What is a misogynist? Misogyny is a concept that has been present for centuries. Thanks to activism such as the feminism movements, misogyny has become more recognizable in society and more people are calling out misogynistic behavior. This podcast with Dr. Kate Balestrieri and Randi Shover discusses the psychology is misogyny and how people can heal from and work against misogynistic oppression.
What is a Misogynist?
Someone who is a misogynist has beliefs and values rooted in patriarchy, or a male dominated society. A misogynist often believes that men are superior to women, are not deserving of equal rights, and overall display prejudice against women identifying people. Misogynists do not view women on the same level as men, thus they view and treat women much differently, usually with less empathy and respect than they’d show a man.
Misogyny can show up in families, relationships, work environments, politics, media, and many other aspects of culture and society. Some examples of misogyny can include a family treating male children differently than female children, a man telling his partner that it’s their responsibility as a woman to cook and clean, a boss favoring the opinions of male employees over women’s contributions, and forms of media where women are either sexually objectified or used as plot devices solely for the male characters’ development.
In one of the most significant and recent displays of misogyny, the Unite State’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, making abortion rights for women less accessible and more dangerous. Weaponizing legislative and political power to control a woman’s reproductive rights is one of the highest forms of misogyny as it erases bodily autonomy in the name of political ideology and religion, whether a woman agrees with those beliefs or not.
Misogynists often want to completely control women and detest education, advocacy, and movements that empower women to make their own choices. The more personal autonomy and empowerment a woman has, the more misogynists fear losing power and control.
It’s important to note that while misogynists are often depicted as men, women can display misogynistic actions and beliefs as well, often called internalized misogyny. Women who adhere to misogynistic values typically and often subconsciously seek to align themselves with men as a means of relational and emotional security, and sometimes financial security as well. Women who put down other women’s values and choices and stay in proximity to misogyny are often called pick me girls.
Why Are People Misogynistic?
Misogyny is the contempt and prejudice of women, but people who are misogynistic aren’t born that way. Misogynistic ideology must come from somewhere and oftentimes it starts in the home they grow up in. People who grow up in family dynamics where women are discussed in rigid or dismissive ways are more likely to align with misogyny if it’s not unpacked at some point in their adolescence or adulthood.
For example, let’s say someone grows up with a family that calls women who have sex outside of marriage sluts and whores. A misogynist who believes that will place those beliefs on the women they interact and women in society.
Even if one didn’t necessarily grow up surrounded by misogynistic messaging about women, a person’s personal experiences can shape the way they view a certain gender. An example in the context of misogyny might be a man who thinks all women are manipulative and callous after experiencing a painful breakup.
Cultural factors can also play a role in making a misogynist. Some cultures have very rigid gender roles placed on people and social consequences when someone steps outside of those roles. An example of cultural factors playing into misogyny is certain religions that promote puritanical values on women, also known as purity culture. There is often a narrative in purity culture that women should be modest, submissive, and accommodating and women who do not fall into line are impure, dirty, and sinful.
People’s individual views, values, and beliefs are often products of their environment, whether it’s early upbringing or personal experiences.
The Physical and Social Dangers of Misogyny
Some choose to see misogyny as either something that is not real or something that is blown out of proportion. In reality, there are very real dangers that misogyny presents to women identifying people. It can be argued that misogyny constitutes as a form of gender-based violence against women. Violence includes emotional abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse and harassment, all of which thrive under misogynistic ideology and behaviors.
Under misogyny, women are not safe. Within an ideology where women are deemed of lower value and respect than male counterparts, they will remain more victimized in terms of violent crimes. Someone with severe misogynistic beliefs does not see women as their equal and thus it becomes easier for them to dehumanize and abuse women.
While women are the most likely to be victimized systemically under misogyny, men also do not benefit from a misogynistic worldview. For one thing, misogyny ruins relationship satisfaction for many people. Studies show that at least for long term heterosexual couples, marriages tend to be happier and last longer when there is an equal power distribution. Power imbalances leaning towards men are inherent to misogyny so it can be argued that misogynistic men tend to have less satisfying relationships than those who value a more equal dynamic.
Unpacking systems of oppression like misogyny can be challenging work. For some, it dismantles the way they were raised to see the world and untangling that can feel destabilizing. Though it’s hard, the work is possible and starts with ourselves. While we can’t fix other people’s misogyny for them, we can identify and call in those who might need some awareness around their beliefs, when safe to do so.
We can’t choose our upbringings and the societal messaging we receive when we’re young, but we can do the internal work as adults needed to view others with more empathy, respect, and compassion.
Having spent her professional life working within male-dominated industries, Randi Shover has a lot of experience with, and a whole lot of thoughts about, the inherent misogyny in our society. In particular, she has a lot of thoughts about how men can take active steps to identify their misogynistic behavior and how they can stop it.
As a single mom of two daughters with a deep passion for creating safe spaces for women everywhere, Randi focuses every day on dismantling the patriarchy in both her professional and personal life. You can find her on TikTok and Instagram at @feelingrandi78 as well as on her own podcast Feeling Randi.
She is the host of Feeling Randi, a podcast that is “horny for female empowerment!” On her podcast, and here on the Modern Intimacy podcast today, Randi discusses sex, dating, relationships, dingdongs on TikTok, pop culture, and feminism all with a focus on uplifting women everywhere. Together, we can smash the patriarchy, one laugh at a time!
Randi is here to remind you how powerful you are, that you need never take shit from anyone, and that loving yourself just as you are is a revolution!
Join Dr. Kate and Randi talk all about how NOT to be a misogynist!