Misogyny and Gender Inequality

Sunday, March 14, 2021
First Aired: 
Sunday, February 25, 2018

What Is It

With the recent #MeToo viral campaign, along with the wave of prominent male figures toppled for being serial sexual harassers or worse, the topic of misogyny has come into sharp focus. But what exactly is misogyny? And how does it differ from sexism? What set of beliefs or attitudes makes someone a misogynist? And why does misogyny persist despite the fact that traditional gender roles are being abandoned more and more? Ken and Debra explore the trials of the second sex with Kate Manne from Cornell University, author of Down, Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.

Listening Notes

With the continuation of the #MeToo movement, many question what the natures of misogyny and sexism are. Is misogyny simply hatred of all women? Ken and Debra explore this issue and discuss the effects of the patriarchy on men and women alike. Ken points out that men, as the oppressors in patriarchy, are its agents and winners, while Debra argues that this view overestimates the individual agency that men have.

The hosts welcome Kate Manne, professor of philosophy at Cornell University and author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, to the show. Kate explains the difference between misogyny and sexism: sexism is the ideology that women are naturally inferior to men, whereas misogyny is the enforcement of this ideology. She explains that someone can be a misogynist, yet not believe in sexism, if he or she desires for women to be inferior and to “stay in their place.” Ken wonders if Kate isn’t simply putting a negative spin on feminine virtues; after all, women are still placed on pedestals even if these pedestals differ from those that men are placed on. Kate responds by elaborating on misogyny, which tends to put “good” women on pedestals for conforming to sexist norms as a way to separate them from “bad” women who deviate from these norms.

In the final segment, a listener asks Kate about how focusing on the struggles of racism can overlook the sometimes more appalling conditions of women of the world. Kate is cautious about drawing a parallel between gender and race because they intersect: being a black woman is a distinctive experience from being a white woman or a black man. The hosts and Kate then discuss the election, in which Clinton did beat two men in the primary, but ultimately lost to Trump. Debra contends that while misogyny was part of the election, many people voted out of anger of being left out. Yet Kate isn’t so sure that voters were actually left out -- she suspects that there was a lot of “himpathy” among and for men who no longer felt like the moral center of attention.

  • Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 6:46): Holly McDede chats with literary historian Stephen Greenblatt about misogyny in the story of Adam and Eve, and how that misogyny has persisted today in Super Bowl halftime shows and presidential elections.
  • 60-Second Philosopher (Seek to 46:53): Ian Shoales discusses how misogyny relates to various insults derived from the word “cuck.”



Comments (14)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, February 16, 2018 -- 12:56 PM

'Me-tooed out': An unpopular, though honest assessment...

I mean no chauvinist disrespect for the women who are coming forward, sometimes years after it could make any personal difference to them. The entire power play of sexual harassment is an ugly example of insult and subjugation. When I was still in the workplace, part of my responsibility had to do with exposing the illness and trying to convince snickering male audiences as to the egregiousness of the entire notion of male dominance. They could have gotten the message, but quite obviously did not choose to do so. The thing about all of this me-too-ness is the increasing alienation it fosters and, the notion that there is no statute of limitations pertinent to past indiscretions. If I say this madness is disruptive, I'm called insensitive or worse. If I point out the futility of it, I'm called a pessimist (or worse). No, the battle is enjoined and the warriors thirst for blood---probably mine, as well. I am sorry that my efforts from the late 1970s through the 1990s and beyond came to no measurable fruition. But, sorry folks: I'm just me-tooed out. And I cannot see where all of it will lead to a better world. If I could, I'd happily look forward to that. Good luck to the me-toos. They will need it.

Sassie_Quatch's picture


Friday, March 16, 2018 -- 10:21 AM

Me Too

The point of the me too movement is bring awareness to sexual harassment and assault. Through building awareness the hope is that this harassment will end. Saying, "But, sorry folks: I'm just me-tooed out. And I cannot see where all of it will lead to a better world. If I could, I'd happily look forward to that. Good luck to the me-toos. They will need it." is irrational to someone who claimed it was there job to help.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 -- 4:24 AM



One of the great things about this site if you read it for long is to experience philosophical perspective in thought and time. It's been 3 years since you wrote this. I'm wondering what you think about this now.

