Is Feminism the Opposite of Misogyny?

I Googled the term “feminism antonym” – check this out:

Then, I looked up the definition of feminism:

Source

Let’s speak English – I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. Most of what I understood of “feminism” growing up was that historically, women were treated as “lesser” than men, (in a variety of ways), and that in recent history the balance was shifted to one of equality by way of the “feminist movement.” Roughly. This was, of course, the impression gleaned from living among adult men and women, and not from historical or sociological study – so the particular cultural events involved and their individual significance is beyond the scope of this discussion – though not to be denigrated.

Now, I speak English, and I like to think I understand the language pretty well… I also understand other things, and I like to think my understanding of things, (incomplete though it certainly may be), isn’t terribly inaccurate on matters I’ve sought to understand… If “feminism” is the doctrine of equality among men and women, and “Misogyny” is “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women” (dictionary.reference.com) – how can the two terms be considered opposite?

I think the answer is clear – “Feminism” can be considered opposite to “Misogyny” with the help and support of laziness. Other words might include carelessness, ignorance, or even stupidity (a rare case, I’d like to think). Even still, a case can certainly be made for the idea that the actual spirit and thrust behind feminism has been the suppression of masculinity among men and the establishment of femininity in the same role that men had previously occupied. I like to think differently about it though, but hey – why would Google results mislead…?

Think of the word itself – feminism. The -ism of femininity, right? Doesn’t the word itself sort of clearly suggest an inequality in ovarian-favour? C’mon!

Now of course, the origin of the word has a great deal more to do with its historical/sociological significance as a movement to counter a typically male-dominated social paradigm than its actual etymology – somehow “equalism” mightn’t’ve had the intended impact – but if feminism seeks to propound equality between the sexes, (oops, sorry – genders …), then I think equality should be at the heart of the feminist attitude – and while I can’t speak for individuals who consider their equality-based attitudes an aspect of feminism , I certainly can’t fail to notice how weighted both the term and its local effect on social attitudes so often seems to be.

In this day and age especially, it’s easy to get lazy about correct terms and their correct meanings – in the wake of an allegedly misogynistic-paradigm, it’s understandable that super pro-femininity should be the force driving gender-equality – but gender-equality does not mean feminism (in its etymologically correct sense), any more than a culture tending to place women at home with primarily household and family duties means oppression of “the weaker sex.”

Real Words with Real Meanings

It’s still a common social-norm that a man striking a woman, regardless of it being initiative or retaliative, is considered taboo. I can’t speak for the reasoning of others, necessarily, but to me, a bruise on a man’s face doesn’t seem as out-of-place or upsetting as one marring the otherwise alluring sight of a woman’s. Which, of course, is not to say that I don’t see a problem with striking other men arbitrarily – and it’s my personal understanding that striking another in anything else but self-defense is abhorrent.

The antonym of “misogyny” is misandry – simply defined (at reference.dictionary.com) as hatred of males . (It’s curious to note: misogyny doesn’t set off Microsoft Word’s spellchecker, but misandry does…) I almost wonder whether the concept of misandry might just be too practically inconceivable to so-called “free thinkers” to warrant acknowledgement – but like I say, I prefer to think better of people, even as it becomes clearer that most people don’t prefer to think better .

People call themselves feminists and say that they perceive men and women as equals. Maybe I’m just an annoying stickler for correctness of speech, but nevertheless it is not correct to promote femininity over masculinity in the name of equality – and that does seem to be what feminism does. I know a lot of women who insist on believing themselves equality-minded, while taking as full advantage as they can of whatever privileges they may receive by being considered unequal to the same treatment deserving of men. I know women who declare “sexism” if treating them differently than men is inconvenient for their purposes, but when receiving the same treatment as men is similarly, (or differently) inconvenient, the story changes – “but I’m a girl!

Source

Should men consider this the indication of the natural inconstancy of the female mind? Ought we explain it by saying that women are merely fickle, and can’t help it? I think not, because most men (these days anyway), will speak and behave in just the same way. The real reason, I think, is the laziness I mentioned earlier – it’s far easier to let cultural events and social paradigms determine what we nevertheless still call “our” thinking, and seldom do we look further into it than social expectation leads us to.

