Even when we deeply understand the effects of misogyny, whether because we or someone we love have experienced male coercion, manipulation, and violence, it’s important to understand how misogynistic thinking may have subtlety infiltrated our thoughts.
Abusers and their enablers benefit from exploiting women – and the root of that exploitation comes from misogynistic attitudes and beliefs. Dr. Jessica Taylor is back on the BTR.ORG podcast. Listen to this episode and read the full transcript below for more.
“I’m Supposed to Do Most of the Work Around Here”
One subtle way that misogyny burrows its subtle way into our lives is by forcing women to take on the emotional, mental, and physical tasks of a household and family.
Abusers may use:
- Weaponized incompetence (acting or exaggerating that they don’t “know how” to accomplish a task well in order to exploit you into doing it)
- Male entitlement (because you’re a woman, you’re supposed to do it)
- Emotional & psychological abuse and/or sexual coercion (threats, intimidation, anger, manipulation, gaslighting – this may include creating a climate where you “walk on eggshells” in order to avoid being abused
Consider This if You’re Exhausted & Carrying the Burdens:
“If women listening are thinking, yeah, my husband wants me to be the stopgap in our relationship, I’m the one that needs to apologize. I’m the one that needs to be compliant. I’m the one that needs to set up the things and plan the stuff and make sure everything goes smoothly, but he just gets to call the shots and doesn’t have to do the work. That is a sign that the situation that you’re in is an emotionally and psychologically abusive one because he’s expecting other people to close that gap.”
Anne Blythe, Founder of BTR.ORG
Misogynists Only “Look” a Certain Way
“[Abusive men are] learning to disguise [their misogyny]. They’re learning to make it sound more socially desirable and acceptable, but those views and those values, they’ve not gone anywhere. They’re learning how to communicate them and, as you say, maintain their power and their control without outing themselves.”
Dr. Jessica Taylor, author
When society believes that misogynistic men only look a certain way – that is, that they are obvious and overt with their hatred of women – it’s easy for manipulative misogynistic abusers to fly under the radar.
Abusive men often manipulate:
- Family court professionals
- Health care providers
- Media and journalists
- Work colleagues
- Friends and family
- Mental health care specialists
and others into believing that they are “great guys” who would never subscribe to hateful thinking and abusive behaviors.
There’s Not One “Abusive Man Look”
Many women find themselves in denial that they themselves could be abused – and even further deny that their husband fits the profile of “abuser”. This is simply because societally, we’ve been so conditioned to see both abusers and victims as fitting a very specific description.
Understanding that misogyny and abuse are choices made by men regardless of:
- Background (trauma, no trauma, etc)
- Economic status
- Education level
- Whether or not they use substances like drugs and alcohol
- Religious activity level
Can be life-saving.
BTR.ORG Is Here For You
Deconstructing internalized misogyny and accepting that the hatred of women is one of the key reasons that men psychologically abuse and sexually coerce women, can be difficult and lonely. We are here for you – attend a BTR.ORG Group Session today.
Dr. Jessica Taylor is back on today’s episode. If you haven’t heard the past few episodes with her where we introduce her, go back, listen to those first and then join us. Here we are starting the conversation talking about male entitlement, exploitative privilege.
James Clear, who wrote Atomic Habits, had this quote in his weekly email blast, and I thought it really related to this. He said, “Ambition is when you expect yourself to close the gap between what you have and what you want. And entitlement is when you expect others to close the gap between what you have and what you want.” And I think that’s kind of the heart of misogyny, is that they want to be able to have a clean house or have children or all the things that men might want, and they expect women to close that gap.
Abusive Men: “These are the things I want, But I Want Someone Else to Do All The Work”
Instead of saying, If I want my toilet to be cleaned or if I want my children to be cared for, or if I want this and this and this, I need to do that. I need to show up to the school and pick up my child. I need to give my child good medical care. They think, I want to be able to call the shots. I want to be able to say, ‘These are the things I want’, but then I want someone else to do all the work. I want to be able to get what I want and not have to actually do the thing.
So had that man [discussed in the previous episode] been able to have his [ex]wife pick up and take their daughter and do whatever he said, he would’ve been happy to have his daughter stay with his ex. But because she wasn’t doing what he wanted and they weren’t acting the way that he wanted them to, then it was like, Okay, well then I’d rather hire a nanny. I would rather hire someone else to do this because he was not going to do it.
If women listening are thinking, Yeah, my husband wants me to be the stopgap in our relationship: I’m the one that needs to apologize. I’m the one that needs to be compliant. I’m the one that needs to set up the things and plan the stuff and make sure everything goes smoothly, but he just gets to call the shots and doesn’t have to do the work. That is a sign that the situation that you’re in is an emotionally and psychologically abusive one because he’s expecting other people to close that gap.
