Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny

Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny

Misogyny is a hot topic, yet it's often misunderstood. What is misogyny, exactly? Who deserves to be called a misogynist? How does misogyny contrast with sexism, and why is it prone to persist--or increase--even when sexist gender roles are waning? This book is an exploration of misogyny in public life and politics, by the moral philosopher and writer Kate Manne. It argues...

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Title:Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny
Author:Kate Manne
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Edition Language:English

Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny Reviews

  • Haley

    Read. This. Book.

  • Paul

    This is a brilliant academic treatise on man's inhumanity to woman. It should be required reading for every feminist. After a thorough treatment of academic and historical instances of misogyny, the author somewhat despairs of its ever being replaced by egalitarian discourse, much less behavior. I remember reading once that men are afraid that women will laugh at them, whereas women are afraid that men will kill them. Manne reviews several instances where husbands killed their wives basically ou

    This is a brilliant academic treatise on man's inhumanity to woman. It should be required reading for every feminist. After a thorough treatment of academic and historical instances of misogyny, the author somewhat despairs of its ever being replaced by egalitarian discourse, much less behavior. I remember reading once that men are afraid that women will laugh at them, whereas women are afraid that men will kill them. Manne reviews several instances where husbands killed their wives basically out of fear of being humiliated.

    The essence of the problem is that women are only allowed by society to be carers and givers, but if they presume to be alphas, they are immediately discounted and vilified. (See Clinton, Hillary; Warren, Elizabeth, and hosts of others). The attitude is so common and unconscious that even white women married to white men feel they have to uphold the standard of male dominance, since it's so ingrained in the culture that people of both genders rarely seem aware of it, much less critical of it.

    The book is really academic, and I had to read each paragraph twice to apprehend the meaning correctly. I'll probably have to read it in its entirety once more to be sure I really get it. It is thoroughly convincing by both example and argument, and it agrees with my observations from my own life.

    This is one of the best books I've read in 2017, and I've read a lot. One can only hope for a paradigm shift that looks possible by #metoo accounts of male sexual attacks on women over the past 20-some years.

    Did I say it's a brilliant book?

  • Megsie

    This book is an excellent visitation on how to define misogyny. I found it useful for crystallizing my own thoughts, discussing with other people, and picking apart misogyny so that I could address it even in discussion with the relatively closed-minded. Sometimes the philosophy writing style shone thru (no other discipline uses the word 'contra'!!!!) but I found the level of rigor to be pleasant and enlightening. Recommended reading for those of us who loooooove talking/learning about misogyny,

    This book is an excellent visitation on how to define misogyny. I found it useful for crystallizing my own thoughts, discussing with other people, and picking apart misogyny so that I could address it even in discussion with the relatively closed-minded. Sometimes the philosophy writing style shone thru (no other discipline uses the word 'contra'!!!!) but I found the level of rigor to be pleasant and enlightening. Recommended reading for those of us who loooooove talking/learning about misogyny, and for those dudes who pepper you in discussion with counterexamples and strawmen like they are Jafar, you are Jasmine, and their clever examples are grains of sand in that one hourglass scene in Aladdin.

  • Jocelyn

    All my feminist peeps: You're going to want to read this book. Manne does a fantastic job laying out the (il)logic of misogyny in ways you've definitely experienced and might have reflected on, but haven't seen put together in this way. All my non-feminist peeps: You especially should read this, but you won't.

  • Mehrsa

    At first, I resisted her idea that misogyny had nothing to do with seeing women as wholly human, but she convinced me. I also resisted himpathy as an explanation to domestic violence, but she convinced me on this too and on and on. This is an excellent contemplation of misogyny and Manne is a rigorous thinker. I have thought about this book so many times since I read it. It also made me want to rage and scream at the end as Manne sees no hope for recovery. I’m sort of with her. There’s another g

    At first, I resisted her idea that misogyny had nothing to do with seeing women as wholly human, but she convinced me. I also resisted himpathy as an explanation to domestic violence, but she convinced me on this too and on and on. This is an excellent contemplation of misogyny and Manne is a rigorous thinker. I have thought about this book so many times since I read it. It also made me want to rage and scream at the end as Manne sees no hope for recovery. I’m sort of with her. There’s another great book called the history of misogyny—both of these are essential readings—unfortunately. It’s hopeless.

  • Adam

    Awesome read. Points out a bunch of weird confusing contradictions in gender politics, then explains them. Argues that misogyny isn't about hating women - it's about punishing "bad" women. "good" women like subservient housewives, the "cool girlfriend", etc, don't experience misogyny. Women who go against patriarchal norms (e.g. activists, women working in masculine fields, women who don't give men enough attention/emotional labor/sex/etc) experience the kind of "down, girl!" responses that puni

    Awesome read. Points out a bunch of weird confusing contradictions in gender politics, then explains them. Argues that misogyny isn't about hating women - it's about punishing "bad" women. "good" women like subservient housewives, the "cool girlfriend", etc, don't experience misogyny. Women who go against patriarchal norms (e.g. activists, women working in masculine fields, women who don't give men enough attention/emotional labor/sex/etc) experience the kind of "down, girl!" responses that punish them and put them back in their place.

