Misogyny – Book Review

The word misogyny is difficult to remember and hard to spell, and after reading Misogyny by Jack Holland and fortuitously finding the book, Feminism: The Ugly Truth by Mike Buchanan, I realized the word misogyny is no longer effective.


I don’t remember when I first heard the word misogyny, but I didn’t think it concerned me. I didn’t ever hear it when I was growing up so I guess I figured it just related to things that were ancient history.

But as a feminist who has been trying to learn about past and present issues concerning women, I began to hear the word more often. Since it was so foreign I struggled to remember the meaning, but even when I realized that it was truly horrifying, my concerns were allayed by articles that assured me that most men weren’t misogynists because they loved their mothers, wives, and daughters. Since I knew quite a few men who I was quite certain did as well, it seemed like a non-issue.

While some things have changed, the hate hasn’t gone away and we need new ways to increase understanding.

In around 2002, I started to consider leaving my marriage. There were things I needed to do that I felt were right for me and my daughters, and they were going to require a significant shift in our lives. I ended it in September of 2004 after 18 years, and since Misogyny by Jack Holland was published in 2006, it was sometime after that when I found it, so it was probably in either 2008 or 2009, which was the year my divorce was finalized.

Since the book was focused on historical events, I simply felt immense sadness for the things those women had to endure, and still didn’t think misogyny was relevant to me. But about a week ago, I decided to read through it quickly again, to review it for the Facebook group, Books Everyone Should Read to Know Thyself & Others. I thought it would be a good choice since March is Women’s History Month.

I had underlined a lot of sentences when I first read it, so I thought I could breeze through by only reading those, but I found myself paying a lot more attention to what I was reading than I thought I would. The information ranges from showing how creation stories from Greece and Judea tried to justify how women’s weakness is responsible for all human suffering, [1] to women being described as the “beautiful evil” [2], to finding out that christians believed that women who were learned and accomplished were actually witches who consorted with the devil [3], to seeing that many men, some of whom many people still hold in high regard such as Darwin and Freud, had a shared aim to demonstrate that men’s contempt for women was justified [4].

But what was most amazing to me was that I began to see that I was reading phrases that I had been hearing on right-wing and christian radio stations—phrases like, “women should be home raising children,” “women are destroying society because of their selfishness,” “women are making choices that are destroying the moral fabric of society,” and I realized that misogyny hadn’t gone away.

I was curious to find out how many books had been published on the subject, so I went to Amazon.com to find out what was there. I found roughly 65 book titles and saw 884 results, many of which I noticed were for music, coffee mugs, and “humorous” t-shirts for men emblazoned with things like “Got Misogyny?” (I also decided to search for christian books and found 4,705,760 results.)

But in the process, I was stunned at what I saw on the cover of one of the books—an extremely distorted depiction of a feminist’s face which makes her look like a terrifying demon. It’s an incredibly disturbing image and I imagine many people would find it extremely frightening if they truly believed that this reflects the true nature of feminists. And that woman is me and other women like me. A man named Mike Buchanan is trying to define us with that image and the content of his book, Feminism: The Ugly Truth.

I haven’t read Buchanan’s book, but just a brief glance at the “Look Inside” option on Amazon gives the reader a clear understanding of the content. Buchanan claims that he is only talking about “gender or militant feminism not equity feminism, which he says is okay as long as it only means that women have opportunity,” and since he qualifies his use of the word “feminism” in one sentence to mean it’s really only about radical feminism, he feels he can move forward using just the word “feminism” to offer his opinions about the problems he believes gender feminism is creating.

