Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny
Kate Manne, Oxford University Press, 2019, Non-fiction
Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, by Kate Manne, is a compilation of research on misogyny, with examples from literature and lived realities. Although filled with endless examples of men behaving badly (and coddled by women trained to see it as normal), the book is short on hope, a fact the author acknowledges. The reader is left to create solutions.
Despite being a textbook, the author uses metaphors that create mind-pictures the reader will carry throughout the reading: women as “human giving”; the lunacy of “fighting fire with oxygen just because we blow out lit candles”; describing the surplus of credibility enjoyed by men as “himpathy.”
She opens by defining misogyny as a self-masking phenomenon and “the law enforcement branch of a patriarchal order.”
The book gets denser (and tenser) as she explores the effects of misogyny on women, pulling from notable examples of misogyny as practiced by Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump, and as subsequently experienced by Sandra Fluke and Hilary Clinton (as well as women on the sidelines rooting for Limbaugh and Trump’s demise). The bottom line is Rush lost a few advertisers and eventually apologized (sort of) and Trump was elected to the presidency, in large part, by white women who “himpathized” with him as a son, brother, uncle and business ally.
This book is recommended for those looking to understand the complex dynamics of how misogyny exists in a society that is free to create rules, then break, revise and reform them, yet does not.
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