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What is Misogyny – Are the Truths and Myths Busted?

What is Misogyny – Are the Truths and Myths Busted?

Updated on Aug 26, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Misogyny - Meaning, History, Signs, Examples, Ways to Deal & More

Key Takeaways

  • Misogyny is a form of dislike, hatred, and ill-feeling against women.
  • It is a type of prejudice that keeps women at lower social strata than men.
  • Women are disliked, abused, humiliated, by a patriarchal society.
  • Misogyny is a deep hatred and hostility held by men for women in a social system.
  • Misogyny behavior can operate when a woman disobeys or restrains social rules and pointless conventions.
  • It also refers to a sexist idea that women are weak, can be dominated, and put down in a social system.

Misogyny is rooted in history and it’s found everywhere, more or less. It is a sexist ideology that claims that women are expected to play specific gender roles. 

Women are not allowed to transgress male dominion. They should play the role of a mother, nurturer, and household advocate. 

For a long time, the typical patriarchal society has tried to dominate women in every respect.

Women were not allowed to enjoy social privileges such as good education, jobs, or social security. 

A society that supports misogyny usually shows brutal and hostile behavior against women. The oppression can take the shape of maltreatment, insult, humiliation, sexual harassment, etc.

This attitude leads to prejudice and social discrimination against women. The male community tries hard to devalue women in every way. It’s likely that the social structure becomes oppressive and sexist.

We will further our discussion on this topic in the article.

Keep reading…….

What is Misogyny?

Misogyny is a sexist ideology. It refers to dislike and hatred towards women. It operates in certain societies that hold the belief that women are weak, submissive, and should stick to their gender roles. The moment they violate those roles, they are looked down and humiliated in a social system.

The word misogyny comes from two Greek words. They are ‘Misein’ meaning hatred and ‘Gune’ meaning women. Together it means hatred and contempt for women in a social system.

The misogynistic attitude is displayed when women are deliberately oppressed and kept in lower social strata than men. This attitude prevails just to maintain the male domination intact. 

The patriarchal social structure expects women to take a back foot from social roles meant for men. They are not allowed to take up social responsibilities which are exclusive to men.

To some extent, we can say that misogyny is an individual attitude held by men.

Slowly, this attitude creeps into the social structure and becomes a widespread social order and cultural custom.

Misogyny manifests itself in various ways. It leads to a sexist ideology where women suffer sexual harassment, emotional abuse, gaslighting, physical violence, and much more.

Misogyny is practiced for ages. It is seen in art and culture, religion and philosophy. People who practice misogyny never allow women to enjoy social rights.

Women are looked down on as objects and not human beings.

Oppression can take many forms. The most dominant one is domestic violence. Women are maltreated in various ways and are not allowed to live humanely.

The Psychology behind Misogyny

In a male-dominated society, misogyny operates both overtly and undercover. Outwardly, it shows off as violence and discrimination against women. 

Sometimes, violence, physical abuse, and social exclusion take over the social framework.

When misogyny operates covertly or in hidden ways, it takes the form of controlling women. The male domination oppresses women at home and in the workplace. 

The hatred of women is seen in the home, workplace, and in public settings.

Women are not given social rights. There will be widespread discrimination in workplace roles based on gender inequality.

Sometimes, they may not be given a particular job role because of prejudiced ideas operating in the social order.

Misogyny also means rejecting the qualities of a woman. The women community is expected to play the gender roles meant for them.  

They are seen as society’s caregivers and nurturers. These women were never allowed to go out and work. 

They were not allowed to move out of the four walls of their home and develop a self-identity for themselves.  

The misogynistic society is scared of the qualities that a woman can have. They feel insecure about their own social position.

Thus, keeping the woman away from the job scenario was the only way to maintain the patriarchy in society. 

Misogyny leads to gender inequality, oppression, violence against women, and extreme acts of discrimination against women from all ends.

In men, misogyny operates unconsciously where they derive pleasure by hurting women physically and emotionally.

