The Misogyny Myth

Misogyny is a myth. It does not exist.

Like certain other words or phrases (e.g. ‘Santa Claus’, ‘dragon’, ‘god’, ‘unicorn’, ‘male dominated society’, ‘patriarchal society’ – but not, incidentally, rape culture), it refers to an entirely imaginary phenomenon.

But, unlike with some of these other words, people do not seem to realise the word ‘misogyny’ refers to a wholly imaginary phenomenon. Therefore, the word ‘misogyny’ is, I contend, like certain other words and concepts (e.g. ‘patriarchal society’, ‘affirmative action’, ‘comparative worth’) best banished from the English language altogether.

Men in General Do Not Hate Women

Misogyny refers, ostensibly at least, to the supposed hatred of women.

That is, to repeat, hatred. Not a mere tendency to patronise, or a superior condescending attitude, or a tendency to stereotype – but outright hatred.

Yet men do not hate women.

Indeed, far from hating women, most men spend a large part of their lives doing everything they can to attract women, spend copious monies courting women, and sometimes attempt to mould their entire personalities simply so as to win the favour and approval of women. They then, as often as not, spend the remainder of their lives doing everything they can to provide for and financially support their wife and children.

Neither can men’s love for women be dismissed merely as reflecting the ulterior motive of sexual conquest. On the contrary, men are chivalrous and protective even towards women whom they have no chance of ever copulating with and are expected to open doors for ‘little old ladies’ just as much as for pert-breasted nineteen-year-olds, perhaps more so.

Thus, studies find that men are more likely to stop and help women on the street or in public than they are to help men in equivalent circumstances (as are women).[1]

Indeed, even psychological studies in the laboratory find that men as well as women associate positive attributes with women as a group more readily and to a greater degree than they associate positive attributes with men as a group.[2] Indeed, this finding, known as the ‘women are wonderful effect, is so consistent, widespread and robust that it even has a Wikipedia page of its own.

In addition, men are less likely to behave violently towards women than they are towards men in similar circumstances. For example, in laboratory experiments, male subjects are less willing to inflict electric shocks towards female subjects, even in circumstances where they show no compunctions towards doing so towards male subjects.[3]

Finally, men as well as women perceive violent acts committed by men and against women as more serious and culpable in nature than acts of violence committed by women against men.[4]

This perception is reflected in the fact that the (predominantly male) judiciary, on average, not only sentences male offenders more severely than female offenders guilty of equivalent crimes,[5] but also sentences violent offenders of either sex more severely when they victimize females than when they victimize males,[6] with male offenders who victimize females treated most severely of all victim-offender dyads and female offenders who victimize males treated most leniently.[7]

It is also reflected in the fact that mainstream media, activists, and politicians from across the political spectrum focus on the perceived issue of ‘violence against women’, rather than, say, ‘violence against people’ or even ‘violence against men’,[8] despite the fact that it is, in fact, men, not women, who are overwhelmingly overrepresented among the victims of violent crime,[9] as well as among the casualties in warfare[10] and genocide.[11]

In short, men’s problem is not that they hate women, but rather that they love women all too much, a love which renders them vulnerable to exploitation on an unimaginable scale and which most women are all too eager to exploit to the fullest.

Do Any Men Hate Women?

Yet, despite this overwhelming evidence, the word ‘misogyny’, not only remains in our everyday vocabulary, but seems to be invoked and employed ever more frequently over recent decades. Indeed, in coverage the recent Trump presidential campaign, the concept seemed to be invoked on a literally daily, if not hourly, basis.

Yet clearly Trump does not hate women. On the contrary, he has been foolish enough to marry several of them, and, in the process, been deprived of substantial proportions of his fortunes in the ensuing marriages and divorce settlements.

This then begs the question: Do any men truly hate women?

To answer this question, I must first acknowledge that, in saying that misogyny is a myth, I cannot, of course, rule out the possibility that some man, somewhere in the world, or at some time in history, has indeed hated women.

To do so would be obviously impossible. After all, the world is a big place, human history is a long time, and it is notoriously difficult to prove a negative in such cases, since, as a famous aphorism has it, ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’.

However, such a man, if he exists, or ever has done, would clearly be highly abnormal.

Indeed, even such highly abnormal and exceptional males as serial killers and repeat rapists rarely, if ever, seem to qualify as true ‘misogynists’.

With regard to rapists, contrary to the prevailing feminist orthodoxy, I subscribe to the unfashionable common-sense theory that the vast majority of rapists are motivated primarily by sexual desire, rather than by hatred, a desire for dominance or to perpetuate patriarchy or other such doubtful postulated motivations proposed by feminists but unlikely, by themselves, to stimulate the sort of erection necessary for most forms of rape.

