It doesn’t even surprise me when a man makes a joke at a woman’s expense anymore. Especially if the joke is to appeal to his women-hating friends. Misogyny is so deeply interwoven into our society that it almost becomes difficult to explicitly label or identify it; which lets these casual comments easily pass off or justify as “jokes.”

The Horizon defined casual misogyny as expressing the dislike, or hatred, of women, feminine-presenting or feminine-identifying people through “supposedly” harmless comments or actions. 

Society thrives on this power imbalance created by assigned gender roles and their dynamics. These social constructs are key in the enactment of the patriarchy. They dictate how women are supposed to look and act. These same constructs leave men feeling entitled enough to believe that women must cater to a certain aesthetic. That if we steer from such norms, it justifies their unwanted comments and harassment. For example, just this morning, I saw a woman’s TikTok comments filled with men telling her she shouldn’t grow out her body hair, because it’s “unlady-like.” 

Someone telling a woman to “relax” when they may have an assertive tone, people questioning when a woman is having kids or is getting married, schools enforcing dress codes that assume girls “entice” or distract boys from their learning—all are examples of casual misogyny. Comments like these are usually laughed off because there isn’t anything “meant by them.” However, just because a comment is said with no ill-intentions doesn’t stop it from being harmful. If anything, this dismissive behavior shows just how women are placed at the bottom of the gender hierarchy.  

And for those who have intersectional identities, like Black and/or disabled women, these misogynistic comments get compounded. Misogynoir is the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against Black women. A form of misogyny rooted in racism. Black women and girls who share their experiences of trauma and assault are largely criticized and/or ignored. These experiences are being questioned and dissected more than any other group. 

All casual misogyny does is reinforce potentially dangerous societal norms that in turn enforces rape culture. Creating an environment where sexual violence against women is normalized and excused. Said culture continues to thrive through the use of misogynistic language. Such as calling your friend’s “thots” or “whores” on the internet and trying to laugh it off as a joke. Casual misogyny shelters the environment that allows this harassment and violence towards women to persist. Unsolicited comments about a woman’s actions or looks normalizes the use of casual misogyny and contributes to the objectification of feminine-presenting people and violent misogyny. 

We see how men try to disguise misogyny as a joke with former K-pop idol eaJ’s comment regarding his friend and former coworker on his recent Twitch stream. When you continue to normalize such comments and behaviors it creates a society that easily disregards women’s feelings and safety. Creating an environment where women are expected and pressured to stay quiet about their experiences of harassment.

This hatred for women can also show in the hatred of anything deemed feminine. These misogynistic social constructs state that showing emotion is weak. There is shame in being vulnerable. Suppressing emotions is unnatural and enabling such behaviors can lead to destructive tendencies. Consider this example: An employee gets yelled at by his boss but he can’t direct this anger back at his boss out of fear of losing his job. So what happens? He may dump these emotions onto his other employees or even go home and dump them on his partner and children.

Our society has made it so normal for men to only show themselves through anger in some odd display of power and dominance. Where if they start to feel any tinge of damage to their pride, they have to act out to prove they’re still “man” enough. You can see this in projection; some fathers might do this with their kids. The father may feel insecure about something and project that feeling onto his children to cope.

Unfortunately, I do not think we will ever completely remove misogyny from our society. But we can always educate ourselves and unlearn harmful habits. It’s a tedious process—learning to recognize misogynistic language and behavior, avoiding misogynistic language and unteaching ourselves harmful gender constructs, but it’s not impossible.

Misogyny is largely entwined in our lives. Once you realize just how much misogyny is actually around you, it’s all you’ll start to notice. From familial relationships to jobs and politics–there is no real escape. Without a major reworking of our way of life, we will continue to enable these harmful behaviors. It’s important to hold ourselves accountable in these instances of misogyny in order for us to grow as individuals and society as a whole.

With that being said, if you have to make women the butt of your joke, reevaluate yourself and those you’re trying to impress. Maybe you’re not surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. Just food for thought. 

Check out our previous What We Talkin ‘Bout here!