Shades of misogyny

First up, I want to thank the wonderful Lexy for her post on how Tony Abbott doesn’t get it when it comes to homelessness. I asked her to write about it because she knows what she’s talking about, and it was a small way for me to thank her for being such a big part of this blog. So thank you very much, Grand Master Falcon Lexy.

So after talking about a lovely lady, let’s talk about misogyny.

Anna N at Jezabel has reviewed a dating book by Julie Klausner called I don’t care about your band: What I learned from indie rockers, trust funders, pornographers, felons, faux-sensitive hipsters, and other guys I’ve dated. If she added ‘and really crappy housemates’ to the title, it would be a book about my twenties.

Klausner writes about a “particular type of Nice Guy – one who wants a woman who never upstages him, even with her beauty”:

Fear can be the result of admiration, or it can be a symptom of contempt. When I see squeamish guys passing over qualified women when they’re hiring for a job, or becoming tongue-tied when a girl crashes their all-boy conversation at a party, I don’t credit them for being awestruck. They’re reacting to the intimidating female as an intruder, an alien, and somebody they can’t relate to. It’s not a compliment to be made invisible.

Anna N writes:

Klausner understands that not all misogynists are blustery types who think they’re better than women. Male insecurity, too, can breed misogyny – often a subtle kind that forces women out of the spotlight with sheer diffidence. According to Klausner, we shouldn’t cater to this insecurity by being more nurturing – we should just not fucking stand for it.

Which got me thinking about a guy I work with. Which grossed me out because I don’t like to think about him. He’s a lazy pisshead, yet keeps getting promoted. He also treats his girlfriend like shit and openly flirts with one particular woman in front of her. Anyway, apart from the few his penis likes, he won’t make eye contact with women. On the rare occasions he is forced to talk to me, he doesn’t even look in my direction, but will stand sideways at my desk, like he’s just paused briefly, mutter something out the side of his mouth and then walk off, following his beer gut. Gee, can you tell this guy makes my skin crawl?

But I think it’s too harsh to call him a misogynist. Because from High School Debating 101, my Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary defines misogyny as “the hatred of women”, the Oxford Pocket Fowler’s Modern English Usage says “a person who hates women”, and the Collins Australian internet-linked Dictionary (yes, we have a few) says “a hatred of women”. At Dictionary.com, it’s “a hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women”.

Regular readers will know that this is not a man-hating blog. I don’t hate men. I don’t even hate sexist men – they annoy the hell out of me, but I don’t hate them. But I need a word. Because I don’t think hatred and being dismissive are the same thing.

45 responses to “Shades of misogyny

  1. Yep, I agree, and come up with this a lot via my work… he may be woman intolerant, woman unfriendly… one of those blokes who only talks to women he is attracted to and treats the others with at best disrespect…

    • Hi Cath, it’s pretty shitty that it’s 2010 and we still have this issue in the workplace, isn’t it? Misogyny is too harsh a word for it, but what do we call it?

      As a completely different aside, the word below misogyny is mispickel – “an arsenide and sulphide of iron which is a major source of arsenic compounds”.

  2. I love a post that has multiple dictionary definitions! 🙂

    Okay so I’m a nerd and thought all impressive sounding words in english have the latin root happening… so I found an online english to latin translator, tried putting in: ‘woman unfriendly’ and got nothing , tried ‘woman intolerant’ got nothing… then figured these words might be too recent in usage for useful translation into latin.

    So I typed in ‘woman scorning’ and got:
    mulier fastidium

    “woman spurning” = mulier sperno

    I could do this all night if I wasn’t going out shortly…

    • Lissy, that’s awesome! I tried with an English-Greek translator – misos (hate) and gune (women) – and then tried using dislike instead of hatred, but it gave me phobia, which isn’t right either.

      • Maybe femiphobia isn’t so far off the mark. After all, in common usage homophobia doesn’t strictly mean fear of homosexuals. Although I do like Cath’s ‘woman intolerant’ because that really does say just what it is. I’m going to create a new page for neologisms.

  3. Interesting how you can’t describe a variety of sexism without resorting to the use of sexist stereotypes yourself. Anyway there are indeed men who are scared of women although I am not sure which of your labels should be attached to them. I find myself being very wary of looking at or being overly friendly towards female colleagues not because I am scared of them but because we are told all the time that to stare at or flirt with women in the workplace could be classified as inappropriate behaviour and now it appears that when we don’t look at women we may be acting inappropriately as well. Looks as though men cannot win. As an aside I avoid half the women in my office, for the same reason I avoid half the men because they are wankers and I just plain don’t like them.

    • Hi Former Young Liberal. What do you mean I can’t describe a variety of sexism without resorting to the use of sexist stereotypes?

      • The concept that men think with their penises, the unnecessary description of your work colleagues beer gut and the dated idea that a ‘lazy pisshead’ will get promoted just because he is a man. How would it go down if I were to describe a female colleague being pushed along by her fat arse? Not well I think.

