A review by a psychotherapist of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny” by the philosopher Kate Manne. Excerpts below slightly re-arranged for fluency:
There is nothing deep inside us, Richard Rorty once remarked, that we haven’t put there ourselves. So even though, at least for some people, psychoanalysis, and psychology more generally, have interesting things to say about misogyny, they also run the risk of naturalising it (misogyny is deep inside us because our mothers are)
Misogynists, of course, are radical essentialists when it comes to women. They know exactly what they are like, and we should not, Manne intimates, be fighting one essentialism with another.
Once misogyny is essentialised – once it is treated as in some way integral to our nature, or just a part of how we live – it all too easily becomes one of Manne’s exonerating narratives. If there is little justice for women, what is there? If there is no cure for misogyny, what is there? The question then is how to co-exist with it.
Her book is clarifying about misogyny, but it is equally interesting for what it has to say about the issue that has dogged the social sciences virtually since their inception: the relationship of the individual to the systems and structures that seemingly comprise him or her.