| We control what|
you think with
|Said and done|
|Jargon, buzzwords, slogans|
| Part of a series on|
|Spectra and binaries|
Misogyny is the hatred of women, or the belief that women are inferior to men. A few countries, notably some Islamic, Jewish, and Christian states, have encoded misogynistic viewpoints into their laws. Some of these states give husbands and fathers full legal rights over their wives and daughters; prevent women from accessing public services without permission of their husbands or fathers; and legally limit the ability of women to participate in society by preventing them from holding jobs, driving, or accessing the press. These legal moves are often combined with a social blindness towards violence against women, up to and including the crimes of rape and murder. Misogyny should not be confused with sexism which is prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination of someone based upon their gender. Misogyny requires knowledge of the emotional motives behind actions whereas sexism is based on the idea that certain actions are unjust.
- 1 Underlying philosophical issues that pertain to misogyny
- 2 Misogyny and religion
- 3 Notable misogynists
- 4 Historical misogyny?
- 5 Feminist models of misogyny
- 6 Criticisms of the feminist position on misogyny
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Underlying philosophical issues that pertain to misogyny
One of the logical problems one encounters during a discussion of misogyny is that the causes of the events we observe are not themselves observed, as was pointed out by David Hume. In regards to misogyny, which is defined as a person's hate, dislike of, or contempt for women, the problem is that while a person's actions are observed, the underlying cause is not. Take, for example, a person who was groped on a train. The gropee may perceive this as hate as the action was undesired, but the groper may have had an entirely different emotive cause such as sexual desire and poor impulse control. To say an action based in sexual desire and poor impulse control was done out of hate, dislike or contempt of women (a.k.a. misogyny) would be incorrect as the wrong emotions were said to be the underlying cause of the resulting action. The groper could even argue that it was done out of love and he could be right. An outside observer has no way of exactly determining the groper's emotional state -- only his actions and his self-reported state of mind are known. Perhaps for such reasons, some definitions of misogyny include prejudice. Including prejudice in the definition for misogyny can be argued to be an example of conflation as the definition for sexism is prejudice towards women (or men) and the distinction between misogyny and sexism appears to become lost when prejudice is included in the definition for misogyny.
Another issue one encounters when considering what is misogynistic is the fact that males and females differ in terms of their physiology and arguably in their psychology. Consider, for example, this statement made by Charles Darwin -- "(Man's) brain is absolutely larger (than those of women), but whether or not proportionally to his larger body, has not, I believe, been fully ascertained." Well males do, on average, have larger brains than females. Male brains are 10-15% larger and heavier than female brains though it is proportional to men's larger bodies. So was Darwin misogynistic for saying male brains were larger or was he simply stating a fact? While how facts are interpreted can be construed as misogynistic, the presentation of facts themselves is simply being scholarly. The earlier portion of his statement that "Man is more courageous, pugnacious, and energetic than woman, and has a more inventive genius," is less defensible.
A third issue one encounters when trying to determine whether past individuals or cultures were misogynistic is the historians fallacy which occurs when one views historical figures or events through a modern perspective rather than the appropriate historical context. Consider, for example, Numbers 31:18. This bible passage could be construed as misogynistic as it advocated for the sexual slavery of virgin women, but was it actually misogynistic? If one reads Numbers 31:7 and Numbers 31:17 one will see that the males were killed whereas the virgin females were kept alive. Was Saul less misogynistic for following God's command to equally kill the males and females (1 Samuel 15:3)? As the males were not treated any better than the females, the argument for misogyny is questionable though Numbers 31:18 was certainly genocidal, Midianite-hating, and self-interested. As Numbers 31:18 is part of the bible and thus is a moral guide for Christians, an argument could be made that this passage may influence Christians to become misogynistic in modern non-genocidal cultures.
Despite the aforementioned problems, there are certainly beliefs held by religions and statements made by historical figures that are often viewed as being misogynistic.
Misogyny and religion
Many of the world's religions have their beginnings in patriarchal cultures, and many of them have retained misogynistic elements; at the same time, there is evidence which reveals that painting religions in broad strokes as misogynist is inaccurate.
All three Abrahamic religions have historically devalued women; in fact, the blame for the fall of man has been assigned to Adam's rib.
Women are traditionally prohibited from being priests or rabbis (Leviticus 21:1), which continues today in Orthodox Judaism and, to a lesser extent, in Conservative Judaism. The menstrual blood is considered to be a defilement; a menstruating woman was "put apart for her uncleanness," and a man was not allowed to approach the altar if he had touched menstrual blood without ritual washing (Leviticus 15:19-33).
