Men Love “Sexism”

I don’t mean that they love to be “sexist,” although they do. Men love “sexism” because the very concept is a cover for and a distraction from what men really do to women. And some women want very badly for men to be part of feminism because they don’t understand that. It’s not that women who want men in the movement don’t understand that women are treated badly by men, they do get it, that’s the reason they’re feminists at all.

But to be a feminist and continue to believe that men will reform themselves is to believe that the problem really is “sexism” and that it can be defeated; that in turn requires that one not see what goes on behind the cover of “sexism.” Hand-in-hand with this is the hopeful idea that — of course! — once “sexism” is pointed out, the light will dawn for men and the lion will lie down with the lamb in a purely respectful way.

Or not.

Julia Becker and Janet Swim, feminist researchers in psychology recently came out with the results of their study about “sexist” behavior and men’s and women’s responses to it. Becker and Swim concluded that both men and women are “not aware of the overall prevalence and extent of sexism in their personal lives. Women endorse sexist beliefs, at least in part, because they do not attend to subtle, aggregate forms of sexism in their personal lives. Many men not only lack attention to such incidents but also are less likely to perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women.” But with all due respect to these feminist researchers, I think they missed the point of why  all of this happens around “sexism.”

Indeed, men’s and women’s reasons for not attending to the (nearly constant) “sexism” in their daily lives are different, but the reasons are far uglier and more toxic than what Becker and Swim are theorizing. So let’s get real here; this is, what, 2011? And women don’t pay attention to the constant onslaught of sexism. Why would that be? It’s sad to have to admit that women benefit from not noticing all of it by not feeling like shit about their lives 24/7. And by not having to admit that their Nigels (yes all of them: sons, boyfriends, brothers, husbands, fathers, best friends, mentors) aren’t ever going to really get it and make changes, so women can continue hanging around with them without going completely crazy.

So let’s go ahead and admit that women don’t want to see all the “sexism” that exists and they have some pretty good reasons why they don’t. And if it really were just all about “benevolent sexism” (a term Becker and Swim coined to describe what appear to be just nice-guy behaviors toward women), maybe it would be ok for women to just have their small sanity-saving delusions. But as those same researchers point out, whether anyone is aware of “sexism” or not, just the existence of it reinforces inequality and injustice for women. But again, they missed the deeper point.

The existence of “sexist” behavior and “sexism” meet even more fundamental and intractable purposes for men. To see this we first have to be very clear about what we mean when we talk about “sexism.” We think we know, but that’s exactly why the word is in quotes throughout this article. So, what is “sexism”? How about this definition: “sexism” is the act of prejudging women generally or specifically as the personal embodiment of stereotypes about women. Sounds circular. I think it is. Something is “sexist” because it stereotypes women. And those stereotypes are “sexist.” There’s the first hint of what the problem is with the concept of “sexism.”

It’s an internally consistent concept, but it doesn’t get past being purely descriptive of something someone says or does. The word “sexist” is just a plain old adjective. That makes it fundamentally unlike the word “racist,” which is often also used as a noun, and which carries far more weight than as mere descriptor. Some women (and many feminists) may use the word “sexist” as a powerful pejorative in their own minds, but words only have weight if everyone hearing the word agrees on the literal meaning as well as the connotations of it. And that’s where women and men differ the most in the use and understanding of this concept.

It is not that men “lack attention” to “sexism” and it isn’t that they don’t “perceive sexist incidents as being discriminatory and potentially harmful for women.” In fact, men know exactly how “sexism” works on their behalf; it is the average woman who does not want to see it. And even women who call themselves feminists miss what is really going on with men and that concept. If we open our eyes we can see that men benefit from “sexism” existing, because it functions as a distraction, a diversion, a cover, a costume, a “dog whistle,” and a concession of no great value to appease women whose main concerns and demands are not being met.

But that reality hasn’t stopped many an internet feminist (and other women writing online about men’s behavior) from only talking about “sexism” in the basic sense. And doing so as if describing the behavior will be enough to make things change. But focusing on “sexism” is exactly why we’ve waited forever while nothing does change. Recognizing and calling out “sexism” is a kind of island that’s easy to cling to when we’ve been swimming in the cesspool of woman-hate that is the patriarchy. The full recognition of what’s out there is just so much worse.

Focusing on “sexism” keeps us from seeing the deeper truth. We understand why  women want to think that men’s “sexism” is just bad training or a misunderstanding, but the stakes are just too high for us to keep focusing on the wrong thing. And calling something by the wrong name, especially one that is relevant to the situation, but not as precise and illuminating as it could be, keeps our awareness at one level instead of another. We’re looking at things through the wrong frame when we’re looking at things framed as “sexism” and it leads us in the wrong direction and confounds our efforts toward making real change.

