Unmasking Misogyny

The news in our scandal-sick USA is that a woman can complain of sexual oppression with some assurance that she will be heard. Toxic masculinity is now a firing offense, for a change. The women saying “no” to predatory men are now being collectively honored by TIME magazine as the person of the year: “The Silence Breakers.” The #MeToo movement—more than a decade in the making—could now become the most consequential campaign in the waning days of 2017.

But as the headlines continue to name and shame all kinds of powerful men in all kinds of places—from Hollywood Boulevard to the White House halls—major questions remain: why did it take so long for these women to be heard? And why do so many men only seem to listen when the predators are celebrities; and when the accusers are well-connected, wealthy, and white? Will this movement turn into a “moral panic,” or can we begin building real structures of accountability here?

Our guests this week explore the deep roots of this problem—across the color line and across generations. The mother-daughter preacher pair—Gloria and Mariama White-Hammond—lead us through the conversation.

Gloria—who co-founded Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain with her husband, Ray— is also a silence-breaker. She’s spoken out against abuse in her own family history. She, too, has been listening to stories of “#MeToo” in her church and in her community.

Gloria’s daughter, Mariama, is a student of international relations, theology, hip-hop and environmental justice as well as an associate minister at Bethel AME. Continuing the tradition of a Christian fight for social justice, she leads us through what’s changed among Boston’s rising generation.

Danielle McGuire is a Detroit-based historian who locates the #MeToo backstory in the Deep South and in the origins of the civil rights movement. Her breakthrough book, At the Dark End of the Streettells the story of Rosa Parks and other black women who fought and organized against sexual assault by white men more than decade before the Montgomery bus boycott.

Kate Manne—philosopher and author of the new book, Down Girl: the Logic of Misogynyhelps break down the toxic system of thinking that secures a man’s world. The problem, she says, begins with the stories we tell our children.

Guest List
Gloria White-Hammond
co-pastor at Bethel AME Church, and the Swartz Resident Practitioner in Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School
Mariama White-Hammond
associate minister for ecological justice at Bethel AME Church
Danielle McGuire
associate professor of history at Wayne State University and author of At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance–a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power 
Kate Manne

assistant professor of philosophy at Cornell University and author of Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny 

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  • Born in Akron

    What, no comments after two days?? That’s just weird in light of the media furor that is felling so many well known people. Some media reports are only click-bait, based on un-investigated allegations of relatively minor stuff, yet other reports are based on repeated, power-wielding assaults with ample direct evidence. Describing every single incident as harassment or assault cheapens our ability to make appropriate moral distinctions.

    Al Franken, take your time on resigning. Insist that the Ethics Committee investigate and report. Make the Senate (and House) Ethics Committees do their job by improving their procedures, and starting to establish a range of responses appropriate to the seriousness of credibly investigated incidents.

    • I’m still trying to bend my mind around a kinder gentler 93-year-old former US president grabbing butt from his wheelchair. Yo ! Wtf?

  • Mariama is like a beam of light.
    Danielle McGuire’s comment that history should focus on foot soldiers and not focus on leaders is spot on.
    Nonetheless, comments like these…
    ‘reverse gender roles’ – wouldn’t there be the same problems except gender reversed?
    ‘masculine re-engineered’ and while women are reengineering masculinity who is reengineering femininity or do all women know what that is supposed to be?
    Those comments make me think that women focusing on women are philosophically stunted – they can’t read Richard Rorty because he is a man?
    It is almost impossible to get outside your own biases – eventually you reinforce them in oddly contrived and convoluted ways.

  • Potter

    I was focussed on the thought, posed in a radio discussion a few weeks ago (not here), that misogyny is about (or also about) the way women raise their sons. I missed the “aha” of how so. I did not take that as blaming women. It may be complicated or not. And in this show it was well said that men, fathers, also have a role to play. Of course. It’s the culture and the “libido” too. Hopefully we are creating new taboos going forward with consequences for violations. First up remedy Trump; make him the Example in Chief. At that point the arc towards moral justice will be bending fast enough for me to regain some of that faith I had, at least in the American collective.
    Still, I am still interested in to hear how women, who play such a big role in bringing up their sons contribute, or may, to misogyny. I have my own ideas.

    As well girls have to be made aware; they have to stand their ground.. so say “hey cut it out!” as they are bullied in the schoolyard.. right then and there…not wait years, not acquiesce. It is a power struggle for the minimum of equality, respect. I feel at bottom too this is a communication problem between men/boys and women/girls: an awareness of signals we are constantly giving, spoken and unspoken, in relationships. “Johnny” a mom can say,”if you are angry, angry at me, or your dad,don’t take it out on Susie or Billy”.That is hardly enough if a child feel oppressed… but.

  • Excellent show Christopher. Thank you so much for featuring these amazing women. I’ve got these books in my Amazon cart and can’t wait to start reading them. If you know of more books connected to misogyny and the church, please add them.

  • Steve

    A vast attack on due process. Beware.

  • sidewalker

    Through Danielle McGuire we could hear of how control of the means of reproduction is a root cause of misogyny, abuse and violence in the experience of African American woman. This could have been a chance to explore further the role of ownership and how ownership over the means of production and reproduction as well as the centrality of private property in the political/economy and culture of capitalism helps facilitate a misogynistic and violent mindset and behaviour. Further, Slavery’s twin–imperialism, and its possessive and conquering nature–could be uprooted and light shone on both the violent manhood taught those in the military and exploitative and domineering manhood taught the corporate managerial class, who together help do Empire’s bidding.
    If ownership through appropriation, requiring domination and violence, are critical to the operations of capital and empire, we shouldn’t really be surprised to find out the perpetrators of brutality and abuse and their victims number far greater than even “Me, Too” suggests.

    • Chris Lydon

      Brilliant, dear Sidewalker. Wonderful to read you this morning. Isn’t it time for a longer gab? Thank you. CL.

    • When we were in college my brother was smitten with a Red Chinese woman. He would regale us with things about Mao like “he doesn’t own anything.”
      When you have absolute power, what do you need to own?
      Ownership derives its meaning from social status.
      Get rid of social status and you have an opportunity to construct a new world.

  • Potter

    I would like to add to your reading list this that appeared on Aljazeera, by Catherine Rottenberg :

    Can #MeToo go beyond white neoliberal feminism?

    Also, Masha Gessen is very impressive, a clear thinker.