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Brown: Cultural misogyny as a game of whac-a-mole

BY MARCUS BROWN | SEPTEMBER 17, 2014 5:00 AM

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It is human nature to fear the unknown. The most primeval of our fears do not stem from the rational but rather an abstract terror of what could be. It stems from what we do not understand. We are scared of the dark not because of what we can see but rather what we cannot. Our response to those fears and lack of understanding varies greatly.

They can lead us to strive for insight and produce moments of great progress, but they can also motivate us to judge, ignore, and persecute. There is no better example of how this mentality influences action more than the treatment of women in our society.

Women are a vital part of our society, and yet their mistreatment is one of the most prevalent issues of the 21st century. Moves have been made to remedy and mask the issues that are bubbling just beneath the surface, but not enough has been done to stop the problem at the source.

We can pin issues such as workplace inequality and domestic abuse on a tyrant patriarch class or traditional gender rules, but those are simply symptoms, not an actual malady. These problems come from a society that operates from a place of fear. We try to address the problems as they appear because we don’t to be seen as looking the other way. The reality is we don’t know how to win because we don’t know what we’re fighting.

Progress has been so difficult to achieve because the way we deal with women’s problems in our society is similar to a game of Whac-A-Mole. We simply try to hit the moles as they stick their head out without any thought of anticipating when the next issue will rear its head. Taking it one step forward would lead us to the question of why we are playing this game in the first place.

Turn on the news, and you hear stories of mass rapes and kidnappings all over the globe from the Middle East to Africa. Does #BringBackOurGirls ring any bells? It has become easy to compartmentalize these types of atrocities because of how seemingly progressive our own society is.

Women’s Equality day was just a few weeks ago. But what does that say about the rampant sexual assaults on college campuses or the outrage when a certain NFL player clocks his fiancée in an elevator?

A few days of public condemnation and strongly worded social media posts do nothing to illuminate the subtle misogyny that still plagues our society. Neither does the mentality that states that because it is worse somewhere else, it is better over here.

Before we work to make sure men and women are treated equally we need to understand why it is an issue in the first place. If we can’t identify the problem we have no hope of solving it. We have two choices moving forward: work toward coming to a true place of understanding or patiently wait for the next cue to be surprised and outraged.


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