Conception Of The Term Misogyny

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In her article What is Misogyny? A Feminist Analysis, Kate Manne explores and re-conceptualizes the term misogyny from the commonly upheld definition, which she considers naïve and inscrutable. In this paper, I will explain Manne’s argument regarding her conception of the term misogyny. I will also provide an objection that a critic may raise to invalidate Manne’s argument and ultimately a response that Manne could give. I will then argue that while the objector provides a valid counterargument to Manne’s proposition, Manne has a good response to the objection. Finally, I will conclude that Manne is indeed right that misogyny is a social issue worth considering since it has adverse effects on women. Misogyny, according to Manne, refers to “a property of social systems or environments as a whole, wherein women are liable to encounter hateful and hostile reactions because of their gender, together with their perceived or actual transgressions against norms and expectations of a patriarchal nature” (2).

In her argument for misogyny, Manne rejects the common conception that misogyny affects all women universally, but instead, argues that misogyny affects certain kinds of women in society to enforce women's subordination in patriarchal systems. Here is how her argument follows. First, Manne states that misogyny does not affect all women universally, or at least generally. Manne provides that the common conception that misogyny affects all women universally is naïve since it is not only inadequate in providing a specific account of what misogyny constitutes but also renders it as a largely inscrutable phenomenon. Manne advances her argument by claiming that misogyny primarily targets certain kinds of women, particularly, those who go against the norms and expectations of a patriarchal society. Such women include those who challenge the existing gender hierarchies, norms, and expectations for women. For instance, “women entering positions of power and authority over men” (15). Manne takes her argument to another level by claiming that these kinds of women often draw negative reactions from misogynists who often feel threatened. Such reactions, according to Manne, include negative emotions of hatred, aggression, violence among others.

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Finally, Manne concludes her argument by claiming that by targeting these women, misogyny aims at enforcing and policing women subordination, in order to uphold male dominance in a patriarchal society. An objector to Manne’s argument may easily pinpoint a flaw in her argument. In this case, the objector could say that Manne’s conception of misogyny is narrow-focused, and does not, therefore, provide a comprehensive definition of what constitutes misogyny. Here, the objector could claim that Manne’s understanding of misogyny only includes limited categories of women affected by the latter, and, therefore, fails to consider the larger groups of women affected by misogyny. Let me explain how the objector would go about these arguments.

The objector could begin by agreeing that indeed, misogyny does not affect women universally or at least generally. However, the objector could point a weakness in Manne’s claim that misogyny does affect women who are perceived as challenging or violating patriarchal norms and expectations. The objector could argue that misogyny affects larger groups of women, and not only those who challenge, resist, or violate patriarchal norms, as Manne thinks. Here, the objector could go ahead and give an example of how Manne’s conceptualization of misogyny fails to accommodate feminist groups such as trans-women. Notably, trans-women are capable of fulfilling the patriarchal standards for women that Manne lays out, for instance, providing men with feminine-coded goods.

Also, these women are often assaulted and sexually harassed for deviating from societal norms, or for failing to provide feminine ‘goods’. Based on these characteristics, therefore, the objector could go ahead and claim Manne’s ameliorative account of misogyny is not comprehensive since it only focuses on certain kinds of women, and fails to consider the larger feminine groups. In this regard, therefore, the objector could argue that Manne’s ameliorative account of misogyny is narrowly focused, and fails to capture diverse possibilities in the meaning of the concept. How could Manne reply to this objection? I think she would have to admit that her ameliorative project was limited, and could not, therefore, exhaust all kinds of women subject to misogyny.

She would have to agree that trans-women, as well as, women of color are also subject to misogyny, but this would have to be classified to new forms of misogyny. In this particular case, Manne would argue that trans-women are not likely to face misogyny, as per se, but are likely to experience trans-specific forms of misogyny, and ultimately, trans-misogynistic retribution. In this case, therefore, Manne could defend her argument by claiming that her ameliorative project was solely meant to provide an ameliorative account of classes of women likely to be affected by pure misogyny. In light of the above discussion, it is worth pointing out that Manne does provides a new and more elaborate account of what constitutes misogyny, and how it affects women. Manne’s new conceptualization of the term misogyny awakens the world to a new topic worth considering. Namely, it provides a new perspective on how the male-dominated world unconsciously perpetuates patriarchal systems at the expense of females. By creating awareness about misogyny and how it affects women, Manne’s ameliorative project provides a stepping stone to which the world could take active steps to reduce oppression among women.

Overall, we have seen Manne argument regarding how misogyny does not affect women universally or generally, and how it affects certain kinds of women. We have also seen an objection to Manne argument, as well as a way that Manne could respond. In this case, I think that the objector provides a good point that Manne’s conceptualization of misogyny is not comprehensive enough to cover all kinds of women subject to misogyny. However, Manne could provide a good response to this argument by claiming that other groups of women subject to misogynous oppression could be classified to new forms misogyny, which could not be explored fully in one topic. All in all, I believe that Manne has done a good job in opening the eyes of the world into a new issue of oppression of women.

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