Saturday, 20 October 2012

misogyny and misandry

This afternoon I asked a group of teenagers whether they had noticed any new words this week. I pointed out that a love of words would be very useful if they aim to improve their essay writing - which I assume they do, seeing they were spending a lovely sunny afternoon in an essay-writing class.

One student mentioned a word he'd heard bandied about in the world of Australian politics - 'Miss... miso... something like that,' he said.

Oh, misogyny.

Typical teacher that I am, I wrote it on the whiteboard and said that the prefix mis- relates to hatred. I added misanthropy to the board and said it relates to hatred of humans.

One of the boys frowned. He leaned forward, a mystified look on his face and asked how could a person, being human, hate humanity.

That's something to make me think. I did explain that it could be just a preference for the way other species deal with life, or it could be a dislike of humanity's actions, rather than outright hatred. But it's still a great question.

Another boy asked why anyone would hate women. Another very good question. One I couldn't answer. In an attempt to balance the discussion, I attempted to add 'hatred of men' to the list, but I'd forgotten what the word is.

I've looked it up now. The Merriam-Webster gives the word misandry. There's a discussion amongst commenters that this word is generally not known, compared to the almost universal understanding of misogyny.



proud womon said...

julia certainly started conversations... makes sense that we are more familiar with misogyny than misandry in a patriarchal society...

parlance said...

I was interested to discover that people are still talking about her speech. So it's not a nine-day wonder, which is encouraging. (I think it's been more than nine days, lol.)