Topic: The Four Faces of Misogyny

Misogyny is often mistaken for a psychological condition, specifically, as the “undifferentiated hatred towards all women.” Rejecting this definition, Kate Manne (2017) has recently argued that misogyny is “the law enforcement branch of a patriarchal order.” In other words, misogyny is better understood as a system of constraints that sanction non-compliant women. For Manne, misogyny regulates and produces gender inequalities primarily through punishments. 

In this paper, I argue for an alternative way of identifying and evaluating misogyny, using what I call the four faces of misogyny. The four faces of misogyny are silencing, gender stereotypes, devaluation, and objectification.   

This argument draws on Iris Marion Young’s classic work “The Five Faces of Oppression.” Young recommends understanding oppression (and thereby injustice) by identifying its five faces (violence, marginalization, cultural imperialism, exploitation, and powerlessness). Having experienced any one of these faces of oppression is sufficient for being oppressed.

While Young’s work is an invaluable starting point for naming and identifying oppression, it is also important to update her categories in light of contemporary configurations of injustices as well as certain advancements in political theory.  More specifically, an important insight from the literature on intersectionality is that privileges and disadvantages can be produced simultaneously. In other words, a person can be both advanced and constrained by his or her group membership. As a result, it is important to recognize misogyny not only as a system of punishment but also as a system of rewards to compliant women. Misogyny incentivizes compliance. To help illuminate the connections between complicity and misogyny, I recommend recognizing the four faces of misogyny: silencing, gender stereotypes, devaluation, and objectification. 

We welcome faculty, students, and staff of the Philosophy and Moral Science Departments as well as members of the wider University community.