If you want to know what a misogynist is, listen to what Bob has to say

MisogynyMisogyny, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a hatred of women.” That’s it. Nothing subtle, just a hatred of women. Unfortunately, the word is often applied in situations where it’s not really warranted. People may confuse chauvinism (“an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex”) with misogyny, or simply not understand it means a person who hates, not just a person who thinks they’re better than someone else.

Learning the difference was important to me as a survivor of rape and domestic violence, because of how misogyny typically presents itself. The most frequent topic for misogynists is victim blaming, especially victims of sexual and/or domestic violence. We’ve seen examples of misogyny from conservative men and women, but I had never met anyone who claimed to be a liberal exhibit pure, unadulterated misogyny. Until this past week.

On Wednesday, my friend Christopher Warren posted an astonishing question to his Facebook page. He asked his friends who among us had ever been raped, and if we had reported it or not. What you have to understand is Chris does this a lot; he is a student of the world around him, and he often pushes his friends to think and react in a way they may not have before. Many friends responded truthfully, sometimes posting very short answers (like mine), others posting heartbreaking and powerful comments. It was an incredibly frightening thread, and yet, Chris made sure everyone participating felt safe.

My guess is, some time between the end of Wednesday’s conversation and Thursday morning, Chris realized the Facebook post may have triggered some unpleasant memories for the people who participated. Thursday, he shared another status, and began putting links to resources on his page. It was a very empathetic reaction to what might have been traumatic for someone on Wednesday. And it was on this post, the post thanking the people who answered so honestly, and pointing out that blaming or judging is never the right thing to do, that Bob appeared.

Bob’s first comment was “As insensitive as I know I sound, people that do not report an alleged sexual assault but whine and feel guilt about it 20 years later are very much part of the problem.” This rang warning bells not only in my head, but in the heads of other women on the thread. This sounded like misogyny. Was it? Or would Bob’s future comments clarify his language and choice of words (whine, alleged)?

The bells turned to tornado sirens as the conversation continued. Bob proceeded to blame the mother of the Steubenville rape victim for not wanting to subject her daughter to everything she knew would happen if they went public. He wrote “pfft” in regards to asking men to change; in other words, men rape, deal with it. Bob also blamed rape culture on “radical feminism in America.” And there it was. Feminism is toxic to a misogynist; women are horrible, and deserve to be treated as badly as possible.

Rehtaeh Parsons, misogyny
Rehtaeh Parsons

It got much, much worse. Bob tried to assign blame to Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year old who committed suicide after being gang raped, for her own attack, writing:

Take the girl in eastern Canada that ended up killing herself. After being “raped” at a party by boys as drunk and younger than she, three days later she reported the “rape” once she found out the photos were making the rounds. Terrible thing but denying her accountability in this is not healthy!

At this point, I had to walk away because Chris enjoys civility on his threads, and I was feeling anything but civil. Misogyny is not just a casual belief, it is the support of violence against women. It is laughing at a meme that depicts a woman tied up and gagged as asking for it. It is cheering when a woman is beaten or threatened. One woman who was involved in the conversation had finally had enough and called Bob a “backwards troll.” I have to admit, I kind of agreed with that. Bob responded by calling her the word that rhymes with “bunt.” Another siren went off in my head.

That’s the go-to word, you see. If Rush Limbaugh could get away with saying that word on the air, he would scream it with great joy. That word is steeped in hate and violence. When my abuser would hit me, he called me that word. Anyone who enjoys misogyny loves that word. Chris removed Bob’s comment, and Bob later “apologized” by explaining he was tired of being called a troll. Well, gee Bob, when you pop into a conversation with survivors of rape and begin blaming survivors of rape, what do you expect? Roses and a pony?

Misogyny, cartoonMany of Bob’s comments read like a racist trying to deny his or her racism. You know, the “I have black friends, but” lines. Another example of Bob’s misogyny was his frequent and disdainful reference to feminism. I was asked if “they” told me in “feminist church” that “people opposed to feminism support rape.” I resisted the urge to throw my computer out the window.

Other women on the thread were posting brilliant, emotional and raw responses to Bob, including a woman who put Bob into the position of a rape victim. She walked him through the scenario, had him violently assaulted on the hood of a car, and posited what would happen if he called the police. Bob as the victim knew his attackers; they were friends of his and they had offered him a ride home from the bar. Bob’s response was:

Rape is a terrible thing but adding in militant feminist group think on the subject it’s a lot taking a dislike for texting to the point of shooting someone.

