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QOTD #82: How to speak respectfully about misogyny?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    How do you speak respectfully about misogyny?

    When someone makes a comment that puts women down, how do you respond?
    Do you ignore it?
    Do you point out that their words sound misogynistic?
    Do you inform them that their words could be hurtful?
    Do you attempt to show them what might be a funny joke in the situation instead?
    How does your response differ in a professional setting vs a personal friendship?

    With a women running for president in the US, I find misogynistic comments popping up everywhere in my life. Even from people who I thought were clearly not misogynist - they are picking up these phrases from somewhere and throwing it out back into the world... I'm sitting here awe-struck. I have no idea how to respond. I found myself saying nothing for most of my life, yet now... now it seems entirely too important to let it slide anymore.

    Does pointing out a misogynistic leaning in a comment make me a feminist? And how is that a bad thing?

    Share any experiences related to misogyny that you feel may be applicable.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
    • Like Like x 1
  2. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    "Well, geez, that sure sounds misogynistic."

    "You know, when you say stuff like that, you sound like a misogynist."

    Those are variants of what I say in my classroom. We then have a fun little lesson on words, roots, and why it's not okay to say that stuff in my classroom.

    Additionally, being a feminist means wanting equality for everyone. I can't see how that's bad--unless you're a white man.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    I dunno, maybe this is my male privilege talking, but I see no reason to be too polite about confronting misogyny. I confess, in my circles, I don't hear a lot of misogyny, but on the comparatively rare occasions I run into it, I pretty much say, "Whoa, why so misogynistic?!" If I don't get a satisfactory response, I'll go right ahead and say that that shit is not acceptable.

    When I hear misogynistic stuff from students, much like @snowy, I see that as a teaching opportunity: let's make sure young men and boys know what misogyny is, what is and isn't misogynistic and why, and what happens when misogyny has been allowed to run amuck in patriarchal or post-patriarchal societies. Only if I hear it after such a lesson do I come down on a kid and let him know that is absolutely unacceptable in my classroom.

    Since I am usually teaching in Jewish schools, I also try to support such lessons with examples from Jewish Law and Rabbinic texts that are condemnatory of baseless hatreds and malicious speech of all sorts, as well as such texts and traditions that we have which encourage respect for women. Young Jewish men and boys need to understand that misogyny (and other hate speech) is not acceptable to Jewish ethics, regardless of what the ultra-Orthodox would have us believe.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Would your response be any different if it were a superior in your workplace making the remark?
  5. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    The Windy City
    It probably wouldn't be much different, but then I've never been very skilled at workplace politics. I just don't do kiss-up very well, especially when it comes to fudging about interpersonal ethics, which probably at least in part accounts for why my last contract didn't get renewed....
    • Like Like x 3
  6. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    First, don't criticize the person; criticize their statement. Second, it's tempting to act unkindly towards people who say unkind things, but the most effective way to improve things is to kindly explain that what they said is hurtful and suggest an alternative view of the subject for them to consider. This holds in every situation I can conceive of and with any sort of person.

    Anyone here who's interested in further advice on this might like to read or skim over this "civility pledge" intended to promote respectful discourse: The Camels With Hammers Civility Pledge
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  7. Lindy

    Lindy Moderator Staff Member

    With Hillary Clinton a nominee for President the general mistrust and dislike that she evokes is probably not entirely to be blamed on misogyny. There are many men and women who would applaud a woman as candidate, but not this particular woman. Not to say that some misogyny isn't there, but Ms. Clinton would probably be highly disliked and mistrusted even if she were a he.

    And where was all the talk of misogyny a few years ago when the invective was being directed toward Sarah Palin?

    If it does, so what? Being a feminist is not a bad thing. I may not drink all the Kool-Aid, but I consider myself a feminist, independent (and non-dependent) in thought word and deed.

    I wonder how many people don't really understand misogynist the word, and think that any criticism of any woman is by definition misogynistic. And I'm curious why don't you just say misogyny is not okay anywhere. Or even to call it wrong instead of "not okay" or "not acceptable"?
  8. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    I love the camels with hammers civility pledge. It's a way of life. This is exactly what I did the other day and the person responded with
    How do you reason with a person who is seething with hate?
  9. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    I have to start with a context they understand. I work in a pretty blue-collar, conservative community where misogyny is de rigeur with some people. These kids have never been told that these things are wrong. We start with not saying it in my classroom, and it grows from there. This is not the only word or concept I am trying to teach them in terms of being better humans.
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  10. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    You've read it before? How'd you happen upon it?

    Unfortunately, you can't expect to reason with everyone. If this person is unable to empathize with you, the most you can do is ask them not to label you with pejoratives such as bitch or to stop talking with you in a personal capacity.
  11. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    A Quaker friend pointed me toward it a couple of years ago.

    Yes... I suppose there comes a point when one must simply walk away from a conversation and the hurtful individual. It's a difficult lesson for me.

    I'm starting to wonder if it's even remotely appropriate for a woman to point out misogyny. But if we don't, then who will?
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
  12. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    Of course it's appropriate. If someone says something that demeans you on the basis of your gender, it's perfectly reasonable for you to object. Sometimes others can defend you, but you're the best judge of your own feelings.
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