Kate Manne is an Associate Professor at Cornell University in the philosophy department, at the Sage School where she has been teaching since 2013, and where Manne has written about women facing discrimination, harassment, and hostility in the workplace and in their own lives. According to her website, during 2017, she “published an academic/trade "crossover" book called Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny about the nature, function, and persistence of misogyny.”??
In her latest published book, ‘Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women’, she leads the reader to reevaluate and understand the nature of sexism and misogyny. Beyond thinking that sexism is based on a bias toward women, and that misogyny is hatred of girls and women, for Manne, it is about the mistreatment and restricting women’s sense of equality and empowerment. We sat down with Manne to discuss a number of questions on her new book.
Ithaca Times: The structure of our society seems content to have sexism and misogyny endure, both of which impacts women in a number of harmful ways. Can you talk about the differences in our society between sexism and misogyny?
Kate Manne: I think of sexism as the ideological or theoretical branch of patriarchy, which serves to justify and rationalize patriarchal social relations--such as men's dominance in historically masculine-coded domains, and women's performance of the bulk of care work, for example. Misogyny I think of as the law enforcement branch of patriarchy, which serves to police and enforce a patriarchal social order. So, if you like, sexism is to bad science as misogyny is to the police force; sexism wears a lab coat, misogyny goes on witch hunts.??
IT: There are recent examples in the news such as Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased movie mogul, who felt entitled to assault women, or in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, illustrating through a tantrum his sense of entitlement during a Senate hearing. What do you feel needs to happen to end the expectation by many men who feel that they are entitled to whatever they want and whenever they want something?? How is our society aiding this behavior??
KM: l think an important part of the story here is that we've been socialized to tolerate this behavior, and even to encourage and condone it. My idea of himpathy--the disproportionate and undue sympathy often extended to men who commit sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other misogynistic behavior—is designed to help to put an end to this, by calling out not only these men, but the excessively exonerating attitudes towards them, such that we can begin to hold the perpetrators accountable. Another, related thing that needs to happen is that we need to morally reorient ourselves to helping and sympathizing with their victims, first and foremost. Tarana Burke's #MeToo movement has long had a crucial role in effecting shifts of that nature, especially when it comes to some of the most vulnerable people amongst us, namely Black and brown girls.? ?
IT: How can people work to engage and overcome the detrimental nature of misogyny — so that our society will eventually change, grow and where everyone is treated equally??
KM: My work focuses mostly on diagnosing these problems, so that well-intentioned and principled people can form a political coalition, and work on changing the system together, having adequately understood it. But I don't know how to change the hearts and minds of those who aren't truly invested in a gender egalitarian society. I don't think anyone knows how to do that.
IT: What advice would you like to share to both women and men at this time??
KM: l think it's a good time for many people-—men, women, and non-binary people alike— to do as much as we can to educate ourselves about systemic sexism, misogyny, and their intersection with racism, as well as other oppressive social systems. For that, I'd especially recommend work by Black feminists such as Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ijeoma Oluo, Roxane Gay, and many, many others. Their work has had a tremendous impact in shaping my understanding of the world we live in.??
Kate Manne’s web site is http://www.katemanne.net