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What is misogyny and how does it impact society as a whole?

Misogyny is deeply rooted in society whether people are conscious of it or not. Hate or loathing of women is the widely accepted understanding of this sexist concept however it is important to acknowledge that while it surrounds us not ALL men or women share these misogynistic views. One of the key things that motivate misogynistic behaviour is because some men think that women are able to do what men cannot (and in some cases it can be true). For example you might hear men hating on women who have become really successful from onlyfans and they often say things like “its so easy being a girl you can just post a raunchy picture and there you go… 1 million followers for you. While yes this might be true in many cases, it is only this way because men started sexualising women in the first place and now they are only mad because women turned around and decided that they would capitalise off being sexualised. Women very seldomly sexualise men and this is why men cannot profit off of being sexualised, often resulting in subconscious jealousy (which manifests into hatred). 

About 70 years ago, misogyny was perfectly appropriate, and a social standard of behaviour. For example in the 1900’s there were certain jobs that only men could do and ads from the 40’s and 50’s were extremely sexist…focusing mainly on the physical appearance of women, their role in society or households and on their “punishment” for not doing as they are told. In today’s environment it may not be as widespread as it was 70 years ago, but it is important to acknowledge that young men who encountered and practiced this blatant gender inequality are now the same men who run companies in various industries that influence our perspectives, ways of being, daily lives and are the ones in charge or promotions. These same men are the ones who created insults like “b**ch” and also “son of a b**ch”… and as highlighted by @stellachen even though the second insult is most commonly directed at a man it still insults a woman.

These backward thinking men who believe in misogyny infiltrate very Influential industries like literature, politics, policies, media, movie production, philosophy, science, art, education, publishing and many others. One example that comes to mind regarding literature is Shakespeare’s plays. During the time he wrote them almost all of society had misogynistic views and the sexist messages from these plays are still being reinforced through schools and universities today. Another example that comes to mind when I think about movie production industry is most Disney films. They are often perceived as misogynistic because they usually portray the “good” women as those who cook, clean, care about their physical appearance, never talk back, obey orders, live to impress a prince and sacrifice their own happiness for others whereas in opposition the “bad” women are often queens, women of power, those who talk back, do what they want, put their happiness first and those who challenge societal norms. Similarly 

Although these are just films you will find that many women of today are culturally conditioned to either categorise themselves and others as “good women” or “bad women”. Feminists like Helen Lewis have written about the detrimental impact that this has on society, concluding that the “good” women start fighting with the “bad” women. Some feminists also refer to this as the “ “virgin/whore dichotomy”. This concept is problematic because misogynistic men created the whole division in the first place when they decided to “regulate female behaviour by defining women”. So it is like the misogynistic men from the 40’s told the “good” women how they should act and demonised all of the women who challenged oppression, labelling them as “bad” and then sat back and watched women fight the battle among each other that they initially started. So yes… women who slut shame, call other women bitches, call other mothers bad mothers or bad wives etc you are only labelling other women with these terms because misogynistic men (who actually hate you) associated those behaviours with those labels. In other words you are fighting a battle that is not actually yours, which will only benefit men in the long run so that more women can become “good” order obeying, submissive servants and you are suffering from internalised misogyny.

This same battle of “good” and “bad” is not evident among men and this is why it is an issue. For example people might label someone a “bad mum” if she initiates a game of hide and seek with her children so that she can sneak in a nap while they hide, many might even perceive her as neglectful. In opposition if a dad were to do this he would be labelled a creative genius and it would be perceived as funny. 

There are many “dad hacks” that float around social media that women simply would not be allowed to do because it would be considered neglectful and because women are considered by society as the “care takers” therefore if they dare to challenge these societal norms they receive awful backlash for it. An example of this is women who are pro-abortion, they are often socially excluded because of the stereotypical belief that it is a woman’s duty to “birth a new life into this world” so when they challenge this notion they are punished for it. Some states still imprison women for abortion, however there are no consequences for the men who impregnate them. If this doesn’t scream misogyny I don’t know what does. 

Nowadays we do not see as many men that hate women, some do but hardly any vocally condemn them publically however we do see a lot of men who view women as inferior. Many men might subconsciously think that they are superior because they may perceive themselves as tougher, smarter, stronger and less emotional than women however this way of thinking is a watered down version of the misogyny from less educated times in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It is a frame of thought that has been passed from generation to generation to men and women. An example that comes to mind is how women are taught from a young age that it is their own duty to change their clothing in order to stop boys and men from sexualising them. 

