Misogyny, if you remember from my last post, literally translated means ‘hatred of women‘. Yes, I am a woman and I am guilty of participating in misogyny. You might want to read that last part again.
There are various forms of misogyny and this post will show you how I have participated in it.
Firstly, some background. Both my grandmothers were strong women who survived World War II without their husbands giving them the support they needed to bring up a family. One grandfather was away at war, and the other was too sick to even go to war. My grandmothers had to learn how to be both mother and father to their children. It was a case of needing to. Yet this meant that they became strong, independent women, who literally ruled the roost. When their husbands ‘returned’ my grandmothers were reluctant, or maybe unable, to relinquish roles that they had inevitably taken on. These women dominated family life and the men in the family were either passive as a result, or found it difficult to be men. Their children, my parents, were influenced as a result.
My father, and his brothers, were seriously mothered. My own mother followed her mother into work and had to nurse her own father during long periods of illness. She didn’t really have a childhood.
Then there was me. As you can see, I come from a long line of very strong women and without realising it, I reacted against them. I was initially attracted to this strength but then, unconsciously, turned against it. I remember as a child that people would often make reference to me as “being so like your mother”, “you sound so much like your mother”, “that’s what your mother does”. I was a young woman who wanted to make her own mark and these comments went deep in me and I fought against them. I loved my mother but heard myself saying “I want to be like my father”. For me, the feminine aspects of life were not always a positive experience.
- I began to take an interest in, and loved, my father’s hobbies; photography and aeroplanes.
- I saw my brother being allowed freedoms that were not being given to me and I began to resent being a woman.
- I didn’t choose the ‘family’ line of work – nursing. Instead I went for a more masculine job – the Police Force.
- I preferred being called Kate instead of Catherine, a shorter and perhaps more masculine name. (My paternal grandmother was insistent that I should be called by my birth name and would make a real song and dance about it if she heard me being called anything different)
- I became a strong woman – HOW IRONIC!!!!! And ended up marrying a ‘passive’ husband which meant that I could do more male things because my husband couldn’t.
- To achieve in the workplace I would ‘compete’ with the men in order to get their recognition and vie for attention. I didn’t really do this with my female colleagues as I thought they weren’t worth the effort.
- My choice of clothes became more masculine; shirt, jacket and trousers – both in and out of work.
I turned my back on the feminine within me preferring to do ‘manly’ things. I aligned myself to the masculine and succumbed to misogyny. I actually became just like my grandmothers, exactly what I didn’t want to become.
Now you may think that this is all innocuous stuff, that these aren’t really worth worrying about and they don’t really constitute me ‘hating’ women. No, I wasn’t guilty of full-blown hatred of women and all that comes to mind when we think that way:
- seeing women as slaves,
- as second-class citizens,
- as property,
- only being good enough for bringing up the children, and doing caring work such as nursing
- of calling women derogatory names such as “the trout”, “the other half”, “the woman indoors”.
- a punch bag
- You can add your own other points here…….
However, my actions were dishonouring to women in many ways and that, too, is misogyny. Everytime I devalued the strengths of being a woman, of being feminine, then I dishonoured women. Everytime I allowed men to call their wives derogatory names, and laughed with them, I was being misogynistic. In wanting to be more masculine, I was turning my back on the feminine and being misogynistic.
In the last seven years I have changed and I am loving the feminine again. I wear more feminine clothes although I realise that being feminine is not all about what you wear. I am allowing people to call me by my birth name, Catherine. That takes some getting used to. I am able to challenge close male friends when they dishonour their wives with their words. These are all small changes in me but they are having a ripple effect in my life and how I treat women. As for my husband, he’s changed too. He is more assertive and is taking leadership in areas that he would have easily left to me.
I now accept my masculine attributes in me, but I no longer let them dominate like they used to.
So where have you allowed yourself to fall into misogyny?
What parts of my story do you see in your life?
What acts do recognise in yourself that are misogynistic?