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Words Mean Things: @kate_manne and the Elastic Definition of ‘Misogyny’

Posted on | July 12, 2016 | 64 Comments

“I worry that the word ‘reason,’ being as heavily masculine-coded as it is, functions as a kind of buzzword.”
Kate Manne, Ph.D., January 2016

Misogyny is “the system which operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women‘s subordination, and to uphold male dominance,” according to Cornell University Professor Kate Manne. Thus, a sentiment — misogyny actually means hatred of women — is transmogrified into a “system” through the magic of feminist rhetoric.

“Misogyny” is one of those slanderous insults that feminists fling around so habitually and haphazardly as to be meaningless, the way “rape culture” now means almost anything a heterosexual man says or does. Yet no man can object to such insults, nor protest against this slander, without bringing upon himself the suspicion of guilt. The anti-male propaganda of feminist rhetoric is part of a psychological warfare strategy, one which routinely employs “Kafkatrapping” tactics, where denying the accusation is considered proof of guilt. Males exist only as demonized scapegoats in the feminist imagination, as I have explained:

Feminism provides an analytical framework within which almost any aspect of male behavior can be viewed as “problematic” — yet another example of misogyny, “male entitlement,” etc. — so that every man the feminist encounters is viewed as a suspect, a likely perpetrator of sexism, and she is a detective on the case, gathering evidence to indict him.

Feminism condemns all men as complicit in patriarchal oppression, and nothing so conclusively proves a man’s active role in this conspiracy as when he commits the crime of disagreeing with a feminist. The paranoid circularity of Feminist Logic™ is so obvious that it is frightening to think that Cornell University (annual tuition $49,116) would hire a fanatical ideologue like Kate Manne for a tenure-track position, but let’s read more of Doctor Manne’s definition of “misogyny”:

[M]isogyny is primarily a property of social systems or environments as a whole, in which women will tend to face hostility of various kinds because they are women in a man’s world (i.e., a patriarchy), who are held to be failing to live up to men‘s standards (i.e., tenets of patriarchal ideology which have some purchase in this environment). Because of this, misogynist hostilities will often target women more selectively, rather than targeting women across the board. And individual agents may harbor these hostilities for numerous different reasons; the full psychological explanation of their attitudes and actions will also vary widely. Such hostilities may alternatively have their source in the actions, practices, and policies of broader social institutions. What these hostilities are required to have in common is the above social-cum-structural explanation: i.e., roughly, they must be part of a system that polices, punishes, dominates, and condemns those women deemed to be an enemy or threat to the patriarchy.

If you encountered an ordinary person spewing such gibberish — mumbling to themselves at a bus station about “misogynist hostilities” — you’d figure them for a kook on the brink of a psychotic breakdown. However, Kate Mannes has a Ph.D. from MIT, so her gibberish will be published in a book by a major university press. Among other targets, Doctor Mannes takes aim at Heather Mac Donald:

Finally, there is no conflict between social progress for women and misogynist aggression towards them, contra Heather Mac Donald. Progress and misogyny are perfectly compatible. As each of my main examples in this paper has suggested in their own way, and as my analysis predicts, the former may be precisely what engenders the latter, in the form of backlash. That is, women may be resented and punished precisely because they are achieving rapid progress in certain areas. Some women‘s success in hitherto male-dominated roles, as well as their abandonment of traditionally feminine-coded forms of care work, would be predicted on my account to make them the targets for misogynist aggression. And this is what we find. Misogyny often stems from the desire to take women down, to put them in their place again. So the higher they climb, the farther they may be made to fall because of it. But the women who rise up and the women who fall down may not be identical. The glass ceiling may be broken; but then, there may be smack-down. And some women may be hit by the shards of glass following others escalation.

In other words, the more women succeed, the more men hate women, so that no matter how much actual equality may be achieved, there will never be a point in the future when feminists stop claiming to be victims.

Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t — feminism is a lose-lose proposition all the way around, with increasing hostility between men and women as the necessary byproduct of “progress.” Why? Because modern feminism is derived from Marxism, i.e., “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Feminists simply substitute patriarchy for capitalism as the oppressive system to be destroyed in the prophesied revolutionary apocalypse that will usher in a future egalitarian utopia. Nothing good ever comes from such radicalism, but Doctor Manne teaches philosophy, not history, so the blood-stained record of Marxist-Leninist regimes in the 20th century does nothing to deter her dreams of dictatorial feminist power in the 21st century. And speaking of feminist dictators . . .

Hillary Clinton is a victim of misogyny, according to Doctor Manne: “When Hillary Clinton behaves as other politicians do, or changes her positions, she is perceived as more dishonest and as having less integrity.” Accusations of wrongdoing against Hillary “are feeding into gendered tropes and stereotypes as old as misogyny itself — e.g., of the woman who can’t be trusted, and to whom we hence don’t have to listen,” according to Doctor Manne. Just as no one can criticize Barack Obama without being accused of racism, now the Clinton campaign is planning to make the 2016 election a litmus test of sexism, and Doctor Manne has published a 5,000-word opus in The Boston Review that depicts Donald Trump as the living embodiment of misogyny:

Trump’s blunt kind of misogyny is a good place to start in understanding the general phenomenon. It is so crude, shameless, and unapologetic that we run little risk of getting lost in its nuances. But we must ask the natural next question: What happens to misogyny when it acquires a little subtlety or goes underground and manages more by way of plausible deniability?
The answer, all too often, is that it is transformed into moralistic forms — which are not . . . historical artifacts. What unites these varieties of misogyny, past and present, and moralistic and non-moralistic alike, is that they enforce the patriarchal order by lifting men up and taking down women. . . .

Four thousand words later, Doctor Manne concludes by wondering whether some “progressive” men will join the misogynistic backlash:

It is not difficult to see why misogynistic aggression might coexist with progressive commitments. Many white men, including those who espouse egalitarian and progressive values — even those who pride themselves on being good feminists — have recently experienced a loss of power and status relative to nonwhites and white women. Some are in denial. And some are angry. Some are lashing out in grief cloaked in outrage.
The strength of these forces will become clearer in November. I confess that I am not optimistic about the outcome. Electing Trump would strike a major blow for patriarchal restoration. Misogynistic social forces are hence pushing in this direction. And if Clinton does win, she will have to govern in the face of a revanchism intensified by Trump’s defeat. Another fear is that the least privileged and most vulnerable women will bear the brunt of the trickle-down aggression.
We will see soon enough. But insofar as there is a distinctively modern strain of misogyny, it is this: the backlash to women’s social progress and to feminism.

What? Does the professor mean that Republicans complaining about Trump are against “patriarchal restoration”? As a leading spokesman for misogynistic social forces, this is very disturbing to me. If the GOP isn’t going to do its part to enforce the patriarchal order, who will?

At least I’m not one of those pathetic progressive dudes “who espouse egalitarian and progressive values” and “pride themselves on being good feminists” while they suffer “loss of power and status,” etc. Equality is impossible, social justice is a mirage, and Progress Is the Root of All Evil.

Of course, nobody who hopes to get tenure at Cornell University would dare speak such blunt truths, and Doctor Manne finds herself surrounded by male faculty members who never dare say a word against her feminist ideology. Their timorous silence probably leads her to suspect that her male colleagues are all secretly plotting to uphold their dominance and enforce her subordination. One reason paranoia is so typical of academic feminism is simply because no one on campus is permitted to dissent. Every member of the faculty and administration at an Ivy League school like Cornell is expected to sing from the Diversity Hymnal, and if any of them privately harbor doubts about “egalitarian and progressive values,” they know they would be persona non grata on campus if they ever gave voice to any skeptical opinion toward feminism. Yet surely not everyone at Cornell shares Doctor Manne’s fanatical zeal, and her ideology tells her that “even [men] who pride themselves on being good feminists” are apt to join the “backlash to women’s social progress.” So who is this Judas at Cornell who will betray her? Which member of the faculty may even now be secretly sabotaging Doctor Manne’s path to tenure?


