From a young age, we are taught to treat others as we would like to be treated. Unfortunately, some children miss the memo and go on to treat others very poorly. Children progress through various developmental stages on their way to maturity. In preschool and elementary school, kids are primarily interested in same sex friendships. Interest and curiosity in the opposite sex tends to flourish as children move through middle school. For most adolescent boys, teasing and picking on their female counterparts in high school is a popular pastime, but usually stems from harmless attention seeking behaviors. However, some males reach maturity and mistreat women for fun, with malice, and for purposes of self-gratification. Men who are discriminatory and who possess a hatred of women are classified as misogynists.
Misogyny commonly develops as a result of early childhood trauma with a female caregiver. An important female figure who was neglectful, abusive, or who violated trust can precipitate misogyny. Misogynistic tendencies can be perpetuated with continued exposure to abuse, neglect, or trauma. If intervention occurs in childhood, misogyny can be somewhat addressed and treated. However, once a male reaches maturity, it is extremely difficult to reverse his misogynistic ways.
A male is usually not aware of his misogyny, as it remains embedded in the depths of his unconscious. Most misogynists are not overtly aware of their deep hatred for women and tend to target women with charisma and charm. Their magnetism and allure can make it very difficult to spot a misogynist or to take any precautions. A misogynist will switch moods without warning and will vacillate from respectful and caring to indifferent and rude. They will intentionally fail to keep promises and take great pleasure in disappointing women. The behavior of a misogynist is commonly arrogant, pompous, selfish, and calculating. They are exceedingly competitive with women in social and occupational settings and always need to come out on top, even if they have to mislead or deceive to do so.
In a dating relationship or marriage, a misogynist will unconsciously do anything to remain in power. A misogynist will use sex as a bargaining chip, focusing solely on themselves. They will demean their partner and take advantage of their trust and kindness. A misogynist will go out of his way to undermine his spouse and cannot remain faithful. A misogynist may spend a significant amount of time disappearing and cheating on his wife, only to appear again at some point in the future with captivating explanations. Women in a misogynistic relationship become easily confused by passive-aggressive and mixed messages, resulting in intense feelings of self-doubt, reduced self-esteem, and lowered confidence levels.
Without knowing it, misogynists experience personal gain, delight, and enjoyment from treating women poorly. When they behave badly, the brain’s pleasure chemical, dopamine, is released in the misogynist’s brain. The release of dopamine serves as a mechanism of positive reinforcement, causing the misogynist to continue mistreating women.
Most misogynists are male, but it is important to note that misogyny can be present in females as well. A woman who hates other women can mistreat her female counterparts, while maintaining a constant suspicion of them. These women will show preferential treatment towards men, putting all other women at an actual or perceived disadvantage.
Misogynists most certainly do not treat others as they would like to be treated. They go through their developmental stages, reach maturity, and become set in their misogynistic ways. A misogynist can cause intense emotional destruction in their wake, while completely obliterating a female’s confidence and self-esteem. Thus, it is critical that a woman receive the necessary treatment and support to extricate herself from a misogynistic relationship.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.