Bob Herbert: Politics and Mysogyny

Gender issues are suddenly in the news, and Bob Herbert is wondering where we’ve all been.  As in, could people in the US possibly just be beginning to think about these issues?  If so, what’s the big deal?

If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

The pervasive violence against women is not even reported as revealing the mysogyny:

The cable news channels revel in stories about women (almost always young and attractive) who come to a gruesome end at the hands of violent men. The stories seldom, if ever, raise the issue of misogyny, which permeates not just the crimes themselves, but the coverage as well.

The media is perfectly aware that there are hate crimes that occur against racial and sexual minorities, even if its record of accurate reporting leaves much to be desired. But crimes against women don’t seem to count as hate crimes, Herbert is telling us.

We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed against women and girls every day. Fashionable ads in mainstream publications play off of that violence, exploiting themes of death and dismemberment, female submissiveness and child pornography.

If we’ve opened the door to the issue of sexism in the presidential campaign, then let’s have at it. It’s a big and important issue that deserves much more than lip service.

Given the mysogyny that so many women face every day, let’s forget about who’s playing the gender card. What is much more important is that a wise parent may well feel that girls need to be brought up to be wary and fearful.

11 thoughts on “Bob Herbert: Politics and Mysogyny

  1. I’d prefer if my daughter was confident and vigilant rather than fearful and wary. Living in fear is one of the worst possible things…
    Of course that doesn’t mean one has to be oblivious.

  2. GNZ, I didn’t mean to be recommending a way to bring up daughters. I was instead looking for a way to catch the fact that there are a lot of gender-based public dangers women face.

  3. jender, it is a very interesting take. I left out what he said about porn and prostitution, in part because I didn’t think his comments were just about that and in part because I was concerned about how divisive they are as topics in the feminist community.

    I don’t think I quite agree with her take, and not just because I don’t think it’s just about directly sexual violence. equally, though I’d have to look at more of his essays that I can now recall, it would be remarkable if Herbert didn’t see that men bring to the situation a problem that isn’t just confined to their relations with women. And also remarkable if he didn’t see that the military, being far worse than many organizations, might provide some clues to causes.

    Still, she is right that he thinks being the subject of porn and prostitution are different from being a soldier. It is important that she finds startling similarities.

  4. JJ – on that last comment – have you seen Nussbaum’s chapter, in her Sex and Social Justice, in which she explores the similarities (and differences) between prostitution and a range of other professions (including being a university professor!). Worth a read.

  5. stoat, how odd! As I was thinking through the issue, I was wondering if university prof might go on the list. Thanks for the reference.

  6. Great article, it is so much more beneficial if both parties can come to a collaborative or a plan so that everybody wins in this type legal process! Especially if you can put one’s ego in check, and have a mutual agreement… Maybe even give a little and take a little less in some regards it might seem that your the one always giving more, but in the long run it will come back to you 10 times…

    Thanks,

    Howard M

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