I don’t hit women, but I don’t hit men either. However, if a man should attack me, I’ll defend myself by attempting to prevent him from injuring me in whatever way is most effective – yet should a woman attack me I’ll likely be careful about defending myself, so as not to injure her, even if I suffer greater injury as a result. Why? The most obvious reason is because I can reasonably expect a woman to quickly change her act when Police arrive, and if she’s bruised somewhere, I’m in big trouble, even if I’m bleeding. Thankfully, I’ve never been attacked by a woman (physically, that is…), and I don’t expect to. I don’t expect to be attacked by a man either, though adolescent-drunkenry has caused it to happen once or twice.

Girl Power!

The idea that feminism is antonymical to misogyny is absurd. When I looked through the rest of Google’s results for “feminism antonym,” I found a website where the question was posed:

Are you a feminist? What is feminism and what is the antonym of it?

There were three answers (check out the last one and feel my frustration!) and the first was from a woman who described herself as not being a feminist, but being a woman who believed in equal-rights, but also enjoyed the gentlemanly courtesy of opening doors for women, standing when a woman enters a room or stands herself, etc – and she seemed to have an honest and legitimate perspective on what it means to be a woman in the world today (the post was from 2008, btw). But then, she disappointed me, badly. Of course, I cannot believe that she was attempting to seriously treat the term literally when she closed her answer thus:

As far as the antonym of feminism… could it be slavery?

No! No madam, dear madam, it cannot. Freedom is the antonym of slavery, and feminism is not synonymous with freedom, though feminism does seem to try supporting freedom. Might you be representative of an increasingly lazy and inattentive evolution of modern-language? Laziness supports slavery, of course – the more the run of your thoughts is determined by your conditioning and not your deliberate reasoning, the more pliable you are for the forces acting upon you to reshape as they will.

As Polonius to Laertes Said...

It does not do to simply be swept up in the tide of social-consciousness – if we truly be individuals ourselves, and truly bring our individuality to bear in society, then it must be our own reasoning and determination that we bring. Laziness in consideration, understanding and speech too often determines for us what we blindly call our very own selves, and we find ourselves enslaved. The cure for laziness, and indeed the best way to attain to sincere and genuine understanding of whatsoever we seek to understand and convey, is attention.

As physical beings, we are endowed with the miraculous ability not merely to swallow, we chew, we digest, we absorb and transform what we’ve eaten and we expunge waste – why should our absorption of experience and information be any different? Never simply swallow the words and dictums of others, but listen closely to what wisdom might be conveyed by your own discerning reason. To excerpt the admonishment of Polonius to his son Laertes (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet):


Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.

This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Comments 21 comments

BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

I'm not sure if I'm a feminist, I don't really think so. But having said that, I recall employers asking me this: "So do you plan to have any kids? If so, do you have adequate and reliable child care in place?" This question is now illegal, but I'm sure no men were ever asked this in a job interview. I also recall women, me included, doing the same job as many guys, hired the same time, yet getting lower pay. I was also denied health insurance for my first child on my first job, due to the fact I was not married. It has always irked me when for many years, the term 'illegitimate' was used for children born out of wedlock, when all That word traditionally meant was some man didn't claim the child. I am all for treating humans, ALL humans with the same respect, no matter the gender. I doubt it makes me a feminist, just irritated over what people could get away with. To this day, some government officials 'worry' about the destruction of the 'traditional' family when in fact, the government has helped destroy it. Why? Women or men, but traditionally women, who are home caring for their kids are penalized when old and want to retire, no Social Security for them, no pensions and yet caring for kids is a full time 24/7 job. I had a great bumper sticker on my car that read: "EVERY mother is a Working woman." I got a lot of comments from a lot of women on that. Sorry to make this so long. I also think men should change Their names when they get married, not the other way around. Great hub.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

