Masculine Foes, Feminist Woes: A Response to Down Girl

APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy (2019)
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In her book, Down Girl, Manne proposes to uncover the “logic” of misogyny, bringing clarity to a notion that she describes as both “loaded” and simultaneously “politically marginal.” Manne is aware that full insight into the “logic” of misogyny will require not just a “what” but a “why.” Though Manne finds herself largely devoted to the former task, the latter is in the not-too-distant periphery. Manne proposes to understand misogyny, as a general framework, in terms of what it does to women. Misogyny, she writes, is a system that polices and enforces the patriarchal social order (33). That’s the “what.” As for the “why,” Manne suggests that misogyny is what women experience because they fail to live up to the moral standards set out for women by that social order. I find Manne’s analysis insightful, interesting, and well argued. And yet, I find her account incomplete. While I remain fully convinced by her analysis of what misogyny is, I am less persuaded by her analysis of why misogyny is. For a full analysis of the “logic” of misogyny, one needs to understand how the patriarchy manifests in men an interest in participating in its enforcement. Or so I hope to motivate here. I aim to draw a line from the patriarchy to toxic masculinity to misogyny so that we have a clearer picture as to why men are invested in this system. I thus hope to offer here an analysis that is underdeveloped in Manne’s book, but is equally worthy of attention if we want fully to understand the complex machinations underlying misogyny.

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Briana Toole
Claremont McKenna College


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