See what Bob did there? Bob told a woman who was trying to drag some empathy out of his misogyny that she was adding “militant feminist group think” to the conversation and compared attempting to find his soul to the Florida shooting of a dad in a movie theater.

This is misogyny. This is not chauvinism, this is not a casual problem, this is a man who represents hundreds of thousands of men and women in America (and millions all over the world) who think people like me are responsible for our own sexual assaults. Let me leave you with my final piece of evidence. Again, from Bob.

No one deserves to have their home broken into but we can help the situation by at least locking the door. There needs to be a respectable balance found between “victim blaming” and “just being a man” blaming.

It’s our fault, ladies, because we didn’t lock our vaginas. Welcome to Misogyny 101.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Why is no one talking about Facebook’s profile “questions”?? This is the sick pop up from FB regarding finishing filling out mine.
    “Where do you work?
    Your profile is 44% complete
    Full Sail University
    Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles
    I don’t have a job right now
    This info won’t appear on your profile
    Enter an employer”

  2. Rehtaeh Parson died. It is a pity that Bob and all the Bobs in this world are not yet dead. Maybe we need some guerrilla girls and some material for bombs.

  3. Is there a way to have this man raped and then have him look for support while he tries to deal with hateful attitudes like his own?

  4. Generally? Anybody who prefaces their comment with “I’m not racist or sexist,” is about to say something horribly racist or sexist. And, just FYI, one should always spellcheck any sentence for unintentional ironies such as “I hat all stupid people.” Or else you come off looking like a complete loser asshat motherfucker.

  5. Bob also apparently thinks that only men are rapists, and only women are victims. I think the big issue with the one who tried to get empathy was she was trying to get Bob to acknowledge that a man could be raped. That implies a weakness to his belief that men are superior and also makes things not simple by saying more than one sex can be the assaulter, or the victim.

    Overall I liked the article but I do disagree with you on one topic, the use of the word c*** (out of respect for your obvious dislike of the word I’m censoring myself but it’s not something I normally do). Maybe because I’ve grown up watching so much Brittish cinema (tv and movies) that I don’t have an aversion to it. The word doesn’t have the same connotation or taboo nature in England as it does in the US. The word itself isn’t inherently bad, just as any word isn’t. It’s the intent and mindset of the user that gives it negative, hurtful, racist, sexist, or homophobic power. To use a counter-example in the US we use “fanny” as a quaint and ‘censor friendly’ term for the butt. In Australia and England though it is a rude, and deemed offensive, term for a vagina.

    When we try to accuse a word of inherent morality we need to keep in mind that the word may not have the same use, meaning, or acceptability in every culture. I can understand that for you it is a trigger word, especially as it was used against you as verbal violence to go along with physical violence, and that is why I have avoided using it other than once (and censored) despite it making my discussion a bit more awkward and harder to follow.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of verbal and physical hate so I know how even words can have a personal impact that others may not understand. I don’t want to say your reaction isn’t valid, I just caution you not to extend the use of the word by everyone to have the same intent because it’s the broad brush approach to things that fuels hatred, bigotry, and grave misunderstandings.

    • We did tell Bob that men are raped. He ignored that completely. As to the word, it is the go to word for misogynists. Many words are used in comedy that have a completely different effect when, for example, they are being screamed at you while you are being punched. Or whispered in your ear while you are being raped. Or typed at you all in caps after you are called a stupid bitch and a whore. When Chris Rock uses the “N” word in his routines, it has a different meaning than if 5 white people are yelling it at an black man while hitting him. Monty Python has a great routine where a man cannot say the letter C. I laugh when he says “What a silly bunt.” I do not laugh when a flaming misogynist calls me that word simply because I believe survivors of rape and domestic violence deserve support and respect rather than derision and hate.

      • Well said and this will be a Sunday Share for me..the victim blaming in our country is out of control..and the entire anti women, women are less, women are stupid, women are asking for it mindset is common in all media, thereby making it more acceptable to “punch the bitch.”