I don't know if I've gotten a comment yet that I enjoyed as much as this, BobbiRant. Thanks so much! And I definitely agree - your bumper-sticker told a truth most men would do well to see about personally...


tritrain profile image

tritrain 5 years ago from United States

To me a Feminist does not necessarily hate men. Whereas a misogynist does.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

A man-hating misogynist would be a misanthropist - a hater of men AND women - otherwise they're simply a MISANDRIST - hater of men. Of course a "feminist" does not necessarily hate men - a feminist, (by etymological interpretation, the main subject of this Hub), promotes femininity over masculinity - something well worth looking into, truth be told (I don't go into this in this Hub, but a strong case CAN be made for putting GREATER emphasis on the feminine than the masculine - properly keeping the masculine in place, of course...)

Thanks for commenting tritrain, and for following as well! I look forward into looking into your own work soon!


stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 5 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

simply wonderful to read, voted it up, agreed with it, an you have a new follower.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

Thanks so much stclairjack! I've found that trying to really describe what modest insights I have, (as opposed to simply collecting and presenting information easily found elsewhere), tends to provide something people can enjoy looking into, making comments like these all the more personally flattering... I hope my future Hubs don't disappoint!


stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 5 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

abolutely agree, why do i need a collection of links or material refferenced from an endless google search,... we read the works of others to get their take on a subject, not just to look at their research,... keep it up, put yourself into what you write so that we can get you out of it!


gEoff 5 years ago

I was thinking of this exact same idea and I came across this post when I was doing google searches. I have since tried to have several discussions with people I know about this. I keep explaining that the word "feminist" as it applies to gender-equality is a misnomer. Also, if "feminist" means equality then "misogynist" should mean the same thing. If the gender-opposite term for a movement based on equality does not also mean a movement for equality then that shows that the movement is either not for equality or that the movement is incorrectly named.

Think of it as simple math. There are two people, a man and a woman. There is one pie. To represent gender-equality, we will use equal distribution of pie. Let's say we were to give 50% of the pie to the woman and 50% of the pie to the man and then call this the "feminine solution". Now the "feminine solution" achieves the goal of gender equality as both representatives of the genders received equal shares of pie. Couldn't we have just as easily and just as correctly called this solution the "masculine solution"? Yes, but instead what has instead been described as the "masculine solution" is to give all of the pie to the man and let him share only what he pleases to with the woman.


Rinn 5 years ago

Here's the deal. By definition and etymological terms, feminism is, yes, female and historically the elevation to equality of females in the world. However, this has changed.

Feminism has transformed into a blanket term encompassing equality for ALL. There are so many subsets and branches of feminism and feminist thought that I can't even begin to explain them all in one comment.

But be rest assured, the intent is not to de-masculinize men, but for women, men, GBLT of every age, race, and creed to be treated with dignity and respect.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

Thanks so much for commenting Rinn! I'd hoped the loose argument presented here wouldn't be lost in careless reading, and I'm pleased that you agree with my premise and barely-stated viewpoint on equality. The argument was against incorrectness of terms, and the oft-experienced confusion that results.

I'm quite certain that the aim of feminism has never been to de-masculinize men, but attempted to draw attention to the habit of relatively ignorant people to do so in the name of feminism. Too many people are too careless about their misunderstood allegiances, and can threaten the integrity of otherwise noble and dignified "movements."

Of course, the discussion of "feminism" is PURELY in an etymological sense - my refusal to discuss the TERM in its historical or present social context is clearly stated. The social elements discussed is one of personal impression, and the conflicting information found online.

Again, thanks so much for the comment!


Link 5 years ago

Oh good thank you Rinn. I concur. IMHO Feminism is primarily concerned with humanity. It's not some sort of competition with the emasculation of men as it's primary aim. Quite the contrary. Personally for me it means the promotion and advancement of justice for women. I'm not so big on being an equal to a man, frankly. But deplore, as I would hope most enlightened men, the pernicious and callous treatment of women across the world. For the world to survive in any semblance of health, this has to change.