The misogynist man is competitive and fears female domination. They prefer to control women by torturing and abusing them.

These men harbor hatred and dislike seeing women in higher social roles.

Some research findings suggest that misogynist men behave in this manner because they had long harbored hatred for women, maybe from early childhood.

The uncaring and aloof mothers have not given enough love and care that these men needed. The early attachment and sense of security were not formed. 

Thus, hatred against the entire women’s community began to cloud their thoughts from very early in life.

These men dislike women fully and derive a happy feeling by exploiting them.

Slowly, misogyny becomes a habit and continues to reinforce the male psychology of domination and superiority.

12 signs of misogyny

Misogyny is hard to get noticed in its initial days.

You may not like certain things about your husband or boyfriend, but considering them as misogynists may not come to you instantly.

Misogyny starts silently but slowly becomes clear if the abuse and maltreatment become a daily affair. 

If you find that your husband or partner is abusive, taunts you often, or harbors a genuine dislike towards you or women in general, the chances are high that he is following misogyny.

Misogynists can be anywhere nearby without you being conscious of it. They are hard to find out because most misogynist men do not know that they dislike women in general.

It means that misogyny operates unconsciously.

The seeds of misogyny may be laid down in early childhood where abuse from the mother never allowed a healthy and loving attachment. 

A feeling of mistrust for the female figure can also happen from a cheating girlfriend, uncaring wife, or abusive partner.

The misogynist man weighs all women similarly and general hatred operates deep within, maybe unknowingly.

The initial signs of misogyny in a relationship are hard to spot. It gets late until it shows up clearly. Some of the most prominent signs of misogyny are compiled in this section.

1. The act of misogyny considers women as an object

Women are looked down upon as an object. Men who follow misogyny attitudes consider all women as mere objects who do not deserve humane treatment.

Thus, the woman falls prey to abuse, both physical and emotional. 

These men prefer to keep their girlfriends and wives under domination and oppression. Women are forced to follow social customs that undermine their self-esteem. 

Misogyny involves verbal abuse, harassment, and demeaning. The women suffer disrespect and contempt. 

Sometimes the abuse can take the shape of criticism of looks and physical features.  If you find any of these problems in your intimate relationships, be sure that you’re already in the trap of a misogynist.

2. Misogyny involves insecurity

A misogynist suffers from extreme insecurity and fear. You may find them using tricks to undermine your self-respect. 

They will insult you openly just to break you from within. Most misogynists derive pleasure by hurting the woman who is close to them.

They fear women’s worth and never let them rise up the social ladder. They are scared of a woman’s ability.

These men are prejudiced and hate women because they are intolerant of a woman’s success.

3. Misogyny involves toxic relationships with all women

If you know a misogynist, you must have seen that they hate women in general. They usually have poor relationship ties with almost all women that they may know. 

Misogynists hate their mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wife, and almost every woman who is a part of their life. Most often, the hatred is directed at all women, not anyone specific.

Sometimes an unresolved trauma could have generated overall anger towards women. It could be an abusive mother also. 

The misogynist dislikes and shows aversion against women. Some past painful relationships could have contributed to such a prejudiced attitude.

4. Misogynists are self-centered and controlling

All misogynists are controlling and selfish. They can harm, abuse, and maltreat women from all ends to meet their vested interests. They prefer to control and manipulate women in various ways.

Women are not allowed to speak their minds. They may be denied social rights. Sometimes, these men overpower women physically which can lead to sexual dominance, threat, and rape.

Misogyny involves social competition. The misogynist never allows female dominance. If a woman does anything better than him, he will feel angry and terrible. 

He will harbor hatred and disgust for the woman and it will be hard to let go.

5. Misogyny involves social disparity in all spheres of life

If you have come across a misogynist, you must have noticed that these men treat women differently in the workplace. 

The woman employee will have to prove herself in every step, yet they will find faults in her work.

This attitude leads to social disparity and discrimination. The woman employee may be insulted and abused emotionally. Maybe a pay hike or bonus will not be given to them.

