I admit, this post is not going to give a definitive answer. It’s speculative and incomplete, and I invite others to share any knowledge they have. This is just what I know about it…
Misogyny is the denigration of the female sex, the more common form of sexism. It can be – and is – manifested as disrespect, sexual objectification, violence, discrimination and/ or general belief in females as inferior. The technical definition is hatred but honestly I never see anyone who actually hates females*, at least not around me. It’s been around a long time, longer than the current globalised racism (which began when Europeans decided it was their right to conquer and rule the world, just over 500 years ago). Probably the only form of oppression that’s lasted longer and had more devastating effects is classism. It takes so many different forms all over the world:
* BUT the level of disrespect some men have for women can be pretty much the same as hatred.
- Female foetuses being aborted just because they’re female in present-day Bangladesh and pre-Islamic Arabia (though in Arabia they did it by burying newborn girls alive; they didn’t have abortion back then),
- Kidnapping young girls from their families, also in present-day Bangladesh and pre-Islamic Arabia to balance out the male:female ratio. However, while Bengalis do it to each other, ancient Arabs did it to European and African women,
- Women being forbidden to vote due to a belief they’re too stupid to make important decisions for their country in C19 & C20 (19th & 20th century) England,
- Women and girls being called bitches, hos, sluts, gashes, etc, in present-day America & England by gangstafied men. Gangstafied is my shorthand for people, in this case men (usually young) & boys, who emulate contemporary rappers/ hip-hop artists,
- School-age girls being forbidden from education in Taliban-run Afghanistan,
- Headscarves being forbidden from public wear by Muslim women in present-day France,
- The witch hunts & trials of C15-C18 (15th to 18th century) Europe and America,
- ‘Black’ and mulatta women being regularly impregnated via rape by ‘white’ slavers in TAST-era America,
- Women being called non-humans and/ or property by ancient Greek & Roman philosophers,
- Women in general receiving less pay for the same job and same level of competence as their male counterparts in present-day English and American work places,
…and many many others. I would also include the global porn & prostitution industry (regardless of whether the women join voluntarily or not) because it promotes the image of women as nothing but passive receptacles of man-meat. Or anything shaped like it. The ultimate form of sexual objectification.
I admit, misogyny has me stumped. Why did so many men all over the world decide that women are to get worse treatment than men? Many historical reasons have been proposed:
- The Judeo-Christian belief in Satan tempting Eve who then tempted Adam to eat from the forbidden tree,
- The Greek myth of Pandora and the jar (not box) she must never open – but she did,
- The Jewish mythical figure Lilith (the true 1st woman) who refused to let Adam lie on top of her during intercourse,
and others. I reckon those are all parts of the equation, but these are all myths that try to justify mistreatment of women. In order to justify a position you must first conceive then accept it, and the thing that seems to be missed is how that position was conceived in the first place, and why it became so accepted pretty much all over the world.
Some say misogyny is rooted more in fear than actual hatred of women. How true that is I don’t know. It would make sense if there were some kind of historical context in which this claim could be placed, like maybe matriarchs having authority that some men decided they wanted and were willing to overthrow & suppress the matriarchs to do it. Recently I read an interesting book called Vagina by Naomi Wolf, and she posits that the vagina is a direct link to the female brain. When a woman’s vagina is healthy she is more intelligent, caring, creative, happy, etc, and when it’s unhealthy she becomes the opposite. It can become ‘unhealthy’ via verbal assaults on her femaleness (eg. being called bitch, ho and the rest) both deliberate and accidental, feeling ashamed of herself, normal day-to-day stressors, or even simple medical issues that interfere with proper neural function (as happened to Naomi herself). This would explain why when men in history sought to break women’s spirits they tended to do it through sexual assault of some kind. And, unfortunately, it often works much better than any other kind of assault. Men and women alike seem to instinctively (not consciously for the most part) know of this vagina-brain link, but only now it is gaining scientific explanation and recognition.
Considering all the things men have done to women throughout history, we men have a lot to answer for. To be honest I understand why some of them don’t like us. I think if we really cared about women we’d stop doing whatever in the list we do.