Patriarchal Culture: “Women are there to serve men”
Dr. Jessica Taylor (02:32):
It’s such an interesting quote, isn’t it? I really like it. And I think that the sense of entitlement also comes from the misogynistic belief of men as individuals and also patriarchy as a culture, that women are there to serve men. They’re there to have sex with men, they’re there to look after men, they’re there to care for every need of that man. It’s a very specific stereotype. You have a very specific role as a woman in a patriarchy. You’re supposed to be desirable, you’re supposed to be attractive, you’re supposed to be sexually available, but not too desirable, not too attractive, not too sexually available because then you’ve gone too far the other way into empowerment. There’s a term in psychology in some of the research around sexualization of women called, “sexy, but not a slut”.
“You’re supposed to be everything that man wants you to be”
So it’s like you’re supposed to be sexually available. You are also supposed to be sexually chaste. You’re supposed to be everything that man wants you to be: if he wants you to be almost like a virgin, then that’s what you are. If he wants you to be easy, that’s what you are; if he wants you to have sex with him every day, that’s what you are. If he doesn’t and he wants you to only behave in a certain way, that’s what you are.
That’s that level of entitlement as well is that you are supposed to fulfill the role of “the inferior woman” at all times, and you’re supposed to do what you’re supposed to do. And then that includes being domesticated. So it means cleaning for him and cooking for him and looking after his kids and being the family referee, the family secretary, the family accountant.
“They’re getting it from story books and fairy tales – misogyny runs deep”
Some of these men are literally living lives where they do not know they’re born. <Laugh> Women are just doing everything for them because they are almost being made to do that. They’re expected to do that, and it’s the way that we’ve socialized these men and boys and women to do that. Women socialize men and boys like that as well. So moms are doing this. It’s not just dads where they’re getting these messages. They’re getting it from their moms too. They’re getting it from wider society, they’re getting it from the media, they’re getting it from story books and fairy tales. Misogyny runs deep. It’s all the way through this issue, and then we see it almost manifest in all of these different behaviors and experiences that women and girls are living through. That sense of entitlement that you just talked about, I think, is a great way of explaining it.
The Woman They Could Not Silence
This is really highlighted in the book, The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore. It is an incredible story of Elizabeth Packard who endured immense trials in the 1800’s due to her husband putting her in an insane asylum. It is amazing. But what really struck me about her story and the story of women being basically property for the majority of history until the late 1800’s when they abolished curvature laws, is that up until that point (the late 1800’s), women were property. They did not have rights. And so at least in America, The Emancipation Proclamation to free enslaved people was in 1863, and women in America are not emancipated from their husbands until the 1890s. So 30 years after The Emancipation Proclamation is when women are granted freedom from their husbands and they’re not necessarily enslaved to their husbands. I think that historical fact is very, very important.
“The history of marriage…you basically ‘own’ a woman”
At least in America, everyone celebrates that emancipation date of enslaved people. Why are we also not celebrating 1891 when the state of Indiana passed a law ending Coverture laws? Because when a woman was married, she was not even entitled to her own wages. When I use the word entitled, I mean it was hers, right? She could not have her own wages. She could not have property, children. Everything belonged to her husband.
And then I’m also reminded of the biblical story of Jacob, and even in that biblical story, he works for seven years to purchase Leah, and then he works another seven years to purchase Rachel. The history of marriage as basically you “own” a woman was only the late 1890s where marriage kind of shifted from property to partnership. I think that’s an important part of the story.
Women couldn’t develop CREDIT until 1975
Dr. Jessica Taylor (07:18):
Do you know, I was so interested listening to that because in the UK that law didn’t change until 1975 that you just explained. Up until 1975 in the UK, women were not allowed to get a mortgage or have their own bank accounts, or there was discrimination that stopped them from getting things like their own credit card until 1975.
Same thing in the US with credit cards.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (07:52):
And then in 1995 or 1996, the law was officially changed so that a woman didn’t have to perform what was known as “wifely duties” for the man in marriage. So if you were married to a man in the UK, there is no way that you could be abused or raped by your husband because he owns you, so you had to have sex with him when he wanted. There was no way of reporting your husband for anything because you were his property. It was 1995 or 1996 in the UK when that law changed. And it was only in the mid-nineties here, that you could actually report or even describe your husband as raping you or sexually abusing you because prior to that, it didn’t exist. I was a kid then.