Here’s a simple example. Recently, a brilliant musician and performer — one who has won all the awards and accolades possible in a long life of amazing work — was expected to perform and get around her very demanding workplace while wearing high heel pumps, at age 69, just months after suffering through what was reported to have been a nearly fatal hospitalization. [
Queen of Soul fractures toe on designer shoe heel”
] And then, after breaking a toe while wearing those “shoes,” she is still expected to wear one of them on her uninjured foot while hobbling around with a cast on the injured foot. Is what she’s experiencing “sexism” or something else?

On a very popular online news site, run by a very powerful woman, the coverage of this story ran on their “Style” page with an ad with this photo embedded within the text:

This is the kind of thing that many women, and even feminists, call “sexist.” But in those two examples, that word is a complete misnomer and therefore easy for men to ignore. They know that isn’t the word for what’s being depicted, they know it deep down in their souls. It’s women who are confused by that term. You have to want to see beyond the first level. Those aren’t “shoes” Aretha Franklin is wearing, they’re torture devices, designed for that purpose in a woman-hating culture. That photo isn’t merely sexualizing the model, it’s an invitation to rape and humiliation. And it’s placement right in the center of a story about Aretha Franklin? All of it is misogyny, pure and simple. Radfems know that of course; but the point is how the idea of and focus on “sexism” disguises and diverts from that so perfectly.

There are many more examples that help clarify how “sexism” works as a distraction, a diversion and a “dog whistle,” a costume, and a concession of no great value (a “sop”).

Earlier this year, Satoshi Kanazawa created a racist, misogynist mash-up of evol-psych bullshit and Psychology Today published it on their web site. [“Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women” — the article was taken down, but a search finds many links to stories about it.] He knew perfectly well that he was being “sexist,” especially because he’s written and published the same type of articles before and been called out for them. He knew it would happen again and he did it anyway. Why? Because he knew he had the diversion of “sexism” while what he was really doing was “dog whistling” to his male readers and fellows in his field so they could bond around being cruel and hateful about women’s desirability to men. He didn’t care about anyone’s negative opinion of his “sexism” and neither did Psychology Today. And he might have gotten away with it again, too. He thought he had his usual cover, but, oops, his racism busted him where his “sexism” never did. He got called on the racism far and wide, but what do you know, many of the articles written by men about this event included more photos of “attractive” women, just beckoning men to bond in their continuing misogyny while women are diverted on to seeing that merely as “sexism.”

Chastity Bono (now “Chaz”) has figured this out, too. She’s enjoying her newfound status as a “man” and flexing the powers thereof. In a statement that she knew would get play in the press far and wide, she let it be known that she was now a “sexist” and therefore, a real live “man.” Says Chaz:

“I never really understood women before, to be honest, but I had a tolerance for women that I don’t have now. No, really. I’ve noticed that Jen [Chaz’s longtime partner] can talk endlessly. I just kind of zone out. … I just don’t care!”

Is that statement merely “sexist”? Of course not, it’s deeply cruel to the woman Chaz is in a partnership with and Chaz knew that as well as anyone on earth because Chaz is a woman. But now Chaz has learned to speak in ways that will encourage men to bond with her. Great trick, eh? Take some T and treat women like shit, buddies will come out of the woodwork to be with you in all your glorious “manhood.” And there will only be a bit of tsk, tsking over the “sexist” comments.

But sometimes there’s a bigger reaction that makes it look like men actually do care. Just recently, the liberal blogosphere was up in arms — incensed! — at the bald “sexism” in the depiction of a female politician in an online political video (ad) that used stereotypes from gangster rap music videos. The video was produced by a right wing political action committee to discredit Democrat Janice Hahn, who is depicted in the video as a stripper and performing a sex act. Of course it’s “sexist.” But pretty much every music video ever made is “sexist,” especially certain genres, and that’s the trope the creators of it were relying on people understanding. Why all the drama from doods suddenly about “sexism”? All their hand waving and histrionics about “sexism” covered the actual nature of the video: pure, unadulterated, unmasked, plain-for-all-to-see hatred of women. And as a bonus, deep cruelty toward the female politician who was essentially prostituted by the video.