Meanwhile, serial killers, seem to have a variety of motivations for their crimes, ranging from perverted sexual desire to an equally perverse craving for infamy. However, I have yet to read an account of a single serial killer, even among those who targeted women exclusively and indiscriminately, who seemed to be motivated by a generalized hatred for women as a whole.

So, in conclusion, the genuinely woman-hating man may well exist somewhere in the world or at some time in history, just as Yeti, Big Foot and the Loch Monster may be hiding somewhere in the Himalayas, North America or the Loch Ness. However, I have yet to be presented with convincing evidence that he is anything other than a figment of the fertile feminist imagination.

Chauvinism’ ≠ Misogyny

My conclusion is therefore restricted to the following: Men in general do not hate women and neither do significant numbers of men. This includes, incidentally, men who are ‘sexist’ and ‘chauvinistic’, in the feminist senses of these much overused words.

Of course, men are sometimes patronising and condescending towards women, and sometimes seem to believe that women are inferior to males.

However, neither of these attitudes amounts to a hatred to women.

To explain why, let us look at the analogy of people’s attitudes to children.

After all, adults (both men and women) are surely similarly patronising and condescending towards children. Moreover, they surely both hold the belief that children are, in general, inferior to adults in various ways, both mental and physical, as indeed they are.

However, this would surely not lead us to the conclusion that adults therefore hate children. On the contrary, adults are usually especially affectionate and protective towards children. Moreover, they are generally more forgiving of children, when the latter misbehave, than they would be of similar behaviour on the part of an adult.

Indeed, part of the reason why adults are so protective of, and forgiving towards, children is precisely because the latter are perceived as weaker and hence inferior. This is why we believe that they are in need of special protections, and deserving of greater tolerance and forgiveness.

The same is true, I contend, of the privileges and protections afforded women.

I therefore contend that the traditional attitude of men towards women is directly analogous to that of adults towards children.

Indeed, since women are, like children, smaller than men, and have more neotenous (i.e. childlike) facial features, I suspect that, due to these superficial external similarities, men may, at some psychological level, conscious or not, perceive women as more childlike, and hence more deserving of protection, than are men.[12] Moreover, since women remain primarily responsible for the care of children, especially young children, they are often seen in the company of one another, which may further contribute to men’s tendency to class women and children together.

Therefore, whereas feminists have sought to viewed ‘male supremacism’ as analogous to ‘racial supremacism’, the two cases are fundamentally different, and the better analogy is with the attitude of adults towards children (‘age supremacism’ or ‘adult supremacism’, if you like). Whereas ideologies of ‘racial supremacism’ have typically been used to justify the oppression and enslavement of the group deemed inferior, notions of the inferiority of women and children have been used to justify according the latter with special privileges and protections on account of, or in order to compensate for, their perceived weakness and inferiority.

So, yes, men do indeed often regard women as inferior to men – just as they regard adults as superior to children. However, far from being used to justify the oppression of women, male supremacism is used, in fact, to justify according special privileges and protections to women precisely on account of their perceived weaknesses.

Thus, on this ‘male supremacist’ view, because men are stronger and braver (i.e. superior), only men are conscripted into the armed forces in wartime; while women, being weaker and less able to protect and provide for themselves (i.e. inferior), must be protected, provisioned and provided for by their husbands.

On this view, being biologically inferior looks like quite a good deal!

The Best of Both Worlds

However, this analogy between society’s treatment of children and of women can only be taken so far.

In some respects, women are indeed treated like children. In other circumstances, however, they have loudly demanded, and promptly received, the rights formerly reserved for adult males, albeit without assuming any of the accompanying responsibilities and duties that traditionally went alongside these rights.

For example, in many respects, women retain the protections accorded children, but denied to men when the latter reach maturity, for the entirety of their lives. For example, on board the Titanic and Birkenhead and elsewhere, it was not just children, but women and children who were allowed on board the lifeboats first.

Likewise, during wartime, women retain for their whole lifetimes the protected status of children. Thus, adult men alone are eligible for the draft from age eighteen onwards. However, the targeting of so-called ‘innocent women and children’ remains the quintessential ‘war-crime’.

Yet this did not prevent women from demanding the vote, a demand promptly and readily acceded to, in both Britain and America, ironically, in the immediate aftermath of the First World War.