    Although it's accessible to a general audience, it's definitely written like a Philosophy Book and aimed at an academic audience. She very formally defines her terms, pre-empts criticism, uses a lot of philosophy jargon, makes a lot of defensive qualifications that are helpful to philosophical reading but might bore an average reader.

    Really liked it - its treatment of misogyny as reinforcing certain power structures was awesome. She criticizes the idea of sexism as "not seeing women as people" - the problem is men do see women as people, but people who owe them sex/emotional labor/status (good) but can also be threats, rivals or emasculate them (bad, needs punishment).

    Uses lots of literary and political references to support her points, esp. the Trump/Clinton election, Julia Gillard, and Elliot Rodgers, which lends a lot of real-world flavour to a book that sometimes gets a bit academic.

    Her background in formal logic and computer science shines through when she talks about the flaws in normal decision-theoretic models of "agents" - as a logic/CS person myself, I found that part really fascinating!

  • Chris

    If you are human, you should read this book. Manne's book is academic treatise on Misogyny, and is anything but dry. While I'm not convinced she had to include the look at literature (such as her analysis of Mockingbird), but her look at court cases (her reading of the Brock Turner case is brilliant) and politics is well worth the price.

    Seriously, read this book.

  • Tonstant Weader

    Update: The author contacted me and told me that the galley I read and reviewed was changed significantly before publication and that many of my criticisms were addressed before publication. I will be reading the published copy soon and may revise my review. 

    Down Girl is a measured consideration of misogyny, not as the simplistic hatred of women, but the structural, systemic structures and beliefs that serve to keep women down, in their place. It is an academic book, despite its title that sugge

    Update: The author contacted me and told me that the galley I read and reviewed was changed significantly before publication and that many of my criticisms were addressed before publication. I will be reading the published copy soon and may revise my review. 

    Down Girl is a measured consideration of misogyny, not as the simplistic hatred of women, but the structural, systemic structures and beliefs that serve to keep women down, in their place. It is an academic book, despite its title that suggests a more popular audience. Kate Manne lays the foundation thoroughly for her assertions and makes a persuasive argument for a more comprehensive understanding of misogyny. It just so happens that is the way many people, particularly women, are using the word anyway.

    This is important and necessary work because just as with racism, there is concerted effort to define misogyny in the most limited, restrictive sense so everyone, even Elliott Rodger, the mass murderer who left a video manifesto explaining why he was setting out to murder women,, is acquitted of being a misogynist. With American opinion leaders arguing Elliott Rodger is not a misogynist, it reminds me of David Duke saying he is not a racist.

    In Manne’s view, misogyny is not as much about hating women as it is about keeping women in the women’s sphere, where they gaze adoringly and defer to their men. It is about making sure women pay attention to men’s needs rather than fulfill their own, about making sure women don’t challenge men, or seek positions that are thought to be men’s jobs. There are mountains of depressing studies proving, again and again, that ambitious women are seen as dishonest, fake, cold, cunning, dishonest, and every other pejorative adjective you can recall from the 2016 election. Submit the same resume with a man’s name and a woman’s name, the man will be seen as more qualified. Preface the resumes with the information they have the same qualifications, the woman will be seen as unlikable. Does that sound familiar?

    I agree with Kate Manne’s argument and think this topic is vital, but I struggled far too much reading Down Girl. It’s a book of philosophy full of the taxonomy of philosophy with sentences like “The implicit modus ponens here is too seldom tollensed.” or “”Quasi-contrapositive moral psychological claim”. This stuff makes me want to cry because it means that this book will not be widely read. This matters! Misogyny kills women, so why seek the smallest possible audience?

    Manne also overused footnotes. She has endnotes for her sources and uses footnotes to make arguments and forestall critiques of her argument. She needs to just incorporate that into her text and not use footnotes to avoid reworking the text to address the critiques. There are pages that have more footnotes than text. It’s disruptive. In one chapter, there’s one narrative in text and another in footnotes. Just do two chapters or fight it out in the main text of the chapter.

    Here’s the thing. I am smart and well-read and I came so close to giving up on this book time and time again…and this is a topic I care about and am very interested in. I recognize the bad cold I have been struggling with probably impeded my comprehension, but I asked my best friend, a college professor who teaches neuroscience to read it and she read and few pages and just shook her head.

    This is not just Kate Manne’s fault. I have read her articles in magazines and know she is capable of communicating well. In this book, sometimes her humor and wit shine through. The whole thing with the footnotes? She needed some editor to tell her to cut it out.

    It’s possible her desired audience is only other academics, but why give it the title Down Girl that calls up popular culture then? Besides, we need these ideas to get out of academia and into popular culture.

    I received an e-galley Down Girl of from the publisher through NetGalley.

    Down Girl at Oxford University Press

    Kate Manne author site

  • Emma Sea

    there's an interesting adapted excerpt from this

    , highlighting the link between insecure bodily boundaries and misogyny

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