At home, the woman has to suffer torture or violent behavior. They will not be allowed to enjoy any comforts of life.

They may do anything to make the woman feel miserable and completely broken from within.

6. Misogynists use threats and oppression

Misogynists follow the path of threat to the woman who is close to them. They may demand sex, may resort to force and physical abuse if the woman doesn’t listen easily.

Sometimes these men can also make fun of their partners in public places, just to make them feel inferior. They will never credit the woman for anything in life. 

Sometimes they may threaten to harm them physically and emotionally if the woman tries to go against them. 

Borrowing money and not returning it on time, canceling plans for an outing in front of others are misogynist threats.

These are done just to lower the dignity and worth of the woman in front of others.

7. Misogynist men have different shades

A misogynist man can have varied shades. At one time you will find them extremely decent, polite, and humble

The next moment they are a completely different person. They appear shrewd, toxic, and abusive. They tend to disrespect the woman in all forms. 

Misogynists play games, blame their partners for everything. They have nitpicking tendencies that are hard to live with. 

Ironically, misogynists need women to validate their self-worth because these men are extremely insecure.

They will show an initial charm to trap you. Then, their toxic behavior will slowly start pouring in till you’re completely victimized and cornered.

8. Breaks promises with women only

There will always be a difference with regard to their treatment of a man and woman. 

They will keep a woman waiting for something but not a man. Sometimes, they will break promises with a woman and not with the man.

For him, a woman is always lesser and inferior to him in all respects. Thus, they are always chided and rebuked for no reason. 

These men feel that women do not deserve honesty. They should be treated poorly and badly.

9. Misogynists feel that women can’t be better than him

Misogynist men are selfish. They will never tolerate their partner or wife being more successful than them. 

If someone praises their wives in front of them, they may feel insecure and threatened. It is a direct hit to their treacherous mindset.

They believe that women are inferior and cannot be good in any way. For them, femininity deserves oppression in a male-dominated society.

10. Tends to put women down in all possible ways

A person with a misogyny mindset uses all forms of belittling ways to insult women. He knows a lot of cheap tactics to insult and abuse a lady emotionally. 

They appear charming and attractive initially, just to trap the lady in bad ways.

You may find them playing mind tricks. They can manipulate you in various ways and you may be forced to trust them. 

Sometimes they will make degrading comments about women. He will show off as if you are inferior to him. 

Misogynists can also cheat you in various ways, by stealing money or putting you in a false position in front of others. Their primary motive is to put you down in all possible ways.

11. Misogyny undermines the ambition of women

Most misogynists held wrong beliefs about a woman’s ability. They may comment on something without knowing the reality. They never support the ambitions of their partners. 

The misogynist partner may always think that certain jobs are not meant for women. Women are supposed to play specific gender roles as given to them by society.

12. Misogyny involves sexual torture and domestic violence

Misogyny is full of sexual abuse and physical torture. There are stories of silent women sufferers all around us. 

The misogynist men demand sex and treat women as an object to vent out their repressed anger. Thus, the woman is tortured both physically and emotionally.

He prefers a woman who will always be a pleaser. Sometimes, the dislike for women appears on the surface where the woman can be bruised and scarred physically. 

He wants his partner to oblige to his demands and never show any soft corner for her.

Typical signs of misogynist men

A person who uses misogyny is known as a misogynist. All misogynists oppress women in various ways.

They hold false beliefs and prejudiced ideas that are targeted toward all women, not anyone in particular.

These men hate women who try to go against their assigned social roles. They also dislike women who are successful and have a place in society. 

Hating all women who go against gendered ideologies is common for a misogynist.

Some of the traits or signs of misogynist men are as follows:

  • Initial charm followed by flirting, aloofness, insults, and humiliation.
  • Tends to be deceptive. Hides their true nature.
  • Frequent mood swings and anger outbursts.
  • Negative views about women’s role in society.
  • Shows preferential treatment towards men just to insult the woman.
  • Lacks empathy and compassion.
  • Disdains women openly.
  • Never allows women to achieve anything bigger than themselves.
  • Neglects all those women who are close to them.
  • Dominating and abusive in intimate relationships.
  • Always harbor sexist ideology.