To be fair, the fact that the ancient Israelites lived in a desert and they had limited access to water, and thus could not bathe like we do (or even get a hold of a babywipe) probably has a lot to do with this taboo. Menstruation is extremely messy and menstrual blood leaves stains, as well as smelling rather unpleasant. Furthermore menstrual seclusion was often, in practice, a break from one's usual work and a chance to relax.
Historically, while Jewish leaders generally frowned upon "striking a wife without reason", they offered some very generous definitions of what qualifies as a "reason". Nevertheless, divorce was considered more appropriate.
Virgin women who were raped by a man were to be married by their rapist once he pays fifty shekels of silver to her father (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and any vows made by a woman could be nullified by her father or her husband (Numbers 30:3-15). Having multiple wives was also accepted (Deuteronomy 21:15–17, Genesis 4:19–24, and 2 Samuel 3:2–5), whereas there are no known examples of Jewish wives having multiple husbands. Adultery led one to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10) and the daughters of priests who were whores were also to be burned to death (Leviticus 21:9). It was also better to offer women to be raped rather than have a man be raped (Judges 19:24).
Christianity does not allow women to be priests; the Bible explicitly states that no woman shall teach any man (1 Timothy 2:12). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also offers an explanation as to why they only allow male priests.
“”Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.
Some Protestant religions take a different view and ordain women priests though not all denominations are accepting of the idea.
Jesus is alleged to have protected a woman from being stoned to death, by telling them, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," (John 8:7) and he is alleged to teach his theology to women (Luke 10:38). Then again, all twelve of the Apostles in the canonical bible were male (Judas was also replaced by a male). It has been argued that Jesus was not as misogynistic as the religion which was to take his name, as the Gnosticism Gospel of Mary and Gospel of Thomas suggest that Mary Magdalene was not a "hanger on," but rather, was a full disciple in her own right. There are also suggestions that the very early church had conflicting views on women, as the third century sarcophagus found in Santa Maria Antiqua painted women in roles of authority. This argument would, self-evidently, require the Bible to be false.
The New Testament has some passages which suggest that women remained in a inferior position to men. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul of Tarsus argued that man's head should remain uncovered as he was the glory of God whereas woman was the glory of the man and therefore should cover one's head. Though to be fair, Paul was afraid of fallen angels coming down from heaven, impregnating women, and raising a race of nephilim (1 Corinthians 11:10). Women were also supposed to subservient and silent (1 Corinthians 14:34, Ephesians 5:22).
After Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote in 2011, there became only one country in the world that has't extended voting privileges to women. And that country is... Vatican City.[note 1] Some pastors and churches have had a distinctly misogynistic attitude such as the now-defunct megachurch Mars Hill and its former pastor Mark Driscoll. Driscoll argued that one's penis was on loan from God and God created women to be penis homes.
In the Qur'an, sura 4, Woman, outlines the acceptance of man as the head of the household, and that a man is allowed to have up to four wives if he supports them all equally and if he only marries his second/third/fourth wives for the purpose of supporting them economically. The 34th verse of this sura reads
“”Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
Wives are expected to be obedient, and husbands are allowed to beat them among other problems. Despite the fact that the religion codifies a lesser role for women, and that modern Islam has plenty of followers who prefer to hide their women, Mohammad was far less misogynistic than others of his time. Actually, never mind. Mohammad was pretty misogynistic.
The Sunan Abu Dawud permits the rape of female captives even if those captives are married.
“”The Apostle of Allah sent a military expedition to Autas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the companions of the Apostle of Allah were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: “And all married women are forbidden unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess."
|— Sunan Abu Dawud 2150|
The Sahih Muslim also supports this idea.
“”Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa’id al Khadri (Allah be pleased with him): O Abu Sa’id, did you hear Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al- ‘azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl (coitus interruptus). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.
|— Sahih Muslim book 8, no. 3371|
Both the Sunan Abu Dawud and the Sahih Muslim are part of the Kutub al-Sittah and are considered to be canonical sayings or acts of the Islamic prophet Muhammad by practitioners of Sunni Islam. The Qur'an also teaches its followers that the testimony of one man is equal to the testimony of two women and the Sahih Al-Bukhari teaches that the majority of hell's inhabitants were women.