However, as military historian Martin Van Creveld observes:

In the Western world since the French Revolution the right to vote was often a direct consequence of, or at any rate went together with, conscription. But women were able to obtain the former without being subjected to the latter; for them to be put on an equal footing with men would have meant an end to their greatest privilege”.[13]

Thus, as women metaphorically ‘fought’ for the right to vote, men literally fought, and often died, in the trenches of the Somme, Ypres, Gallipoli and Verdun.

Likewise, nowadays, women, even married women, famously have the right to work in any career they choose and earn money in their own right.[14] However, they have not given up on their claim to maintenance from their husbands should they choose not to work, a choice denied, of course, to their husbands.

In short, women now have the best of both worlds – the protections and privileges of children, the rights of adult men with none of the responsibilities, plus a freedom all of their very own.

Thus, the clarion call of feminist agitation has ever been ‘Equality, Equality, Equality – But Only When It Suits Us!’

Is Misandry a Myth Too?

What then of misogyny’s evil twin sister and anti-male equivalent – ‘misandry’. This word, referring to the hatred of men, is far less well-known, and less widely invoked than its female equivalent. It has, however, recently been somewhat popularised among self-styled ‘Men’s Rights Activists and others sympathetic to their views.

However, is the emotion to which it refers any more real or prevalent than that referred to by the word ‘misogyny’?

Certainly among the fringe of so-called ‘radical feminists’ the phenomenon of hating males seems to be rampant, if not universal, at least if one takes them at their word. Moreover, a less visceral, but no less obvious, misandry seems to pervade the writings and statements of feminists in general, even the ostensible ‘moderate feminists’ among their ranks.

Thus, in feminist literature, men are routinely blamed for warfare, rape, violent crime, pollution and environmental damage. Yet rarely if ever are they given credit for producing science, technology, roads, bridges, sewage systems, modern medicine and all the essentials of civilization. Neither is it acknowledged that, if men are indeed, primarily responsible for war and violent crime, they also have the misfortune of being its primary victims.

Yet, for all their bluster and self-conscious pseudo-iconoclastic radicalism, I cannot bring myself to believe that women in general, or even feminists, truly hate men. It is, I suspect, all something of an act. Rather like an adolescent temper tantrum calculated to extort a greater amount of pocket-money.

Women do not hate men – because women cannot afford to hate men. Because women remain, at the end of the day, almost wholly dependent on men for both their comfort and indeed their very survival.

Women live in houses and apartment blocks built exclusively by men. They depend on clean water systems built and maintained almost exclusively by men, on sewage systems likewise built and maintained almost exclusively by men, and on technologies invented almost exclusively by men.

In short, as Fred Reed put it, “Without men, civilization would last… until the oil needs changing”.

Add to this the fact that most married women, or women with dependent children (and many other women besides), are, in one way or another, financially supported by men, whether by their husbands, ex-husbands or simply by the (predominantly male) taxpayer via the welfare system, and it soon becomes clear that women simply cannot afford to hate men, let alone do without them. On the contrary, they must continue appealing to men’s misguided chivalry, by playing the role of the ‘oppressed woman’, or ‘damsel in distress’.

Just as a slave-master cannot afford to hate his slaves, because he is dependent on them for their work and his livelihood, and a parasite cannot afford to hate its host, because, without its host, it too would perish, so, for all their moronic misandrist bluster, women simply cannot afford to truly hate men because, at the end of the day, there are dependent on men for their comfort, their prosperity, and their very survival. They simply know of no other way to live.

____________________

References

[1] Eagly, AH. & Crowley, M (1986) Gender and Helping Behavior. A Meta-Analytic Review of the Social Psychological LiteraturePsychological Bulletin 100(3):283-308

[2] Eagly, AH & Mladinic, A (1989). Gender Stereotypes and Attitudes Toward Women and Men Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 15: 543–58; Eagly, AH, Mladinic, A, & Otto, S (1991). Are women evaluated more favorably than men? An analysis of attitudes, beliefs and emotions Psychology of Women Quarterly. 15 (2): 203–16; Rudman, LA & Goodwin, SA. (2004). Gender differences in automatic in-group bias: Why do women like women more than they like men? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 87 (4): 494–509.