Claudia 5 years ago

What name would you propose then? I have just been thinking about how to define my interests on line and feminism would be one, but the word isn't right. I'm 54 so I've been using feminist for a long time, but it now longer feels like the right word, yet gender egalitarian doesn't cut it either. Besides in feminist is an interest in issues that pertain to women and an interest in filling in the big gaps in our cultural discourse when it comes to the experience of women. Even now, with so many women in top positions in publishing, only 25% to 33% of the books published are by women. We still are not taken as seriously as men, and I would say many women still don't take themselves as seriously either. Not that anyone would want to take themselves too seriously, but you know what I mean.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

As I stated in the Hub, "...the origin of the word has a great deal more to do with its historical/sociological significance as a movement to counter a typically male-dominated social paradigm than its actual etymology – somehow “equalism” mightn’t’ve had the intended impact..."

As far as a "doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women as equal to those of men" - I'd like to think "common-sense" or "respect" ought to suffice. It's a sad thing that the subjugation of *either* gender can even possibly occur, especially among a well-meaning society. Subjugation of women, men, ethnic groups, etc is itself an abhorrent and unnatural thing - there having to be a social force to counter it at all is disheartening.

Thanks so much for the comment, Claudia! I think I know exactly what you mean!

And Link - I'm not sure if you're aware, but your comment is in perfect agreement with the underlying views which this article treats as simply granted, and so makes little effort to expound upon.

In one part, I suggest that feminism seems to promote femininity over masculinity - and perhaps my intended meaning is much too unclear here... My later explanations of *some* people I know who flip-flop on the issue for their convenience is meant to contextualize the apparent effects of feminism among people who aren't *honestly* interested in equality, but rather allow themselves to be swept along in the tide, irresponsibly. It is this trend which, (in my experience), makes the immediate effect of "feminism" a perceptibly misandristic experience - whether misandry has a thing to do with the edicts of feminism or not.

...

While all the *seeming* disagreement is disappointing, I'm glad to see that all of your views on the subject of feminism and equality itself are sensible and just. If the manner in which I've treated the etymological errors and general misunderstandings about gender-equality are misleading, then I come **this close** to apologizing, without quite making it there. I haven't said a thing that isn't true, and wherever appropriate I've attempted to make it clear that matters of opinion are clearly described as such. Matters of etymological clarity ought to be self-explanatory!

The Hub does not claim to be making historical commentary about the subjugation of women, nor does it attempt to promote ANY doctrine, make ANY defense, and least of all to make any ATTACK against ANYONE.

Thanks so much for reading!


stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 5 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

funny, this hub hit my in box and since i have seen bright shiny things since reading it last, i had to come back and read it again to remember it.

it amazes me how something from 5+ weeks back will sudenly pop back onto the radar! you realy struck an intectual nerve or two here, though it may or may not have been the ones you were aiming for.

i understood the intent of your article clearly and compleetly, however, arguing the correctness of the term after this many years of its use, correct or otherwise, may be a purely accademic excersize.

your extreemly well written article realy brings up the feminist argument at its core,... if the word was miss used in the begining, then that sets true believers back and forces them to re-evaluate thier entire train of thought for the last 50 years,... most of america does not like to engage in that kind of examination.

i personaly do NOT refer to myself as a feminist, i do not allow anyone to call me a feminist, i find myself constantly offending the radical feminists.... so they do not morne the loss of my company i'm sure.

the folly of feminism, as it has played itself out of the last half century, is that rather than raising the rank of women by honoring them for their unique contributions in the life of all mankind, they have degraded the role of mother, wife, and woman,.... then sought to beat men at mens games,....

as if by complaining that my home is not adequate, i might burn it to the ground, proclaiming it to be unworthy because it is not the same as the fellows across the street, now i must build a home exactly the same as my niehgbors,... never admiting to myself or the world that in truth i loved my home that i had built with love with my own two hands,.... in the end,.. what i realy wanted was respect.

a cat cannot get respect from the dog by pretending to be a dog,..... its illogical.