The women Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Khadija bint Khuwaylid were important in the spread of Islam. Yet today, few Muslims accept women as imams, and a handful of Muslims (including, it would appear, the entire governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia) believe the Qu'ran teaches that women should not even be educated in anything besides how to be a good little skivvy.
An interesting study of 19th century urban-dwellers in the Ottoman Empire concluded that wives in polygynous Islamic societies had greater rights under sharia than their sisters in the monogamous Armenian and Greek Christian cultures had under their native customary law. As a result, women from Christian communities sometimes attempted to infiltrate sharia courts in order to secure rights such as divorce or inheritance. 
According to Professor of Religion Bernard Faure "like most clerical discourses, Buddhism is indeed relentlessly misogynist, but as far as misogynist discourses go, it is one of the most flexible and open to multiplicity and contradiction". Buddhism is misogynist but as far as religions go, it isn't the most misogynist religion around.
- Buddha openly says that there will never be a female Buddha because women are women in the Aparimitayur Sutra. Women must achieve "enough merit to be a man", be born as men and then become Buddha.  It's worth noting that in the popular Jataka tales of Gautama's past lives, although he reincarnates as multiple animals, none of them are women. Buddha later contradicts himself in the Vimalakirti Sutra and says that since gender is unreal, none of this bullshit matters and that women can be enlightened..
- Women can never be monks. They can be nuns or bhikkhuni but they are oftentimes viewed as inferior to monks in terms of social position. However, in most East Asian countries, Buddhist nuns are viewed as the equals of monks both spiritually and socially.
- Buddha openly predicted that letting women become nuns will "ruin" Buddhism and make his teachings last half as long when his foster mother/maternal aunt asked to be ordained. He later relented, but gave more rules of conduct for nuns to follow than monks.
Like all religions, Buddhism isn't practiced the same everywhere, as a result some interpretations will be much more misogynist than others depending on location. Buddhists that believe Buddha is the reincarnation of Vishnu usually believe that one of Vishnu's incarnations was Mohini, who was a woman.
Hinduism is not particularly misogynistic either. Their highest concept, Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, is genderless. They also have both male and female gods in prominent roles as part of their pantheon and there are more goddess temples than those of gods. There are also passages in their texts which support the dignity of women such as the following:
“”One who wishes that a daughter should be born who would be a scholar and attain a full term of life, should have rice cooked with sesamum, and both should eat it with clarified butter. Then the creators (would-be parents) would indeed be able to produce such a daughter.
|—Verse 6.4.17 Brihadaranyaka Upanishad|
The Manusmriti is inconsistent on women's rights. Some passages argue that women should obey and seek protection of her father and worship her husband as a god, while other passages declares that women must be honored, adorned, and revered. It also provides women with property rights.
Sikhism is one of the few religions that believe in gender equality and they have disassociated themselves from the Indian caste system. According to 2017 news reports, only about 20,000 Sikhs remain in Pakistan and their population is dwindling due to Islamist insurgency.
Misogynists have left their mark on the world, causing much grief for women everywhere:
- John Knox, the Calvinist preacher, wrote a misogynist tract entitled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, which made Biblical arguments as to the inferiority of women. This was a veiled political attack against the Catholic queens of his day, which backfired spectacularly on him when the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I came to power in England. His weaseling "apology" only served to tick her off more.
- The Nazis were quite a misogynist bunch, due to their obsession with physical strength, martial matters, etc. Consequently, they aimed to limit the role of women in society, strongly promoting the traditional gender roles with the slogan "Kinder, Küche, Kirche." Fascism is an incredibly misogynist political ideology as women in both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy lost numerous rights when fascism took over.
- Phyllis Schlafly thinks that women are only good for being mothers, the dickens with any other abilities they might have, such as being lawyers and public speakers. Troublingly, she also believes that men have the right to rape their wives and her belief in female inferiority is shared by her son Andrew Schlafly who worships her as a goddess.
There is little dispute that there have been individuals that can be described as misogynistic (at least when judged from a modern perspective) and that there are religions that maintain misogynistic beliefs. What is more questionable is whether misogyny is the cause of historical inequalities such as paternalism as some claim or if it has a different underlying cause(s).
Stephen Buckle argues that things like paternalism stems from the conditions necessary for group survival in ancient times. The argument goes like this. Small communities such as the Greek city states required strong warriors in order to protect themselves from foreign invaders (or neighboring city states in the case of the Greeks). In order to encourage bravery on the battlefield, the culture required beliefs that led to male heroism to be strongly reinforced. Moreover, women were often in a lower position of status as things like pregnancy, the need to nurse children, and their vulnerability to horny strangers, made women dependent upon men for their protection. From this historical perspective, comments like Aristotle's belief that a female was an incomplete male or Plato's/Socrates's belief that those who plead for their lives in court were no better than women make sense. Those beliefs are an effect of the underlying cause of group survival. Strong males make for better warriors in the hand-to-hand combat found in the Greek phalanx and so these males were viewed as more "complete" by Aristotle, and Plato's comparing men to women would have been seen as an insult in a culture that values battlefield heroics as women were not warriors in Greek culture. The fact that the Greeks held women who could fight on the battlefield in high regard is seen in their myth of the Amazonian women and their worship of the Goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens. Some feminists and sociologists take a different historical view and argue that anything that can be viewed as misogynistic in modern times was misogynistic. One such view is found in the International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities where one of its articles argued that Aristotle's position that women exist as imperfect males was an example of misogyny.[note 2]
Stephen goes on to argue that nomadic cultures or ones which were more socially isolated held different beliefs for group survival than those of the Greeks. In such groups, female self-reliance was held as a more important value than protection from strangers[note 3] and consequently these societies tended to be more egalitarian due to the lack of female dependence upon males. Moreover, as cultures go from small city states to mercantile empires with professional standing armies, the need for the hero ethic is reduced as other values such as rationality are needed, and this enables people who posses such qualities to achieve higher status. In modern times, where birth control enables family planning, 911 and personal vehicles provide some level of protection, and even war requires a degree of technical sophistication, the traditional values formed in bronze age no longer hold much weight outside of religion. This results in further shifts towards higher female status due to their increasing independence. In other words, Stephen views that the inequities found in the past such as paternalism were not caused by misogyny. Rather paternalism and ideas currently viewed as misogynistic were both effects of the underlying cause of group survival and, as soon as the conditions for group survival changed due to things like technological advancement, the culture adapted itself to the new reality (albeit slowly). Some feminists and sociologists, on the other hand, will argue that misogyny is a cause of female subjugation rather than both being an effect of different underlying cause(s). Samantha Morgan-Curtis articulated this viewpoint -- "Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making."[note 4]
Feminist models of misogyny
According to one model proposed by feminists, misogyny is due to the fact that males are incapable of seeing women as anything other than mothers or whores. If that sounds Freudian, it is because it is. This model is based on a Freudian concept called the Madonna–whore complex where apparently oedipal and castration anxiety fears prohibit the affection felt for past incestuous objects from being attached to women who are sensually desired. Thus men can't be sexually attracted to anything he respects (the Madonna) as being sexually attracted to women is disrespecting them (the whore). As with anything with Freud, this complex is said to be deep within the subconscious.
Another model is the virgin-whore complex where apparently men are incapable of seeing women as anything other than virgins or whores. That model is based on the Abrahamic standard of moral purity so I guess Genghis Kahn couldn't have been a misogynist for having five hundred secondary wives as he was a tengrist? Good to know...
Criticisms of the feminist position on misogyny
Stephen Buckle mentioned several criticisms of the feminist position on misogyny.
- The causes of the events we observe are not themselves observed. As we only see effects and not the causes, feminists are assuming that misogyny is the cause of modern inequalities or harmful actions without actually proving it. As he says, "Social theories are not proven true by being convenient hold-alls for lists of grievances."
- The False Cause Fallacy (Non causa pro causa). By assuming misogyny to be primary or sole cause of the observed effects, feminists have failed to consider the fact that misogyny and things like paternalism could both be the effect of a third variable[note 5] such as the beliefs necessary for group survival, or the possibility that the observed effects has a complex cause and misogyny is simply one contributing factor out of a vast array of causes. For example, one cause that almost certainly plays a factor in things like Genghis Kahn's polygamy and Kublai Kahn's harem is ego-centrism.
- It is a Red herring. By misattributing observable effects to the unproven cause of misogyny, feminists are preventing the search and understanding of the true causes of social ills by offering up a convenient answer and promoting that answer within the society.
- It is Harmful. Using misogyny as an explanatory fiction does real harm "by implicitly denying that men... want to enjoy constructive mutual relations."
Christian Groes-Green argues that misogyny must be viewed in relation to philogyny which was studied in Maputo, Mozambique.