History of misogyny

Misogyny is probably the oldest prejudice that exists today. History has proved that women were always held back in a social structure that practices misogyny.

Misogyny roots are traced back as early as three thousand to five thousand years ago in prehistoric times. In certain ancient cultures, patriarchy was symbolized as a dominant social order.

Women in those societies were kept in the lower social strata. They were not allowed to enjoy the rights of women.

Even religions like Islam and Christianity propagated male-dominated social order.

Misogyny was also practiced in primitive societies along the Amazon basin. In these cultures, women were not allowed to do men’s work. They were supposed to be at home and look after the household.

Misogyny was also prevalent in ancient Greece, Rome, and Italy. In Italy, under Fascist rule, women were supposed to play traditional gender roles. 

Benito Mussolini came up with policies where women were not allowed to work outside the home. It followed a patriarchal social order. 

In the ancient United States, women were not allowed to vote and speak up for their rights. The society operated on a sexist ideology where specific gender roles were in place for women.

Nowadays, women are not prevented from such actions, yet the participation rate is low. The surveys reported that only 20% of members of U.S politics are women.

Another data revealed social discrimination and gender disparity where only 4% of women CEOs are reported in Fortune 500 companies.

Thus, the violence against women and punishing women who challenge male dominance was always present in society. Maybe the intensity changed according to the social order.

In the words of Philosopher Kate Manne, “Misogyny has long been understood as something men feel, not something women experience.”

Examples of Misogyny

Several examples of misogyny operate in our society. Some of the common ones are as follows:

  • Abuse, insults, and belittling of women at home and workplace.
  • Sexual violence and rape.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Discrimination between sons and daughters is found in many households.
  • Discouraging women from pursuing a career.
  • No promotion for women employees.
  • Income inequalities for women.
  • Physical assaults.
  • Remarks and name-calling of women in public places.
  • Paying attention to dress and physical appearance and making derogatory remarks about it.
  • Calling assertive women pushy or arrogant.
  • Unsolicited comments and declarations about a woman’s body.
  • The portrayal of women as good girls only.
  • Countless questions are faced by women about marriage and childbirth.
  • Oppositions from society to not pursue certain careers that are meant for men, such as police officers, firefighters, defense services, etc.
  • Discrimination in all walks of life is based on sex.
  • Prejudice against women as the ultimate caregivers to children, sick people, and the aged.

Internalized misogyny

Sometimes, lesser-known misogyny operates in society. This is known as internalized misogyny. 

The girls and women may internalize the misogyny messages taken around in society. They may feel like lesser beings.

This brings a lack of trust in oneself and other women. One woman may condemn another woman by commenting on looks or behavior in public places.

Internalized misogyny brings unhealthy competition between women in workplaces. One woman employee may harbor jealousy against the other. 

If she feels threatened by another able woman in the workplace, she may try to harm the other woman in several odd ways.

Internalized misogyny is social teaching that many women follow and has well imbibed in their daily lives. Some women subconsciously project sexist ideology on other women.

They set examples in society that increase the prejudice against women.

Maybe tearing and scurrying one another socially gives an opportunity to the patriarchal society to practice misogyny without a doubt.

All these behaviors reinforce male domination and fuel more misogyny to happen in the social structure.

What is misogyny for men?

For men, misogyny is a socio-psychological process of dominating the opposite gender.

The patriarchal society wants to maintain male entitlement. They wish to keep the social order intact without female control.

Thus, the only way to do this is by the following misogyny.

Misogyny fuels power imbalance in the society where females are not allowed to occupy positions of authority in important spheres of life.

Some insecure men fall prey to misogynistic attitudes. They are insecure and fearful of the power of women.

Maybe, these men derive a kind of psychological pleasure by hurting women sexually and culturally.

