Before we get started, let’s throw this out there. Languages like ‘men’ and ‘women’ are used repetitively in this text to refer to the masculine and feminine ends of the gender spectrum. We understand that gender has more to do with your self-classification and is not based on societal or biological labels. Still, for context and better understanding, we have used the terms ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘male,’ ‘female,’ and so on to refer to opposite ends of the spectrum.
That said, let’s get right into it.
The term ‘misogyny’ has been used too long to refer to a man who’s particularly discriminatory towards women or the female gender. However, there is much more to that concept. Not all misogynists are men, and certainly, not all hate women. Some misogynists are simply biased, while others don’t even know their ideologies are misogynistic. So, how can you tell what’s true or not? How can you define the concept more accurately? The answer is in this guide. Here, we’ll uncover the hidden truths about the term ‘misogyny.’
The best way to understand a concept is to define it. So, what is Misogyny? The Oxford Languages Dictionary brushes at the surface by saying that it is a term used to show a form of dislike or contempt for the female gender. The source also further explains that it is the act of showing ingrained prejudice against women. That seems to cover it, right? Maybe. Let’s look at a more in-depth definition from a study published by Kalpana Srivastava et al. in 2017. They said the word’s etymology rose from Ancient Greek to mean a pure hatred for women. However, the term has taken up different sets of new meanings due to modernization and language improvement over the years to define misogynistic traits. Some of those new meanings include:
- Belittling of women,
- Sexual harassment toward women
- Gender inequality toward women
- Male privilege
- Sexual objectification, or
- Violence against women
Misogyny has spanned from ancient times, appearing in different forms throughout history and even in religious books. It’s also one of the core sources that gave birth to women-related acts, including Gender equality, women’s rights, and even feminism.
But it’s the 21st century. Misogyny can’t really mean this much hatred toward a woman, can it? Let’s look into that.
What does Misogynistic mean?
Back in the old days, it was easy to believe that misogyny meaning could be harsh, violent, and almost inhumane. But now, the meaning has evolved and taken up so many forms that one could even be confused about what the term refers to. That’s why, instead of describing the different facets that misogyny can take, here’s a list of the different forms of misogyny.
Pure hatred for women
This is the simplest and most obvious answer: what does misogyny mean? This form is usually comparable to being sexist against women. Some traits here involve gender discrimination, unnecessary anger towards women, getting irritated at women for no reason, and so on.
You might not ‘hate’ women, but you might think you like them. However, when your love for women starts to seem stereotypical, harassing, or offensive, you might be misogynistic — especially if this love is peculiar only to women. For instance, catcalling ladies or referring to women only by their physical (and personal) traits is an example of misogynistic behavior. Some female misogynists harass other ladies or try to impose these beliefs on others.
Giving special favors
The people in this category might not even know they are misogynistic. They think they love everyone equally, and they have rational and logical reasons always to favor men over the women—even in the workplace. Women, too, can be in the category if they use words like ‘I’m a woman, so I’m not as good as the man.’
Having a strong belief in gender roles
Another form of misogyny is the strong belief and enforcement of traditional gender roles. So, does that mean most people from the Gen X era and older are misogynistic? The short answer is Yes. If a woman wants to take care of the home and the man wishes to work, that is fine. But it should not be seen as a sin if it happens and vice versa.
Having no regard for women
This is not the same as pure hatred for women. It just means women are not too important for you to even care about them in the first place. When a woman cleans the table, you don’t even notice she did it; even if you did, you act like you didn’t. But when a man cleans the table, he has done the world a favor. The same thing can be evident in public and political spaces. When a woman speaks, it’s inaudible, and you might even talk over her, but when a man speaks, it’s like the whole world should stay quiet and listen.
Rejecting women’s ideas
In this category, women are acknowledged, just refused and rejected. The woman is not invisible; neither is she hated. She’s also allowed to do things other than the traditional gender roles. But even if she tries, all her efforts are rejected or put down—that’s another form. Usually, women are compared to men and are made to feel less than or never enough.
