Daily Archives: August 9th, 2009

Quote of the day: misogynist hate crimes

From Reclusive Leftist:

The obvious reason for this disparity [not recognising the Pennsylvania massacre as a hate crime against women] is that America takes racism seriously (or at least pretends to), but considers sexism either a myth or a joke or both. But there’s a deeper reason at work: people understand racism as the result of historical processes and social conditioning, which it is. Sexism, on the other hand, along with its gun-toting twin, misogyny, is vaguely thought to be something natural and universal. But that’s bullshit: decades of research have shown that patriarchy is not universal, and that attitudes towards women are profoundly linked to how much power women have in a given society.

And that’s why it exasperates me to see David Gilmore quoted. Gilmore believes, as did Freud, that all men everywhere have always despised women, and that this is an unavoidable result of the fact that women are mommies and men need to get laid. He rejects feminist analysis as politically-motivated and irrational, and is blissfully unaware of the last half-century of anthropology. Don’t get me wrong: it is certainly possible that there’s something intrinsic to the male psyche that helps explain the widespread incidence of misogyny and male supremacism in human culture, and it would be interesting to inquire into what that might be. But Gilmore goes about it all wrong. He starts with the assumption that misogyny is universal and ahistorical and can’t be explained by social analysis (certainly not by feminism), and then uses a set of incomplete and obsolete data points to buttress that assumption. The result is that he ends up diagnosing misogyny as some kind of native psychosis that can perhaps be ameliorated, but never eliminated.

There’s another word for something that is universal, ahistorical, inexplicable by social analysis, and can never be eliminated: natural.

EDIT: Ann Bartow, at Feminist Law Professors, has a good round up of the commentary on this.