Philosophers and Misogyny

Filed under: Misogyny - 02 Jul 2013  | Share on :

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Misogyny means the hatred of women or girls and can be manifested in various ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, sexual objectification of women, and even violence. The term “misogyny” comes from the Greek roots “misein”, which means “to hate”, and “gyne”, meaning “woman”. The term is often used to describe contempt for women as a whole, rather than hatred of specific women.

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In feminist theory, misogyny often describes an attitude that is perceived to be negative and demeaning towards women as a group, and not individuals. Even though it is quite rare to find a person who actually despises all women just because of their gender, feminists more commonly observe prejudice against women or an assumption that women are less deserving than men. People – usually men – who display hateful behaviors towards women are said to be misogynists.

Misogyny has been characterized as a prominent feature of the mythologies of the ancient world, as well as various religions. Additionally, many influential philosophers have been described as misogynistic. Here are the most famous ones.

Otto Weininger, a Christian Austrian philosopher who committed suicide at the age of 23, has been accused of misogyny in his book, Sex and Character. In the book, the author characterizes the “woman” part of each individual as being essentially “nothing” and having no real existence, having no effective rationality or consciousness.

Another famous philosopher who has been accused of misogyny is Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation. However, the misogyny accusations have been brought for his essay “On Women”, in which the author expressed his opposition to what he called “Teutonico-Christian stupidity” on female affairs. He claimed that “women are by nature meant to obey”. Schopenhauer also noted that “men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies”.

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Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philologist, philosopher, poet, composer, and cultural critic, wrote numerous critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, science, and philosophy, being very find of metaphors, irony, and aphorism. In one of his texts, Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche stated that every higher form of civilization implied stricter control of women. Lines the author is known for include “Women are less than shallow” and “Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!”. He also believed that only men had the ability to transcend society and become the “Ubermensch”.

Other famous philosophers whose writings are said to contain overt statements of sexism and racism include Aristotle, Pythagoras, Socrates, Immanuel Kant, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. While context is everything, these great philosphers showed a great deal of hatred towards women in their writings and speeches.

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