The Logic of Misogyny
Oxford University Press 2017
NBN SeminarNew Books in Big IdeasNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 25, 2017 Lilian Calles Barger
Kate Manne is an assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell University. As a feminist and moral philosopher, Manne examines an idea that has been inadequately addressed in her book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford University Press, 2017). She argues that misogyny is on the wane as a working concept and situates her analysis in recent news stories and events. She offers a definition that is not psychological but rather considers it a system of social control. Manne brings a fresh analysis to our understanding of “misogyny” and the related term “sexism.” Misogyny is selective because it targets those who fail to uphold the patriarchal standards of a woman’s place in a masculine world and works as the policing and enforcement branch of the ideology of sexism. Women caught in “asymmetrical moral support” roles are expected to offer respect, deference, admiration, and gratitude to favorably situated men and provide, especially elite men, with comfort, care, and sexual and emotional labor in many different situations. Misogyny shows up in conversation; office politics; and the dispensation of favors flowing from a man’s relative status, wealth, or celebrity. Rewards come to those who comply. In this scenario, women act as human givers rather than full and equal human beings. Manne’s book is one for the moment.
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology forthcoming in 2018 from Oxford University Press.