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Misogyny Is…

By Abby Theuring, MSW

The longer I work at breastfeeding advocacy and activism the harder it becomes to separate issues surrounding breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public from larger feminist issues. Intrigued by the connection I started reading feminist essays and picked up Rebecca Solnit’s book Men Explain Things to Me. I worked up an appetite to define more than just generally words like “misogyny” and “patriarchy.” I used to feel concerned about talking too much about incidents in which mothers were harassed. I feared I would scare mothers away from nursing in public. I feared speaking out about how these incidents are connected to every other incident of harassment and violence women experience. I’ve concluded that by not speaking up I am playing a part in allowing it to happen. I will not be silent any longer. It’s not going to be easy to talk about this stuff. I do not have a severe history of abuse and even I have had to put books down due to anxiety. But there is no way around it. This is a conversation that needs to happen. And it needs to happen now.

Webster’s dictionary defines misogyny as “a hatred of women.” While items on the following list can be defined in many ways they all represent a larger societal hatred of women.

Misogyny is being approached while breastfeeding and being told to cover up or move.

Misogyny is being told you are responsible for another person’s actions, thoughts or feelings based on what you are wearing, saying or doing.

Misogyny is having to explain your every move, word or feeling.

Misogyny is being verbally abused because you turned down his sexual advance.

Misogyny is being called “slutty,” “trashy” or “immodest.”

Misogyny is getting paid less than a man for the same job.

Misogyny is being told that your body isn’t quite right to give birth.

Misogyny is being told you can’t handle the stress of high pressure jobs.

Misogyny is no one believing you were raped because he is such a nice guy and you “get around.”

Misogyny is being told you asked to get beat by your husband because you didn’t obey his orders.

Misogyny is being appreciated only as a sexual commodity.

Misogyny is being told he pulls your hair on the playground or picks on you because he likes you.

Misogyny is being called “slutty” for having recreational sex.

Misogyny is being told you are not good enough because you stay home with your kids and being told you are not a good enough if you choose to work.

Misogyny is banning the exposure of female nipples.

Misogyny is legal protection for fathers of children conceived by rape.

Misogyny is being told to scream “fire!” when being attacked because no one will come to “rape!”

Misogyny is all of the domestic abusers and rapists walking the streets right now.

Misogyny is rape prevention tips for females because it’s your responsibility to prevent rape.

Misogyny is the countless sexual and physical attack threats on-line.

Misogyny is being slipped a “mickey.”

Misogyny is that feeling without a name walking down a dark alley, inside an empty parking garage or into a room full of men.

Misogyny is rape, violence and murder of women not being named a global pandemic, but instead a series of unrelated, isolated incidents whose existence is questionable to begin with.

Misogyny is being called “crazy” or “hysterical” for expressing big feelings.

Misogyny is the endless battle with social media platforms because images of our bodies are consistently deemed pornographic and removed.

Misogyny is being told you are lying about the rape because you are “just jealous.”

Misogyny is being told you don’t know what you are talking about when talking about something you know a lot about.

Misogyny is being told by your fellow artists that you have a “great look.”

Misogyny is being told your feelings and experiences are invalid.

Misogyny is murder being one of the biggest killers of pregnant women.

Misogyny is being in danger when trying to leave an abusive relationship.

Misogyny is walking down the street and being whistled at.

Misogyny is being harassed by your boss, but you worry reporting it will lead to getting fired.

Misogyny is being convicted of 3 counts of felony sexual assault and getting 6 months in jail.

I am forcing my fingers to stop tapping the keys now. I could go on for an eternity. And even so I have merely chipped a few ice chips from the tip of the misogyny iceberg that sits on the shoulders of women on planet Earth. We have to speak up and we have to do it now. We cannot rely on the hope that someday it will get better or things will magically move into a safer situation for women. It’s not going to happen unless we make it happen. Please stand up and speak. I’ll be there with you.

Comments

  1. Misogyny is sex selective abortion of female fetuses.

  2. Cheryl Victor says:

    Abby, you know that I have a lot of background with this. I can tell you that being a victim of domestic violence, both from my own family and then my long term relationship with my ex, is a very heavy label to bare. Judgement is passed constantly. Why would you stay? What did you do?..as if to deserve it. Just leave. All very easy to say if you’ve never fallen victim. Every corner is dark – even in the place you call home. Sleeping never really happens because it’s the moment you’re least safe. I’ve lived with shame and guilt my whole life. Very little self worth. I was a possession not a person. Leaving is the scariest and the most lethal time of your life. 75% of deaths that occur at the hands of an abuser occur AFTER the victim leaves. Law enforcement, social services, and judicial officials do not take this serious. I’ve been treated as if I’m being ridiculous, a liar, or just being crazy and is exactly why the majority of the time, I did nothing about the abuse. No one is protecting you.

  3. Thanks so much for talking about this. I see it so often in my work as a Doula… I wrote a post comparing the characteristics of a misogynist with the institution of obstetrics: http://diaryofadurbandoula.blogspot.co.ke/2014/08/obstetrics-last-outpost-of-misogyny.html

  4. Misogyny is what made me hesitate to admit that I have experienced a majority of these.

  5. Misogyny is so ingrained in our world that it takes a courageous person to stop and point it out. Thank you Abby for starting this important dialogue.

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