What is Misogyny?

Misogyny which is defined as the hatred, dislike or mistrust of women or girls, could be evidenced in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, violence against female persons, denigration of women, and sexual objectificationOpens in new window of women.

Misogyny—also defined as the dislike of, contempt for or ingrained prejudice against women—has been a thorn in the side of womankind throughout history and continues until this day, even in religious and spiritual establishments.

Flood (2007) noted that misogyny, the hatred of women, has not only placed women in subordinate inferior positions to men in patriarchal societiesOpens in new window but also engendered women’s internalizing their role as scapegoatsOpens in new window in a society in which their sexual objectification has been sanctioned in self-loathing and body fixation and modification.

While it is possible to hate or dislike someone but not be abusive to that person, it is highly likely that singling out specific persons over a span of time as inferior, other-than-the-equal to the dominant gender, tends to justify misuse and abuse of the other gender. Looking down through history, there is very strong evidence of such sexual discrimination, denigration, and sexual objectification of girls and women by male persons.

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Misogyny has been viewed by Johnson (2000) as a cultural attitude of hatred of female persons just because they are female persons. Leading to females being oppressed in male-dominated societies, to sexist prejudice and violence towards women, it takes many forms from pornography to violence and taught and encouraged self-contempt of females for their own bodies and personalities.

Male-dominated or patriarchal societies whose misogynous ideologies or beliefs have placed women in subordinate, almost powerless roles have engendered reason-resistant prejudices against women. Aristotle (Ross 1912) proffered that women exist as natural deformities or imperfect males (perhaps referring to the lack of the male sexual appendage?).

In any event, Western-culture women internalized their one-down, out-group roles as societal scapegoats. Multi-media then added insult to injury by objectifying women with culturally blessed self-loathing and quick-fix corrections through plastic surgery, bulimia, anorexia, feet binding, wigs, head scarves and hoods, and high fashion of six-inch high heels and tight skirts that would render them helpless if they were to flee from dangerous and aggressive pursuers (Cohen 2006; Katz 2013). As Flood (2007) pointed out, women swallowed the hatred and loathing from men as having some basis in truth, becoming self-hating and hating other women.

Ancient Greek Worldview of Women

Ancient Greek stoicsOpens in new window seemed to be ambivalent towards women, both loving them and sensing their strong dependency on them as love and sexual objects while at the same time hating them, perhaps for male dependency on them for love and sexual satisfaction. This ambivalence was referred to by the stoic philosopher Antipater of TarsusOpens in new window in On Marriage, his moral tract (Deming 2012; Satlow 2001). Salles (2005) also wrote of this constant shifting in men’s love/hatred of women in ancient Greece.

AristotleOpens in new window, writing that women were inferior to men, saw men as commanding and women as obeying; females as incomplete males were deformities who passed on only matter to their offspring whereas men passed on form (Freeland 1994). SocratesOpens in new window, in the Apology, warns men that living immorally reincarnates them as women, and that a democracy evidences moral failure if it promotes sexual equality (Pappas 2003).

In the ancient Greek world, misogyny was found in mythology: HesiodOpens in new window considered the human race to have existed peacefully and gods-focused before the creation of women, ZeusOpens in new window punished PrometheusOpens in new window by bringing an evil thing—Pandora, the first woman—with a closed container of all evils (hard labor, sickness, old age, and death) to humankind (Holland 2006). Greek literature on the whole, however, viewed misogyny to by an antisocial disease that was contrary to the value of women as wives and of the family as the basis of society (Deming 2012).

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