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Insults and Context

Imagine a guy who loves his mother, sister, wife, and daughters. He has a history of mentoring and promoting women at work, and he has lots of female friends. Politically, he supports all of the so-called women's issues, from birth control to abortion. But he hates one particular female politician, and during a speech he refers to her by one of the socially unacceptable insults that are generally reserved for women. Perhaps that word begins with B or C or S.

Someone in the audience records the offensive insult and puts it on YouTube. The clip rapidly becomes a national story. Here's my question: Is this man a misogynist, or just a guy who hates one particular politician and chose his words poorly?

Let's do another example. This time, imagine a woman who is active in a number of organizations that support women's issues. She sees the world as a boy's club in which women need to fight hard for their rights. One day, while giving a speech about a woman's right to choose, she refers to an odious male politician by one of the insulting words normally hurled only at men, such as bastard, dick, or a**hole. Here's my question: Is the woman guilty of misandry (hatred of males), or is she just a woman who hates one particular politician and used a male-exclusive insult because it seemed like the right word to fit the moment?

I think we judge people we know personally in the context of their entire lives. Nothing else would make sense or seem fair. But we judge strangers and public figures by statements taken out of context. Removing context is what turns a non-story into a story. And it allows the news media to put a face on evil, which is a good way to attract eyeballs and sell advertising.

I can think of a lot of people I suspect of being misogynists. The one thing they all have in common is that they are public figures.  That means I don't know their context. Over the span of my entire life, I can't think of any man I've personally known who seemed to hate women in general. And the only overt employment discrimination against women I've ever seen was perpetrated by other women.

Sure, sure, I live in a bubble in Northern California. And I suppose I was raised in a bubble in upstate New York. I'll grant you that misogyny exists. Let's prove you're right in the comments below. My question today is this: Is there any man that you know well that you suspect of hating women in general? (It doesn't count if the man is guilty of only stereotyping. Misogyny is specifically about hatred.)

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+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Apr 20, 2012
This has nothing to do with this thread, but has to do with a debate that Mr. Adams would approve of.

I knew I'd win the debate from the start. You see, using special phrases and words is key to being a good con-artist, and I study con-artists in depth.

That's why members of the church are so often taken in by MLM organizations and fraudsters. Why politicians in Utah so often drop phrases like "Being busy with my family Monday Nights" or "I feel within me that I must run to uphold the Constitution".

Because sounding genuine doesn't really take much effort, is easy to spoof, and most members will take it as truth.

This is how you can know that "the spirit" is a bad metric... because, you see, it can so easily lead people astray via someone who knows how to hit all the right buttons.
Apr 11, 2012
I have an Uncle who I honestly believe does hate women. Or to me more specific he hates the modern woman. He is a "traditionalist" who believes that a woman's place is in the home, cooking, cleaning, raising children, and keeping her husband happy in the bedroom. He has flat out told me (if you haven't guessed I am a woman) that my modern ideals (like the fact that I entend to work for a living, believe that women and men are equal, believe that it is a woman's choice when it comes to reproduction, etc) are something that I should be ashamed of. Coming from family this was very hard to hear, especially growing up before I realized that he is just from a different time.

Regarding the public figures:
Many situations where you hear about men or women making remarks that get them into trouble be they racist, sexist or anything in between, I am caught between not having enough information and believing that they should on some level know better.
There is a very real chance that the statements were taken completely out of context or that it was just a bad choice of wording. It happens to everyone. Unfortunately it is hard to tell with all the back tracking public people do. As a psychology major I cannot also help but think of Freudian Slips. According to Freud the things that we say are what we really want to say not what is politically correct. So when a man calls a woman a !$%* or !$%*! in the heat of the moment during an interview or speech, even if he apologizes later, he really ment it.
There is a second part to these situations that people may or may not agree with. I believe that if you are in the public eye you have some duty of a higher moral standard than most people. This is really true when it comes to political and elected leaders. They should know better. There is nothing so pathetic or upsetting to me than seeing a political figure making comments that are racist or sexist or classist.
Mar 31, 2012
@Phantom II – Canada doesn’t have “First Amendment rights” because Canada is a separate country, with its own Constitution. The Constitution of Canada includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which spells out, in Part I, Article 2, that:

Fundamental freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

So, very comparable Constitutional protections to freedom of speech as those in the American First Amendment.

In terms of hate crime laws (which the US also has, more about which momentarily), Canada’s hate-crime law makes special provision in sentencing for crimes if there is “evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor” - Criminal Code, Section 718.2. As for an actual charge of “inciting hatred against an identifiable person or group”, Sections 318 & 319, the requirement is that a person not simply publicly state “I hate[insert race/ethnic/religious/cultural/gender/sexual orientation/politcal group of choice], and think they are the evil spawn of Satan”, but actively promote “civil unrest” – in other words, encouraging others to violence or other crimes against that group or person. So more along the lines of “I hate[insert race/ethnic/religious/cultural/gender/sexual orientation/politcal group of choice], and think they are the evil spawn of Satan, and think we should get together and run them out of town/burn their homes and businesses/beat the evil out of them/make their lives hell, etc.” – in other words, basically inciting riot or civil unrest, with the additional twist of being targeted based on ethnicity/race/gender/religion and so on. Prosecutions are rare, and convictions rarer still.

