning of words is taken to be inherent in them (unlikely) or in their use, words still mean something. If you use them to imply a depth of meaning or emotion that the things referred to don't warrant, eventually the words won't be useful for anything - the hearers won't be able to gather any useful data or impressions from their use. I assume most misuse is not actually intended to diminish the power of a word but simply to use its power for questionable ends.

Greg Laden said...


This is WAY better than the discussion over on my site where it started. You do nice blog, work, DuWayne.

My 2c, only addressing some of these issues: Male violence against women, sexual abuse against women, etc. etc., over mysogynistic acts, etc. etc. (all where the fact that the victim is a woman matters materially) is obviously way more common than female violence against men (etc.etc.); and it is also obviously true that which is presumed, assumed, and by way of confirmation bias confirmed is probably more biased than the actual results. It's like 'racial' differences in negative behaviors, crime in the suburbs vs urbs, etc. So yes, CMF has a point, and Becca's observation are probably very accurate.

A possible problem with the definitional side of this is that mysandry and misogyny are not mirror images or parallel, nor is sex biased violence or any of this. Or caring and love for that matter. Well, not everything is gendered all the time (for all practical purposes) but there are real and serious genderized aspects to this.

That's all I have for now. I know, not much. I've been recovering from hypothermia all afternoon.

Miss Ginny said...

Wow. DuWayne: " you fucking moron"...and "if your reading comprehension exceeded the second grade"...and "maybe you are just an all around lying sack of shit.".

Hmm. Issues with intellect, you conniving, coon-eating cracker ass Michigan dirtbag pigfucker?

It appears that nothing I could possibly say by way of agreement or disagreement at this point has any weight, considering that I have caused your rather obscure blog about your self involved rage cycles and subscription drug adventures more hits in one day that it has had all f#cking year..

You absolute reject--you fucktard.
Pull your curse word infected head out of your gaping asshole.

If you don't get it by now ( and this goes for all of you fucktards who are conflating masseuserism with psychological disorder--labeling it and sidelining it-- rather than addressing it with the women in your own lives as a social force that requires discussion)is a reaction to misandry perpetrated on young boys)

My main goal here was 'guerilla memetics'and in this case I picked You Du, a troll in your own right to get the word out. Thanks for that BTW.
Now Du, at what point in your dialogue do you put aside rage inflamed rhetoric, name calling, and other trollish behavior, and actually discuss something? Because at this rate, it looks like you and your first grade playground bad behavior and name calling can only escalate into --well, into you becoming rather obscure again, and rolling around in your self pity. Not to mention you won't get a gold star in your 'playground civics' square !

Greg L: I don't agree at all that male to female violence is more common--primarily because we train boys from early ages to not report, or take seriously, womens violence. It was well known in the early days of VAWA legislation that women 'initiated' violence more often, whereas male to female violence had more 'damaging' results.
I have often pointed to one source, Martin Feibert, that documents this and other patterns:

Again, boys who are abused by women do not have the outlet that girls do when it comes to reporting womens violence against them, and statistics on that violence are scarce, largely because of a focus on girls as 'victims' rather than perpetrators.

I know you hate the anecdotal evidence, but a simple social phenomenon that hints at widespread female to male child violence is the oft repeated "momma gonna beat my/your ass" by people like Jamie Foxx, Dave Chappelle, and a host of other comedians, many of whom are African American. Rather than this being a cause for alarm ( imagine of the joke was about fathers beating or molesting daughters, how easily this would be not only taboo as a source of humor, but an outrage)

DuWayne Brayton said...

Yes, you are a fucking moron and I have no desire to try to engage with you. You have no interest in conversation, you'd rather play fucking games and apparently now assert delusions of grandeur.

How about a game of hide and go fuck yourself? Your it.

Miss Ginny said...

No, DuWayne, based on your previous writings about being a narcissistic little prick, you're it.And I have no doubt you are fucking yourself as I write.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Better a narcissistic prick who's not living in denial, than a lying piece of shit - and a narcissist to boot, who probably doesn't even realize who and what he actually is.

I'm trying to work on my issues, you?