- Politics and Social Issues
Is Feminism the Opposite of Misogyny?
I Googled the term “feminism antonym” – check this out:
Then, I looked up the definition of feminism:
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! ”
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.
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:
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.