Someone had to decide to depict her that way and they did so knowing they had an audience who would “get” it — all who share that deep hatred of women. The ad was a call from one group of men to another and they all understood perfectly well what was being said. And every one of them knew that women can be treated this way and the worst anyone will say about it is that it’s “sexist.” “Sexism” is the cover under which they can continue to operate like this and know that there will be nothing more than a relatively mild slap on the wrist in response. But you will not see anyone point that out, certainly not any men. “Liberal” dudes benefit mightily by calling this “sexist” because they wear the costume and mask of someone who cares deeply about something women care about, while not actually having any skin in the game, at all, ever. This is a sop to women, and liberal doods count on getting pats on the head for it and hence are only too happy to point it out sometimes, while never exposing the underlying hatred that they themselves take part in.

Those men count on the fact that their act of caring about “sexism” will give them cover for their own feelings and behavior. And politically “liberal” and “progressive” women — and feminists — play right into this on a regular basis. Recently, an elite liberal journalist, Bob Kuttner, came up with an obnoxious argument for why DSK attacked the hotel maid. (I know, shocking, right?) But the reaction from a liberal female journalist gave him an out:

“The simplest explanation for Kuttner’s take on DSK is that he tossed off a blog post and didn’t stop to do the kind of reflection that would have made these lingering biases evident to his better nature.”
[“Rape Isn’t Funny: On Making Excuses For Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Blaming the Alleged Victim”]

Let’s just be clear; what she means by “lingering biases” is “sexism” by another name. Indeed, her article has this as the subhead: “When a public intellectual of the left makes light of rape and makes excuses for an alleged perpetrator, we see how much work there is to do on sexism among progressives.” Yes, we’re supposed to believe that Kuttner has a “better nature.” And that’s because he has successfully flown under the radar by using a cover that distracts from his true nature. And here’s exactly how it works. Some editor on that site added this at the end her post:

“Kuttner offered an apologetic postscript to his original post, saying that some of his comments were intended to be ironic. He writes: ‘…this post clearly touched a nerve, and not the one I intended…on the subject of rape, one needs to choose one’s words with extreme care. The writer attempts irony at great peril.’”

OK, whew, he was just not careful with his words. Yeah right. In reality, this is another version of same concept and he’s counting on hiding behind it: sexism is a mistake made by being too casual and it’s just an “oops” moment, so all can be forgiven. Those of us who see it will just call it out and everything will get better. Soon. We promise.

Of course that’s complete bullshit. That someone hates us enough to want to see us constantly flailing, constantly failing, and forever in distress is the cold hard truth that we must see and must point out for anything to ever change. Many women have a very hard time believing this about the people they want to include in their lives or believe about the people they look up to. It is hard to take. It’s sad and painful and heart wrenching to realize that we are hated for no more (or less) than merely existing. We’d rather cling to the hope that maybe it’s just a few evil men, and a few more who are just a bit unthinking in their speech and behavior or who just have poor training.

Looking at things in that frame will keep things right where they are for women. The only way forward toward real change is to see the truth and help other women see it as well.

Stop using the words “sexist” and “sexism” and call it what it is: misogyny and hatred of women. When we use the right name for something, we can see what it actually is, how it works, and what it will take to dismantle it. When you see something that is obviously “sexist,” look further for the evidence of what’s really going on — and the hatred and cruelty behind that — and call that out. Change the frame by analyzing what’s going on beneath the cover of “sexism.” Practice seeing that even a man who wears the costume of someone who cares about “sexism” is someone who benefits from the hatred of women and very probably enjoys the cruelty at their expense. See for your self and point out the ways that men bond over their hatred of and cruelty to women.  And never play a part in the game that uses “sexism” to hide that hatred and cruelty.

  1. Mary Sunshine said:

    “Sexism” is a word that I’ve never used. I use male supremacy, female-hating, and maleness. Male rule.

    Male supremacy isn’t a feeling, it’s a fact: the slaughter of Female Being in all her manifestations. The destruction of the Daughter. Male parasitism. Females have powerful words that we can use. Not that the usage of words will get us anywhere until males are reduced to 20% of the “human” population. Then we can simply enjoy the usage of words at our leisure.

    Noanodyne, thank you once again for bringing me into the brilliant field of your unfailing Female intelligence.

  2. Glorious, just glorious.

    Misogyny called as sexism is just like the idea that ‘real’ rapists are only those who jump out of bushes at night on a deserted road and attack a complete stranger…thus excluding all those who indulge in ‘not rape’ behaviour and making them the ‘good guys’. Ha.

  3. FCM said:

    Anyone remember president Obama being interviewed by Matt lauer…they shared a good laugh over Jessica Simpson’s “recent weight gain” and they clearly, CLEARLY bonded over it. It’s exactly as you say noan. Thank you.

