"Yes, women are the greatest evil Zeus has made, and men are
bound to them hand and foot with impossible knots by
God."-Semonides, seventh century B.C.
Men put women on a pedestal to worship them from afar-and to take
better aim at them for the purpose of derision. Why is this
paradoxical response to women so widespread, so far-reaching, so
all-pervasive? Misogyny, David D. Gilmore suggests, is best
described as a male malady, as it has always been a characteristic
shared by human societies throughout the world.
Misogyny: The Male Malady is a comprehensive historical
and anthropological survey of woman-hating that casts new light on
this age-old bias. The turmoil of masculinity and the ugliness of
misogyny have been well documented in different cultures, but
Gilmore's synoptic approach identifies misogyny in a variety of
human experiences outside of sex and marriage and makes a fresh and
enlightening contribution toward understanding this phenomenon.
Gilmore maintains that misogyny is so widespread and so pervasive
among men that it must be at least partly psychogenic in origin, a
result of identical experiences in the male developmental cycle,
rather than caused by the environment alone.
Presenting a wealth of compelling examples-from the jungles of New
Guinea to the boardrooms of corporate America-Gilmore shows that
misogynistic practices occur in hauntingly identical forms. He
asserts that these deep and abiding male anxieties stem from
unresolved conflicts between men's intense need for and dependence
upon women and their equally intense fear of that dependence.
However, misogyny, according to Gilmore, is also often supported
and intensified by certain cultural realities, such as patrilineal
social organization; kinship ideologies that favor fraternal
solidarity over conjugal unity; chronic warfare, feuding, or other
forms of intergroup violence; and religious orthodoxy or
asceticism. Gilmore is in the end able to offer steps toward the
discovery of antidotes to this irrational but global prejudice,
providing an opportunity for a lasting cure to misogyny and its
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