Over the course of my career, I have written a lot about misogyny, and I am always sensitive to it when I hear about it from clients or see it in my personal life.
There’s no question that there are some men who hate women, and I’ve found that misogyny is taught and sustained by the larger society. A part of what makes misogyny so dangerous — and not just immoral or unjust — is that men are generally physically stronger than women and can thus dominate and injure them much more severely than women can with men.
1. Any kind of past abuse history in which he was the perpetrator.
The most prevalent, dangerous, and sinister manifestation of the hatred some men have towards women is found with rates of physical and sexual abuse and assault by men on women. If a man physically or sexually abused a woman in the past, he is typically a man who was taught, somewhere in his early life, to devalue and dominate women, and even physically harm them to sustain power and control over them.
Years ago when the media highlighted the alleged physical abuse of pop singer Chris Brown on fellow singer Rihanna, I heard many people talk about how he was “evil” and a “horrible person.” I’m not minimizing the destructiveness of physical abuse, but most of these types of men either witnessed domestic violence in their own families or were subject to major losses and psychological traumas when they were young and impressionable.
Most men who actively, currently, or in the future will physically abuse a woman do it because they developed over time a hatred for women and a wish to subjugate them or punish them. (Note that I have also worked firsthand with many men in the community mental health system who got help from a professional, did the work, and have never hit a woman since, so I know well that this isn’t a problem that reflects a permanent curse for men because these behaviors can be changed.)
2. Talking about other women — whether people in their social circle or random women he sees on the street or in a store — in a critical or nasty way.
As a personal rule in my life, I will always say something in defense when someone says something racist or sexist. I’m sure it annoys some people but I think we all have to stick up for each other and remind each other when we’ve gotten a little insensitive or ruthless.
In the same way I and many other people find it sickening and pathetic when anyone makes fun of an overweight person, for example, I similarly think talking about women in a nasty and highly objective way is both childish and ignorant. Men who hate women will make cruel comments about women as if there is intense energy or anger behind it. Name-calling — using terms like the b-word, w-ore, and even gold digger — are often manifestations of hatred for women.
3. A general sexual style that is rough or object-oriented.
It’s not always fair or even meaningful to analyze or judge others’ sexual proclivities, but a sexual style that has a dominant theme of roughness and objectification usually indicates aggression and, often, a hostile view or hatred toward women.
In other words, if someone asks a partner if it’s okay to push the bounds and get aggressive or rough in a rare moment, it doesn’t necessarily indicate something pathological. But when roughness and objectification is the go-to sexual approach, it often shows a negative view of women as objects to be dominated.
Women who have male sex partners who always want to be rough or extremely dominating should think a lot about how that man feels toward women — and them — at root.
Men who hate women don’t hate all women; they usually have a set, rigid view in their mind of what most women are really like at their core (perhaps unfaithful, selfish, or untrustworthy). Part of the ongoing challenge for women in the dating world must be to look for a man who trusts that most women — like most men — are good and kind, and to avoid men altogether who display overly dominating traits and beliefs.
Ultimately, be careful!
This article was originally published at eHarmony. Reprinted with permission from the author.