[3] See studies cited in Felson, RB 2000 The Normative Protection of Women from Violence Sociological Forum 15(1): 91-116

[4] Arias, I., & Johnson, P. (1989). Evaluations of Physical Aggression Among Intimate DyadsJournal of Interpersonal Violence, 4, 298−307; Harris, M.B. (1991) Effects of Sex of Aggressor, Sex of Target, and Relationship on Evaluations of Physical Aggression Journal of Interpersonal Violence 6(2): 174–186; Greenblat, C. S. (1983). ‘A hit is a hit is a hit. Or is it? Approval and tolerance of the use of physical force by spouses’. In D. Finkelhor, R. J. Gelles, G. T. Hotaling, & M. A. Straus (Eds.), The dark side of families (pp. 235-260). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage; Feather NT (1996) Domestic Violence, Gender and Perceptions of Justice Sex Roles 35(7): 507-519; Felson RB (2009) When a man hits a woman: Moral evaluations and reporting violence to police Aggressive Behavior 35(6): 477-488.

[5] Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV:285-314; Streib VL (2001) ‘Sentencing Women to Death‘ Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property,and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162;   Starr, SB, (2012) Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases. University of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[6] Beaulieu & Messner, Race, Gender, and Outcomes in First Degree Murder Cases Justice Quarterly (1999) 3(1): 47-68; Curry, Lee & Rodriguez  Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency, (2004) 50(3):319-343; Williams & Holcomb, The Interactive Effects of Victim Race and Gender on Death Sentence Disparity Findings (2004) Homicide Studies 8(4):350-376; Curry, The conditional effects of victim and offender ethnicity and victim gender on sentences for non-capital cases Punishment & Society (2010) 12(4):438-462.

[7] Curry, Lee & Rodriguez  Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency, (2004) 50(3):319-343.

[8] If you doubt this focus, then just try searching for the phrases “violence against women”, “violence against men” and “violence against people” in pretty much any search engine, library database, media/newspaper/magazine archive on the internet and compare number of ‘hits’ you get.

[9] In the US, men are almost twice as likely to report being the victim of violent crime and the more violent the crime, the more likely men are to be the victim (Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren’t Supposed to Know at p11). Likewise, in the UK, men are about three times as likely to be victims of violent crime [see The Retreat of Reason (reviewed here): p49]. In their comprehensive global survey of the correlates of crime, criminologists Anthony Walsh and Lee Ellis report that “except for rape, where essentially all victims are female [sic], males have substantially higher victimization rates than do females” and “even with rapes included in calculating an overall victimization rate, males run a considerably greater risk of being victimized by violent crime than do females” (Criminology: A Global Perspective: p128). Indeed, some evidence even suggests that, at least in the USA, men may even be overrepresented among rape victims – largely due to the epidemic levels of rape in the US’s overwhelmingly male prison population. However, given the high level of underreporting (and false reporting) of violent crime (especially rape), the most reliable data is likely to be for homicide, which is least likely to be either undetected or falsely reported. In the UK in 2010-11, over two thirds (68%) of homicide victims were male, according to government statistics (Osborne, S. (2012) ‘Homicide’ in K. Smith et al (eds), Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: supplementary volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 Home Office Statistical Bulletin 01/10: at p19). ). Similarly, in the USA, between 1980 and 2008, men were three times as likely to be the victim of homicide as were women (Cooper A & Smith EL (2011) Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2011, NCJ 236018: at p3). Internationally, according to a comprehensive worldwide epidemiological survey in the mid-90s, men represented 78% of violent deaths, excluding those resulting from war (see Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, Harvard University Press; Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996.Global health statistics: a compendium of incidence, prevalence and mortality estimates for over 200 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press: as cited by Joshua Goldstein in War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[10] According to data cited by Joshua Goldstein, adult men represent 58% of fatalities from war across the world – despite the fact that, once children are factored in, men represent a small minority of the population as a whole (War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[11] Adam Jones (2000) ‘Gendercide and Genocide’ Journal of Genocide Research 2:2:185-211.

[12] This was certainly true of Schopenhauer, who described women as big children all their lives, something intermediate between the child and the man, who is a man in the strict sense of the word (On Women, 1851). While this observation is often attributed to Schopenhauer’s alleged ‘misogyny’, the great pessimist may, in fact, have grasped one of the key reasons why, far from hating women, men are actually naturally protective and chivalrous towards them.

[13] Van Creveld, M (2002) Men Women and War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line? (reviewed here): at p210.

[14] In fact, the notion that women formerly ‘lacked property rights’, as is commonly asserted, represents a misunderstanding of the legal doctrine of so-called coverture, whereby the legal personalities of man and wife were subsumed after marriage. In fact, this principle only ever applied to married women, not women in general. Moreover, on balance, married women benefited from this legal fiction, since it meant husbands were legally liable for debts and fines incurred by their wives and sometimes even punished for crimes committed by their wives. In addition, women were, of course, legally obliged to provide for their wives.

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