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Main article: Misanthropy

Misogyny (Template:Pron-en) is hatred (or contempt) of women or girls. Misogyny comes from Greek misogunia (μισογυνία) from misos (μῖσος, "hatred") and gynē (γυνή, "woman"). It is parallel to misandry—the hatred of men or boys. Misogyny is also comparable with (but not the same as) misanthropy which is the hatred of humanity in general. The prefix miso-, meaning 'Hatred' or 'To hate' applies in many other words, such as misandry, misocapny, misogamy, misarchy and misoxeny.


Misogyny is sometimes confused with the similar looking word—misogamy (μισογαμία)—which means "hatred of marriage", hence the following error.[1]

Any doubt he may have ever cherished in his misogamic breast concerning a woman's creative capacity.

Pall Mall Gazette, 7 January 1889

An example of correct use, from the same period is:

He ... walked the banks apart, a thing of misogyny, in a suit of flannel.

Herman Charles MerivaleFaucit of Balliol, 1882

A clearer example of the sense, also from the same era but using the related word misogynist, is provided by Thackeray.

Confound all women, I say, muttered the young misogynist.

William Makepeace ThackerayThe Virginians, 1878

Occasionally writers play on the similarity between misogyny and miscegeny (mixed-race marriage).

This psychosocial analysis of the murder of a white civil rights activist by her mulatto lover (Joe Christmas) is replete with themes of fate, free will, sociopathy, family violence, misogyny, miscegeny, and isolation versus community.

Karl Kirkland, 'On the Value of William Faulkner to Graduate Medical Education', 2001[2]

Greek literature

File:Seated Euripides Louvre Ma343.jpg


Misogyny comes into English from the ancient Greek word, misogunia (μισογυνία), which survives in two passages.[3]

The earlier, longer and more complete passage comes from a stoic philosopher called Antipater of Tarsus in a moral tract known as On Marriage (c. 150 BC).[4][5]

Antipater argues that marriage is the foundation of the state, and considers it to be based on divine (polytheistic) decree.[5]

Antipater uses misogunia to describe Euripides' usual writing—tēn en tō graphein misogunian (τὴν μισογυνίαν ἐν τῷ γράφειν "the misogyny in the writing").[5]

However, he mentions this by way of contrast. He goes on to quote Euripides at some length, writing in praise of wives.[5] Antipater does not tell us what it is about Euripides' writing that he believes is misogynistic,[5] he simply expresses his belief that even a man thought to hate women (namely Euripides) praises wives, so concluding his argument for the importance of marriage. He says, "This thing is truly heroic."[5]

Euripides' reputation as a misogynist is known from another source. Athenaeus, in Deipnosophistae or Banquet of the Learned, has one of the diners quoting Hieronymus of Cardia who confirms the view was widespread, while offering Sophocles' comment on the matter.

Euripides the poet, also, was much addicted to women: at all events Hieronymus in his Historical Commentaries speaks as follows,—"When some one told Sophocles that Euripides was a woman-hater, 'He may be,' said he, 'in his tragedies, but in his bed he is very fond of women.'"

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, 2nd/3rd century., [6]

Despite Euripides' reputation, Antipater is not the only writer to see appreciation of women in his writing. Katherine Henderson and Barbara McManus consider he "showed more empathy for women than any other ancient writer", citing "relatively modern critics" to support their claim.[7]

The other surviving use of the original Greek word is by Chrysippus, in a fragment from On affections, quoted by Galen in Hippocrates on Affections.[8] Here, misogyny is the first in a short list of three "disaffections"—women (misogunian), wine (misoinian, μισοινίαν) and humanity (misanthrōpian, μισανθρωπίαν).

Chrysippus' point is more abstract than Antipater's, and Galen quotes the passage as an example of an opinion contrary to his own. What is clear, however, is that he groups hatred of women with hatred of humanity generally, and even hatred of wine. "It was the prevailing medical opinion of his day that wine strengthens body and soul alike."[9]

So, as with his fellow stoic, Antipater, misogyny is viewed negatively, a disease, a dislike of something that is good. It is this issue of conflicted or alternating emotions that was philosophically contentious to the ancient writers. Ricardo Salles suggests the general stoic view was that, "A man may not only alternate between philogyny and misogyny, philanthropy and misanthropy, but be prompted to each by the other."[10]


Marcus Tullius Cicero

Misogynist is also found in the Greek—misogunēs (μισογύνης)—in Deipnosophistae (above) and in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, where it is used as the title of Heracles in the history of Phocion.