The US does have hate crime laws of its own both federally and at the state level, and has since the Civil War era. An example would be 18 U.S. 245, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, that makes it illegal to “by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone ... by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.”

To Scott’s original question, I agree with some other posters in saying I think he has defined misogyny and misandry too narrowly. Few will say they actively hate the opposite sex, but I’ve certainly known quite a few men, and the odd woman, who by words or deeds showed they thought much *less* of the opposite sex, thinking of them in stereotypical roles and limits, seeing them as less capable, or as primarily existing for sexual gratification or reproduction. And I live in a modern, youthful city of over 1 million, with high average education levels and incomes, not a remote small town stuck in the 1950s. Many of those, mind you, were, shall we say, of an older generation who grew up in, or close to times when gender stereotypes were much more prevalent and accepted.

I do agree it is too easy to take a public figure’s remark out of context. But some certainly show consistently over time their negative or “hateful” remarks aren’t just moments of frustration or bad judgement. Rush Limbaugh comes to mind. Or Bill Maher, for that matter. Demonizing or abusing those you disagree with may or may not be hatred, but it is the mark of a first-class jerk.
Mar 23, 2012
I knew one guy personally who hated women for a couple of years after his wife divorced him. He wanted to go out with women only to humiliate them and make them miserable. I kept trying to tell him that they didn't hurt him; only his ex did. He didn't care and blamed them all. He finally got over it.
+28 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 23, 2012
Bless you for the comment "And the only overt employment discrimination against women I've ever seen was perpetrated by other women." I've reached a point where I prefer to work with / report to guys, after more than one experience of being treated like s**t by a fellow woman (so to speak). My favorite female colleague has had similar experiences, and we finally figured out that because she was relatively young (30s) and wore skirts that showed her thin legs, many of the older women in her workplace treated her quite poorly. I've actually had women reject what I say in meetings regarding, say, analytics or predictive modeling (math! yikes!) and insist on hearing a MAN tell them the same things. Some women truly ARE irrational crazed effing lunatics.
Mar 23, 2012
I think two of my friends are passive misogynists. But they're both also passive racists. By passive, I mean to say they don't do anything actively, but their dialog is peppered with complains and insults at women and racial groups. Granted, they only paint with this broad brush until they MEET an individual of differing sex or race, and then they easily let the subject's personal merits overrule discrimination for anything that's important (like hire them or let them vote).

Generally speaking, my social circle has a very meritocratic outlook, which I suspect is quite unsurprising when my friends are all D&D-playing nerds with white collar careers and university degrees.
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 23, 2012
Hi Scott - I think we all assume we can't judge public figures by most of what they say. They have their "public face" on and are saying what works to their best advantage. So when they say something that's obviously not to their best advantage, we believe we've caught them in the rare act of being themselves and put a lot of weight on what they said.

not saying it's right, but I think it's what happens.
Mar 23, 2012
Hate Women??

We call women Bs, Cs and Ss because we love them!!
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 23, 2012
I don't know of any men who hate women in general. I know men that think women are in a lower class than men, but they don't hate them.

However, I do know plenty of women that hate men in general.
Mar 23, 2012
I've never known men who hate women. I've known several men that were hurt by women in relationships and then took their anger out on the women in their subsequent relationships by treating them badly; but that was more of a survival reflex and most of these men ended up getting married and, so far, they have stayed married.
And... Here is the best advise I ever heard for men regarding women - When it comes to the woman that you love: pursue her, always. And when you have finally seduced her and loved her, tell her that you love her. Then let her go and begin to pursue her again. Never stop chasing.
Mar 23, 2012
Wow. You must have really touched a nerve. Like 2/3rds of these are weaselly answers about semantics. Boy are we whipped.
+17 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 23, 2012
I think Cliff Claven gets it best out of the responses so far. I believe that it is not really common or known, outside of extremeist nutters who I do not really encounter, that people go round openly disliking women (or foreigners or gays or whatever demographic). Misogyny as discussed today is more of an underlying hatred.

For instance one guy here at work considers women in terms only of their attractiveness to him - I honestly do not believe he sees them as people. He certainly can talk or socialise with them but his comments tend towards 'She'd be a cracking bird if she lost a couple of stone!' - as in a woman's purpose should be to provide pleasant visual stimulation. After a drink or two he will also make slightly worrying comments about ropes in the boot of his car.
Mar 23, 2012
Why do you assume that your readers know what a misogynist is, but not a misandrist (stick definition in here)?

I used to work for a male boss who did not believe that women could code and would not employ or promote women. He was more of a dick than a misogynist and was a prime example of the Dilbert Principle. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dilbert_principle)
Mar 23, 2012
Hatred of any gender, race or demographic is one thing. Much more common is a sort of half-hatred, where a category of people are embraced so long as they stay within a defined box. Rush Limbaugh's defense included the assertion he DOES like women -- as proved by being a judge at the Miss America pageant. And he's certainly not the only one who approves of women so long as they Behave Like Ladies.

