Sunday, September 21, 2008

Misogyny 101 For Teens and Council

Formerly the Frielink doctrine of "Why we should keep women under our thumbs 101"

Misogyny (IPA: /mɪˈsɒʤəˌni/) is hatred or strong prejudice against women; an antonym of philogyny. Although misogyny is sometimes confused with misanthropy, the terms are not interchangeable, for the latter refers more generally to the hatred of humanity. A concept related to misogyny is gynephobia, the fear of women, but not necessarily hatred of them.
Compared with anti-woman sexism or misandry (hatred, strong prejudice against men), misogyny is termed by most feminist theories as a political ideology like racism and antisemitism that justifies and maintains the subordination of women to men.

Forms of misogyny
There are many different forms of misogyny. In its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female. Other forms of misogyny may be less overt. Some misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Entire cultures may be said to be misogynist if they treat women in ways that can be seen as harmful. Examples include forcing women to tend to all domestic responsibilities, demanding silence from a woman, or beating a woman. Subscribers to one model, the mother/whore dichotomy, hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant is the virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to a saintly standard of moral purity are considered "whores." [citation needed]
Frequently, the term misogynist is used in a looser sense as a term of derision to describe anyone who holds an unpopular or distasteful view about women as a group. A man who considers himself "a great lover of women," therefore, might somewhat paradoxically be termed a misogynist by those who consider his treatment of women sexist. Archetypes of this type of man might be Giacomo Casanova and Don Juan, who were both reputed for their many libertine affairs with women. Misogyny is a negative attitude towards women as a group, and so need not fully determine a misogynist's attitude towards each individual woman. The fact that someone holds misogynist views may not prevent them from having positive relationships with some women. Conversely, simply having negative relationships with some women does not necessarily mean someone holds misogynistic views. The term, like most negative descriptions of attitudes, is used as an epithet and applied to a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes. As with other terms, the more antipathetic one's position is in regards to misogyny, the larger the number of misogynists and the greater variety of attitudes and behaviors who fall into one's perception of "misogynist."[specify] This is, of course, the subject of much controversy and debate with opinions ranging widely as to the extent and breadth of misogyny in society.

Eve rides astride the Serpent on a capital in Laach Abbey church, 13th century

Misogyny in religion
See also: Feminist theology
Misogyny can be traced back to the origins of Modern civilization, such as in Greece and Judea, in which stories and legends on the Fall of Man into a world of tragedy and death had been brought about by a woman. In both cultures, the creation of man is primary, and woman an afterthought. In Greek mythology, the human race had already existed previous to the creation of women — a peaceful, autonomous existence as a companion to the gods. When Prometheus decides to steal the secret of fire from the gods, Zeus becomes infuriated and decides to punish humankind with an "evil thing for their delight" — Pandora, the first woman, who carried a jar (usually described — incorrectly — as a box) she was told to never open. Epimetheus (the brother of Prometheus) is overwhelmed by her beauty, disregards Prometheus' warnings about her, and marries her. Pandora cannot resist peeking into the jar, and by opening it unveils all evil into the world — labour, sickness, old age, and death.[1] During the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II issued an apology for all the past sins of the Roman Catholic Church, dividing the sins into seven categories. Among general sins, sins in service of the truth, sins against Christian unity, sins against Jews, sins against respect of love, peace and culture, and sins against human rights, he also apologized for sins against the dignity of women and minorities.
The church has been criticized for being misogynistic. "The foundations of early Christian misogyny — its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction — are all in St. Paul's epistles. They provided a convenient supply of divinely inspired misogynistic texts for any Christian writer who chose to use them; his statements on female subjection were still being quoted in the twentieth century opponents of equality for women."[2] Writers such as John Knox have been singled out for criticism.
However, given that Mary Magdalene became a saint and was one of the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus, many argue that Christianity has ultimately raised the status of women, despite the attitudes of some individuals. In the New Testament, Jesus treats women with respect, even going so far as to save a woman caught in adultery from stoning in John 8. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 states that wives belong to their husbands, and equally husbands belong to their wives. See the article on Christian feminism for a fuller discussion.

Misogyny in philosophy
Arthur Schopenhauer is famous for his essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." The essay does give two compliments however: that "women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than men are" and are more sympathetic to the suffering of others. However, the latter was discounted as weakness rather than humanitarian virtue.
Nietzsche is known for arguing that every higher form of civilization implied stricter controls on women (Beyond Good and Evil, 7:238); he frequently insulted women, but is best known for phrases such as "Women are less than shallow," and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!"[3] Nietzsche's reputation as a misogynist is disputed by some, pointing out that he also made unflattering statements about men. Nietzsche can easily be interpreted as anti-feminist, believing that women were primarily mothers and opposing the modern notion of women's liberation on the grounds that he considered it a form of slave morality. Whether or not this amounts to misogyny, whether his polemic statements against women are meant to be taken literally, and the exact nature of his opinions of women, are more controversial.[4]
The philosopher Otto Weininger, in his 1903 book Sex and Character, characterized the "woman" part of each individual as being essentially "nothing," and having no real existence, having no effective consciousness or rationality.[5] Weininger says, "No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them." The author August Strindberg praised Weininger for probably having solved the hardest of all problems, the "woman problem."

No comments: