Sexism, misogyny, gender equality: what does it all mean?
The media, both social and mainstream, has been arguing over the topic of gender equality for a while. Since Prime Minister Julia Gillard raked Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott over the coals for sexism and misogyny last week, the debate had become incessant. The video is at the end of this article for those who may not yet have seen it, although I can’t imagine who hasn’t by this stage!
Let’s look at this rationally. I am a woman and I grew up when front line battles were still being fought. Front line battles ARE still being fought, don’t think otherwise.
It is my personal view that society tends to confuse sameness and equality. Society also confuses misogyny and sexism.
The first aspect to establish is what exactly are we talking about? What is misogyny? What is sexism? What is equality?
Misogyny: according to my Chambers dictionary there is one very simple definition, a woman-hater.
Sexism: a slightly longer definition here. Discrimination against, stereotyping of, patronising or otherwise offensive behaviour towards anyone (orig. women) on the grounds of sex.
Equality: for the purposes of discussing gender equality, the applicable definition is probably “of the same value” , equitable.
Hate: Extreme dislike, dislike intensely, hatred. Hatred: Malignity, enmity.
On the basis of the above definitions, is misogyny the right word to be using in relation to those men who would prefer to see women subjugated or subservient? I don’t think so. Clearly, most of these men have mothers they love, wives, daughters and sisters. These men do not hate women. Most of them sleep with one every night. They hug their daughters. They ring their mothers on Mothers’ Day.
These men are, however sexist. They behave and speak in patronising and often offensive ways towards women. To a specific type of women: women who challenge their perceived or desired male superiority.
Last night I sent out a Tweet asking someone to nominate a religion which is not inherently sexist. While there were a couple of nominations, if we look at the major religions of our time, they are sexist. Women do not have equal rights in most religions (although some have made progress). Read the Bible or the Qu’ran or any other mainstream religious text and the women are traditionally second-class citizens. This is all under the guise of protecting the women-folk, of course. Political spin was big even 2000 years ago.
Religious dogma dictates men are superior in almost every religion. The sort of men we are talking about are caught between believing their religion and facing the reality of the development of human society. They can’t move forward. They are trapped in a time warp.
They love their wives, providing the wives don’t expect to be equal. The Anglican Church just came out with some new vows where the woman promises to submit. Catherine Deveny got creamed over her annoyance expressed on Q and A. Actually, no, she didn’t get creamed for her annoyance, she got creamed for HOW she expressed that annoyance. Not at all “lady-like”. Not meek, mild and submissive to the superior males there present.
Max Tomlinson’s rant was despicable I steered well away from Tony Jones, he isn’t worth my time. The treatment of Kate Ellis on Q and A looked like spoilt brat behaviour, but the root cause was ingrained sexism in society.
It is not so long ago that English women were legally chattels. Western women forget how recently we were possessions, while women in other societies are still struggling to be allowed an education or allowed to cross the damn border without written permission from husband or father!
Look at the type of men in America, another western nation. There was the Governor who thought women don’t really need money, the politician who believes women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” and the moves against abortion BY MEN! Or simply the idea of “Independent Woman Syndrome“! Yes, these men LOVE women provided women are subservient.
The fight for equality isn’t over. Do not for a minute think it is. Young women these days tend to think everything is OK because we have more women graduating from university: it isn’t. We have men vying for power who will bring in laws taking away equal rights for women, or rescinding laws. The women who are supporting such men to reach power need to take a bloody good look at themselves, history and the place of women in other parts of the world. Do you really think you are so special because the light of the male you are following around blindly is shining upon you? Think again. Stop defending the sexist behaviour.
If you prefer to be a subservient woman, that is fine. Life in a democracy is about freedom of choice. Just stay the hell out of public life and take your subservient desires with you. Get married, stay home, iron nicely. Learn to cook and sew. WHATEVER! Stop supporting sexist behaviour and sexist people. You are only in the position you are in because generations of women BEFORE you fought bloody long and hard to give you the opportunities you are enjoying now.
This isn’t all about the men, this is also about the women who support sexism.
Sure, most men may be physically stronger than most women. And? Women give birth, men can’t do that. So let’s just agree we are different but equal. Use the differences to the benefit of the human race.
Here, just in case you missed the media saturation globally, is one woman of power standing up for women of the world. Irrespective of your politic affiliation (hell, I’m the other side), if you are honest with yourself, you know Julia is right in principle. As for the mussels text, which has been a hot topic on Twitter and no doubt other social media? No, that’s just dirty sex talk, not sexism.
Some may wonder why I haven’t thanked the many, many men who support gender equality. Why? Because to me, that is NORMAL!
EDIT: Since I wrote this article the Macquarie Dictionary have decided to change the formal definition of “misogyny”.
As it stands, the reference book says misogyny is a hatred of women, the kind that’s pathological.
“We decided that we had the basic definition, hatred of women, but that’s not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language,” Ms Butler told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“Sexist does seem to be moving towards this description of surface features and misogynist applies to the underlying attitude.”
I am not sure I agree. I think sexism covered it. What are we now to call someone who really is a women-hater, of the pathological type?
- Is student life becoming more sexist? (guardian.co.uk)
- Why isn’t anyone talking about the misogyny involved in Amanda Todd’s life and death? (vancouverobserver.com)
- It’s good to see Julia Gillard tackle sexism head-on | Chloe Angyal (guardian.co.uk)
- Talking through sexism, feminism and misogyny (blogs.abc.net.au)