PiEyed 5 years ago

Your "matters of opinion" are what matter in feminism; that's something you don't seem to grasp. You don't get a get-out-of-jail-free card by saying "It's just my opinion."

"Social norms" and "matters of opinion" are what feminism is fighting to change every single day. You claim not to be discussing the issues, only the etymology, but you really don't need to. Your own privilege is shining through.

Feminism is not about equality. It IS about empowering women who are powerless, and engaging the stereotypes that keep them from equality. The linguistic opposite of feminism would be masculinism, an imaginary doctrine promoting the empowerment of men. Does that sound familiar? It should. It's called patriarchy. And patriarchy is the model of the society we live in now.

The ultimate goal of feminism is absolute gender equality, yes. But don't imagine that getting there is a matter of just wishing it was true. Feminism works by promoting the rights and issues of women above those of men, because society does just fine at taking care of the issues of men.

gEoff's pie example is telling. See, in that example, a pie magically appears and some entity outside of the loop of society has to decide how to divide it equally.

Well it doesn't work that way. The pie is here. It is society, and right now the majority of the pie belongs to men. Someone needs to decide how to divide it. You don't get to have some outside judge come along and choose how to divide it. Up until now, the men have been doing the dividing. If the men have 80 percent of the pie now, you can't give 50 percent to the women and still have 80 for the men, can you? Nor can you give 80 percent to the men and 80 percent to the women. If you're going to have true equality, then men need to give up 30 percent of their pie. And let me tell you, they really, really don't want to.

No, every single time someone says that men need to give up a little privilege for the sake of equality, or change an attitude, they cry that the women are trying to take away their pie.

It's too much to hope, but I would ask that anyone who agrees with this article go here first, and spend a good long time at it: http://bit.ly/e8E3Xs The Feminism 101 blog has a great series of FAQs and other information for people that are confused about this kind of thing. It's great for those women that somehow feel embarrassed or worried to call themselves feminists, and for those men who seem to misunderstand the basics of feminist thought. I've pointed to a specific page that deals with this specific issue, but it's all worth going over if you actually consider yourself serious about understanding feminism at all.


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

I've heard that many of these shortened URLs can fail so the link piEyed mentions is here in full:

http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/04/12...

I'm glad you provided the link, piEyed! But your comments about what I do or don't seem to grasp and whatever you mean by "my privelege" are very confusing. Suggesting that I'm saying something inflammatory and claiming some sort of immunity sort of elevates the whole thing a little ridiculously, right?

Of course, I'm not ONLY talking about etymology, I'm talking about an effect of etymological error in everyday experience. What jail would you have me in for my stance on the correctness of terms? For the effect inaccuracies of definition may have on a person's perspective? When you say that "my" (I assume you're referring to men in general, an offensive over-generality) matters of opinion are what matter in feminism, you not only draw fallacious parallels and conclusions in regard to a single man's statements, but you take a great too many liberties in defining my opinions as well. This hardly seems in keeping with the sort of respect that gender-equality in its purest form seems to call for. When you say:

"Feminism is not about equality. It IS about empowering women who are powerless, and engaging the stereotypes that keep them from equality."

You seem to echo my own statement:

"...the origin of the word has a great deal more to do with its historical/sociological significance as a movement to counter a typically male-dominated social paradigm than its actual etymology..."

and,

"...in the wake of an allegedly misogynistic-paradigm, it’s understandable that super pro-femininity should be the force driving gender-equality – but gender-equality does not mean feminism (in its etymologically correct sense)..."

So I fail to see where we're actually in disagreement.

Of course, when you go on to say:

"No, every single time someone says that men need to give up a little privilege for the sake of equality, or change an attitude, they cry that the women are trying to take away their pie."

You echo the very same over-generality that would lump me, by virtue of being a man, into the category of misogynist simply because most misogynists are men.

Your confusion about what I say in this Hub aside, we seem to be in agreement about the role of feminism *itself* in the course of our recent and present history, and that's good news for lovers of respect and freedom like you and I. Thanks for the comment!