        • I didn’t say he gets promoted because he’s a guy. I said he’s a lazy pisshead (hungover every day and we all know that you’re not at your best when hungover) yet keeps getting promoted.

          And I didn’t say he only thinks with his dick. I said the only women he acknowledges are the ones he very clearly wants to fuck. But yes, it was unnecessary for me to write about his beer gut, but I did say he makes my skin crawl.

    • outragedofmarrickville

      Well I think there is a difference between normal human engagement with a female colleague and staring (in an objectifying way) and flirting in the workplace. Women just want to be treated like any other colleague, not ignored for fear of offending (we are only offended by men when they are being offensive) nor sleazed on. To assume we can’t tell the difference is that old argument of patriarchy or a reliance on the cliché that women are all running around like over sensitive race horses easily hurt and startled. But I’m lucky I have a nice workplace with good and equal values on the whole so I haven’t experienced it much…except one old boss who was v v sleazy and all women felt it with him…you gotta be at least aware of the common denominator there.

      • Exactly. There is a huge difference between looking at someone normally and leering at them. Men know the difference, otherwise they’d be leering at their grandmothers and daughters. And Former Young Liberal, you say you’re told not to stare at women in the workplace because it’s inappropriate, but you imply that you think there’s nothing wrong with staring at female colleagues, and that the women are just being sensitive and ruining all your perving fun. Right?

        • Wrong I’m implying nothing, I am married and believe in that institution therefore I feel no need to perve on other women (if I wanted to do that I ought not to have gotten married) I am simply saying that some men are in fear of doing anything remotely assosciated with female colleagues in case said female colleague takes offence to what they do. Here is a great example http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sailors-falsely-accused-of-sex-attacks-refuse-to-return-to-their-ship/story-e6freuy9-1225831136165 Obviously someone had an axe to grind and these three have their careers and reputations destroyed on a false pretext.

          • That’s the article you want to use? Then I call you on your bullshit. Those sailors – who haven’t been named so their careers and reputations aren’t ruined at all – were not accused of rape or sexual assault. The headline is wrong. But you want to use one example, in which women and men accused those sailors of being sexual predators, as a reason to blame women for making workplace culture “difficult” for you? Wow, talk about dropping the straws you’re grasping at.

            • The fact that both men and women accused them without any evidence of wrongdoing is more of an indictment of the ADF’s policies than anything else. Their careers are ruined they were marched off their ship (a big deal in the Navy) and everyone they know and work with heard of this alleged sex contest, which never existed. My point is this really, even though they have now been cleared, mud still sticks (especially in the ADF) regardless of the circumstances. Men (some men) are scared to upset anyone lest they wind up on the wrong end of something like this. When this story first broke the ranting and hysteria in the DT (yeah I know the DT) were quite vicious and all because someone obviously pissed someone else off. Do you honestly think the same rubbish would have ensued had women been accused of keeping a sex ledger? No of course not. I am not defending mysogyny and some blokes ARE tools but mos tmen are not rampant chauvanists.

              • Being found not guilty is not the same thing as being proven innocent. And we don’t know all the details. But, like Boganette said, it does blow a big righteous hole in your argument.

                Of course most men are not rampant chauvinists – you will never hear me make sweeping generalisations like that (unlike you, however, who did make sweeping generalisations about me and the others who read this blog). But for you to say this:

                Men (some men) are scared to upset anyone lest they wind up on the wrong end of something like this

                is bull, because any man behaving reasonably would not find themselves in this position.

                • outragedofmarrickville

                  well just playing devils advocate for a moment, maybe formeryl has a point (sort of although bad DT example to choose) Not that I am wanting to take a blame the victim approach here but maybe the point I think he is trying to raise about fear of wrongdoing is a topic to explore in its own post. For example, my father likes little girls (not in a weird way). He thinks little blonde toddlers are lovely…they look like me and my sister did when we ere kids. He wants a grandchild basically but that’s another story. Anyway the point is little toddlers girls seem attracted to my dad too and approach him to play all the time. Dad is totally stressed out about being friendly to them on the beach or something in case people think he is a perve..even when me and mum are sat with him. Is he right to feel stressed ? is it him? Is it societal? Just throwing things up for discussion

                  • outragedofmarrickville

                    I meant to say fear of perception of wrongdoing

                    • Cheers maybe it is worth a look. A good example is the dwindling numbers of male teachers. Piss off a kid (any kid male or female) and all it takes is an accusation and hey presto career finished. Anyway I’ll leave all this here rather than argue the same points over and over. As a final point though the sailors weren’t found guilty or not guilty, rather a review found huge bias in the investigation. That’s the ADF for you though, professional arsecoverers.

          • ‘some men are in fear of doing anything remotely assosciated with female colleagues in case said female colleague takes offence to what they do.’