History has always depicted women as weak and submissive. Men like to add fuel to the fire by showing violence to someone weaker than them.

In most cases, the oppression is more sexual than through any other means.

Thus, we see a lot more cases of physical abuse and sexual violence all around us. When men feel challenged by the qualities of a woman, they feel inadequate. 

To cover up this inadequacy feeling, they start abusing women verbally and physically. Sometimes, it takes the shape of sexual assault and physical abuse. 

Research findings suggested that heterosexual men consider women as objects. They are looked down upon in various ways. 

Women are treated with abuse. In workplaces, misogyny operates if men are given lower job roles than women.

They feel insulted and start humiliating their female equals and superiors with oppression and backbiting sprees. 

Misogyny takes a brutal role in society leading to gender inequality. The need to control women in a sexist society is not unknown.

Several types of research showed that men find it easy to control and hate women sexually.

A research survey done in 2018 on 2000 people showed that 81% of women and 43% of men suffered sexual assault in the United States. 

Social learning theories have claimed that misogyny operates in men’s psyche due to the learned experiences of others.

These abusive men must have been culturally conditioned to hate women.

Sometimes, it starts at home where the man must have seen his father acting in unhealthy ways of dominating all women around them.

This learning gets reinforced when these men feel fearful and inadequate in social setups, thus taking the shape of cultural misogyny.

What fuels misogyny? (Causes of Misogyny)

There are several causes that fuel misogyny attitudes in society. Some of the major ones are as follows:

1. Strict gender norms

The strict gender norms for males and females in society are responsible for misogyny. Men are regarded as bread earners and women are seen as primary caregivers. 

None of these sexes are allowed to transgress each other’s dominion of power and influence. 

Cultural depictions consider men as strong and protectors of society. Men are seen as stoic, muscular, and symbols of power and authority.

Whenever gender roles are challenged, it fuels misogyny in society.

2. Emotional suppression

Men are emotionally weaker than women. Whenever their sense of masculinity gets hurt, they feel vulnerable. 

They feel emotionally suppressed, cornered, and invalid. This feeling brings a lot of resentment against women. 

Due to social learning, some men think that they are the privileged lot in society.

Thus, they cannot tolerate setbacks and rejection. Lack of emotional regulation gives rise to feelings of anger and frustration.

They may appear revengeful and starts abusing women in various ways, just to oppress the woman and keep them under control.

3. Lack of emotional attachment in early childhood

Some research findings have shown that if men suffered rejection or abuse from their mothers early in life, they may suffer from an antagonistic feeling toward women later in life.

Maternal relationships provide a sense of security. If his mother was less caring, rejecting, or abusive in some way, the boys will not feel loved by a female figure.

They may think that all women are the same. This wrong feeling may give rise to feelings of hatred and contempt for all women in later life.

4. Male entitlement

The misogynistic attitude is a direct result of male entitlement. Men tend to look down upon women because they need to safeguard their position of power and authority.

In no way can these men let go of their position in society. If they find women are trying to go beyond their gender boundary, they feel overpowered socially. 

It could mean that their social security, the position of authority is becoming shaky and wobbly.

These insecure feelings lead to feelings of hatred and ill feelings towards women. Thus, more misogyny seems to run in a society that objectifies women in inhumane ways.

Misogyny vs. Sexism

Though sexism and misogyny appear the same, there are subtle differences between these two social constructs. 

The forms of sexism include acts of discrimination based on sex roles. Misogyny is an extreme form of hatred, bitterness, and violent abuse that are directed at women from all ends. 

It is more aggressive in nature.