As for the feminist model of misogyny, both theories are portraying men as committing false dichotomies, and as men are completely capable of avoiding such a simplistic view of the world, there is no real reason to believe these theories are correct. Moreover, as it is supposedly based in the subconscious, the theories fail to adhere to one of the central tenets of science, namely falsifiability. The theories can also be argued to be examples of sexism and misandry as it makes prejudgments about men and maintains a position that can be described as contempt as it assumes men are incapable of avoiding false dichotomies. Whether it is misandric depends on the mind of the arguer which is most likely unknowable as people are not able to read minds despite Freud's and feminist's arguments to the contrary.
- Christian Domestic Discipline Promotes Spanking Wives To Maintain Biblical Marriage
- 20 Vile Quotes Against Women By Religious Leaders From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson
- The Myth of Misogyny by Stephen Buckle
- Banter is a ritualised social practice essential to structural sexual inequality.
- Violence against women worldwide is 'epidemic'
- There are still some remaining monarchies and dictatorships such as North Korea. Those can't be considered misogynistic in principle, however, as no one has the right to vote.
- It can be argued that Aristotle was partially right about this. The hormone testosterone is what turns a female phenotype into a male phenotype as illustrated by androgen insensitivity syndrome. In this condition, complete androgen insensitivity leads to a female phenotype whereas mild androgen insensitivity leads to a male phenotype. In Aristotle's view, testosterone is what makes one "complete". Though this is purely speculative, it is quite possible that Aristotle knew of people in ancient times who had partial androgen insensitivity syndrome which results in someone having both male and female characteristics. Knowledge of someone with that intersex condition would have provided Aristotle with evidence for his conclusion. That still doesn't explain why he believed women had fewer teeth though...
- If one lacks city walls, which is the case in nomadic cultures, then males are not in a defensive position to protect females. Even Genghis Kahn's wife was captured though that was before he had his army and 500 secondary wives.
- There is a discrepancy between Wikipedia and the Huffington Post as to who wrote the quote. The Huffington Post attributed it to Samantha Morgan-Curtis whereas Wikipedia attributed it to Michael Flood. The work referenced by both Wikipedia and the Huffington Post is a compendium edited by Michael Flood.
- This is known as a third cause fallacy.
- The Myth of Misogyny by Stephen Buckle Quadrant Online January 01, 2013
- Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man Page 356
- Male brain versus female brain: How do they differ? by Mo Costandi The Guardian October 6, 2013
- "the attitude of rabbinic sources toward perceived "bad wives" is ambivalent, and wife beating is occasionally sanctioned if it is for the purpose of chastisement or education." —Naomi Graetz. Domestic Violence in Jewish Law. MyJewishLearning. accessed 2014 May 31.
- Noami Graetz. Wifebeating in Jewish Tradition. Jewish Women's Archive. 2009 March 1.
- Jesus Christ Will Never Allow His Church to Ordain Women to the Priesthood by Kathy Schiffer National Catholic Register May 4, 2017
- Early Christian Art and Architecture
- There's 1 Country Where Women Can't Vote & It's Seriously Time For It To Break With "Tradition" by Lauren Holter
- Why is a popular interfaith website giving a disgraced misogynistic pastor a platform? by Kirsten Powers Washington Post October 20, 2017
- [Pastor Mark Driscoll Called Women “Penis Homes” September 8, 2014 Libby Anne]
- The status of women according to Islam Saturday, April 12, 2014 by Jonathan McLatchie
- Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah)- part of the Sunan Abu Dawud
- Sahih Muslim
- Qur'an - Surah Al-Baqara 282
- Sahih Al-Bukhari - volume 1, book 6, no. 301
- See entry for Armenian women in the "Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures: Family, Law and Politics", ed. Joseph, Suad; Naǧmābādī, Afsāna.
- The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender.
- Barbara O'Brien. "Buddhism and Sexism: Can There Be Buddhist Gender Equality?". http://buddhism.about.com/od/becomingabuddhist/a/sexism.htm.
- Pakistan's Sikh community disappointed at being 'left out' of national census by Ali Akbar Dawn March 18, 2017
- Why Some Women Are Sexists by Soraya Chemaly Huffington Post Dec 06, 2017
- The Madonna-Whore Complex (it's more common than you think) by Maya Khamala Collective Jan 17, 2018
- Philogynous Masculinities Contextualizing Alternative Manhood in Mozambique by Christian Groes-Green Men and Masculinities, December 26, 2011