Besides labeling women with traditional roles, classifying over three billion women into a behavioral pocket can also be misogynistic. Note that this is outside of scientific studies where all women are known to have XX chromosomes. But if a person believes all women should be ‘feminine’ and soft, that’s an example right there, especially if you think those who are tough are on the wrong spectrum.
Some other examples include sanctioning women for calling out sexism, not crediting women even if they plagiarize their work, finding it easy to blame women, and so on.
Before moving to the next topic, you must understand that most people categorize misogyny for men. But this is not so. There are male and female misogynists who might show their traits differently, but it’ll be under the umbrella of the abovementioned types.
What is a Misogynistic Relationship?
With everything listed above, you might think you’ll be able to detect a misogynist by a mile. It’s not always easy. Even more shocking is that you can be dating a misogynist (male or female) and not even know it. Here are some subtle signs to tell if you’re in a misogynist relationship.
- When the person starts to identify a woman as an object instead of a person, E.g., ‘I have tons of women under my belt,’ ‘Women are nothing but a pencil in my hands,’ ‘I don’t like to toy with women, they are teddies,’ etc.
- When the person catcalls. E.g., ‘Hey lady, how about we hit it off tonight?’ ‘You don’t have to run from me, I don’t bite,’ ‘Pretty ladies like you need a man for comfort. And I’m here, so it fits,’ etc.
- When the person has terrible relationships. As a woman, this happens when the man’s always leaving, and you keep feeling like it’s because you were not ‘woman’ enough for him.
- When the dominance-submission relationship becomes forceful.
- When (in every argument) the woman is always to blame.
- When both couples or one of them has strong gender roles
- When both or one of the couple is uncomfortable with the woman’s success
- When the person uses terms that refer to women as the devil. This is usually more implied when the person quotes the religious belief that women are the cause of man’s downfall.
- There’s always criticism about the woman’s body of imperfection, weakness, or fragility.
- When there’s sexism involved.
- When the person or both of them believe a woman is a whore.
Chauvinist vs Misogynist
Now that we have answered the question: What is a misogynistic relationship let’s see the difference between the chauvinist and the misogynist.
You may have heard of the word ‘chauvinist’ and wonder if they mean the same time or are under the same umbrella.
A chauvinist thinks men are superior to females and should be domineering. However, this person does not ‘hate’ or discriminate against the female person. Men who fall under this category could be over-protective, play the alpha male part, or be outrightly fatherly. But a misogynist thinks women are not just weak but should always be put in their place.
Besides the chauvinist vs. misogynist confusion, another aspect many might seem to misunderstand or compare is sexist vs. misogynist. Misogynists are sexists, but not all sexists are misogynists. It’s just like saying that females are human beings. But not all human beings are females.
Sexists are people who discriminate based on gender. These people could be unfair to females, males, or even people within the gender-diverse spectrum. That’s what makes misogynists a classification under this umbrella. A noteworthy point is that chauvinists are also sometimes categorized as being sexist.
Opposite of Misogyny
Women are not the only ones that can be labeled. Even men can sometimes be subjected to misogyny. The only thing is that it’s no longer called misogyny when they’re at the opposite end of the pole. The opposite of misogyny is Misandry, which refers to the hatred of men. A woman can become misandrist towards a man because of the fear of misogyny. Also, feminists could become misandrists in their attempt to gain female rights.
While this topic can continue, you need to understand that strongly imposing these beliefs could lead to mental health issues, social withdrawal, insomnia, medication addiction, and even depression. You also need to come to terms with the fact that both sides of the coin are not fun for the victim. Therefore, whether you have self-diagnosed yourself with it or are a victim of either form, don’t hesitate to seek help from a medical practitioner and counselor. When these forms of sexism have been treated, everyone benefits.