Amanda Marcotte* wrote an AWESOME post a while back about defining terms, "Misogny v. sexism v. the patriarchy" over at Pandagon that discussed some of the issues of language involved in articulating a political message. Amanda is responding to someone who thinks "misogyny" is a scary word that shouldn't be used because the menz have only been oppressing women for their PROTECTION, not because they "hate" them.** Nice try. Amanda strikes back that actually, Misogyny is a tool of the System of Sexism that holds up Teh Patriarchy (TRIPLE WORD SCORE!). But she does concede that
I do get Kristof’s point about the word 'misogyny', which is defined as 'hatred for women', which seems a little off. I would actually characterize misogyny as 'fear and loathing of women', which is why a man who claims to be 'protecting' women by depriving them of their freedom is a misogynist.Something about that discussion reminds me of the confusion around the term "homophobia." "I'm not a-skeered of queers," a bigot*** might say, "I just hate 'em!" SAME DIF. Anyway, Amanda makes a good argument out of parsing terms and showing how explaining the language can help explain the system.
And then TA-DA I read another brilliant post ("Feminism 101: 'Sexism is a matter of opinion'") by Melissa McEwan of Shakesville. She explains why drawing attention to expressed sexism against women (AKA misogyny) isn't just a bunch of uptight feminists looking for something to complain about: SEXISM EXISTS WHETHER WE RECOGNIZE IT OR NOT. But leave it to Melissa to explain privilege and socialization in the perfect way:
The patriarchy is very like the Matrix, in that it is a false construct laid over the top of a reality, that makes things look very different. Viewing the same thing while fully and uncritically socialized into the patriarchy and while cognizant of its falsity creates two very different pictures.She is constantly blowing my fucking mind. So go read the whole thing. Soak in the delicious warmth and magic of the feminist-o-sphere, though it has been going through a rough patch lately, it is still full of knowledge and passion. Though, let's be honest, I'll probably return to bitching about Pluggers tomorrow.
*Yeah, I know she's been embroiled in this "her book has racist imagery illustrating it" controversy, but she apologized, and I think is sincerely embarrassed and penitent. I still haven't cracked my copy of her book because I've had a pile of awesomeness I compulsively bought off Amazon/checked out of the library first, but I look forward to be offended by the pictures and hopefully enjoying the writing despite it. And that's really all I have to say about that. An interesting take from The Apostate about the whole thing (who I found via Bitch Ph.D. and am really digging), though she does take a shot at dear Hugo Schwyzer, whose sensitivity I find to be sweet and certainly well-earned. And this is why I sometimes fail to engage in blogging about the beauty that can be found in the feminist blogosphere: it can get a little crazy, and I have to spend all this time linking everybody ever. And my laziness is legendary.
**Also, anyone who uses "evolutionary psychology" to explain modern gender relations is pretty much automatically an asshole who is trying to come up with scientific reasoning for their sexist bullshit.
***No, it is not prejudiced to characterize homophobes as backwoods know-nothing-types. Or maybe it is, and I just don't care because I both fear and loathe rednecks and homobigots, and I enjoy conflating the two as one because STEREOTYPES ARE FUN AND EASY. I should write advertising for stereotypes.