Ashley 5 years ago

PiEyed's explanation was a clear response to this post. When you say you are confused, you're either being disingenuous, flying_fish, or your ability to reason through simple similes is distressingly lacking. Disingenuity is the laziest possible response to an argument. If you disagree with the points PiEyed made, explain your reasoning. If you don't disagree, you should concede. Right?


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

I thought I quite clearly described my agreement with the points piEyed made that were in agreement with what was actually said here, and also clearly described her extremely lazy generalization about men crying that women want to take some of their pie. When you read me say that I'm confused, do you skip over my explanation to post frivolously without knowing what you're referring to?

I don't want to restate everything that's already been covered in this Hub - read it with your eyes open, not with your preconceptions. Read what's written, without lazily jumping to conclusions I wouldn't ever try to lead you to, let alone argue.

Aside from your obvious refusal to recognize either my reasoning or concession in my clear response to piEyed, I agree with what you say about the laziness of disingenuity. It seems very disingenuous of you to reframe my statement of piEyed's confusing remarks (only two out of a host of relevant views which I DO agree with, and describe both in the Hub and in my last comment) to indicate confusion on my part, and all the more so offer two unrelated and hostile explanations for that confusion. Should I have explained my reasoning much more extensively than I did? Should conceding to a variety of points we already agree upon be tantamount to concession to a baseless attack grounded in a misunderstanding of the same prior agreement? Laziness is a subject discussed in this Hub, and it seems that laziness of a particularly ignorant kind is causing perceived disagreement where no actual discrepancy is described.


stclairjack profile image

stclairjack 5 years ago from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks

flying_fish- well done, but you'll just keep getting slapped around here if you keep making your other cheek the target,... let it go and quit responding,... unless it drives up the comment count and therefore the hub score,.. in that case,... carry on!

(if you dont realize it already, you have un-wttingly atacked the modern womans holy grail,... you will suffer the wrath of the femi-nazi,... brace yourself and take it like a true man,... that always drives 'em nuts,.... i pray for you.[yes, i'm being teribly snarky and sarcastic])


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

Thanks stclairjack - I've got more than enough time and energy to respond to criticism, it's the fact that what I WROTE isn't being criticized, but that some uncalled-for assumptions about what I might have meant are being attacked, that prompts me to try to clear up the confusion.

A favourite Canadian author of mine was kind enough to ReTweet a link to this thing, and only a small handful of the several hundred resulting visitors had bad things to say about it... (Of course, they were the ONLY Tweeters to say anything at ALL about it... :s)

But I'm not interested in driving anyone nuts, or saying anything I don't have the understanding or knowledge to say about the feminist movement or its importance for women - the Hub was more about clarity and correctness of expression; allegiance, etc... and a bit of a rant about people saying things that mean one thing and MEANING something else by them - sort of ironic that the "negative" criticism isn't actually in disagreement with anything I don't bother saying about feminism itself, but rather completely misses the argument itself... I'm not fighting any battles here - there's no battle to be fought! But I sort of hope that people who would pick a senseless fight *around* the thing will take a second look and see what IS being said and what isn't - I wrote this thing because I notice people being too lazy about words and meanings to make sensible arguments, and it makes intelligent discussion of things much more difficult than it would be if equality-based respect actually directed the way people relate to one another.

Besides, I've had quite a lot of fun with this... I've gotten used to being accused of saying things I haven't said, and of holding opinions contrary to the opinions I express - if just one person made a stronger effort to appraise their own impressions of things they'd habitually taken at face-value, (one Tweeter admitted to having only skimmed the thing over, and taken it to mean something it very much doesn't...) then I've accomplished what I wanted to!

Again, your comments delight me stclairjack! I hope you've been as entertained as I've been!


flying_fish profile image

flying_fish 5 years ago from GTA Author

A blog-response and gross over-blowing of some of this Hub's subject-matter:

http://versatileidentities.blogspot.com/2011/04/de...

Thanks so much for almost reading!

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