Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. It can also refer to social systems or environments where women face hostility and hatred because they’re women in a world created by and for men — a historical patriarchy.
Is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
A set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society. Examples of these stereotypes include:
- Men are tough, strong and do not cry.
- Men cannot control their sexual urges.
- Men are breadwinners and the head of the household.
Putting expectations on men can lead to men and boys feeling isolated because they feel they are unable to ask for help.
Allies are people who work for social justice from positions of dominance. For example, men working for gender equity. Effective allies work in solidarity with people from marginalised groups, such as women, LGBTIQ+ people, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
Men can make a real difference in achieving gender equality. You can attend a free training session on how to become a male ally by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Involuntary celibates or ‘incels’
Are men who blame the world, and especially women, for the fact that they are virgins, or aren't having sex as often as they want to. They see women as manipulators who choose powerful but shallow men, and unfairly ignore and even torment ‘good guys’ like themselves. Resentment becomes an excuse for misogyny, and sometimes, for violence. ‘Incels’ are a hate group.
The belief by women and girls that the sexist lies, stereotypes and myths about them are true.
Examples of internalised misogyny:
- You judge women’s sexual behaviour differently from men’s sexual behaviour.
- You’re disgusted at seeing women’s body hair.
- You believe women are too emotional to be good leaders, are not good at science/sports or a woman’s main purpose is to be a mother.
How misogyny links to violence against women and girls (VAWG)
Misogyny, internalised misogyny and toxic masculinity enables violence against women and girls (VAWG).
Misogyny, internalised misogyny and toxic masculinity can lead to cultural, internal and community acceptance of violence against women and girls.
Some perpetrators of domestic abuse are misogynists. They do not respect women and girls and do not believe they deserve to be treated with the same respect as men and boys. They use domestic abuse as a form of control because they believe that as a man, they have more rights than women or that women should be held accountable for men’s actions.
Society often feeds into these myths and from a young age, unhealthy behaviours for boys are encouraged, such as:
- not crying,
- being mocked if they ‘lose to a girl’ and
- not asked to do certain chores because that is ‘a woman’s job’.
Society constructs these gender roles and reinforces them throughout a lifetime, this can lead to men believing they are entitled to power and that women are the ‘weaker sex’.
Perpetrators of sexual abuse often believe that men are better than women. They believe that men should be dominant over women and men have sexual entitlement over women.
Victim-blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that was caused to them. Victim-blaming can be a form of misogyny. Examples include:
- If she wasn’t so drunk, he wouldn’t have raped her.
- She shouldn’t have led him on.
- What did she expect wearing that outfit?
In a society that promotes the idea that men are driven by sexual intercourse, sexually inappropriate behaviour is trivialised with statements such as ‘boys will be boys’, which does not hold them responsible for their behaviour.
‘Honour’ based abuse
Some perpetrators of ‘honour’ based abuse are misogynists. They use ‘honour’ based abuse as a form of control because they believe that women should maintain a certain standard of behaviour, different from men.
Families often feed into these myths, for example, from a young age, boys behaviour is parented differently from girls. Girls are encouraged to be ‘pure’ and are blamed for wearing make-up or clothes that ‘encourage the boys’. Boys are excused from their behaviour because they ‘cannot control themselves’. This places all the responsibility on girls for how boys behave which affects both sexes understanding of their position in society.
Some perpetrators of forced marriage are misogynists. They use forced marriage as a form of control because they believe that women should maintain a certain standard of behaviour, different from men. They believe that women need to be controlled by a man and forcing them to marry means a husband can do that, e.g. ‘She is too wild, she needs a husband to rein her in.’ This enables the ‘man being the head of the house’ belief that misogynists often have and takes away choices from the girl/woman. Not being able to make choices within a relationship can lead to ill mental health and is a form of domestic abuse.
Female genital mutilation
Some perpetrators of female genital mutilation are misogynists. They use female genital mutilation as a form of control because they believe that women should preserve their virginity and need to prove this to their husband/the husband’s family. Misogynists believe that women/girls who have had sexual experience may be deemed ‘impure’ and or not worthy of respect. Whereas men/boys who have had previous sexual experiences are ‘real men’ and are proud of their sexual experiences. Everyone deserves to be respected. Respect does not depend on your sexual behaviour/experiences.
Some buyers of sex and perpetrators of abuse against women involved in prostitution are misogynists. They do not respect women and do not believe they deserve to be treated with the same respect as men. Research on men who buy sex shows that they believe that men have a right to have their sexual needs met and feel no empathy for women involved in prostitution. They are more likely to believe ‘rape myths’ and are more likely to have committed sexually aggressive acts, including rape.
Society feeds into ideas that ’boys will be boys’ and ‘men can’t control themselves’. This is not true and is an excuse misogynist use to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Some misogynists use these societal beliefs to justify their inappropriate sexual behaviour.
How to safely challenge misogyny
- If someone ‘wolf whistles’ at a woman in the street, be a good bystander, here’s a guide on what you can do.
- Discuss misogyny with your friends, family or community group, sharing how you may have experienced misogyny. Direct them to campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism Project so that they can understand the extent of the problem and how it affects women/girls.
- Encourage girls/women to take leadership positions / involve them in decision-making processes within the household so that they feel empowered.
- Talk to your child about what they can say if someone says or does something upsetting. Explain to them that even although everyone may be laughing at a sexist joke, they do not have to. It isn’t about being polite, it’s about standing up for what’s right. UK Feminista has developed resources for children, parents and teachers to tackle sexism in schools.
- Become a male ally.
- Ask your children about what they like and encourage them to explore beyond gender stereotypes. Have these discussions with the school too.
- Ask your HR department to create/update it’s ‘Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Policy’. An example policy can be found here.
- Ask how your workplace/groups you attend, can address and respond to misogyny.
- Write member rules for community groups. Be specific about how people should interact with each other and enforce those rules.
- Where advertising or a business is discriminating against women, report this to the company directly, to your local council or your MP.
- Share your story/support for campaigns that try to address misogyny such as the Hollaback Campaign and Catcalls of London Campaign.