Women’s Liberation Day
Wow. Yeah. I am all for social justice and racial justice, and I’m so happy that we celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but why are we not talking about this? Why is there not Women’s Liberation Day in the UK in 1993 when women were finally liberated from slavery from their husbands? That’s crazy that there’s not a national holiday for that.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (09:26):
I ask similar questions in that misogyny is the last form of oppressive discrimination that is literally ignored. So I think there’s much bigger and more accepted movements around things like gay pride and around Black Lives Matter, but feminism, women’s rights is seen as a joke. It’s seen as a bunch of women, they’re hysterical and emotional, and they’re moaning about everything and making out that their rights are being rolled back. So it is so interesting the way that we have framed women as so inferior and unreliable for so long that there is no equivalent movement. Like you say, there isn’t a day that marks how important that is that women were liberated from that form of abuse and that form of slavery, essentially, in their relationships. There is no date to mark that. There’s no date to mark: “Isn’t it brilliant that in the nineties in the UK we changed the law and it meant that men could not demand sex and intimacy whenever they wanted?”
That’s literally a sex slave.
“It’s part of the contract of marriage that you would give that man sex whenever he wanted it”
Dr. Jessica Taylor (10:39):
Yeah, I know. And there was just nothing you could do at all because it was part of the law that when you got married in the UK up until, as I say, the mid-nineties, it’s part of the contract of marriage that you would give that man sex whenever he wanted it. Interestingly as well, that sort of change in the law there in the nineties in the UK is little known, even by professionals in this field. I’ll often talk to people in the UK and they were like, “Really? Was it the nineties? I didn’t even know that was a thing; I didn’t know that that was a law. I didn’t know there was any change that was made.” And it’s just not spoken about.
It always makes me think about the fact that that means that as we were saying, because this is only the nineties, it’s not a long time ago. It’s less than 30 years ago. That means that there are women living right now that were in those marriages at that time. They were married at that time. They were under that law at that time. That meant that they had to give sex and essentially they had no consent. There was no consent, was there? Because there’s no need for consent if you are contracted by marriage to be required to have sex with a man.
“We have to act like we respect women while still maintaining the ability to exploit them”
Well, and when you think about it historically too, I think this is why the perpetrators are getting smarter. It’s because for 5,000 years they’ve had these entitlements to sex, household labor, whatever. That “women were made or created to serve” them. And now that that’s not politically correct, the actual genetics of it (when I say that, I just mean the historical traditions or the way they think) has not actually caught up with it. So instead of actually respecting women and actually seeing them as equals, they’re like, “Huh, okay, well we have to maintain it somehow, this power structure, because it works for us, but we cannot be so overt about it. We have to be subtle, we have to use the right words, we have to act like we respect women while still maintaining the ability to exploit them.
Abusers maintain power and control – but use subtlety to disguise their misogyny
That’s why it’s very difficult in 2023 when you have a professional husband who is educated and smart and wants to look good to his neighbors and wants to show up at church and look great, or wants to show up at the community meeting and be the good guy, they are going to talk and act a certain way so that they maintain their power because they’re not going to maintain their power if they say, “Oh, women are just here to serve me.” Everyone would look at them like, what? That’s not right. They’re maintaining it in different ways than they have in the past.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (13:41):
And they’re learning to disguise it. They’re learning to make it sound more socially desirable and acceptable that those views and those values have not gone anywhere. That they’re learning how to communicate them and as you say, maintain their power and their control without outing themselves.
Recognizing the difference between harmful men and healthy men
Exactly. And I do want to say at the same time, I have met so many healthy men who are not this way. I know from their actions and the way they treat me and the way that I feel around them from my internal warning system, that I have actually more hope for men than I ever did before because I see the men who are healthy, who really do respect women. So that’s not to say that this episode is all about how all men in the world are like this. I think that’s another thing that hurts women, is for women to think that all men are like this, and so if they do want to be married, for example, that they have to sort of settle for an abuser because there’s no other option. There are healthy men out there, and the more we understand what this looks like and feels like, the more we’ll be able to recognize and separate ourselves from men who are dangerous to us in emotional and psychological ways from men who are healthy and men who can be a good partner or a friend or someone who is not going to harm us.
“Not All Men” = “Defending a Point I Did Not Make”
Dr. Jessica Taylor (15:10):
…hard on that is because “not all men” is used to derail these conversations for women. They’re all, “Not all men are like that”, and you’re like, “Yeah, I know. I didn’t say all men, did I?” Do you know what I mean? You end up having to go back to people and go, “I never said that, so you’re defending a point I did not make.”
