Month: March 2011

Kanye’s Own Personal Monster: Misogyny


I came upon this great video on Feministing that educates people on misogyny using the “Monster” video by Kanye West as an example:

Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency does an excellent job of showing a mainstream example of the objectification of women through sexism and racism.  Sarkeesian eloquently explains that this isn’t about blame, but about change.  The artists, music industry, consumers and the market all lead to this comodification of females.  What particularly impressed me about the video was how Sarkeesian did not use any demeaning footage from the video itself.  I think it is important to not add to the circulation of misogynistic content, and her choice to eliminate the use of the video is a reminder of this to all bloggers.  As feminists, we need to educate and raise awareness, but we also need to protect ourselves from damaging media images that we just don’t need in our heads.  The description of Monster was quite enough for me.  Thank you Anita for being so empathetic and humane in your work!  Seriously Kanye, what’s your beef with women?  And why don’t you just solve it privately with a good therapist, not publicly damage people’s psyches?!?  But enough of my rant…

Following is the definition for misogyny that was referenced in the video.  Again another great point Sarkeesian made.

Misogyny is a cultural attitude of hatred for females because they are female.”

“[Misogyny] is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel for their own bodies.”

Allan G. Johnson

Here is another definition as well, that points out the fact that women also participate in misogyny.  Since we are all raised in patriarchal societies, everyone is trained in the devaluation of girls and women, including they themselves.

“Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making. […] Aristotle contended that women exist as natural deformities or imperfect males […] Ever since, women in Western cultures have internalised their role as societal scapegoats, influenced in the twenty-first century by multimedia objectification of women with its culturally sanctioned self-loathing and fixations on plastic surgery, anorexia and bulimia.”

Michael Flood

For many people, it is hard to even see the misogyny, because we are so entrenched in it.  We all see countless images of objectification through the countless media outlets we use everyday.  Sarkeesian’s video helps us to tune in and pay attention to what our society is reflecting.  The video ends with the haunting words, repeated twice:

“This video fetishizes the aspects of women that don’t even require us to be physically alive.”

Really think about that.  Then start observing the content you are taking in, and how it treats human beings.  What kind of world can we envision when even dead women are eroticized?  How far must this go before we say it’s enough?  Imagine a world where the media portrayed females as fully human, with thoughts, feelings, freedom, choice, and strength.  That’s the world I envision; one where we can see the love, not hate of women.  One where I am portrayed as whole.

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