Let’s see what the differences look like:

Misogyny is blatant hatred, disgust, and aversion to women. It is more intense than sexism and involves violence and nasty abuse.Sexism refers to societal discrimination between males and females based on sex or gender roles. It is less intense than misogyny.
Misogyny objectifies women. They are disregarded, humiliated, and physically victimized in many ways.Sexism is seen in discrimination in the workplace, schools, or social setups that want women to play only gender roles meant for them. It may not involve any direct hatred towards women.
Misogyny affects young girls and women of all ages and social positions.Sexism mainly operates on women with positions of power and authority to let them fall down the social ladder.
All misogynists are sexists and consider that women are weak, and need to be controlled with threat, abuse, and maltreatment.All sexists are not misogynists. Thus, the incidence of sexual assault is less.
Misogyny is letting out the disregard outwardly through violence and physical assaults.Sexism harbors disregard for women. It is hidden and functions undercover.
Misogyny means punishing and abusing women openly who try to go against the patriarchal rules of society.Sexism refers to behaviors that show gender role stereotypes and biases against women.
Misogyny is open hatred that is full of an angry outbursts, insults, sexual violence, etc.Devaluing women by not giving them what they deserve like equal pay for equal work, no promotion, inequality in academics, career growth, or job opportunities.
Misogyny is a form of oppression by hurting, objectifying women. It involves threat, maltreatment, violent acts, and physical abuse also. In one way, it is a severe form of sexism that kills a woman’s sense of worth forever.Sexism is oppression on the basis of social status only.
Misogyny vs. Sexism

Negative consequences of misogyny

The negative impact of misogyny on women and the entire social structure can be traumatic and ruinous. Some of the major negative influences are as follows:

  • Body shaming tendencies by women.
  • Misogyny increases hate crimes against women.
  • The number of sexual abuse and domestic violence increases.
  • Women facing verbal attacks by society. 
  • Misogyny undermines the social dignity of women.
  • They suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem.
  • Issues with body image may lead young girls to resort to unhealthy dieting. It also leads to several health issues.
  • Anxiety and depressive symptoms are seen.
  • Rape and physical abuse can leave a permanent scar on a woman’s psyche.
  • They may suffer from intense fear.
  • Misogyny leads to social discrimination in the workplace.
  • Self-loathing mindset and suicidal ideation may occur in women who were victimized by this brutal act.

Ways to deal with misogynists

Misogyny is harsh and is widespread in societies that are exclusively male-dominated. It is hard to live with hatred and fear. 

Women should raise their voices whenever they feel insecure about their social position.

In case of domestic violence and sexual assaults, action should be taken immediately to stop the criminal intentions of the misogynists.

If you’re someone who is suffering in a patriarchal society, the following ways may help in reducing the impact of misogyny in society.

  • Set clear boundaries with your husband or boyfriend at home so that they’re clear about the expected norms of behavior.
  • Stop being a pleaser to your male boss in the workplace because if he is a misogynist, he will fuel up more toxins in days to come. Rather, be calm and try to come out of that toxic set up as early as possible.
  • Misogyny gets fueled if you become defensive. Thus, never show your anger to the misogynist openly. You’re offended and that’s alright. Be poised and deal with the situation in peaceful ways.
  • Build up your broken self-esteem and remind yourself that you’re beautiful inside out.
  • Never allow anyone to degrade your social dignity publicly. Misogynists will do it quite often. Stop it immediately if it happens. In this way, the social structure will become more gender-equal.

The video link shared below shows the concept of how misogyny operates in the social fabric and the way it influences the behavior of those who practice this quite often in their lives.

Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’

Let us conclude that misogyny is a disguised form of social abuse that is real and still operates today across nations. 

Sexual violence and sexist attitude toward women all across are common, yet we do not have enough resources to nip it in the bud.

People who directly spoke against the practice suffered a backlash. Thus, many women suffer in silence even if they know that it triggers more of it in society.

Men feel entitled to oppress women when they know that women are weak and can’t rise above this cruel act. 

Misogyny has a long-term negative impact on the mental health of the victims. The woman may feel marginalized and lonely with no one to seek help from.

In this way, the social structure becomes unfriendly for her. 

The deep-seated scars of abuse and oppression continue for a longer time than expected.

Sometimes, it may take an entire lifetime to heal the wounds that lay deep within.

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