This is reinforcing the message that women are inferior because they need to make a change to please the boys and men (to avoid sexual harassment and sexual assault). Instead they should be teaching boys and men not to sexualise women so that both men and women can be on an equal plane. If women are to be held accountable for their own actions then men should be too, rather than having women adjust their behaviour/clothes/mannerisms and take on even more responsibility than they already have and need, to make up for the lack of accountability within men. 

Celebrities like Jaden Smith, Harry styles and Jared Leto have been seen wearing skirts and dresses with the intent of spreading the message that toxic masculinity is not ok. It is clear that toxic masculinity lies at the heart of misogyny and as a woman myself I feel that I confidently say that men who are more in touch with their feminine side are more attractive. For example those who freely express their emotions, who are up to date with the latest fashion, who are able to cry and wear accessories like jewellery. The misconception that acting “manly” means portraying signs of “toxic masculinity” comes from misogynistic men, who I believe are so against women and anything feminine that they go overboard in trying to express that they are “manly”, resulting in toxic masculinity. 

For those who do not know what toxic masculinity is Jackson (2018) from ‘The Good Men Project’ defines it as “a tyrannical description of manhood, depicting manhood to be filled with aggression and violence, suppressing emotions and sex. It is in our cultural belief that manliness is when strength is everything while emotions are a weakness. It is where sex and brutality are the means by which men are measured, and feminine traits are seen as negative traits”. It implies that aggression is the only way for men to earn their place in society and to maintain influence and strength over people. 

According to Bridges and Tober (2015) men who fall under this category are “most likely to act violently when their masculinity and male privilege is threatened.” They continue on to add that “research does not suggest hat men are somehow inherently more violent than women. Rather, it suggests that men are likely to turn to violence when they perceive themselves to be otherwise unable to stake a claim to a masculine gender identity”. This quote speaks for itself so all I will say is that it is such a shame that ones ego can be so fragile. Toxic masculinity ultimately dissuades any form of men acknowledging and expressing their true emotions. 

This is scary because according to Our Watch (2015) women in Australia are three times more likely to experience domestic violence than men, with a total of $21.7 billion each year being spent in this sector. If fewer men displayed toxic masculinity would this result in less DV cases? The answer will unfortunately never be known, but a quote by award winning poet and author Margaret Antwood left me convinced that it would reduce the rates. She states that ‘‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them, women are afraid that men will kill them’, and this is so chillingly accurate in my perspective. I can think of at least 40 times when I’ve had friends go on a date with a new man and out of fear they have texted their location, his name, photo and the time that the date is expected to finish in case they get assaulted or even worse, killed. Additionally I also have friends who have tried to “politely” reject a man in the clubs by saying they are lesbian or have a boyfriend out of fear that they might get insulted or assaulted for bruising any egos in the midst of the rejection. I can guarantee that these fears are all only unique to those who identify as women.

Author Julia Seranos highlights that many men come across as homophobes, not because they hate gay men but because they hate the feminine traits that they possess due to their misogynistic beliefs that men are superior to women. She continues on to explain that men who do not have misogynistic views end up getting anxiety from this belief too and end up expressing toxic masculinity because they do not want to come across as “unmanly”, so they over-do it to fit in. Her book argues that gay men mainly receive this much hate from straight, misogynistic men because by them “acting in a feminine way” they are reinforcing the message that men are not superior. 

This is an interesting observation because in my opinion, masculinity and femininity shouldn’t really have a strict identity at all so in theory people could have a mix of feminine and masculine traits and use these interchangeably where appropriate. In doing so they could avoid this problem of misogyny all together but I guess the world just doesn’t work like that unfortunately. A public service announcement to any men who choose to express themselves in this toxically masculine way with the hopes of impressing women by coming across as “manly”, just know that you are really only impressing misogynistic men and that in itself is embarrassing (especially if you identify as a homophobe). 

As highlighted at the beginning of this post it is important to remember that not all men share misogynistic, sexist and oppressive views therefore it would be very naïve to categorise them all in one box. Additionally not all men portray toxic masculinity. This article was made with the intent to shed light on what misogyny is and how people can spot examples of it in present times so that they can avoid being manipulated and experiencing internalised misogyny. Now that you have gained these perspectives on misogyny, sexism and toxic masculinity and can see how these traits negatively impact society as a whole what are your thoughts on it?

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