It was also the title of a play by Menander, which we know of from book seven (concerning Alexandria) of Strabo's 17 volume Geography,[3][11] and quotations of Menander by Clement of Alexandria and Stobaeus that relate to marriage.[12]

Menander also wrote a play called Misoumenos (Μισούμενος) or The Man (She) Hated. Another Greek play with a similar name, Misogunos (Μισόγυνος) or Woman-hater, is reported by Cicero (in Latin) and attributed to Atilius.[13]

The context is worth quoting in full, because it deals directly with matters already discussed in this article.

It is the same with other diseases; as the desire of glory, a passion for women, to which the Greeks give the name of philogyneia: and thus all other diseases and sicknesses are generated. But those feelings which are the contrary of these are supposed to have fear for their foundation, as a hatred of women, such as is displayed in the Woman-hater of Atilius; or the hatred of the whole human species, as Timon is reported to have done, whom they call the Misanthrope. Of the same kind is inhospitality. And all these diseases proceed from a certain dread of such things as they hate and avoid.

Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, 1st century BC.[14]

The more common form of this general word for woman hating is misogunaios (μισογύναιος).[3]

  • There are also some persons easily sated with their connection with the same woman, being at once both mad for women and women haters. — Philo, Of Special Laws, 1st Century.[15]
  • Allied with Venus in honourable positions Saturn makes his subjects haters of women, lovers of antiquity, solitary, unpleasant to meet, unambitious, hating the beautiful, ... — Ptolemy, 'Of the Quality of the Soul', 2nd century.[16]
  • I will prove to you that this wonderful teacher, this woman-hater, is not satisfied with ordinary enjoyments during the night. — Alciphron, 'Thais to Euthyedmus', 2nd century.[17]

The word is also found in Vettius Valens' Anthology and Damascius' Principles.[18][19]

Marcus Tullius Cicero reports that Greek philosophers considered misogyny to be caused by gynophobia, a fear of women.[14]

In summary, Greek literature considered misogyny to be a disease, an anti-social condition, in that it ran contrary to their perceptions of the value of women as wives, and of the family as the foundation of society. These points are widely noted in the secondary literature.[5]

However, there were plenty of myths among Greeks that would be considered misogynist by modern standards - such as in the myth of Pandora. Additionally, while ancient Greeks considered misogyny to be antithetical to the value of women as wives, in the modern age one who values women primarily as wives and the family as the foundation of society would almost certainly be regarded as a misogynist. As such, it is doubtful if the misogyny ancient Greeks considered a disease is the same as what we call 'misogyny' in the current day and age.

Feminist theory

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In the late 20th century, feminist theorists alleged that misogyny is both a cause and result of patriarchal social structures.[20]

Traditional feminist theorists paint many different attitudes as misogyny. According to feminists, in its most overt expression, a misogynist will openly hate all women simply because they are female.

In feminist theory, other forms of misogyny may be less overt. Some alleged misogynists may simply be prejudiced against all women, or may hate women who do not fall into one or more acceptable categories. Subscribers to one model claim that some misogynists think in terms of the mother/whore dichotomy, where they hold that women can only be "mothers" or "whores." Another variant model is the one alleging that certain men think in terms of a virgin/whore dichotomy, in which women who do not adhere to an Abrahamic standard of moral purity are considered "whores".[citation needed]

The term misogynist is frequently used in a looser sense as a term of derision to describe anyone who holds an unpopular or distasteful view about women as a group. Therefore, someone like Schopenhauer who proposes naturalistic reasons for various behaviors common to women is often regarded as a misogynist. As another, particularly striking example, man who is considered by many including himself to be "a great lover of women," is often regarded as being misogynist by feminists who consider this treatment of women to be sexist. Examples of this type of man would be Giacomo Casanova and Don Juan, who were both reputed for their many libertine affairs with women.

In feminist theory, misogyny is a negative attitude towards women as a group, and so need not fully determine a misogynist's attitude towards each individual woman. The fact that someone holds misogynist views may not prevent him or her from having positive relationships with some women.

Conversely, simply having negative relationships with some women does not necessarily mean someone holds misogynistic views. The term, like most negative descriptions of attitudes, is used as an epithet and applied to a wide variety of behaviors and attitudes - often as a personal attack.

As with other terms, the more antipathetic one's position is in regards to misogyny, the larger the number of misogynists and the greater variety of attitudes and behaviors who fall into one's perception of "misogynist".[specify]

This is, of course, the subject of much controversy and debate with opinions ranging widely as to the extent and breadth of misogyny in society.

