In many ways, our society has come a long way when it comes to the treatment of women. Both federal and state law prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, and generally, overt bias against women is barred. Yet we know that our society is far from equal, particularly when it comes to more subtle forms of discrimination. Many individuals still demonstrate some level of antipathy towards women, also referred to as misogyny. So what exactly is misogyny?
Misogyny is an extreme form of sexism that is often defined as the hatred of women. A person with misogynistic beliefs may not be aware that they are demonstrating a hatred towards women — or even believe that they hate women — but their behavior and words expose prejudice, disdain of, or hostility to women. In societies where misogyny is prevalent, there are often high rates of violence towards women. Women may be seen as property or second-class citizens, and mistreated at both the individual and institutional level as a result. For example, a woman who is abused by a spouse (individual level) may be told by a police officer that they won’t bring charges against her husband because it’s a family matter (institutional level). Other views of misogyny define it as a way of controlling or punishing women who challenge male dominance.
Understanding misogyny is important for many reasons. In light of the recent wave of mass shootings that shook our nation in