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How might the politics of hate help us better understand the variety of manifestations of hate against women?

Dissertation : How might the politics of hate help us better understand the variety of manifestations of hate against women?. Recherche parmi 299 000+ dissertations

Par   •  6 Mai 2021  •  Dissertation  •  4 399 Mots (18 Pages)  •  450 Vues

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“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” This tweet posted by the actress Alyssa Milano on 15 October 2017 marked the starting point of a global awareness movement on the subject of harassment and degrading conduct by men to which women are exposed on a daily basis (other configurations exist but I will focus on this one for the purpose of this essay). Following this tweet, thousands of testimonies followed one another and helped to show the extent of the problem. A problem that is not limited to the attitude of some men. Indeed, the number of women testifying to these acts makes us feel that the problem is deeper and requires more than just questioning the behaviour of a few men and punishing them for that. The problem is broader and well established in our society. Women, some of them on a daily basis, are exposed to hateful acts, words or attitudes from men. Chances are high that a woman will be exposed to male hatred at least once in her life. Before analyzing this hate against women, it is important to clarify what is meant by ‘hate’ and what will be referred to in this essay.

Royzman, McCauley and Rozin’s previous work (2005) has highlighted four key components of hate: (a) that it is likely to be associated with the ‘perception of a negative essence’, (b) that it involves ‘moral judgement’, (c) that it will ‘exclude compassion’, and (d) that people ‘differ in how vehemently they endorse their hate’. On the latter point, Sternberg (2005) pointed out that hate could manifest itself in ‘different combinations and intensities’ ranging from ‘cool hate’ (disgust) to ‘burning hate’ (need for annihilation), depending on individuals and on the context. This nuance is of great importance for the analysis to follow of the manifestations of men’s hate against women. Hate will be thought here as a negative view of women, accompanied by intense negative feelings against them, giving rise to various actions and behaviour towards them in order to devaluate them. In this essay, I’m going to offer an analysis of the manifestations of hate against women in Western societies. I will argue that harassment and men’s degrading and violent behaviour towards women are manifestations of hate that have long been justified using an “us and them” logic and that these behaviours can be seen as a strategy to maintain long-established power relations that are now challenged by women’s empowerment movements. In the first part, I will focus on the manifestations of hate to which women are exposed in order to show how men do hate and how an action, as insignificant as it may seem, is actually part of a continuum aimed at diminishing the other. In the second part, I will focus on the justification of this hate, highlighting the importance of the construction of the “us” and the “other” and exploring the strategy behind these manifestations of hate. Finally, I will analyze how recent women’s empowerment movements, such as #MeToo, contribute to a redrawing of group boundaries and mark a turning point in these strategies and politics of hate.

A quick look at the sites of associations providing support to ‘survivors of abuse’, as well as a reading of the articles that have followed one another for five years now is enough to make us feel the extent, omnipresence, and multiplicity of hate practices to which women are exposed on a daily basis.

As Sternberg (2005) pointed out, hate manifests itself in ‘different combinations and intensities’. Some will see hate only in acts that result in tragic consequences such as crimes, but hate is actually revealed under multiple practices. Femicide (the murder of women because they are women) is the evidence of hate that comes first to mind when we reflect on the subject. According to statistics provided by Women’s Aid, ‘139 women were killed by men in 2017 in the United Kingdom’. This act of femicide is the most intense manifestation of hate and resembles what Sternberg calls ‘burning hate’ (need for annihilation). Every week, in the United Kingdom, two women are killed just because they are women. However, hate against women is not only measured by the number of femicides, which is unfortunately only one of the extremes of the continuum of hate acts to which women are exposed (Kelly, 1988). Before the ‘burning hate’, on the scale of intensity proposed by Sternberg, we find the ‘hot hate’ (intense anger or fear) of which domestic abuse is a manifestation. In 2017, 1.2 million women were victims of domestic abuse (Women’s Aid, n.d.). This domestic violence, according to the interpretations given, could also be seen as a manifestation of ‘cold hate’ (devaluation). In this sense, a woman would be beaten because she is inferior or because she “deserves it”. Sexual assault and rape are just a few more example of ‘hot hate’ and ‘cold hate’ aimed at diminishing women by seeing them as ‘no more than sexual object’ and showing men’s superiority (Kelly, 1988). At the other end of the continuum is ‘cool hate’ (negation of intimacy). This manifests through the ‘sexualized harassment and slights’ that women have to ‘endure on a daily basis’ (Pellegrini, 2018). These behaviours to which women are ‘so-used-to-it-that-they-almost-accept-it’ (Everyday Sexism, n.d.) are the most present and vicious form of hate because we no longer paid attention to them and labeled them as normal. These offensive behaviours range from unwanted comments, wolf-whistling and touching by strangers to harassment in the workplace, among other things. Be they words or actions, at home, at work or in public spaces, manifestations of hate against women are numerous (Kelly, 1988). They are characteristic of this desire to devaluate or make women suffer, just because they are women.

These acts, often trivialized or ignored, are only the tip of the iceberg. Hate is not only about actions or words, it is also about the impact of these behaviours. Women exposed to such attitudes have often preferred or been forced to choose silence. In this regard, it is interesting to look at the case of sexual abuse, and more specifically, rape. Fairclough (1989) highlighted in his studies how texts reproduce power and inequality. This is clearly what we see in the case of complaints and judgments for rape. Law is a powerful conceptual framework. We evaluate our daily experiences against what is enshrined in the law (Gash and Harding, 2018). However, in many cases, laws do not correspond to the experiences of women and discourage them from filing complaints and can lead them to minimize their experience (MacKinnon, 2005). Many ‘survivors’ support associations highlight the number of ‘patients who do not take their own experience of sexual assault seriously’ (Refuge, n.d.). The law is made by those


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