Harold was being irrational and still is as far as I can tell. Are you? I hope so.

This last year I witnessed a "protest" where my neighbors tore down a statue of George Washington very near my house. I find Washington to be an inspirational figure much like Cincinnatus. One of the rioters as I am more prone to call them now said Washington had it coming because he had slave teeth in his mouth. This coming from a young person wearing clothes made in sweat shops.

I take your point and it looks like Harold hasn't yet. He will I hope. It was a good one and still is.

NUNYOBIZ's picture


Thursday, August 20, 2020 -- 10:52 PM

when i was young i fancied a

when i was young i fancied a girl. i got lucky and became paralyzed in an auto crash. she left before i was out of intensive care. she married well, divorced, got half his wealth, and left him a wreck of humanity. she repeated this strategy half a dozen times, the last being a titled englishman. she bore no child and is now in her 60s, alone and lonely. sad? perhaps. i find it amusing. am i a misogynist? perhaps. do i care? not in the least. karma has it's way. halaluja!>

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, February 26, 2021 -- 12:52 PM

Had tried to say something

Had tried to say something more here. Will try again later...maybe.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, February 27, 2021 -- 2:42 PM

Here is what I wanted to say

Here is what I wanted to say on 2/26/21. Misogyny and gender inequality were status quo. For centuries. Homo sapiens was slow to recognize that women were more than vessels of reproduction.
Change is inexorably slow. Almost as slow as evolution itself....i.e., pretty damned slow. Julian Jaynes' notion of bicameral mind is not so far-fetched, if and when we consider the constraints of primitive minds....more later...

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, February 27, 2021 -- 3:34 PM

And so, with Jaynes' insights

And so, with Jaynes' insights on the bicameral mind--- which he claims (ed) broke down--- we may see some pattern. There is an old saw, i have always been intrigued with: if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Primitive humans could not decide what to do.
They consulted oracles and other delphic entities,as to correct courses of action.

I think Jaynes was partially right in his assessment. History appears to bear out the indecision he noted. Where I believe he went wrong was in concluding bicameral mind' broke down. There are too many indications, contrariwise. We still cannot make up our minds on important issues...still do not see the intrinsic value of women.. beyond bare-foot and pregnant. Of course, it is more complicated than this. It depends upon what I have called a totality of circumstances....abstraction vs reality and so on.

Bicameral mind is very much with us. But so are belief, opinion and, perhaps worst of all, suprstition are as well: things Davidson called propositional attitudes. This is hard work. I'll keep you posted.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 -- 6:21 AM

'Himpathy' is a good term

'Himpathy' is a good term and hopefully lives on. Ken immediately went there in the himpathic sense when Kate grounded the discussion of ownership of female bodies to the astroturfing of Catholic doctrine to get Nixon elected. I felt like that was a distraction that bled onto race which was another distraction from Sexism and Mysogyny.

I think mysogyny is as it does is a great fundamental statement. Sexism is more complicated. This show could definitely be re-visited. The pandemic has changed the context dramatically.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, March 19, 2021 -- 1:15 PM

There are some disturbing

There are some disturbing parallels among the issues of misogyny; inequality; me-too-ness and other twenty-first century turbulence. (I put the twentieth century behind us, because we blew it, and knew it.) There is a lot of interconnectedness among all these issues.(see my remarks on the Black Lives Matter post,dated March, 2021. Those attempt to show some of the folly of me-roo-ness.) There is an over-abundance of pride and prejudice right now, seems to me. More than enough to go round.
People, professionals in psychology and social sciences, must be tearing their hair out---if they still have any. Some, including my brother ( a poet) place some blame on narcissism, which leads back to the previous US president. I agree this is part of the problem. I also group with that fear, belief, ideology and superstition among other human failings. PTs post on hatred further casts doubt on the humanity of humanity. Herein, I have more-than-once avowed my hope that I am wrong about my intuitions concerning such matters. Flat wrong. So, far, in the last fifty+ years, I have been disappointed Those who have said Donald Trump ruined America miss the mark. He was but a symptom. Not the cause. Finger-pointing doesn't get it. We have to all own up. Seems to me. There are more than seven deadly sins, now. There always were.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, March 21, 2021 -- 3:18 PM