Erin Pizzey says in the Foreword, “With every year that passes, more women are becoming aware of the damage that men-hating and family-hating feminists have wrought (and continue to wreak) on society in general…How much more damage will radical feminists be allowed to wreak before they’re more widely recognized as the evil women they are?” [5]

Buchanan goes on to say, “Feminism has at its core five elements: misandry (hatred of men), fantasies, lies, delusions and myths. I believe the female mind is more naturally inclined to love than to hate, one of the many reasons women tend to be a civilizing force in society. But when the female mind is persuaded to adopt hatred as a core value—a requirement of feminism—then the results can be ugly.” [6] He says that it is extraordinary that it’s had little serious opposition (Apparently he hasn’t read Misogyny to see that men have been at this for thousands of years.)…that it is “killing men in large numbers through depriving them of employment. (And) it’s killing women, albeit in lesser numbers, by forcing them to go against their natural instincts and rely on the world of work for their survival.” [7]

He explains that the cover image is actually a vampire (although it’s interesting to see that she looks just like I imagined the succubi or demonic women Holland describes in Misogyny would look [8]) and he says he used it because it reflects “two defining characteristics of feminism: anger and ugliness.” [9] He goes on to say, “There is of course another meaning of the word ‘ugly’, that relating to physical appearance. It would be dishonest to deny the evidence before us—that feminists are (Buchanan’s emphasis) generally less attractive than normal (my emphasis) women—and the link between female attractiveness and feminism is covered in this book.” [10]

The women that these men hate are women like me. But the definition of misogyny is based on beliefs held long ago, on the idea that men could prove that women were less intelligent, that both sexes had unique abilities, and “that women were worth nothing more than their virtue.” [11] However, it appears that over time lots of men recognized that women are just as intelligent and capable as they are in many ways and that most women are genuinely good people even though they haven’t obeyed all of the rules men have tried so hard to force them to follow.

So misogynists have had to redirect their aim, and because of this, the word misogynist has become outmoded. Many men are justifiably arguing that they are not misogynists (woman-haters) because no one can argue with their claims that they love the women who often decide to stay uneducated, who are frequently forgoing work to raise their children, and who are not wearing makeup because of their religious convictions—these girlfriends, wives, and daughters they are frightening into conformity and convincing to stay in marriages that are often abusive by dictating beliefs that include the idea that “divorce is not an option.”

I realize that feminists recognize that this is also misogyny, that these women have been convinced by men that their lifestyles are the norm and anything else is unacceptable, but the men’s claims are making it hard for feminists to argue their point. So, given this situation, I think we need a word that describes this particular type of hatred.

Misogyny > Feminhate

I came up with a few options that include “feminhate,” “feminate,” and “femihate.” I think the first one works best because there is no question that it is about women and hate, and it uses the prefix “femin” which aligns with feminism.*

The cover of Feminism: The Ugly Truth feels like a personal affront, like libel, defamation, slander. To think that any man has the right to try to define someone like me like this is horrifying. To hear how long this has been going on in Holland’s Misogyny is heart-breaking. No woman deserves to have men—who don’t know anything about them—attempt to define them.

I would venture to say that every feminist’s** story includes a lot of confusion—an ongoing struggle to understand who they are and how they are going to accomplish the things they feel driven to achieve. Everyone needs to understand what has happened and is currently happening—so young feminists can avoid having to search for understanding and acceptance and dedicate their lives to pursuing their dreams, and everyone else can understand the true meaning of feminism and love feminists for who they are. Holland’s Misogyny and Buchanan’s book show a clear picture of feminhater’s goals. Men and women who hate women like me want to stop feminists from accomplishing the phenomenal things they are capable of achieving or at least stop people from ever recognizing them, but I hope as more and more people understand what is happening, more and more feminists will be recognized for their often tireless efforts to benefit humanity.

* Since I’ve just thrown out a couple of words to try to better define this problem, I would love to hear your suggestions!

**While I am talking about my feelings and experiences in most of the content, I am not intending for this to refer only to women. I think it is highly likely that many of the men who define themselves as feminists also find the issues confronting our world very confusing and that they struggle with similar issues.


Notes

1) Holland, Jack. Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006. Print. 12.
2) Ibid; 13.
3) Ibid; 96.
4) Ibid; 209.
5) Buchanan, Mike. Feminism: The Ugly Truth. LPS publishing, 2012. Kindle. Foreword.
6) Ibid; Introduction.
7) Ibid.
8) Holland. op.cit. 120.
9) Buchanan. op.cit.
10) Buchanan. op.cit.
11) Holland. op.cit. 41.


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