Misogyny and Sexism are often conflated.
“They’re a misogynist!” is yelled at volume, when often the speaker means “they’re a sexist!”. Neither are things that one’s actions should warrant one ever being accused of if equity, intelligence, and basic human decency are observed; but they are two different things, and in order to tackle them, it is important that that is understood.
Misogyny is an enforcement of a patriarchal structure that defines women as second class citizens, and rewards those who are better at upholding the status quo. Sexism is a display of prejudice, stereotyping, or aggression, usually against women. Sexism is often easier to spot, whereas misogyny can be deeply hidden in a society or culture’s inner workings. Another reason that misogyny is sometimes difficult to see is that it is the default; our society is misogynistic. This is explained brilliantly in Grayson Perry’s book The Descent of Man (2016), where he lays out that a ‘millennia of male power [has made] a society where we all grow up accepting that a system grossly biased in favour of “Default Man” is natural, normal and common sense’. It can be difficult to spot misogyny when it is what we are used to. Women can struggle to spot it as much as men, because we are so used to navigating our way through a society totally ingrained with it, that it becomes second nature.
According to researchers at the Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO), second generation gender biases are ‘work cultures and practices that appear neutral and natural on their face’, yet they reflect masculine values and life situations of men who have been dominant in the development of traditional work settings.High Octane Women – Sherre Bourg Carter
So, we live in a world that is misogynistic as a starting point. Sexism is the ideology that is created as product of that, to support and uphold that world view. When the tangerine-in-charge in the US makes a sexist comment (google it, there’s plenty to choose from) it’s because he feels supported by the misogynistic culture in which he operates. Of course, it’s not just the great-Cheeto-in-Chief who is at fault, sexist harassment is all over the place; from any number of incidents and comments reported by the #EverydaySexism or #MeToo movements immediately coming to mind.
I think most misogynistic behavior is about hostility towards women who violate patriarchal norms and expectations, who aren’t serving male interests in the ways they’re expected to.Kate Manne – author of Down Girl, quoted from an interview on Vox.com
Of course change can happen, and the more that we know about a particular situation, then the faster it can be challenged and change enacted. It is difficult, however, when the problem is woven into the very fabric of the society into which you were born, raised, and operate. It can be difficult to see and to challenge, and to make others – especially those in positions of power – want to see and to challenge. The status quo suits them, it helped them get where they are. I’m not saying all those in power have exploited the situation, but there needs to be an acceptance that society today lends privilege to a certain type of person. As Kate Manne excellently puts it:
What would need to change is for men in positions of power to accept that women can surpass them without having wronged them.Kate Manne – author of Down Girl, quoted from an interview on Vox.com