    • I cannot even begin to understand why you would insert a conversation for cultural context here. It’s not relevant to this conversation. Bob used the term to demean his target, not to refer to a vagina during an anatomy lesson. Regardless of your lack of charge on the term, clearly he was reducing the worth of a human being to the use of one body part. This is an important conversation to be had. Please try to stay on topic.

      • The point I was trying to make is that in the context of the original post this particular word was implied to ALWAYS be a misogynistic term and that anyone using it is obviously a misogynist. I was just pointing out that outside of the US the term doesn’t have as strong of a negative connotation as it does in the US and that the person using and their cultural background need to be taken into account (I suspect Bob is from the US so in his case he did mean it the way the author took it, but does that mean half the cast of Brittish television are misogynists because they use it with the same level of meaning as we use fuck). Maybe I’m just a little sensitive to these things considering I’ve been called a misogynist just for being gay (because apparently if I have no sexual attraction to women I must hate them). I’m just concerned of people “painting with a wide brush”.

  6. The first sign is the fallacious logic he used. False dilemmas, a red herring and straw man. The whole purpose is to pivot or jack the thread. I see it all the time and try to jack the jack, if you will. This buffoon would have been no more trouble than scraping the bottom of my shoe.

  7. Dear Erin

    I feel exactly the same way you do. Rape culture is a horrific disease that needs to be confronted head on. We, as men, must reexamine ourselves, ALL OF US, in regards to how we operate as the complimentary half of humanity.

    I was actually subjected to inappropriate touching as a kid when changing after swimming classes. It was not by a coach or teacher but by a fellow classmate. I’ve never liked being touched by anyone since, not even by family members except when hugged. I don’t even like touching other people, part of this stemming from knowledge of my experience, as minor as it might have been.

    I’ve seen this sick attitude from guys when playing sports in high school and early college. While the last time I played sports showed little of this, I’ve heard all kinds of obscene remarks about women that, looking back on it, were unbelievably vile. They often displayed a distorted, and vile attitude towards women and the ‘teammates’ often described young women in terms of ‘dat ass’, or ‘hubba hubba’. I can’t claim to have been immune from certain aspects of this in the past, but even then, I was appalled by this mentality to the point that I actually quit playing college sports and returned to YMCA intramural sports.

    Simply put, this mysogyny almost always comes from men, and in the early 21st century, our current sports culture is rife with this. Look at NASCAR. Many of the women are often dressed in heavily provocative ‘clothing’ that less-intelligent folks among us would view in terms of words I refuse to use on this post.

    The Steubenville incident had to be among the most disgusting and vile cases I had heard about since the Penn State abuse scandal. That the football players actually laughed about it just left me so heartbroken, as a 30-year old male at the time, that I almost had to go to therapy as I was so disgusted and it reminded me of what I went through.

    So, when I see posts like what you did, I have to salute you, and other ladies for standing up to this sickening mindset. As a 31-year old male, seeing Steubenville and Marryville cases erupt, the tepid responses to them, and all of the anti-woman legislation being written all over the country, I might as well be 95 years old and ready to lay down and die.

    We as men, seriously need to take a hard look in the mirror, and see what we’ve become, or at least chart a path out of the sickness that we’ve been having for centuries, if not millenia and bring an end to it.

    I’ll end this post here for now but having read your post, I have to say Congradulations and a wonderful, even if very painful post to read.

    Sincerely Yours

    Mike C

    • Mike-First, thank you for sharing such a powerful and personal event. Secondly, when people like Bob display their misogyny, they hurt both men and women who have survived sexual assault and/or domestic violence. By screeching their hate, the Bobs of the world make it more difficult for men who have real issues, real problems, to be heard. And finally, survivors are more powerful than the Bobs. We have fought through darkness and pain, and here we are. YOU are more powerful than the hate and derision and the abuse. Don’t ever give up, and if you’d like to connect with other survivors, both male and female, please follow me on Facebook, and check out my page, We Are Legitimate, a safe place for survivors and our allies. Peace.

    • We were too, at first. It was a rough thread. But out of that thread came new friendships and a feeling of empowerment as we stood united against Bob. Men and women came forward and pretty much shut him down, and the energy was amazing. Yes, Bob’s a nasty piece of work. Maybe seeing what he wrote, really seeing it, will incite some self-reflection for Bob. Whatever he chooses to do, the people on the original thread are stronger for having been able to join together in support of one another.

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