  4. tiptree2 (vliet) said:

    Outstanding thinking and writing, Noanodyne. I was just thinking today that in addition to the “Sexism” problem, calling the whole thing “Patriarchy” or the patriarchal system just isn’t working, because it isn’t pejorative enough. It’s even confusing to people who aren’t sure what it means. It also sounds old-fashioned to some, as it is linked to the 70s. Also (and this is hard to articulate), I feel as though the word for the system should be women-centered. We are the majority, the norm, the first sex genetically. It is about us. So what is this system women are enslaved by? I don’t go much for male-supremacy system, or the male-rule system, though it’s better than the patriarchic system, for that reason. That leaves something like, as you suggest, the Female-Hating System. That locates it a little better. The Misogynist or Gynocidal System has the same problem as Patriarchal – a lot of people don’t know the meanings and the terms are not as pejorative as I would like to see. I don’t know. But if we all started talking and writing about the System with a new, simple, pejorative, woman centered word, that would be a great step forward into re-framing.

  5. rainsinger said:

    We’d rather cling to the hope that maybe it’s just a few evil men, and a few more who are just a bit unthinking in their speech and behavior or who just have poor training.

    Thanks Noan, I’ve often thought this too.

  6. FemmeForever said:

    Aaaaaaa-haaaaaa-mennn! Brilliant!

    But to be a feminist and continue to believe that men will reform themselves is to believe that the problem really is “sexism” and that it can be defeated; that in turn requires that one not see what goes on behind the cover of “sexism.” Hand-in-hand with this is the hopeful idea that — of course! — once “sexism” is pointed out, the light will dawn for men and the lion will lie down with the lamb in a purely respectful way.

    Absolutely. Any excuse or mechanism to avoid looking directly at the truth. That it isn’t some misguided, uninformed belief system that’s the problem. That the problem IS men. ALL MEN. And that their goal is nothing less than complete annihilation of womanhood. Women don’t get that of all the lies we were raised with the biggest one in the universe is the notion that men love women.

  7. FemmeForever said:

    @ Mary

    Me too. I don’t use camouflage language that diverts blame away from men. It is imperative that men are held directly responsible for their relentless misogyny in the world. I challenge us to replace the word patriarchy with the word men and the word sexism with the word misogyny so that the culprit is always clearly visible.

  8. yttik said:

    Well done, Noanodyne.

    Since the invention of terms like “sexism” or “sexual harassment” it sure seems like the more serious crimes are reduced to “no big deal” by being tucked under these umbrellas. There was a woman who was “sexually harassed” at work once and I was horrified to read that she’d been repeatedly raped and unlawfully detained for several days. Holy crap, that’s not “sexual harassment”, that’s rape and imprisonment, major crimes all by themselves.

    The term “sexism” operates the same way, it becomes a cover for some major atrocities. Criminal acts can now fall under the milder terms and be reduced to civil matters legally, and in people’s minds, comparable to whistling at some woman on the street.

  9. KatieS said:

    Brilliant, brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love this. I have used the word “sexist,” but it never quite felt right. This is why. Plus now, we have the idea of men being discriminated against because of their sex, too. And there’s the whole thing of “sexism hurts men, too.” That is such a hazy idea. WTF does it mean? Does it mean “reverse discrimination” or that boys doen’t get to wear pink sparkles? What?

    Instead we can say, that _____________is women-hating. It is not some fuzzy concept, but something active and heinous. Pointing this out will have value, I think, though not in convincing men to change. I think it has a better chance of helping women see what is actually going on and wake up.

  10. Dizzy said:

    I think you’re right about all of this Noan, thanks for elucidating why “sexist” just hasn’t been cutting it as a criticism for me lately. I got caught up in thinking that my discomfort was around the fact that it can so easily be thrown at feminists to derail the debate (i.e. “You’re generalizing about men and that’s sexist too! Whattya say to that miss know-it-all, huh huh huh?”) and I HATE that derail, it’s elementary but difficult enough to explain to n00bs that I usually just give up at that point. But after reading this I realize how and why it’s all much more intricate than that.

    So instead of blaming “sexism” I’ll call it what it really is – misogyny. For all the reasons you brought up in your post, and also because I can argue a lot more effectively from within that frame. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

  11. Thanks for the kind words, all. Yes, we do have to figure out how to get rid of the haters, but down to 20% of the population sounds awfully generous, Mary 🙂

    You’re right, MoB, even the word “rape” gets twisted to work to men’s benefit, good analogy.

