Misogyny, like so many things in this wonderful life, begins at home. How else, one must wonder, does it become possible for a child -- boy or girl -- to bring with it into its adult development the cast of mind and the behavioral tools necessary for leading a life in which women are demeaned, in which women's thoughts and feelings are discounted and in which it becomes acceptable, even humorous, to ignore the rank injustice and inequality suffered by another -- based solely on her gender?
Given the perniciousness of misogyny in the world it becomes necessary for it to be actively countered as a part of good parenting if it is ever to be overcome, for it's also true that misogyny can persist and go unchecked even among those who grow up in a family, as I did, where the fact of women's 2nd class citizenship was more a matter of assumed superiority of the male than it was active disparagement of the female.
I grew up the oldest in a family with four children and, looking back, it's clear to me that, had I somehow not been blessed with a nose for injustice, I might have easily become the kind of person for whom misogyny is a feature and not an optioin. And just to be clear, I'm talking here about misogyny not in the sense of hating women, or beating them, or refusing to educate or employ them, or of objectifying them for purposes of sexual gratification, but more in the sense of simply not allowing the possibility that a woman's thoughts, ideas and feelings and contributions could be as important, or as valuable or as meaningful as a man's.
In our house, mom was clearly second-in-command. "Just wait until your father gets home" was a common tactic in her disciplinary strategy. And when dad did get home the entire energetic field of the household shifted, for he was most definitely the sun around which all the lesser heavenly bodies revolved. My father was not a tryant, either. He was not a mean man. I never saw him hit my mother and he didn't beat us kids unless we deserved it. He was an old-school patriarch, a man I later came to call -- to his face, even -- a benevolent despot.
So the gender modeling I got as a child was "boys rule" -- and I suspect it's the same kind of modeling the vast majority of people in this world receive. It's the kind of modeling that prepares societal ground for the seeding of misogynistic behavior of all kinds, from the most benign to the most outrageous. And I don't know that I can explain how I overcame that modeling to grow into a man for whom every person has an equal opportunity to thrill or disappoint me based solely on the content of their character -- and not on the color of their skin or the configuration of their reproductive biology. But I did overcome it and I protested to my father when I sw him taking less of an interest in my sisters' hopes and dreams than he did in mine and my brother's. I protested, later, when I worked with him in his business and the only jobs he ever made available to women were clerical, overseen, naturally, by a male office manager.
My father's generation was lost, however, and I'm thankful, at least, his misogynistic tendencies did not manifest in abusive or violent behavior. Once I became aware of the dynamic and saw how misogyny colors so much of the meta-behavior of society, then, I knew that if I was ever to play a meaningful role in reversing its effects or in putting an end to misogyny altogether, I would have to model a new behavior and, when and if I had a family and children of my own, I would have to actively teach them to recognize misogny and to denounce it where they saw it among their peers.
Well, now I have a son who is almost 10 and the jury remains out on whether he will wave the "boys rule" flag in his adult life. But I can say this: my son's karma has been to grow up in a world where almost all the friends and siblings of his parents have girls. Whenever he's at a family gathering or an event where many of our circle's families gather, he is often the lone boy in a sea of girls. I believe many boys might find such circumstances unbearable and cause no end of "I don't wanna go" fights before such events. But my son seems OK with it all. I observe the way he plays with the girls -- it's different from the way he plays with his "gang" of buddies (all male) at school -- and I like what I see. He doesn't assume any kind of supriority and he doesn't put anyone down for "throwing like a girl" or use any of the language that would cue a misogynist-in-the-bud.
So perhaps there is hope. The solution for misogyny, like solutions for most any of the largest problems of human society, cannot come from the top down. It cannot be mandated by government and it cannot be enforced by any commission or committee. The solution for misogyny is necessarily a generational change. Like so many things in this wonderful life, the solution to misogyny begins at home.