As someone with a background in sociology and social psychology, I’m going to say that it’s more complex than that. For the past 10,000 years we’ve lived in a patriarchal dominance-based hierarchy, which calls for stratifications and classes of all kinds. Until about 50 years ago in the US, everyone knew their place, although this was profoundly discriminatory against everyone but white men, who were at the top of the pyramid.

Since we’ve been trying to build a more equal society, and flatten the aspects of the pyramid which come not from merit but from traditional power, its been profoundly unsettling to a lot of white men. Some of them talk about how they are losing their rights, which of course, is not the case. Other people gaining rights doesn’t take rights away from anyone, but it feels like that to some of them because they are used to a certain role and place in society. Should we not continue to dismantle discrimination and artificial barriers because it’s disruptive to some people? No, clearly, they need to adjust.

I am always looking for how something impacts the society, as well as the individual. That’s how I’m trained. And it’s pretty clear, given the rise of feminism in the past hundred years, the #MeToo movement and other social initiatives, that having restrictive roles and artificial barriers based in them (sexual harassment is a dominance posture to try to put women back in their place in the hierarchy) harms the society. Not letting women have the vote until 1920 harmed the society, not only because women make up 51% of the population, but on a broad societal level as well, just as racism harms the entire society and not just those who are subjected to it.

And I’ll ask you again, would you honestly hold this position if you were told that your role was to do things that you have no interest or aptitude in (such as weaving) and you just had to do them, without recourse, because that was your role? I’m gonna say No! And how can you be both a socialist and someone who is in favor of binary gender roles? Do you not see the inherent absurdity of that?

Women who resist or flout gendered norms and expectations may subsequently garner suspicion and consternation, which has less to do with their challenging gendered norms per se, and more to do with their challenging entrenched norms simpliciter. And for some people, feminism in particular has profoundly disrupted their sense of the social order. The hostility they display to women who disrupt or pose a threat to gendered social hierarchies, say, is compatible with their being egalitarians in the abstract. They may nevertheless perceive powerful women who do not wield their power in service of men’s interests as abrasive and threatening. For that reason among others, a misogynist social environment may be partly the result of more or less well-intentioned people acting out of disavowed emotions, or exhibiting flashes of aggression that are not consciously experienced. And indeed, such aggression may be acted out partly as a substitute for feeling it: the expression “acting out” is suggestive in this context.

Manne, Kate. Down Girl (p. 61). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Misogyny need not and typically does not arise out of putative psychological attitudes such as the idea that women are primarily sex objects, that they are viewed as subhuman, or are otherwise hateful simply for being female. Instead, it is overwhelmingly about the enforcement and re-establishment of patriarchal order and a reaction to any challenges to it.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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