    And it’s a good point, TT2, that the word “patriarchy” doesn’t really say much to a lot of women and why. Making words work for us is crucial. Twisty/Jill (at I Blame the Patriarchy) has done an admirable job in that vein, coining terms that are very clear and powerful: “the global accords governing fair use of women” and “the megatheocorporatocracy” and
    “the fuckability mandate.”

    We have to be that clear and direct to even have a chance of battling the onslaught of misdirection and dissembling that men use to bury and hide what they do to us.

  12. LOL. YOu are right about at that idiot Satoshi Kanazawa making a “blunder” by including racism. Black men would have been offended at how “their” (property) women were portrayed, so teh menz at Psychology Today were forced to remove the article. If he hadn’t made that silly mistake nobody would have noticed the misogyny and Bad Science behind his article.

  13. Yes, yttik, such a good point about how they use the words we fought to define to undermine any kind of actual protection for us (such as “sexual harassment”). I’ve been in a situation at work where a woman was being harassed and bullied. She used the words “hostile work environment” and the HR folks told her she couldn’t use the term unless she could prove that she was being sexually assaulted (not to be confused with “battery” which involves physical contact, but the requirement that she prove that she felt she was in imminent danger, obviously not what anyone meant by “sexual harassment”). Yes, absolutely, we have to see the continuum of how this “covering” behavior follows all the way to hiding the reality of men assaulting AND battering women. They believe their cover is absolute and it begins when they see so clearly that they can get away with so much under the relatively mild accusation of “sexism.”

  14. KatieS — yes, absolutely, they do all their projections and reversals using our words. You know they just love the concept of “reverse sexism” — more diversion and distraction, exactly.

    It’s a good start to see what’s woman-hating and know that it’s a continuing process of seeing and addressing what men say and do. Men have their misogyny talk-back term all ready to go — “misandry” — but only men’s rights activists use it, so that’s a tell we can use against them. But of course we know that plenty of men (and women) argue that we’re “man haters” and that’s what confuses some women and gets them down. They don’t want to be haters, they don’t even want to be seen as haters. And that’s another place where we lose the war of words and concepts. The fact that we spend time in radfem spaces hoping for a world with 80% fewer men would prove to many that we are haters. The thing we have to remind women is that OUR hatred is not backed by structural power, but is the result of being slaves to a system that is forever seeking to keep us in our subjugated place or destroy us outright. Now if there were an easily-understood phrase for THAT, we’d win a whole lot more hearts and minds

  15. SheilaG said:

    So chilling to read this… the word “sexism” has got to go. It is male supremacy, womanhating, patriarchy… there is nothing sexist in this behavior, it is sheer colonization and brutalization of women by men. It is the insane desire men have to violent every aspect of female freedom. Sexism… my goddess, it’s a pathetically weak work. A real mask, chamoflage, the bait and switch.

  16. Today at my feminist meetup group the women were talking about cat calls, and how they are an act of “sexism”. I reframed them as acts of female hatred. Sexism? No. Systematic oppression of the sex class, and dehumanization? Indeed.

    I appreciate the reframing. Thank you.

  17. Milly said:

    Great post. Misogyny is definitely the better word. I think the male bonding aspect is critical too. I remember reading a thread at IBTP once where a clueless male poster actually made a point I think is interesting, re catcalls, magazines and the ” fuckability mandate”. All of these “women on display” ( and that is what a woman is when she us walking down the street) serve to police male desire. If a man is allowed to desire a woman as an individual and not for her compliance with accepted norms that crucial act of male bonding fails and the big P can’t allow that to happen. The ” yes, that is all she is to us” men say as they look sideways at each other for approval is more important than ” this is the woman I want”. It’s such a vicious circle it’s hard to tease out just where it all begins. Do men bond BECAUSE women are hated and they don’t want to be in THAT class, or do men hate women in order to bond and feel superior.

  18. SamC said:

    Fantastic, articulate piece. I never use the word “sexist” for these reasons. The word is constantly used by men to discredit feminism, usually in the context of questions like, “Is open doors for women sexist?”, which they present as a pressing “feminist” concern. A deliberate effort to infer that women’s (and feminists’) concerns are petty and frivolous. In a world where women are routinely raped and murdered by men, engineered debates and/or false concern about low-level “sexism” are the perfect cover for actual misogyny.

