Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Introducing the misses: -andry and -ogyny

Misogyny: The hatred of women. Misandry: The hatred of men. Sexism: The belief that one gender is superior to the other.

A few years ago, when Sedna and Eris arrived on the astrological scene, two recently discovered celestial bodies both given names of goddesses from mythology, some saw it as an indication that, at last, women or at least "the feminine" would come more to the fore in world events. Bearing in mind, though, that Eris was Greek goddess of strife and discord, Sedna goddess of the Inuit underworld and sea creatures, who went through all kinds of tribulations before being killed and sinking to the bottom of the sea, portents were not too good!

C.E.O. Carter in his Encyclopedia of Psychological Astrology has no entry for misogyny, misandry or sexism. I suspect because in the mid 1920s when the book was written these were not yet perceived as problems; or if so, in certain enlightened circles, an author - even an astrologer - might shy away from voicing an opinion on the matter, if selling books and maintaining a reputation was the aim. I've noticed quite a bit of sexism arising in casual turns of phrase in vintage astrology books I've picked up in antique/junk stores.

If a tendency to be misogynist/misandrist/sexist could be found in a natal chart (which I doubt) it might stem from Mars and Moon (representing male and female respectively) and antagonistic aspects between them.

But there's this, too:
Allied with Venus in honourable positions Saturn makes his subjects haters of women, lovers of antiquity, solitary, unpleasant to meet, unambitious, hating the beautiful, ...
— Ptolemy, 'Of the Quality of the Soul', 2nd century

I wonder if there's a word for the hatred of those who embrace misogyny, misandry or sexism? If so - that's moi! If we simply have to hate something let's hate war, poverty, injustice, cruelty.....Alright - I know someone's already thinking that the greatest perpetrators of those ills have traditionally been males. But ALL males were not involved. Hatred, if at all, should be directed at the actual perpetrators not at a whole gender.

Misandry is not nearly as common a word as fact I'd wager many people don't even know what it means, but that doesn't mean hatred of men doesn't exist. Rabid feminists display what many see as hatred of men. That would be truly ironic if so!

True misogyny and misandry are, I guess, more rare than commonly thought. They are often, maybe always, the result of life experiences, "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" as The Bard called 'em. Some people can quickly get over unfortunate and uncomfortable experiences such as rejection, the cruelty of abuse, or something even worse. Some never do though, and that's completely understandable. Still, even in the worst possible case, spreading hatred to cover a whole gender isn't going to take away the pain; in fact I suspect it only serves to keep the pain alive.

Sexism, an overall -ism covering both misogyny and misandry, can and does operate in the absence of both. What often passes for misogyny/misandry could be more accurately described as sexism, which does not entail actual hatred. The prevention of women from voting didn't spring from hatred of women. It sprang from the idea that the genders are not equal. Tacky comedians' jokes at the expense of women (or men) could, in a few cases, spring from misogyny or misandry, but more often simply from sexism.

All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are 'sides,' and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot.
— Virginia Woolf (A Room of One's Own)
(Originally posted on 2 August 2011.)


mike said...

This is an interesting and wide-open subject it seems, like racism, thought to have been put to bed, yet always sleep-walking. I think that most -isms and human behavior in general can be better understood by our requirement to view our interactions through our subjective individuation and separateness. The human race is really a flotilla of isolated egos, with each of us objectifying the not-self.

The following from Wiki

"According to the philosopher Martha Nussbaum, a person might be objectified if one or a selection of the following properties are adhered to:

Instrumentality - as a tool for another's purposes: 'The objectifier treats the object as a tool of his or her purposes'
Denial of Autonomy - as if lacking in agency or self-determination: 'The objectifier treats the object as lacking in autonomy and self-determination'
Inertness - as if without action: 'The objectifier treats the object as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity'
Fungibility - as if interchangeable: 'The objectifier treats the object as interchangeable (a) with other objects of the same type, and/or (b) with objects of other types'
Violability - as if permissible to damage or destroy (Violence): 'The objectifier treats the object as lacking in boundary integrity, as something that it is permissible to break up, smash, break into'
Ownership - as if owned by another: 'The objectifier treats the object as something that is owned by another, can be bought or sold, etc'
Denial of Subjectivity - as if there is no need for concern for their feelings and experiences: 'The objectifier treats the object as something whose experience and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account'

... Langton added to this list with:
Reduction to Body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
Reduction to Appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
Silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

... Alan Soble questions the widely held Kantian view according to which human dignity is something that people have. He argues that objectification is not inappropriate. Everyone is already only an object and being only an object is not necessarily a bad thing. In one sense, then, no one can be objectified because no one has the higher ontological status that is required to be reduce-able by objectification. In another sense, everyone is vulnerable to objectification, and everyone can and may be objectified, because to do so is to take them to their correct ontological level."

Twilight said...

mike ~ Oh my! Those philosophers do tend to over-think things don't they? So much so that ordinary mortals like me get lost in all of their meanderings. I like your description of us as "flotilla of isolated egos" though!

At core, it seems to me that sexism and the two "misses" stem from feelings of inferiority, a need to denigrate, despise or ridicule "other" so as to pump up "self".

Misanthropy takes the whole thing a step further and simply hates all humankind. I wonder what brings that on?

mike (again) said...

Elizabeth Warren scolds the misogynists:

“Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s or 1890s?”

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Love it! She's so good!