Once upon a time, you heard things like "knows his place" and "respects her betters" offered as compliments, or as a baseline of acceptable conduct for certain types of people. Today you hear the word "attitude" freely applied to anyone who does not stay in the box someone assigns them: a waitress who doesn't laugh off an insult; a student who defends his answer; an employee who fails to express gratitude for a condescending gesture; or any individual who feels entitled to respect beyond what a "superior" feels he or she deserves. This is far more common than unalloyed hate; and perhaps more insidious in that the bullies try to place the onus on you for disappointing their expectations of what you deserve ("Some of my best friends are . . ."). And when society buys a certain packaging of this trick, many end up oppressing themselves rather than challenge polite disapproval.
Mar 23, 2012
do not judge a man (or woman) by their acts. Judge him/her by the repetition of them
(of course there is a list of exceptions...)
Mar 23, 2012
OK, you know me. I can never just answer the question. All right, I'll answer the question. No. I have never known a man who hates women, nor a woman who hates men. As far as the labels go, it's far easier to label someone as an "X" and then dismiss anything he or she has to say because he or she has been labeled an "X." It avoids the discomfort of having to actually discuss the issue at hand, which can be troublesome, tedious, stressful and make you look like an idiot because you can't really support your position logically.

Here's food for thought: when someone makes an ad hominem (to the man) attack, that is, attacks the person rather than the idea, that person has admitted that they have no way to back up their argument. Put simply: if you attack the idea, we can discuss it. If you attack the person, the disussion is over, and you lost.

But there's a bigger issue here. It's the issue of free speech. Voltaire again.

The most insidious and harmful effect of ad hominem attacks on speech is when it is used as a weapon to pummel people into being afraid to express their opinion. Those of you who know my posts know I come from the right - but let me give you the comments of someone who is pretty hard left: Bill Maher.

In a NYT editorial today, here's what Mr. Maher said, in part (I'm going to copy this directly so I get it all correct; apologies in advance if some of the punctuation comes out garbled): "When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, !$%*!$ Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?"

He went on to say, "We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program." To this I will simply say, "That's fine, but don't criticize him if you don't really know what he says."

Mr. Maher also says, "I don’t want to live in a country where no one ever says anything that offends anyone. That’s why we have Canada." That last part, as you may know, is no joke. Canada has no first amendment rights protecting free speech. They have laws against so-called "hate speech," and guess who gets to define such speech? That's right, the government. Gee, how swell.

So, I agree in most part with Mr. Maher. I would guess, although I would never infer that I spoke for him, that Scott does, too. Rights, once given up, are almost impossible to regain. Beware when someone tries to shame you into giving up your rights voluntarily.
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 22, 2012
Here's quite a scary sci-fi possibility. Because of their different basic goals, men and women will eventually diverge to the point of being separate species. Women are content to be surrounded by gossip and sentimental nonsense, whereas men can turn to the impersonal, which allows them to advance potentially without limit. Artificial evolution will leave women behind as it will leave dogs and cats behind. Men will go on to spread across the galalxy, whereas women will reside on Earth leading a blissful, stupid,"ice cream social" existence.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 22, 2012
Misogynist. Such an interesting term when you actually read up on the definition. Interesting how it seems to have taken over from Sexist as the preferred means of labeling behaviour, even though sexist is probably the more accurate description.

People are so quick to hang labels on behaviour, particuarly as a form of attack on others. Pointing at someone and shrieking ****ist is always a good way to insult someone with zero context.

+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 22, 2012
Imagine a cartoonist who is comfortable, on his own blog, using the words “bastard”, “dick” and “a**hole” to illustrate misandry. Now imagine that same individual is not comfortable using the words !$%*!$%*!$%* !$%*!$%*!$% or !$%*!$%*!$ to illustrate misogyny. Is this man sexist? Or is he just a victim of the very judgementalism he justifiably rails against?

(p.s. my Microsoft Word spell-checker recognized the word “misogyny” but not “misandry”. That seems somehow relevant to the conversation…)
Mar 22, 2012
I can think of two people, one male and one female.

The male made a lot of "get back in the kitchen" type jokes and this didn't catch my notice; the silliness of it made it impossible to take seriously. But some more specific assertions seem serious. I think. In any case me and the dudes agreed we see it there but aren't sure it'd affect actions since, as it happens, there are no women at this office.

The female I observed becoming overtly misogynist after working with other women for an extended period in an office. I do not mean jokes but clear assertions about the inferiority of women. Then this employment ended after she got pregnant; when she became pregnant her female boss suddenly became hyper aggressive and got her fired shortly after.

In the latter case I tried to share contradictory anecdotes from my own experience working with women in various places and explained how corporate cultures develop such that the whole dynamic at one workplace isn't representative of other contexts.

With some time away from there it seems to have passed.
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