In all of my novels, a woman must navigate through a world awash with misogyny–societal prejudice against women. I asked an anthropologist friend for some outward signs of misogyny in a culture and she had numerous examples.
One obvious one is that the man is the model for normal. We see this in our culture when pants are the normal attire. Women fought for the right to wear pants but have men ever fought for the right to wear dresses? No. Another example of this is the plethora of male protagonists. In many books, particularly in the 50s, every single character was a male, even in children’s books. In Winnie the Pooh the one female character was a mother. I one time even read a children’s book where a cow was called “he.” I saw this at work several years ago when three scientists stepped up to voice concerns about a health and safety issue. The three were all female and a higher up labeled this “the women’s problem.” Would this have been called the “men’s problem” if the scientists had been male?
Another sign is how women modify their bodies to please men. We might think of feet binding as a terrible thing and not understand it but here we have breast augmentation surgeries, anorexia, and since older men are thought of as attractive and knowledgeable but older women not so much, we have facelifts and chemical peels. I am tempted to try them! I can’t say that men do not work out to attract women. However, look at some of them who think they are good looking such as our president. Would a woman with that hair and figure and chin flab consider herself God’s gift to men, even if she was wealthy? No.
Of course we have wage dichotomy–the so called pink collar jobs that are a staple of our society but carry lower wages–teacher, social worker, nurse, hair dresser.
No doubt most of us have thought about the different standards of acceptable sexual behavior for men and women–men can be players (although younger people call then “man-sluts”) while young girls wear purity rings.
We have accepted or at least discussed as a society the previous examples and adjusted to them in our culture but what are some that are more subtle? Below are some telltale signs of misogyny:
- Assuming that feminism is anti-men, Thinking that women’s rights hurts men’s. (Keep in mind that women can be misogynists. Queen Victoria was one.)
- Assuming that women are more emotional and irrational than men.
- Dictating what women do with their bodies.
- Asking for more proof from women than from men before you will believe them. My anthropologist friend says “As a scholar, I am asked for more citations when in fact it was my original research.”
- Expecting women to pick up at work. (There’s a reason so many offices have gone to individual serving coffee makers.)
- Expecting women to dress up more than a man in the same job.
- Assuming that feminists don’t want to be wives and mothers. Or that everyone must be a wife or mother to be respected.
- Cheating on his female partner is one of the many signs of a misogynist.
- Thinking that all women make up fake rape charges is another.
No doubt we have all known a misogynist. Now that you see the signs, perhaps you’ll be able to avoid misogynists.