  19. FCM said:

    also, i wanted to call attention to the example you used of the liberal dood waxing “ironic” about rape, and the liberal woman who gave him a free pass…this is so common it hurts. EVEN IF he was “just kidding” why does any man get a free pass to kid around about rape? something that, for all intents and purposes, only effects men AS THE PERPETRATORS while millions of women suffer and die from rape across time and place? this is clear, blatant woman-hatred, and propping up of male reality (rapists’ reality) at womens obvious expense…and YES men bond over this. it *is* a shout-out to maleness, to male culture, to rape culture. joking about rape is intended to be AND IS a warning to all women that we had better stay indoors at all times, with ONE man to rape us, or we will be subjected to rape by all men as “public women” or prostitutes. AND its intended to be and IS a warning to all of us of what will happen to us if we ever report any of them, either the one man or all men, for rape: we will be laughed at and dismissed in favor of mens solidarity with other men, and in favor of male culture and rape culture. because men prefer male culture and rape culture over womens reality and womens lives, and our “rights” in our own bodies, and to be free of them and free of their sexual entitlement. its so obvious that they prefer what benefits themselves: of course they do! its deliberate on their part, a choice they make because they like it and want it. its NOT an oversight, although many women are keen on believing it is one. its not.

    its horrifying, and the male-bonding aspect of it is so important. i am so glad you pointed this out.

  20. sam said:

    “That someone hates us enough to want to see us constantly flailing, constantly failing, and forever in distress is the cold hard truth that we must see and must point out for anything to ever change.

    Perfect, and perfect timing too as my strip club saturated city just opened a place called ‘Pitiful Princesses Gentlemen’s Club’ to compete with established humanity-disintegration joints Devil’s Point, Casa Diablo, and DV8.

    People argue with me when I tell them men don’t want prostitutes who are clean, regulated sex workers because men want dirty little whores. Johns want the defilement, they want to break something beautiful, they want to spit on women with “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” to rub in the tragedies of their making.

    Pitiful Princesses Gentleman’s Club. Lick it up, defenders of legal prostitution.

  21. Good question, Milly: “It’s such a vicious circle it’s hard to tease out just where it all begins. Do men bond BECAUSE women are hated and they don’t want to be in THAT class, or do men hate women in order to bond and feel superior.”

    It’s kind of interesting to wonder where boys start having the fears and drives (not the least of which is to be accepted and liked by other boys and men, especially brothers and fathers) that lead to hating girls and women and why. But it becomes all of a piece, really. They see what it takes to bond with other males at the same time they see that there are all kinds of other payoffs for doing so in addition (feeling superior, masking fears, deflecting from their own imperfections, getting the goodies, being ignorant of whole swathes of experiences that would take time and energy to cope with, etc.), so in the end it’s all good for them and they know that from repeated experience. There are no significant and long term drawbacks and no meaningful consequences — plenty of women will keep giving them a pass (including those they are closest to) and there are no mechanisms that make misogyny not a worthwhile pursuit overall. They win no matter why and how they came to that position and they win even if they’ve figured out how to hide their own hatred pretty well and don’t take part obviously in the gross displays of misogyny that are available to them. (Though it doesn’t take much to hide those feelings when most people aren’t even willing to believe outright hatred of women exists, let alone see if for themselves.)

  22. KatieS said:

    “Though it doesn’t take much to hide those feelings when most people aren’t even willing to believe outright hatred of women exists, let alone see if for themselves”

    One of the problems, I think, is the confusion between hatred of women as a class, and hatred of women as individuals. If men are not spitting on their wives, the women have been trained to think that “their” men do not hate them. Take for example, these politicians who do engage in woman-hating activities, they do so in secret, but apparently are driven to do so since they are willing to risk their careers to do this. Yet, because they are not doing the worst things to their spouses, everyone says they are just normal men. Yet, they are driven to hate women in secret (texting, buying prostitutes, etc.). No one sees that as being about them hating women as a class. I suspect that many marry and treat their spouses “well” just as a cover for the misogyny that is routine for them. Not to mention doing damage to women in general, like hiring policies, etc. There will be special treatment for the women who butter them up, and again they can then claim that they are “promoting” equality and not women-hating. It’s some kind of a weird complex double life they lead. And it appears that so many of them do this. The ones who get caught are not the exceptions, they are the rule. Misogynists.

  23. FCM said:

    There will be special treatment for the women who butter them up, and again they can then claim that they are “promoting” equality and not women-hating.

    fun feminism in a nutshell. absolutely!

  24. Barbara Di Bari Visconti said:

    Good question, Milly: “It’s such a vicious circle it’s hard to tease out just where it all begins. Do men bond BECAUSE women are hated and they don’t want to be in THAT class, or do men hate women in order to bond and feel superior.”

    The latter. Men are fully agents of the anti-female atrocity known as their “culture” and deliberately perpetuate it anew generation after generation.

