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Is my boyfriend a misogynist?
My thoughts on a tough query.
Dear Girlfriend of a Misogynist,
Today I’m embracing my alter ego of an aspiring agony aunt (advice columnist). I’ll start by very simply answering your question with a resounding—yes, your boyfriend is a misogynist. To quote one Diem member: “Girl get outta there!!!!”
You wrote that he treats you “equally” and is nice to you. However, I would challenge you to question if that’s possible when he doesn’t listen when you talk, or that he prefers a male perspective on most things. Girlfriend, that is textbook misogyny and you deserve better.
My main concern is your future together, should there be one. As you get older and enter new phases of life together (like marriage, or children)—will you be hugely misaligned on responsibilities and values? If you do not wish to create a partnership that is grounded in his lack of respect for women, then I think you know what needs to happen. Best to nip this one in the bud.
I do think this question highlights a tension point I’ve been mulling in regard to many millennial, heterosexual relationships. I’m generalizing here, but millennials straddle the “traditional” gender norms their Baby Boomer/Gen X parents practiced against the rising awareness of more progressive viewpoints. Our understanding of what needs to change—from baseline gender equality to civil rights—didn’t really sink in until after many of us left school, so we’ve been unlearning and relearning well past our formative years. For (heterosexual) women who believe in equality, I think this adds an interesting layer, as many of our male partners were also raised during a time when traditional masculinity was still very much the norm. We see this show up in our wider culture all the time—from Jonah Hill’s territorial texts to his ex-girlfriend to Keke Palmer’s boyfriend shaming her outfit as a new mom (both of which happened over the past week).
The question you pose reminds me of an essay we wrote last year—”Is the rise of the lonely, single man really that funny?” In the essay, we explored how the commodification of dating has changed relationships between men and women in the Internet age, and how this has laid the groundwork for figures like Andrew Tate to gain prominence. Tate amassed (until his de-platforming) an entire audience of lonely, resentful men by encouraging them to recognize and then direct their dissatisfaction with life toward women. For those who missed this news cycle, Tate’s content was deeply misogynistic. A handful of his views: women are men’s property, women shouldn’t drive, and it’s easier to “imprint” on women who are 18-19. Oh, and he believes rape victims are to blame for assaults committed against them—much like what you write your boyfriend believes. On a personal level, if my boyfriend were to engage with Tate-adjacent content, I would be repulsed. I’m picking up through the subtext and tone of your message that you may be as well.
Your dilemma is also relevant to one of my favourite New Yorker essays—“What’s the matter with men?”
The article lays out how American men are falling behind. A few quick takeaways:
Men are dying more from alcoholism and suicide much younger.
Boys are well behind girls in academic performance throughout the entire education system.
More and more men are turning to misogyny to process their rage, often stumbling into the “manosphere” online. In fact, incels are now the biggest domestic threat to terrorism in the U.S.
“The notion of female equality is, historically, an innovation. “Woman has always been man’s dependent, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality,” Simone de Beauvoir wrote in “The Second Sex,” published in 1949. “And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change.” Nearly three-quarters of a century later, that change has continued. By a variety of metrics, men are falling behind parity. Is the second sex becoming the better half?” — Idrees Kahloon, The New Yorker
I say all of this because I wonder if your boyfriend has always been a misogynist. Are these beliefs new? Have they been present since the earliest days of your relationship or have they become more extreme over time? Perhaps it’s worth a check-in to find out if he’s reacting to society’s detoxification of masculinity, or perhaps he needs to work on his mental health. I should stress that this is not your responsibility. But if you want to understand why he believes the things he does, maybe you need to lift the lid on the root of the problem.
I would recommend reflecting on what you need from a partner in the future and whether your boyfriend’s misogynistic views support the future you see for yourself.
Do you have advice or experiences with a misogynistic partner? Share them with Girlfriend of a Misogynist in the Diem app.
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