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 (6)

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.

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.