Society’s treatment of women has regressed, fuelled by the internet’s propagation of new forms of misogyny, as highlighted in a recently published book. Deborah Cameron, a linguist and researcher, argues that prejudice, discrimination, and abuse persist in contemporary society, evolving to reflect current conditions rather than diminishing in the twenty-first century.
In her book, Language, Sexism and Misogyny,” she delves into how sexism and misogyny manifest in today’s advertising and media, drawing on academic research to provide a comprehensive examination of how language is utilized to undermine and mistreat women.
RESURGENCE OF OVERT MISOGYNY
The author references figures like Andrew Tate, Donald Trump, the emergence of the ‘tradwife,’ and the ‘manosphere,’ along with female public figures like Kamala Harris and Greta Thunberg. Professor Cameron observes the resurgence of overt misogyny in both politics and popular culture, asserting that its manifestation in the twenty-first century is politically retrogressive while stylistically contemporary.
“The return of overt misogyny is visible both in politics and in popular culture,” says Professor Cameron
IMPACT OF PLATFORMS
Cameron explores the impact of platforms like TikTok and other forums that promote misogynistic ideas, leading to an increase in online threats and abuse against women. She notes that surveys consistently reveal experiences of online abuse among women, paralleling offline harassment in public spaces.
While media attention often focuses on influencers like Andrew Tate perpetuating extreme masculinity, Professor Cameron argues that attributing the entirety of the issue to such individuals is overly simplistic. Instead, she suggests that extreme misogyny overlaps with more commonplace attitudes expressed in mainstream advertising, comedy, and news reporting.
BROADER IMPLICATIONS OF THE BARRAGE OF MISOGYNY
The author emphasizes the broader implications of the barrage of misogyny, affecting women’s participation in politics and society. She highlights the serious challenges faced by women with public profiles, leading many to exclude or remove themselves due to the fear of rape and death threats.
Cameron’s book also addresses the unequal distribution of speaking time between men and women, terming it the ‘gendered economy of attention.’ Furthermore, it sheds light on how women’s language is often ‘policed,’ with criticism for being both unassertive and ‘strident.’
“There’s growing concern about the effect this is having on women’s participation in politics and public life. Though they are no longer excluded in the ways they were a hundred years ago, the reality or the fear of being bombarded with rape and death threats is leading many to exclude or remove themselves.”
Despite the acknowledgment that developments in artificial intelligence amplify sexism and misogyny, Professor Cameron points to instances of women fighting back. The book illustrates how language has been employed to combat sexism and misogyny through the invention of new terms, reclamation of old slurs, and advocacy for changes in media reporting and language used in various contexts.
In conclusion, Professor Cameron emphasizes the omnipresence and subtlety of sexist and misogynistic language, underscoring the need to recognize and understand its manifestations to effectively combat it.