Published October 22, 2018
Motivated in part by the #MeToo movement and inspired by Cornell philosopher Kate Manne’s instant classic “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny,” the UB Gender Institute is presenting a yearlong lecture series titled “On Misogyny.”
And it’s only fitting that Manne will launch the series with a talk on Oct. 25 addressing the two keywords of her book: “misogyny” and “himpathy.”
Her talk, “On Himpathy and Misogyny,” will take place from 4-6 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall, North Campus.
It is free and open to the public, but registration is requested.
“Manne’s book has started a truly global conversation on how structures of power work to the detriment of women, and it is such a privilege for the UB Gender Institute to host her visit,” says Carrie Bramen, director of the Gender Institute.
Trained as an analytic philosopher in her native Australia and then at MIT, Manne encourages us “to reflect on the importance of language in naming particular phenomena and to understand why definition matters,” Bramen says.
She explains that misogyny, for Manne, cannot be understood as the undifferentiated hatred of women per se. “Consequently, psychological models aimed at changing the behavior of individual misogynists have limited value,” she says. “Instead, misogyny has a social function that polices women’s behavior, keeping them in the role of givers — as listeners, nurturers and conceders” — and, as Manne writes, “women are in effect born into an unofficial service industry.”
When women deviate from this assumed role, they are perceived as greedy, grasping and domineering, Bramen says. “Hence, women are portrayed as either loving mothers and cool girlfriends, or as ‘feminazis.’”
Manne also coined the word “himpathy,” which, Bramen says, has quickly become an indispensable part of the feminist toolkit and a term used widely in the media. Bramen says “himpathy refers to how we have been acculturated in our society to sympathize with powerful men, even those who have been reported for harmful and criminal behavior. Such identification with the victimizer risks erasing the actual victim.”
Manne has published multiple op-eds in The New York Times, most recently a discussion of himpathy in the context of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. She has also published extensively in such high-profile venues as the Boston Review, Huffington Post and Newsweek.
Bramen says she’s delighted to have Manne give the inaugural lecture of the “On Misogyny” series. “The task of research institutes is to reflect on the current issues of the day, and I can’t imagine a better speaker to begin our conversation on “misogyny” — a term that is frequently invoked but has received little critical attention.”
Manne’s visit also offers the Gender Institute an opportunity to collaborate with James Beebe, chair of the Department of Philosophy, and SUNY Distinguished Professor Jorge J.E. Gracia, the Samuel P. Capen Chair in the departments of Philosophy and Comparative Literature, who are co-sponsoring the event.
Other speakers scheduled for the series will address different aspects of misogyny. Princeton professor Gayle Salamon will speak on “Transmisogyny” on Feb. 21, and filmmaker and Temple University professor Wazhmah Osman will discuss how resisting misogyny must be international in scope on April 17. Next fall, Northeastern professor Moya Bailey, who coined the term “misogynoir” in 2010, will discuss the importance of naming the intersectional dynamics of misogyny in a lecture scheduled for Oct. 3.
As a part of the lecture series, the UB Gender Institute has posted a syllabus for students. For more on the lecture series and the syllabus, visit the Gender Institute’s website.
Brava Carrie Bramen and the Gender Institute for bringing Kate Manne to UB with her amazing, and, from my perspective, transformative analysis of the predicament of women in the prevailing culture. The entire lecture series on women and misogyny sounds fabulous, too!