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Stopping violence against women starts with learning what misogyny really is

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<p>It has been more than a year since Sarah Everard, 33, was abducted while walking home and killed by a police officer in London.  Since then, we have also seen the case of Sabina Nessa, a primary school teacher also from London, who was also killed by a stranger as she was walking to meet a friend of hers.  And in early 2022 in Tullamore, Ireland, 23-year-old Ashling Murphy was killed while he was jogging in a public place during the day.</p>
<p>The problem of violence against women may seem insurmountable.  But focusing on misogyny education can provide a starting point.  In particular, it is important to help young people understand what misogyny is, how it affects both women and men, and how it can lead to violence.</p>
<p>Our research on moral education, sex education, and violence against women can help explain the link between misogyny and violence, and how education can address these issues.</p>
<p>According to philosopher Kate Manne, misogyny is not “hatred of women.”  Instead, it is a set of social rules that enforce a patriarchal society, one in which men are dominant and women are subservient.  The essence of misogyny lies in its function, and that function is to keep women in line.</p>
<p>Misogyny is deeply ingrained in society.  Girls are regularly assigned a lower social status, while masculinity is associated with power and privilege.  In an unequal society it is easier to justify the violence committed by the most powerful.  Women may be treated skeptically and disbelieved, while men may be favored and their version of the story considered more credible.</p>
<p>However, misogyny also affects men.  Research suggests that men may experience a phenomenon known as “male discrepancy stress”—feelings of distress when they feel they haven’t conformed to male gender norms.</p>
<p>Male discrepancy stress can stem from the idea of ​​being perceived as weak, dependent, or emotional.  This anguish has been linked to male violence against women.  When men feel the effects of misogyny, it can have deadly effects on women.</p>
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Educating people about misogyny and its repercussions could be a start in addressing violence against women.

building identity

Boys try to create their own identity, but this can be undermined by gender-based bullying. For example, a boy who wants to be a nurse when he grows up may repress this ambition when faced with the reactions of other boys, and instead focus on a more “masculine” career.

At school, children could be encouraged to reflect on how gender stereotypes have affected them and how, in turn, their own behavior might limit their classmates.

Reflection on gender stereotypes can be guided through philosophy. The central idea behind the philosophy for children is to facilitate autonomous learning by encouraging students to think for themselves. Beginning with a reflection on how easy it is to trust stereotypical thinking about gender, the teacher might question how helpful or harmful such thinking might be.

Doing philosophy with children is known to have beneficial results for children.

Another approach might use the history of philosophy as a starting point. Older students might be aware of the work of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the so-called “mother of feminism” and a fierce critic of stereotypical notions of femininity.

Yet philosophers have often questioned whether the mother of feminism was herself a misogynist. Students could see how Wollstonecraft herself may have perpetuated gender norms by accusing her philosopher colleague Edmund Burke of not being masculine enough.

Participatory research methods, in which young people actively ‘do the research’, can be a good way of changing perspectives. Two Irish School students, Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan. She carried out a project on gender bias in the classroom and won first prize at the 32nd Contest for Young Scientists of the European Union.

Harris and O’Sullivan investigated the prevalence of gender stereotypes in children ages five to seven. They found that gender stereotypes were particularly prevalent among boys and that boys are less willing to acknowledge the ability of women. To combat gender stereotypes, they have put together resources for use by teachers and parents that explicitly focus on gender bias.

Sex education classes can also provide a place for students to learn about the importance of caring for the other person in a relationship and focusing on their well-being when discussing relationships. By incorporating issues of consent and dating violence, these classes can help prevent misogyny and promote gender equality.

This type of teaching could help give students a thoughtful distance from stereotypes, giving them mental resources that can help when said stereotypes are used against them. In this way, perhaps, teaching could be used in the fight against gender inequality and stress due to male discrepancy.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The authors do not work for, consult with, own stock in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic position.


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