It began when I met my friends, a married couple for coffee.
“Hey Adam, did you see this news about Maryam Mirzakhani?”
“No, what is it about?”
“Well, she is a professor at Stanford University, now the first woman ever to win the Fields Medal, the highest honor possible for a mathematician and she is from your country!” I boasted as I shared her photograph on my phone.
After a moment he said, “She doesn’t look very pretty”.
My brows creased instantly “what do you mean? This is not a beauty contest. This is the highest honor in an academic field”.
He casually responded “Well, yeah but for a woman it is more important to be pretty and sexy.”
At this point I pause and ponder. This is a man who loves his wife, helps her equally with household chores, provides for her, supports her, is all for respecting women and he still has such a perverted and orthodox view about women.
I remarked “you know what Adam, a woman’s dignity or value is not attached to her face or body but rather to her personality and her contributions to her family and the society”.
“Yeah well, blah blah no one believes in that crap. Soon enough she will marry a ———— and then ————- and…” and I stopped him right there.
“Adam, if you cannot speak well of anyone, please don’t speak ill and especially not about some woman who deserves so much respect” and I left.
In this story above, I have changed the name of my friend and his actual comments about Professor Maryam’s appearance. His remarks were derogatory and vulgar. In pure and simple words, this is sexual objectification. Despite the remarkable achievements of a woman, she is not appreciated by all people equally because she is a woman and needs to be objectified first. What a pathetic society we live in…
Misogyny is much farther spread than you think
We all are tied in social bonds with many different types of people at work, school and home. We also usually have assumptions about them and think that we ‘know’ them. We see the news of killing spree’s like the one that happened last May in California. The killer Elliot Rodger is our typical example of a Misogynist; a young man who was allegedly seeking ‘retribution’ against women and ended up killing both men and women in double numbers. In this article, you can also read about the typical misogynist societies and forums running online where men like Elliot can find a platform to share their violent and hateful ideas.
Nevertheless, these forums are not the only places where misogynist dwell and these young men are not the only men who hate women.
Ordinary, married men like Adam are misogynist too. They pretend to be all loving and caring for their wives, sisters and daughters but their love and care is highly flawed. They do care for people who they love and would offer place to a woman on a crowded bus. But they also believe that women must be kept at home. They see women as an object of desire first and may be a human second, if at all.
These are the ‘in-betweeners’ of the misogynist and feminist men. In public they say they are all for women’s education and rights while in their homes they fail to practice it. In fact, thanks to the feminist movement, one great thing that has happened is the loss of prestige for such people. If a man disrespects a woman publically, or makes a sexist remark at work or even at a public space, chances are people will frown and even confront the man. Evidence can be seen from the very many episodes of What Would You Do where strangers in public places are seen openly speaking up against sexists and abusers. This has led to the discrediting and loss of prestige for those who used to think it is manly to be sexist.
This phenomenon of two forces against each other has created a new category of men: the hidden misogynist. I suppose these are men, confused within them. They can be seen through either the glass half full lens or the half empty lens.
One can argue that these are men were told to dominate women for years until recently and they are now coming to terms with their masculinity and feminism.
Or on the other hand, these are the men who only superficially pretend to be supportive of women’s rights in social situations to maintain a good status.
Either ways, misogyny is deep-rooted in our culture and beliefs and both men and women can be misogynist. Don’t be surprised when I say women because I have literally met women who believe that they deserve to be battered by their husbands and that their ‘eternal salvation’ will be cancelled if their controlling freak of a husband is unhappy with them.
My suggestion: QUESTION YOUR IDEOLOGIES
- Whether you are a man or a woman, question your assumptions constantly.
- Learn and educate yourself about feminism and humanism.
- Follow the always SPARKLE philosophy:
- Status of respect
- Power of speech
- Access to freedom
- Right to happiness
- Knowledge and education
- Love not lust
- Existence as an equal
If you have all these elements of a SPARKLE, as a rule of thumb you are not a misogynist and if you wish the same for all men, women, trans, children, elderly and even animals alike, you are not a sexist either.
I hope that more people celebrate brilliant women like Maryam Mirzakhani and believe the wonders that women can do only if provided an opportunity. From Hollywood to Bollywood, I see women dancing around in skimpy clothing as if this is the most they can do. That’s their only potential. This is pure misogyny and dehumanizing on every level.
On the contrary, I would love to see more Maryams and Baroness Warsis not just in academia but also in movies, music, arts, business and politics and I can only wonder how beautiful the world would be then.
“That’s the true beauty of a woman Adam, remember that”.