            I hope these men don’t die of thirst because having anything remotely to do with, say, a glass of water may lead to their drowning. Weak.

            If these same men know how to speak with other men in their office, then they should know how to speak to the women: with a professional manner.
            Nice one putting the blame on the women by misconstruing, not the men who behave inappropriately.

  4. “Wrong I’m implying nothing, I am married and believe in that institution therefore I feel no need to perve on other women (if I wanted to do that I ought not to have gotten married)”

    Damn. I totally perv all the time despite being practically married. I’m so not getting married if I can’t salivate over photos of Mike Patton while I’m supposed to be working.

    On a side note – Doesn’t the fact than men also accused those sailors of sexual assault fuck up your argument in a super righteous way?

  5. I’m so not getting married if I can’t salivate over photos of Mike Patton while I’m supposed to be working.

    Seconded! I’ve been drooling all day over Mike on youtube… bring on Soundwave!

  6. I saw Faith No More live last week in Auckland and I was so close to Mike Patton I could almost touch him. It was quite overwhelming! They were amazing. I died a bit everytime he looked in my direction. You’re in for a treat if you’re seeing them at Soundwave!

  7. outragedofmarrickville

    Boganette, the French call an orgasm a ‘little death’, I always rather liked that expression!

    I perve on David Tennant, I had a strange sadness watching him regenerate on sunday.

    Speaking of Mike Patton – gotta love nathaniel Merryweather – lovage: music to make love to your old lady by!

  8. Not to mention that the writing in the final two episodes was pretty ordinary. Sigh.

    It was sad watching him regenerate. A different kind of sadness to finding out that Starbuck had died all alone.

  9. Yep Outraged – it is a great expression!

  10. Although perhaps “little explosion” might be more appropriate. “Little death” makes me think there’s only going to be one.

  11. I’m expecting to have lots of little explosions on Saturday… but am worried that if they play Epic I will just explode full stop… Fortunately the Greenie Bike Rider will be accompanying me so he can up the pieces…

    And David Tenant is totally pervable too… But I didn’t cry over Dr Who like I did over Starbuck…

    • You too, eh? I thought the female characters in BG were much better written than the male characters. I don’t watch a lot of sci-fi – is it normally like that? The God stuff was a bit much though.

      (I still remember the first time I heard Epic.)

  12. outragedofmarrickville

    I love BSG but i got so shitted off with the God stuff , it was a bit bash you round the head especially at the end but i wont say too much in case of well, spoilers.

  13. Spoilers? Oops. The God stuff was about as subtle as the message in Avatar. I so hope that film doesn’t win best film at the Oscars. It’s amazing to watch in 3D, but it’s hardly a great film.

  14. I’m glad someone else said it! I thought Avatar was terrible. And everytime I say that people act like I’ve just shat on the carpet or something (for some reason people over here think it’s an NZ film).

    It’s NOT a good film. The 3D shit is cool but the story-line is pathetic…and kinda racist.

  15. Sorry anyone who got spoiled! and this comment has poss more spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen BSG.

    I wish the writing in most sci-fi was as good as that of BSG or Dr Who! I thought the God stuff in BSG was very interesting- the whole cylon montheism and wanting to bring the humans to the one true god…

    and the first time I heard epic is still fresh in my memory 20 years later… that song and that album completely saved my teenage sanity! Though I think Mike looks hotter now than he did then…

    and I have no plans to see Avatar…

    • Somewhere in my travels around the internet I saw someone had written a thesis on the portrayal of women in sci-fi…

      • I knew a guy who did his sociology thesis on Star Wars… as far as I know he’s still working at the same pub he worked at during uni…

        • What job could you get as Dr Star Wars? Hopefully having Dr at the start of your name means you can get any job you want – and money falls from the sky into your pockets – as I’ve got my first meeting with my supervisor tomorrow.

          • I think I know someone who would like to be Dr Star wars!!! Princess Leia is a great female icon until episode 3 when the writing switches and she turns into a pathetic crying, love struck, do as she is told handbag of a character who…wait for it…dies of a broken heart. damn it! On an analytical angle I cant help thinking was because she was pregnant and writers didn’t know how to deal with that or worse immediately pigeon holed as no more important that a brood mare, suddenly ‘weaker’ and in need of locking away…which is what they did with her in most of the film – locked her in their apartment

            • I’m totally about to reveal the extent of my geekitude here: Don’t you mean Princess Amidala? And the birth of Luke and Leia has to be the WORST birth scene in the history of cinema!!

            • Is that the Natalie Portman character? Gawd, that character was awful. Am a bit hazy about the new ones because I lost interest in the movies once I was no longer a kid. Which is strange, because it hasn’t happened with other parts of my life. Like PIRATES! Maybe it’s because there aren’t good female characters in it – which, of course, brings us back to Battlestar Galactica.

              And Dik would soooo like to be Dr Star Wars. We should probably just call him that.

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