Madness looms as fear haunts the feminist imagination. Last year, an academic philosophy journal rejected one of Doctor Manne’s articles, which caused her to erupt in a memorable Facebook conniption:

I received a rejection notice from a journal yesterday. This is a pretty routine occurrence in this game, admittedly. Acceptance rates are notoriously low in philosophy; well under five per cent in the top journals. So you have to learn to accept the rejections themselves gracefully. And much as you slightly dread reading the reports, they can be valuable, even invaluable, in making the paper better. They can help to expose unclarities in your claims, gaps in your argument, etc. But sometimes, they simply confirm that you are fighting a losing battle.
This referee report was one such. The reviewer complained about my use of feminist terms and concepts throughout the paper — e.g., “hegemonic dominance”, “messages that are not only false but oppressive,” and “hermeneutical injustice,” being the specific phrases which they listed as objectionable. And they went on to remark more generally that “the rhetoric of the ms. is such that it will, I think, (1) turn off some readers and (2) distract from the author’s argument. The author brings in some concepts and language which, whatever their merits, seem dubious to many of us in the analytic tradition.”
As a feminist philosopher in the analytic tradition, this is a very disappointing reaction to encounter. Many of us — me included — take the above terms and concepts to be standard, useful, and indeed vital, stock-in-trade. And the people who the reviewer feared would be so “turned off” by the language as to be “distracted” from my argument seem to include the reviewer themselves, ironically. They not only managed to completely miss, but handily illustrated, my central point in the paper. The point being that if one espouses politically marginalized views within philosophy, then one is disproportionately likely to be dismissed, disparaged, silenced, or even excluded from the discipline altogether. One is less likely to be given a platform in leading journals, for one concrete example, in view of which one is of course less likely to be able to earn a living wage, let alone get tenure.
Taken alone, my experience is just one data point, of course. But recent work by Sally Haslanger, among others, strongly suggests that it is not anomalous. Feminist philosophy is virtually absent, and plausibly systematically excluded, from top journals, she argues.

You see? Feminism is “politically marginalized” and Doctor Manne is a victim — dismissed, disparaged, silenced and excluded! — of misogyny.

She’s only three or four years away from tenure now, so her dreadful ordeal on the “publish-or-perish” treadmill will soon be over. And if Cornell votes against tenure for Doctor Manne?

Federal lawsuit, guaranteed. She’s probably got a massive cache of evidence already. Every email or text message from any of her faculty colleagues that could plausibly be interpreted as “sexist” is stored somewhere, in anticipation of a future Title IX claim against Cornell. Why are feminists so common in academia and so rare in the private sector? No major business could survive in this litigation-happy country if managers didn’t carefully screen applications to make sure they don’t hire any woman with Gender Studies classes on her college transcripts. Any involvement in campus “activism” is likewise a red flag in the hiring process. The activist mentality represents a potential threat of lawsuits claiming “discrimination,” “hostile work environment,” etc., and companies would go broke paying settlements if they hired kooks who use social-justice jargon like “hegemonic dominance.”

This is the real tragedy of elite education in the 21st century. Parents pay $49,116 a year to send their kids to Cornell, hoping that an Ivy League education will qualify their child for successful careers, and instead the kids are being indoctrinated in bizarre “progressive” nonsense that renders students incapable of functioning in the real world. Honestly, what parent would want their child to turn out like Alanna Bennett, who went to Oberlin College (annual tuition $50,586) and ended up ranting about Ghostbusters at BuzzFeed?

“Hey, how’s your daughter doing?”

“She’s got an apartment and a cat and a job writing for BuzzFeed.”

“My condolences.”

Redefining words — so that “misogyny” is now simply a synonym for something a feminist dislikes — won’t change reality. What it will do is make it more difficult for allegedly “educated” people to understand why the world doesn’t conform to what they have been taught by the ideological commissars who control higher education in this country.



64 Responses to “Words Mean Things: @kate_manne and the Elastic Definition of ‘Misogyny’”

  1. DeadMessenger
    July 13th, 2016 @ 10:15 pm

    In reality, she imposes victimhood upon others.

  2. thesickmanofeurope_com
    July 14th, 2016 @ 12:21 am

    I suppose this is our own UK version of VAWA…
    May as well have a GoPro with you whenever you are dealing with women?