Feminist theorist Marilyn Frye alleges that misogyny is phallogocentric and homoerotic at its root. In Politics of Reality, Frye analyzes the alleged misogyny characteristic of the fiction and Christian apologetics of C.S. Lewis. Frye argues that such misogyny privileges the masculine as a subject of erotic attention. She compares the alleged misogyny characteristic of Lewis' ideal of gender relations to underground male prostitution rings, which allegedly share the quality of men seeking to dominate subjects seen as less likely to take on submissive roles by a patriarchal society, but in both cases doing so as a theatrical mockery of women.[21]


File:Jean Cousin the Elder, Eva Prima Pandora.jpg

Eve the First Pandora (Louvre)
Eva Prima Pandora, Jean Cousin Snr

J Holland sees evidence of misogyny in the mythology of the ancient world. In Greek mythology, the human race had already existed before the creation of women — a peaceful, autonomous existence as a companion to the gods.

When Prometheus decides to steal the secret of fire from the gods, Zeus becomes infuriated and decides to punish humankind with an "evil thing for their delight" — Pandora, the first woman, who carried a jar (usually described — incorrectly — as a box) she was told to never open.

Epimetheus (the brother of Prometheus) is overwhelmed by her beauty, disregards Prometheus' warnings about her, and marries her. Pandora cannot resist peeking into the jar, and by opening it all evil is unleashed into the world — labour, sickness, old age, and death.[22]

These examples of misogyny in Greek myths contradict the claims made by many that Greek literature looked down upon misogyny. It could mean that the notion of misogyny that was ridiculed by greek literature is not the same as the modern concept of misogyny.

J Holland also sees evidence of misogyny in the Christian view on the Fall of Man based on the Book Genesis, which according to Christian interpretation brought tragedy and death into the world by a woman. (See also Original Sin.)


File:Maria laach eva teufel.jpg

Eve rides astride the Serpent on a capital in Laach Abbey church, 13th century

See also: Feminist theology


Main article: Women in Christianity

Katharine M. Rogers in The Troublesome Helpmate alleges Christianity to be misogynistic, listing specific examples from the New Testament letters of the Christian apostle Paul of Tarsus.

The foundations of early Christian misogyny — its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction — are all in St. Paul's epistles. [23]


See also: Namus

The fourth chapter (or sura) of the Qur'an is called Women (An-Nisa). The 34th verse is a key verse in feminist criticism of Islam.[24] The first half of the verse reads: "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means."

Taj Hashmi discusses misogyny in relation to Muslim culture, and Bangladesh specifically, in the rather biased Popular Islam and Misogyny: A Case Study of Bangladesh.

[T]hanks to the subjective interpretations of the Quran (almost exclusively by men), the preponderance of the misogynic mullahs and the regressive Shariah law in most “Muslim” countries, Islam is synonymously known as a promoter of misogyny in its worst form. Although there is no way of defending the so-called “great” traditions of Islam as libertarian and egalitarian with regard to women, we may draw a line between the Quranic texts and the corpus of avowedly misogynic writing and spoken words by the mullah having very little or no relevance to the Quran.


However, in the Arabic Quranic scripture, qawwamun, which is typically translated as "manage" or "take responsibility for",[26] also means that it is the man's responsibility to take care of the woman, feeding and clothing her and her children, and providing them with a place to live.[citation needed]

In contrast to this somewhat polar view there are instances within the Qu'ran that, for its time of revelation, put it far ahead of many other religions and societies of the same era and for some time after. The Qu'ran explicitly institutes the protection of a woman's inheritance, allows them the right to divorce and fair provision of assets upon divorce in Surat At-Talaq. Also within the Qu'ran the figure of Eve is relieved of the blame for Man's downfall, unlike Christianity, as both Eve and Adam are stated as equally responsible for succumbing to the Devil's influence.


Misogyny has, if anything, been more prominent among notable philosophers whose contributions have stood the test of time than among other people in the same age. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Weininger, Kant, Hume, Wittgenstein, Socrates, Buddha, Plato and Aristotle were all notable misogynists


The philosopher Otto Weininger freely admits his misogyny in his 1903 book Sex and Character, in which he characterizes the "woman" part of each individual as being essentially "nothing," and having no real existence, having no effective consciousness or rationality.[27]

Weininger famously says, "No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them." The author August Strindberg praised Weininger for probably having solved the hardest of all problems, the "woman problem."