Absolutely. The only reason I bring that up is I hear a lot of women saying, “Well, I want to be married…”, for example, “…and since there’s never going to be a man out there that is going to be completely respectful of me, I’m going to stay married to this man.” So that’s why I say that, but not to say it’s not a huge problem.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (15:50):
Obviously there’s amazing men out there are. I mean, some of the people in my life that are my biggest supporters who have been there for me through things and have just helped me so much have been men. I’ve still got guys in my life right now that have elevated me, listened to me throughout my whole career, everything that I’ve done, they’ve been the one at the back going, “Keep going, you’re amazing. You’ve got this. I believe in everything that you’re doing”. And they’ve listened and they’ve opened doors and all sorts of things, and they’ve never ever made me feel uncomfortable. And I know 100% that is a safe guy. I know that I can feel it, same as you, so these guys are out there. They are.
But I think that for some women, the fear of being alone and living a single life terrifies them so much that they’re always thinking, Oh God, if I leave this guy, how am I going to find someone else? And actually the first thing that needs to happen is you need to be safe and well on your own, alone.
“Being on my own has got to be better than this”
Yes. Well, I think the idea that you have to have a man or something is also a misogynistic idea.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (17:12):
Absolutely. It is. And it means that you are always scared of living life alone. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And I know loads of women that have been through long abusive hard marriages, and then they get into 50 and 60 and going, “Do you know what am I doing? I’m wasting years here. I’m miserable. I don’t need to do this. I could be out there on my own”. And it terrifies them, but at some point something happens and they say, “Do you know what? Being on my own has got to be better than this. It’s got to be healthier than this.” And it’s a big leap. It’s a big scary jump. And I know that I had to make that, but I was much younger. I was 28. I remember that. I remember lying in bed and thinking, Even if you are on your own for years and years and years, or even for the rest of your life, it has to be better than living in this…
“But what if ALL men are dangerous?”
…you cannot stay in this. This is awful. This is destroying you. And I meet women all the time that are going through that same thought process. But you’re right. Then it comes down to, but what if I don’t find anyone? But what if all men are dangerous? And what if I find another purpose and then another perp and then another perp? And the thing is, that can happen.
I think the message I would want to get across there is that that has got nothing to do with you. That is not your fault. That statistically is just very likely because there are so many abusive men, that you are very likely to then meet another guy, even if you meet him for one date and he turns out to be an absolute horrible, horrible person. You could meet him literally for two hours…
“There’s nothing I need a man for”
…or it’s a guy that you get into a serious relationship with and you’ve been together for a few months or a few years, and then you realize, Oh no, I am back in abuse. How has this happened? This guy’s got total control over me. How has this happened to me? Again, it doesn’t matter. It’s so common that you are likely to be surrounded by perpetrators, and it does mean that I think the fears of women who are thinking, But what if I never find a safe man to have a life with? are valid fears, aren’t they?
I agree. I am not dating and I don’t want to date, and I don’t want a partner necessarily. I mean, if somebody came along, that would be fine. But my thinking, What if I can’t find a healthy man? is not even in my brain because I don’t care. If I never have sex again, that’s fine. I’m okay with that. There’s nothing I need a man for. There’s no worry in my mind or in my heart that I “won’t be able to find a healthy man”. If I don’t find one, great. I’m fine. I’m happy. I love being a mom. My kids are amazing. I love my career. I have really good friends, and I don’t mind so much. Romance, actually kind of even just saying the word romance gives me the heeby-jeebies a little bit. It’s like a little bit creepy for me. I’m just not really that interested in it.
Are we putting ourselves in danger by believing that romance is a need?
I would be interested in a partner if that person kind of came my way, but I do think women put themselves in danger when they think it’s a need. When they think it’s something that if they don’t get it, they’re going to be somehow missing out. You can have a beautiful, wonderful life with amazing relationships with people that are intimate, and maybe not sexually per se, but my relationship with my kids is beautiful and my sister and my friends, and I really appreciate that. And if I can meet all of my other needs through friends and work and other things, then my life is so fulfilled. So I just don’t want any woman out there thinking, I need a man or I’m not going to be able to find one. You don’t need to find one; you can stand on your own two feet and you can meet your own needs and you can also meet other people because you do need people. You do need friends, you do need relationships, but you don’t necessarily need a sexual partner with a man. Finding a healthy partner to have sex with is so overwhelming, and so that just seems impossible. That’s why I’m like, Nah, I am not going to worry about that. I can’t think about that.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (21:50):
I’m not surprised at all.
This conversation has been amazing. Dr. Taylor has three books. They’re all available on Amazon. Check them out. The one you may be most interested in listeners is called The Indicative Trauma Impact Manual, which may help you figure out yourself as you are responding to the abuse that you may be currently experiencing, and that might help you re-frame or understand your responses to abuse rather than thinking that it somehow has something to do with you or that you’ve caused it. Dr. Taylor, thank you so much for spending so much time talking with us. We really appreciate your time.
Dr. Jessica Taylor (22:55):
Thank you so much for having me and for listening, and yeah, it’s been awesome. So thank you and I’ll talk to you again.