In her excellent book on the subject of misogyny, Kate Manne helps clarify what misogyny is and what it isn't, and in so doing, provides a useful roadmap for younger generations of women to understand and give voice to their predicament.

"He's not a great guy, but he's not a monster."
"He may not be the best person in the world, but it's not like he's a rapist."
"He's not a misogynist! He loves women. Some of his best friends are women!"

These types of character defense plays are abundantly familiar to women. We are often the purveyors of these narratives, telling ourselves and our friends that what we saw with our own eyes, or heard with our own ears, was perhaps misunderstood, because after all, "He's not one of those guys." Apparently, only serial killers, rapists, pedophiles and torturers are true misogynists.

Dr. Manne does her readers a service by first of all dispelling the myth of the exceptional monster. Misogyny is not a rabid or impolite hatred of women. Much of the time, misogynists make certain to lavish the right kind of woman with praise, gifts, advantages, all contingent upon her having the right kind of attitude to be appealing as a woman. This right kind of attitude perhaps unsuprisingly, is ultrafeminine, which in turn is the embodiment of subservience and deference.

Horrifying acts of violence by men, against women, are followed by news anchors and journalists endlessly debating whether the violence was specifically motivated by a hatred of women, or whether it is a result of the perpetrator's complex psychological state. The debates always devolve into "Why did he do it?" "What was he thinking?" and finally, "He was under a lot of pressure because of xyz, and he finally just snapped." In other words, crimes against women are incorporated into the public narrative as preoccupation with men's state of mind.

Rather than debate whether men truly are or are not misogynists in their heart of hearts, Kate Manne asks us to turn the debate on its head, and conceptualize misogyny as something that women experience rather than the mental state of any given individual. It doesn't really matter that if Elliott Rodger fundamentally hated women, sought their approval, or had mixed feelings. The fact of the matter is, a sorority house woke up to an armed man banging on their doors. Young women minding their business were gunned down. These things happened to women.

Misogyny, rather than blatant hatred, is a quiet and systemic force, which infects all of us, including women. If I can reformulate, misogyny mostly operates in the realm of subconscious thought. It is not a state of mind as much as a set of expectations, which arise spontaneously, from unexamined places and out of an entire societal structure that is misogynistic to its core. Misogyny, and the other side of the coin, "Himpathy" are the air we breathe. Himpathy is the reflexive default, of spontaneously sympathizing with men first.

In her later work, Entitled, Kate Manne uses the metaphor of waiting for service at a restaurant. If you were to walk in to your favorite diner, and take a seat, you would be angry understandably if the waitress did not come take your order for an hour, and even moreso if you saw her waiting on other patrons while ignoring you. Why would you be angry? Because, as a diner at the diner, you are within your rights contextually to expect service.

Misogyny, as experienced by all of us, is the contempt, anger, mistrust, etc. that bubbles up when womens' behavior does not meet our expectations of what is owed to them. In other words, it's very similar to being flummoxed by a waitress who is ignoring you, except that you aren't at the diner, and the random woman with whom you interact is not your waitress at Denny's. It's not her job to make you feel good, or wait on you. You may not even know you have these expectations.

No, you don't have a problem with her because she's a woman, but you just don't trust her. No, you don't have a problem with her because she's a woman, you just find her attitude "threatening" if she doesn't break the ice, or smile enough, or make the right soothing noises and gestures. No, you don't have a problem with her because she's a woman, she just has sharp elbows. No, your issue with her isn't that she's a woman, you just find her approach to be counter-productive. You catch more bees with honey, right?

When women complain publicly, not only are they often not heard, but they are turned into the villains for complaining. Why does this sleight of hand work? Because we all harbor the expectation that women ought to temper their expectations. A woman in the act of public complaint is essentially saying that she was not granted her due, and is staking a claim to what she is owed. This expectation of being owed anything, in itself, is enough to transform a woman from delicate and motherly to an abusive classless hag.

I want to challenge any young woman to begin to look at and listen for the little things you do everyday, whether it's apologizing when you're not sorry, laughing when you don't think anything is funny, stepping aside on the sidewalk to make room for others who don't do the same for you, breaking the ice at a social event, peppering basic emails with supplicating niceties... try not doing these things. Better yet, try complaining about something in public. LMK how it goes!