  25. FCM said:

    seriously katie, that made me laugh. its exactly the racket old liverlips has going: he only (ONLY!) lets women around him who have taken an oath to “express themselves” by letting men stick their dicks into them. aka. fun fems. and he actively works to destroy radical feminists (aka. women who politically and personally reject PIV specifically) by branding us his “enemies” (and the enemies of eros…and the enemies of FEMINISM, because HE and EROS comprise FEMINISM, get it? LOL) and starting blog wars where he deliberately miscommunicates our message to his followers, who are too stupid and/or ignorant to know theres been a distortion….and sending his trolls over here to do his dirty work.

  26. FCM said:

    oh! and by threatening to sue anyone who calls him a rapist. LMFAO

  27. tiptree2 (vliet) said:

    Just to sum up why I agree that “sexism” is not an effective word and in fact is negative, to add to the excellent discussion above:

    1. “sexism” presupposes two equally powerful social classes, either of which is equally capable of and likely to illegally discriminate against the other on the basis of sex. I might describe this as Co-optation by Definition. The minute that definition enters the law, the intent of the law is gutted. Obviously, the two sexes do not start from the same power base, and only one of the classes is doing the discriminating.

    2. Besides the definitional issue, “sexism” is associated with liberal feminism to me, which (among other things) limits its scope to problems that law, a gross instrument, can fix. “Misogyny” encompasses both the full complex scope of the problem (including subtle social, economic, and political effects) and points to the origin of the problem.

    3. “sexism”, as is pointed out above, is aligned with the term “racism”. That term has already been gutted definitionally too, as witness all those disgusting lawsuits by white guys against affirmative action in universities in the 70’s and 80’s. African-American workers and students (or the institutions trying to help them) are now routinely accused of “racism” against white men.

    I believe that because women are the majority, attempts to pass laws which will really protect them from persecutors (men) fail in part because the persecution is acknowledged as UNIVERSAL and too big to do anything about, even if they wanted to.

    In the US we now have “hate laws” which prohibit hate speech and action against various groups, like gay people and African-Americans. If you burn down a Black family’s house, that’s a crime. If you leave a burning cross there as well, it’s a hate crime, with far greater penalties. I haven’t looked into this enough, but I’m about sure that hate speech and hate actions against women are not covered. Imagine banning “hate speech” or actions against women, that is, action which tends to intimidate women based on their status as women, with severe penalties. The answer of course is, but that’s universal!

    We also have laws to allow refugees from other countries to request asylum in this country due to the likelihood of unjust governmentally-sanctioned persecution in the old country. There is political asylum and asylum based on ethnicity, i.e., being a member of a persecuted minority. But there is no gender asylum. Let me quote this terrifying statement from a legal article by Sunny Kim on the refusal to adopt a gender asylum law:

    “One possible objection to the recognition of rape and other acts of violence against women as persecution is the near universal occurrence of rape.”

    I keep thinking, since rape is so central to the analysis, that “Rape” should be the word we use, though “Misogyny” is good too. Like, RAPISM. Let’s see the men co-opt that.

  28. KatieS said:

    I’ve heard the word “raper” used instead of “rapist.” I don’t know the origins of the word or its meaning, but in some ways it conveys a person who does an act of raping and violence, rather than rapist, which sounds more like a name. In other words, it seems to me more meaningful. But I’m not sure if there is a hidden meaning that I don’t get, so hesitate to use it.

  29. KatieS said:

    I just read this bit from Mary Daly. I love how she plays with language. In this article, she talks about the “horror of phallocracy, penocracy, jockocracy, cockocracy, call it whatever—patriarchy. ” Better than the word “sexism” and more fun!

    (Kudos to Smash for the link to this great article!)

  30. “raper” is brilliant KatieS!! The change from rapist to raper is subtle enough to slip into a discussion online and people will let it slide. As you say rapist is sort of a “static” noun, whereas raper conveys the verb, the action inside the noun. It’s much better.

  31. julia said:

    Katie S, you have great ideas! I like ‘raper’ too – and it makes me thingk, how come we’ve never heard this before?

    Today listening to Tom Ashbrook’s ‘On Point’ about DSK and rape, I was expecting a misogynist call in show. What I heard instead, in the short time I had to listen to the people who called in, were both women and men outraged at the way the victim is being treated! I think many women in this country (US) are tired of not being believed – about anything.
    And tired of seeing a rape vicitm go through the wringer, the lie detector and the x-ray machine.

    Love this blog and all of you fabulous women 🙂

  32. zeph said:

    Awesome post, the sexist word has become sanitised language, thoroughly washed of its original implications and attendant atrocities.

