How to Pick a Lover

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The Ultimate Misogynist: Rush Limbaugh

Regard the society of women as a necessary unpleasantness of social life, and avoid it as much as possible.
—Leo Tolstoy, Diary

Leo Tolstoy's son Ilya Leovich Tolstoy, undated

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The social heritage and cultural background on which present-day culture is based is essentially androcentric, that is to say, male centered. As a result, it is almost impossible to find men who are not chauvinistic to some degree. “Chauvinism” simply means the belief that persons like oneself are superior to persons who are different. The word traces back to Nicholas Chauvin,
a fiercely patriotic soldier under Napoleon, and has come to describe any behavior in which there is a fierce belief that one’s country or belief system—or sex—is superior to any other.

In the early sixties, the epithet MCP—male chauvinist pig—was used to highlight a new awareness of the dynamics of sexism in everyday life. Since then, it has become an overused and not very meaningful cliché. The world of men is not simply divided into pigs and nonpigs. There are degrees of swinishness, and some boars are more boorish than others.

One kind of man almost certain to be a loser as a lover is one who is not only a chauvinist but also a misogynist: a woman hater. The term stems from “mis,” meaning hatred, and “gyn,” meaning women. Being a misogynist is like being a misanthrope, one who hates mankind, only more specialized. (In English, we have room for many specialized hatreds. “Misandry,” for example, is the hatred of men; “misopedia” is the hatred of children, especially one’s own.)

A chauvinist may believe that he is superior to women but may still feel affectionate tolerance for them, and even love them in much the same way that people can love children or pets without considering them to be equals. A chauvinist may simply be indifferent to women and womanly things without feeling any particular animosity toward them. He simply does not find them
very interesting or worthwhile.

In contrast, the misogynist has an active dislike of women. The roots of misogyny are found deep in our cultural heritage. In the fifteenth century, Pope Pius IIdescribed a woman as “a destroyer of youth, pillager of men, the death of the aged, the devourer of inheritances, the destruction of honor, food for Satan, and the reinforcement of hell.”

Pope Pius X

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A well-developed sense of misogyny views women as a source of evil, often with reference to the woman as the source of temptation to sin, almost always meaning sexual sins. She is viewed as sapping a man’s vital energies as deflecting his attention away from important matters. She is seen as a source of conflict and bitterness, debilitating men by demanding money and attention, thereby draining their resources and dissipating their energies. She is a source of anxiety and discontent. She is, in a word, trouble. Women are, at best, regarded as a necessary evil required for the perpetuation of the species and nothing more.

The Women’s Liberation movement has not succeeded in stamping out misogyny. However, it has succeeded in making the expression of overtly antiwoman statements politically sensitive and unwise.

As a result, the misogynist no longer proclaims his views directly. The average man who decides he wants to have a woman, not necessarily to have a relationship but to get laid, is not likely to announce that he cannot stand women. He knows it would likely cause an angry reaction, and in the end, he would not get what he wants. Making such an admission might also result in
him possibly being perceived as homosexual, which would be disconcerting to his ego. He therefore masks his feelings.

The kind of statements, which may still be made openly in other cultures, are no longer stated out loud in the dominant North American culture, or they are expressed only in selected company. (As an analogy, consider one embittered African-American man who, commenting on the progress made in overcoming racism, exclaimed, “We have come a long way! We have taught
the redneck not to say ‘nigger’ in public.”)

The misogynist does not necessarily wear a lapel button, saying, “Down with women.” But since he has such a strong negative view of women, his suppressed rage is buried only millimeters beneath the surface. To detect a misogynist, all you usually have to do is to listen to him and usually not for very long. Isn’t that right Mr. Limbaugh.

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