The notable philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer has been accused of misogyny for his essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." He also noted that "Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies."


The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is known for arguing that every higher form of civilization implied stricter controls on women (Beyond Good and Evil, 7:238); he frequently insulted women, but is best known for phrases such as "Women are less than shallow," and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!"[28]

Nietzsche's reputation as a misogynist is disputed by some, pointing out that he also made unflattering statements about men. However, this would only add his being misandrist to his being misogynist. While some may speculate that modern feminism is the worst form of ressentiment as described by Nietzsche, it would be meaningless to describe him as being anti-feminist because the notions of feminism and anti-feminism did not exist in his lifetime.

Whether or not this amounts to misogyny, whether his polemic statements against women are meant to be taken literally, and the exact nature of his opinions of women, are controversial.[29] Nietzsche had advised his readers to 'read him well' (i.e. not necessarily at face value) as to not misunderstand his statements and see the reality and fact of his words.


The philosopher Wittgenstein was influenced by Weinenger's views on women [30] Wittgenstein enthusiastically recommended 'Sex and Character' to his peers and in the face of their criticism pointed out Weinenger's greatness [31]


There is no doubt that Aristotle's texts are misogynist; he thought that women were inferior to men and he said so explicitly. For example, to cite Cynthia Freeland's catalogue: "Aristotle says that the courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman's lies in obeying; that "matter yearns for form, as the female for the male and the ugly for the beautiful;" that women have fewer teeth than men; that a female is an incomplete male or "as it were, a deformity": which contributes only matter and not form to the generation of offspring; that in general "a woman is perhaps an inferior being"; that female characters in a tragedy will be inappropriate if they are too brave or too clever"(Freeland 1994: 145-46)[32]


Kant was convinced that there was merit to the view that white men are fools for first making great concessions to their wives, and afterward complaining on being driven mad by them.[33]


Buddha predicted that allowing women into the Sangha would cause his teachings to survive only half as long – 500 years instead of a 1,000. Also, nuns are made to always treat a monk as her superior no matter how old the nun or how young the monk [34]

Also, a Buddha must have the 32 marks of being a great man - one of which is being male. ( Khuddaka Nikaya, Buddhavamsa 2.59 )


