In this one liner, Woolf aptly sums up the concept of misogyny. But what is misogyny? As per Allan G. Johnson, ‘Misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female.’ In simpler terms, misogyny can be defined as the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Practices like rape, objectification of women, dowry and even patriarchy- all of these are examples of misogyny at play.
We come across this practice almost on a daily basis in our lives and do not even realize it. The objectification of women when it comes to television and films is the best example. As far as television is concerned, women are supposed to be obedient wives and daughters-in-law. They must do all household chores and raise children, sacrificing their careers. Women are only seen as daughters, sisters and wives. They are completely stripped off their own identity. The scenario in films is worse. Women are portrayed as objects of desire that dance on utterly senseless item numbers and maintain zero-sized figures, just to grab the attention of men. This leads to a culture where women are judged solely on the basis of their measurements and clothes.
Misogyny fuels crime and violence against women, be it sexual harassment, rape, acid attacks and the like as men tend to get aggressive when women assert their freedom ad refuse to respond to their advances. Added to these horrific crimes is the trauma that women have to suffer and the social stigma they have to endure throughout their lives.
However, another very important dimension to misogyny that remains unexplored is the effect it has on the men. Now, many would say that how can it be harmful to men in any way, considering that the whole phenomenon is about the hatred against women. But think carefully….
Take the case of the Isla Vista killings that happened earlier this year. A man killed seven people and then committed suicide. Reason? He wanted to punish women for rejecting him and also penalize sexually active men for living a better life than him. Sounds crazy? But it is indeed true. He was frustrated because he could not find a girlfriend and this led to his hatred towards women. He also became envious of the men who had girlfriends. This misogynistic attitude sent him on a killing spree. What’s more, this misogynistic motivation was more harmful to men as more men than women were killed. He killed those men because he felt that they ‘stole’ the women he was ‘entitled’ to.
This goes on to prove that although misogyny mostly causes heinous crimes to be perpetrated against women, even men can be the victims of such violence. Lack of sexual acquiescence by a woman fuels aggression on the part of the man, which may ultimately lead to violence against other men. Misogyny then does not remain restricted to females; it rather becomes a threat to all the people in the society, devoid of any distinctions on the basis of sex.
This anger results because men are not used to seeing women exercise their preferences. In other words, they resent women who want to break the existing stereotypes and be in control of their own lives. This attitude can only change when the right values are imparted from an early age. The young minds need to be taught equality of the sexes in the family and at school so that along with talking about women who are behind successful men, we also talk about men who are behind successful women.