Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sexism vs. Misogyny  

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times wrote a short opinion piece, attempting to sort out the differences between sexism and misogyny. It's an interesting thing to think about because many people can't really distinguish between the two. He opened it up for discussion - I would suggest reading the comments because they're pretty interesting, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

I think there's undoubtedly a difference between sexism and misogyny.

Sexism: Discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex.
Misogyny: Hatred and mistrust of women.

Kristof brings up instances of violence against women. He makes the interesting point that many men who are violent towards their wives or girlfriends don't do it out of hatred, which is true. Many batterers claim that they love their partners, so it can't exactly be called misogyny, can it? I would sooner call it sexism because I don't think most violence committed by men against women comes from hatred of them, but rather a notion that women are weaker and submissive, and therefore as the dominant sex, men have the right to try and "control" them through violence. Sexism.

But random acid attacks in South Asia and brutal rapes in the Republic of Congo? Misogyny. Although I think a case can be made for sexism as well, I feel that if violence is committed against women randomly, it can only stem from a general dislike and hostility towards females.


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