  3. Joe Joe
    July 14th, 2016 @ 1:09 am

    “Misogyny is “the system which operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women‘s subordination, and to uphold male dominance,” according to Cornell University Professor Kate Manne. Thus, a sentiment — misogyny actually means hatred of women — is transmogrified into a “system” through the magic of feminist rhetoric.”


    You really need to look at what has been done with the word “Racism.” It exactly parallels what has been done with “Misogyny” here. Instead of being a personal feeling or attitude, both words are now about “the system” which is, of course, connected to capitalism. This is the way you get a need to overthrown the current system and put the NWO in.

    Read this thread on Democratic Underground and see how the definition of “Racism” has been transformed. It’s an interesting discussion:

    Also check this out:

  4. DeadMessenger
    July 14th, 2016 @ 1:45 am

    When you say “dealing with women” do you mean dealing with myself, or with other women? I suppose I could work some GoPro selfies in case I harass myself. Maybe I could hit on myself, then call myself a basement dwelling rapey misogynist, and get it all on video. Perhaps I could file a nuisance lolsuit against myself afterward. I could have fun with that, but they’d probably go ahead and commit me at that point.

  5. Dana
    July 14th, 2016 @ 5:56 am

    Well, p’raps if it is pronounced ‘inconveniently’ for her, she could marry a guy named Wo, then hyphenate to Dr Wo-Manne.

  6. Dana
    July 14th, 2016 @ 6:06 am

    Perhaps I’m not looking at the definition expansively enough, but I’m finding it difficult to see someone in a tenure-track professorship at Cornell as being “marginalized.”

  7. Mark Reardon
    July 14th, 2016 @ 9:10 am

    I gave up being ashamed of my fat years ago, however, I did shave off my neckbeard in the 80’s

  8. gunga
    July 14th, 2016 @ 9:16 am

    Well, THAT would certainly have been an interesting! Pretty sure one could get more sustenance suckling from an ironing board than the breast of a vegan runway model. Definitely sure it would earn me a down pillow pressed lovingly to my face as I slept till I slipped into the bony embrace of the Grim Reaper…who has only a slightly lower body-fat percentage than a vegan runway model.

  9. gunga
    July 14th, 2016 @ 10:10 am

    Said something very much like that to the man. Yeah, it’s filed under, “Information I could have used YESTERDAY!”

  10. gunga
    July 14th, 2016 @ 10:30 am

    Again, an idea that I could have used YESTERDAY! All kidding aside and with no misogyny intended, it was a top E&A firm in the middle of the 1990’s, so…that would mean accounting or personnel…ooooooooo…(secret: we paid the women more than the men).

  11. Anathema24
    July 14th, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

    Not her. That’s Anne Manne; do a google image search.

  12. jakee308
    July 14th, 2016 @ 9:28 pm

    The only way to win with “Feminists” is to not play their game.

    Once they announce their mindset (and there’s so many tells and clues that you’d have to be brain dead to miss them all) then it’s up to self protecting males to high tail it away from them, their friends, their hangouts.

    It’s tough because they’re seemingly everywhere but the places where they congregate are not really conducive to meeting decent, good women.

    If you’re looking for a mental patient sleigh ride then just stick around but don’t go whining to me when they charge you with rape or some such next year.

  13. jakee308
    July 14th, 2016 @ 9:30 pm


    Racism now means any criticism or negative portryal of a Black Person EVEN IF IT’S THE TRUTH. And thus is Misogyny been hijacked by the rhetoric of the radical Feminists.

    Liberals are all about word games. It’s one way to smoke them out if they’re trying to lie low or you aren’t sure of their true selves.

  14. News of the Week (July 17th, 2016) | The Political Hat
    July 17th, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

    […] Words Mean Things: @kate_manne and the Elastic Definition of “Misogyny” Misogyny is “the system which operates within a patriarchal social order to police and enforce women’s subordination, and to uphold male dominance,” according to Cornell University Professor Kate Manne. Thus, a sentiment — misogyny actually means hatred of women – is transmogrified into a “system” through the magic of feminist rhetoric. […]