  33. julia said:

    Even a radical ‘profeminist’ man shows his misogyny, if you read his blog enough.
    This week there’s a critique of RadFem Hub.
    Typical – men showing women how to do it, even feminism!

  34. rainsinger said:

    One of the problems, I think, is the confusion between hatred of women as a class, and hatred of women as individuals.

    Yes, katie – the political. I would think there were plenty of nice slaveowners and pimps too, who treated their slaves well. A kind of respectable noblesse oblige . Many individuals of various oppressor groups are very nice people, as individuals. Some slaves did not want to be freed, did not want to resist or rebel. Reminds me of the old Harriet Tubman quote: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves”. Women are the only class, who don’t generally recognise they are an oppressed class, but are encouraged to celebrate their oppression as ‘freedom’. For example, no matter how many individual women ‘choose’ slavery like prostitution, doesn’t make slavery as a political institution any less politically oppressive.

    Typical – men showing women how to do it, even feminism!

    ha! Julia, I’m guessing some think they ‘mean well’, as in doing us a favour with their mansplaining 🙂

  35. allecto said:

    I get told I am sexist all the fucking time. I really don’t have a problem with sexism. The truth is sexist. Men hate women is a sexiat statement… it is also the truth. I do not have a problem with the truth which means that I do not have a problem with sexism. I am not a feminist because I am opposed to sexism. I am a feminist because I am opposed to woman-hatred, ie misogyny. Hence I do not talk about sexism because sexism isn’t the problem. The brutalisation of women by men is the problem. And the fact that I consistently get accused of being sexist when I talk about the reality of male supremacy tells me all I need to know about who benefits from talking about sexism. Hint: not women.

  36. Milly said:

    Cool. Nicely put. Allecto

  37. I just came across a perfect example of how men engage in outright misogyny and women think it’s just a matter of perfecting an explanation of what’s wrong and all will be righted.

    There’s a lot of detail to the story, but hang in there, it’s worth reading through all of it to really see that a whole bunch of strong, smart, aware women really do believe that when men treat women like shit (in both an original event and then in the discussion about that event) there’s just been an error in judgement or a lack of understanding and really, just plain old “sexism” not outright hatred.

    You can get the gist of almost all of it just by reading through this whole page:

    All the many letters and comment after comment after comment from women attempting to educate men. As if that is actually what the problem is. But when you stop refusing to see what’s really there, the comments by many of the men in that “discussion” expose the truth very, very clearly. Many of the men aren’t getting educated, they’re perfecting their cover, diverting from the point, bonding with each other, and engaging in more misogyny.

    I wish for every single woman on the planet to stop refusing to see the truth. The endless explanations and pleas for understanding and refutations are sucking up massive amounts of female energy that could be spent so many better places where actual change might happen.

  38. Mary Sunshine said:

    Well, I’ve just been witch-hunted again over on facebook for saying that men rape women and that I hate men. Men certainly hate me, but those women hate me even more. It’s just a matter of who’s going to get a chance to kill me first. Casey Anthony is my sister. Women are really out for each others’ blood, eh?

  39. julia said:

    Noanodyne, your last paragraph is priceless.
    Women are sucked dry by men, it’s a huge waste of time, and much better spent with other women.
    There is so much we could do if only….
    We could change everything. And when I say everything , I’m not kidding!

  40. Peggy Luhrs said:

    I think male domination gets to the point. They feel entitled to dominate because they think they are the superior sex and it is the domination that damages us.

  41. Lilith said:

    Click! Excellent article. I’ve identified as a feminist for a long time however it is amazing how much I don’t know and the clicking just never seems to stop! Noanodyne, I remember years ago reading a post in response to a child being raped that said “Men need to learn that they can’t have sex with children”. That comment confused me at the time. Of course, they cannot ‘learn’ this no matter how many times we tell them. The issue runs much much deeper than that.

  42. A perfect illustration of why men love “sexism.”

    JCPenney Accused of Sexism Again With Phoebe Cates Spot

    The article does it all: shows the supposed “sexist” behavior, shows the supposed reaction to that “sexist” behavior, shows the reaction of the originator of the “sexism” to those supposed reactions, and viola, misogyny continues apace, nothing is actually exposed, and the ad will continue to run while men laugh up their sleeves.

    “We’re not sexist, we called it out!”
    “We’re not sexist, we said we were sorry you got your little selves offended!”
    “That’s fucking funny doooooood, play it again, play it again.”

    (You didn’t really believe they trotted all this out because they actually give a shit about women, did you?)

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