Misogyny: An Unending Reign of Prejudice

The oxford dictionary defines misogyny as, “Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” However, Australian ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard tried to redefine misogyny by saying, “Since the 1980’s misogyny has come to be used as a synonym for sexism, a synonym with a bite, but nevertheless with the meaning of entrenched prejudice against women rather pathological hatred.”

Socialist Allen G. Johnson says: “Misogyny is a cultural Attitude of hatred for females because they are females.”  He further argues that, misogyny is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and as such is an important basis for the oppressing females in a male-dominated society.

Most surprising thing is not just religion and mythologies have concepts of misogyny, but even many influential western philosophers are described as misogynistic. For instance, the great Greek philosopher and thinker Aristotle has also been accused of being a misogynist.  He has written that women are inferior to men. According to Cynthia Freeland’s catalogue,  Aristotle says that the courage of a man lies in commanding a woman, and a woman’s lies in obeying , that ‘matter yearns for form, as female for male and the ugly for the beautiful; that a female is an incomplete male or ‘as it were, a deformity’; which contributes only matter and not form to the generation of offspring; that in general ‘a woman is perhaps an inferior being’; that female characters in a tragedy will be inappropriate if they are too brave or too clever.”

People say that education makes a person broad-minded and opens their intellectual horizon, however, to my utter surprise even modern philosophers like Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel have written texts full of misogynist sentiments. His “Elements of the Philosophy of Rights” is full of misogynist views. For instance in one of the passages he writes, “Women are capable of education but they are not made for activities which demand a universal faculty such as the more advanced sciences, philosophy and certain forms of artistic production… women regulate their actions not by the demand of universality, but by arbitrary initiation and opinions.”

Modern generation or the generation of the 21st century is very fond of hip-hop culture and rap songs, they love to groove over the ultra fast lyrics of such songs, however, do they ever check the lyrics of such songs or do they ever ponder what some of  these songs try to portray? Most of these songs are full of misogynistic lyrics. Misogyny is extensively found in the hip-hop culture through the usage of lyrics, videos or other aspects of hip hop culture that supports, glorify, justify, exploit or victimize women. Even nine-time Grammy award winner Eminem uses derogatory and misogynist lyrics in his songs. For instance in his song, titled,“Stay wide awake,” he says:

… see whore you’re the kinda girl that I’da
assault and rape and figure why not try to make your pussy wider,
Fuck you with an umbrella then open it up while that shits inside ya”

Even in so-called “traditional” and “cultured” country like India, a very popular artist Honey Singh uses blatantly sexist language in his songs.  For instance in his song “Brown Rang” he says:

…vaise to mitran da bahut vadda score but white chicks na
(By the way I’ve scored many times, but only white chicks. )

I don’t like them anymore, ban mirtan de whore
(I don’t like them anymore, come be my “whore”)

I mean mitran di ho…
(I mean be mine, Ho!)

On one hand, we raise the banner of crime against women or we animatedly talk about equal rights for women, while on the other hand, we tend to forget the basic thing that is the rotten mentality of our society. Have you ever wondered why most of the abusive words or slangs are always attacking women, like, Mother fucker, sister fucker, son of a bitch, bitch, slut, so on and so forth? Why is this hypocrisy still prevalent in the society? Where at one point we debate about women empowerment and on the other hand we encourage misogyny in different fields of life.

Though misogyny is one of the most tenacious prejudices, it has changed and evolved over the centuries, moderated and exacerbated by prevailing social, political and above all religious current. A dramatic transformation in the history of the hatred towards women occurred with the rise of Christianity and the promulgation of the doctrine of original sin. The doctrine was a product of the confluence in Christianity of three powerful currents in the ancient world: Greek philosophical Platonism; Judaic patriarchal monotheism; and Christian revelation. This unprecedented convergence of philosophical, mystical and historical claims helped create a powerful ideological underpinning for the world’s oldest prejudice when it made conception itself a sin, a sin where women, even as Virgin Mary was at the same time held responsible for perpetrating this sin, the falling away of man from the perfect state of grace with God into, the horror of the reality of being.

I feel oppressive patriarchy is the major reason behind misogyny. I think patriarchy perpetuates inequality through a system of maintaining class, gender, racial and heterosexual privilege and the status quo of power, relying both on crude forms of oppression, like violence and subtle ones like law. I firmly believe that male heterosexual dominance is the root cause of gender based violence.

Earlier literature was used to portray women in a bad light, women weren’t allowed to either vote or write, the images like “Angel in the house” were propagated to influence the minds of young women so as to teach them that angels stay at home and witches go out and work. However, presently, social media is been used by the patriarchal misogynists to defame women. For instance if a woman asserts her view point or if she raises her voice against any crime she termed as a “Feminazi.” ‘Feminist’ has become a derogatory term, thanks to the social media. Most of the daily soaps of the south Asian televisions portray women as an ideal housewife, the ultimate aim of a girl’s parents is to get their daughter married to a ‘’suitable guy,’’ a guy with a house, a salary and a job. I don’t understand why aren’t these quality sought for in a girl? According to the traditional values of some South Asian societies, a suitable bride is the one which brings a huge dowry, is submissive, fair, thin, brings good salary (optional), wears traditional clothes, cooks and does household chores, is always ready for sex and who reproduces just male children. Why a female is still tortured sexually, mentally, economically and socially? When will a day come where no oppressive patriarchal societies will be there to defame and torture women?  How long will we remain cocooned in a hypocritical society which go on for a candle march after a rape victim dies, however, which tells their daughters to keep their mouth shut if they are been harassed?

I just want to ask the defenders of patriarchy and misogynists that how long will they behave like modern day Hitler and how long will women feel unsafe even in the four walls of their houses.

A humble request to all the parents of young girls, please don’t teach them to be submissive or make them feel that they are a burden on them or that they need a macho male to protect them. Please nurture them like a normal human child, not like a liability; educate them, make them independent, and make them, courageous.

Let them live!

About Madiha Musarrat

Madiha Musarrat (2016) is an undergraduate student in the Department of English. She can be reached via email at: madiha.mm83[at]gmail.com

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