There are numerous notions,

There are numerous notions, swirling about now, many of which I disagree with. Take for example the claim that sex and gender are different things. Who arrived at this conclusion? For me, such claim is nonsense. Employment of some or another linguistic turn. Sex is a term that does at least double
duty: the noun identifies male and female of a species; the verb specifies an act, performed by individuals, leading or not leading to procreative outcome. Gender, as originally used, referred to whether an individual was male or female, the same duality as defined by male/female ordination.
Now, gender goes to what is in someone's mind---about who he/she thinks he/she is,not about who they are biologically. 'Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it's a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world...' We don't want to offend or denigrate different sensibilities, so, we re-define, revise or re-identify terms, to suit a new totality of circumstances. Or, perhaps, out of deferrence,, we allow science the overreach we might have eschewed it decades ago. (this blog examines such overreach at another post. I have mixed feelings about all of that, also...)

We are so concerned, busy with being politically, no, SOCIALLY, correct, we lose track of what might be designated the realism of facts. I have also criticized the phenomenon known as 'uptalk'. Does anyone know where that may have come from or why? Have you ever been to Jamaica, mon?

There are all sorts of reasonings behind things we say and do---all sorts of 'alternate facts' which lead us into popular/mass culture. Much of this is subtle. More of it---insideous.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, May 1, 2021 -- 2:27 PM

So now there are me too folks

So now there are me too folks. Along with all the others. Now, we are acquiring numerous varieties of us toos. It is way beyond any sort of reason now. Everyone expects and demands entitlement be met. Or exceeded. People, white, black or other think they ought to allowed to think and act as they please. Everyone does it. It is a free country; free speech, freedom of association;; i can have and carry a gun if I want to. Conceal it if I have a permit. I can stand my ground and , if necessary, kill ah attacker. If you don't get where this is going, where have you been the last forty years? When is too much too much? If, as has been said, we can't have it both ways, how can we have it a dozen or more? The great democracy deteriorates. Why? Because we are adamant about being all things to all people. At some time, that was all that was needed. This is not that time. Too many changes and contingencies. Too many ironies. Too little solidarity. Rorty, the pragmatist, saw this coming. Tried to warn us. Failed....look up his collection. It is not hard to find. He did not publish a lot.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, June 19, 2021 -- 4:43 AM

Closing note: there are more

Closing note: there are more sorts of me too, all the time...

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, June 25, 2021 -- 3:24 PM

There are things now, that

There are things now, that are worrisome. Perhaps intractable. Transgender participation in athletic sports. So,, why should there be exceptions for people who want to change their sex and then wish to compete against whomever? So, let us speculate. We sanction the participation of transgender people in male activities. And transgender individuals fare less well than their counterparts. What is shown by these outcomes? Reverse the scenario. Whatever the outcomes, there is no proof of any sort of fairness, or lack thereof. Something about microagression re-emerges. But, it had no place here, in the first place. We cannot, IMHO, change the laws, of biology. Or do so at our peril.. Just saying.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, July 17, 2021 -- 8:00 AM

Too many me too's now. It

Too many me too's now. It just gets ridiculous. Race, sex, color, national origin, and so on are protected under law. Sorta. The trouble is, law does not protect everyone. Not even those whose protected status is ' on the books'. It has been said we cannot legislate morality. Fact is, we cannot legislate attitude or behavior either. We can only punish wrong-doers. This is only philosophy, insofar as it is a matter of justice. We cannot ban symbols. Or attitudes. Or behaviors. We can only punish crime. And that is why we have the notion of justice in the first place... Yea, John Rawls!