Misogyny is a common term that’s often tossed around in social media and traditional media alike. It became more prevalent after Roe vs Wade was overturned. However, there are many misconceptions about what misogyny is and isn’t. Understanding how to define misogynistic behavior can help you to also understand its effects and the best solutions.
Let’s take a closer look at the definition and examples of misogyny.
What is Misogyny?
There are a lot of claims about what misogyny is. By definition, misogyny is a hatred of women. “Mesein” is the Greek root that means “to hate” and “gyne” is the root for “woman”.
Key differences separate “sexism” and “misogyny.” Sexism is directly applied to discrimination based on gender, whereas misogyny is specifically about hatred and a belief that women are inferior.
While these two concepts are different, they are both part of the patriarchal society we live in. Often, prejudice against women is backed by misogyny. In reality, both issues require intervention.
Define Misogynistic Behaviors
Identifying misogynistic behaviors is imperative for addressing and overcoming them. Unfortunately, misogyny can be internalized by women, and exhibited by both women and men.
Here are a few common examples of misogyny:
- Judging the sexual behavior of women and men differently. For example, a man with many sexual partners is seen as successful, while a woman is viewed negatively.
- Disgust regarding female body hair, and not men.
- Disgust of women’s menstrual cycles.
- Blaming women’s emotions and/or distress on ‘hormones” or “PMS”
- Beliefs that women cannot lead effectively or that a woman’s primary role is motherhood.
- The “Madonna Whore Complex” with strict sexual scripts for women that lead to slut-shaming.
Effects of Misogyny
Misogyny is not only unfair and unwarranted, but it is also extremely harmful to society. In the same way that dating a narcissist can affect your mental health, so can dating (or being in a platonic relationship with) a misogynist.
For one, misogyny perpetuates violence against women, including domestic abuse. Author Kate Manne describes how misogyny is used to reinforce male dominance in her insightful book, Down Girl: The Logical of Misogyny
Internalized misogyny can heighten the psychological distress of sexist events as well. One study from Sex Roles found that internalized misogyny increased mental distress from external sexism. It was also related to self-objectivation and passive acceptance.
Since misogyny is related to self-objectification as well as sexism, it may also play a role in body image issues for many women.
What You Can Do
As harmful as it is, misogyny is still a major problem in our patriarchal society. There’s no quick fix for getting rid of it, but there are some ways to start changing the narrative now that you can define misogynistic behavior.
It starts with standing up against sexism and misogyny. The good news is that over half of respondents reported being confident in handling sexism by calling someone else out or confronting harassers.
The other important thing is to take care of your own mental health. Healing from toxic relationships can help women understand their worth and identify the misogynistic people around them. This can prevent internalizing the hatred of women and the values of misogyny.
Additionally, Individual therapy may benefit women who struggle with the effects of misogyny dealing with misogynists in their lives. Couples therapy can also help in relationships where one or both partners demonstrate misogyny, even if unconsciously.
Ultimately, understanding that misogyny is a hatred of women is only the first step. Defining this term can help us begin to break down its roots and create a safer, kinder world for women.