Socrates maintained that the courage of a man was shown in commanding, while that of a woman was shown in obeying. [35]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Listed under both misogyny and misogamy by OED1, but cited in full only in the latter.
  2. Family Medicine 33 (2001): 664.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ), revised and augmented by Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940). ISBN 0198642261
  4. The editio princeps is on page 255 of volume three of Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (SVF, Old Stoic Fragments), see External links.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 A recent critical text with translation is in Appendix A to Will Deming, Paul on Marriage and Celibacy: The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7, pp. 221–226. Misogunia appears in the accusative case on page 224 of Deming, as the fifth word in line 33 of his Greek text. It is split over lines 25–26 in von Arnim.
  6. Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, Book 13 §5.
  7. "Although Euripides showed more empathy for women than any other ancient writer, many of his lines out of context sound misogynistic; only relatively modern critics have been able to rescue him from his centuries-old reputation as a woman-hater." Katherine Usher Henderson and Barbara F. McManus, Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England, 1540-1640, (University of Illinois Press, 1985), p. 6. ISBN 9780252011740
  8. SVF 3:103. Mysogyny is the first word on the page.
  9. Teun L. Tieleman, Chrysippus' on Affections: Reconstruction and Interpretations, (Leiden: Brill, 2003), p. 162. ISBN 9004129987
  10. Ricardo Salles, Metaphysics, Soul, and Ethics in Ancient Thought: Themes from the Work of Richard Sorabji, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), 485.
  11. Strabo,Geography, Book 7 [Alexandria] Chapter 3.
  12. Menander, The Plays and Fragments, translated by Maurice Balme, contributor Peter Brown, Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0192839837
  13. He is supported (or followed) by Theognostus the Grammarian's 9th century Canones, edited by John Antony Cramer, Anecdota Graeca e codd. manuscriptis bibliothecarum Oxoniensium, vol. 2, (Oxford University Press, 1835), p. 88.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Marcus Tullius Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, Book 3, Chapter 11. [LSJ typo has Book 4]
  15. γυναικομανεῖς ἐν ταὐτῷ καὶ μισογῦναιοι. Editio critica: Philo, Johann Theodor Wendland and S. Reiter, Philonis Alexandrini opera quæ supersunt, 6 vols, (Berlin, 1896–1915): (vol. 5) book 3, chapter 14 § 79. [Misprint in LSJ has 2:312]. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge (London, 1854–1855).
  16. Ptolemy, 'Of the Quality of the Soul', in Four Books, edited by Joachim Camerarius (Nuremberg, 1535), Latin translation by Philipp Melanchthon, reprinted (Basel, 1553): p. 159. Book 3 § 13. English translation.
  17. τὸν διδάσκαλον τουτονὶ τὸν μισογύναιον. Alciphron, 'Thais to Euthyedmus', in Letters, Template:Gr icon edited by MA Schepers, (Leipzig, 1905): as book 4, letter 7, page 115, line 15. ISBN 3598710232.Translated by the Athenian Society (1896): as book 1, letter 34.
  18. Vettius Valens, Anthology, edited by Wilhelm Kroll (1908): p. 17, line 11.
  19. Damascius, Principles, edited by CA Ruelle (Paris, 1889): p. 388.
  20. Kate Millet's Sexual Politics, adapted from her doctoral dissertation is normally cited as the originator; though Katharine M Rogers had also published substantially, regarding her reading of misogyny in literature prior to this.
  21. Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing, 1983.
  22. Holland, J: "Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice," pp. 12-13. Avalon Publishing Group, 2006.
  23. Rogers, Katharine M. The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature, 1966.
  24. "Verse 34 of Chapter 4 is an oft-cited Verse in the Qur’an used to demonstrate that Islam is structurally patriarchal, and thus Islam internalizes male dominance." Dahlia Eissa, "Constructing the Notion of Male Superiority over Women in Islam: The influence of sex and gender stereotyping in the interpretation of the Qur’an and the implications for a modernist exegesis of rights", Occasional Paper 11 in Occasional Papers (Empowerment International, 1999).
  25. Hashmi, Taj. Popular Islam and Misogyny: A Case Study of Bangladesh. Retrieved August 11, 2008.
  26. Marmaduke Pickthall et al.
  27. Izenberg, Gerald N. (June 2001). Review of Chandak Sengoopta's Otto Weininger: Sex, Science, and Self in Imperial Vienna. The American Historical Review 106 (3): 1074–1075.
  28. Burgard, Peter J. (May 1994). Nietzsche and the Feminine, 11, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.
  29. Robert C. Holub, Nietzsche and The Women's Question. Coursework for Berkley University


Dictionary of sociology articles

  • Marshall, Gordon. 'Misogyny'. In Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Johnson, Allan G. 'Misogyny'. In Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology: A User's Guide to Sociological Language. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2000.

Core references

  • Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975.
  • Dijkstra, Bram. Idols of Perversity: Fantacies of Feminine Evil. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
  • Chodorow, Nancy. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. University of California, Berkeley, 1978.
  • Dworkin, Andrea. Woman Hating. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974.
  • Griffin, Susan. . :,.
  • Klein, Melanie. The Collected Writings of Melanie Klein. 4 volumes. London: Hogarth Press, 1975.
  • Millett, Kate. Sexual Politics. New York: Doubleday, 1970.
  • Rich, Adrienne. :,.

Katharine M Rogers

  • Rogers, Katharine M. The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature. 1966.

Other literature

  • Boteach, Shmuley. Hating Women: America's Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex. 2005.
  • Clack, Beverley. Misogyny in the Western Philosophical Tradition.
  • Ellmann, Mary. Thinking About Women. 1968.
  • Ferguson, Frances and R. Howard Bloch. Misogyny, Misandry, and Misanthropy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. ISBN 9780520065444
  • Forward, Susan, and Joan Torres. Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them: When Loving Hurts and You Don't Know Why. Bantam Books, 1986. ISBN 0-553-28037-6
  • Gilmore, David D. Misogyny: the Male Malady. 2001.
  • Haskell, Molly. From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. 1974. University of Chicago Press, 1987.
  • Holland, Jack. Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice. 2006.
  • Kipnis, Laura. The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability. 2006. ISBN 0-375-42417-2
  • Morgan, Fidelis. A Misogynist's Source Book.
  • Patai, Daphne, and Noretta Koertge. Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies. 1995. ISBN 0-465-09827-4
  • Penelope, Julia. Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of our Fathers' Tongues. Toronto: Pergamon Press Canada, 1990.
  • Smith, Joan. Misogynies. 1989. Revised 1993.
  • World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women* 2005.

External links


  • Hans Friedrich August von Arnim. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (SVF, Old Stoic Fragments), 1903.


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