Kate Manne, an assistant professor at Cornell University, joined forces with the Humanities Institute to discuss the topic of Times’s Up and her philosophical views on sexual harassment and misogyny in society today.
A simple glance at the news or a social media outlet will convey the massive discussion around sexual harassment and misogyny in present times. Both Time’s Up and the Me Too movement are methods of categorizing, highlighting and shedding light on the numerous instances where sexual harassment goes unnoticed or unreprimanded. Kate Manne uses her philosophical background to delve into the varying layers of feminism and how gender differences and social norms can often push topics such as sexual harassment under the rug.
Manne defines misogyny as “the ‘law enforcement’ branch of patriarchy that serves to police and enforce a patriarchal social order- often by threatening, blaming, punishing and condemning women for actual, perceived or representative violations of patriarchal norms and expectations.” Through this definition, Manne created the word ‘himpathy.’ She explains how in her book, “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny,” himpathy involves “disproportionate and excessive sympathy extended to boys and men who commit misogynistic acts as compared with his female victim(s), all else being equal.”
To highlight her definition of misogyny, Manne mentioned a man who went to the Alpha Phi sorority house at the University of California Santa Barbara with the intention of stepping inside and killing its members. His motive, he explained, is “I’m 22 years old and still a virgin, never even kissed a girl… It has been very tortuous… Girls, all I ever wanted was to love you, be loved by you. I wanted a girlfriend. I wanted sex, love, affection, adoration.” By including this direct quote from the killer himself, Manne successfully conveys to the audience how clearly misogynist this man was. She explains how he never approached any of the students, asking them to go out on a date or even just to meet them. He simply felt betrayed, yet that was not the fault of the Alpha Phi girls.
To expand further on her definition of himpathy and how she intends to use it throughout her work, Manne brought up the Brock Turner case. After being accused of raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, Turner was given a six-month sentence in a county jail, but only served three of those months. Despite him being a rapist, Turner’s fame from being an athlete at Stanford University, as well as his simply being a white male, greatly contributed to the verdict favoring him. The case is a perfect example of himpathy and how despite two witnesses reporting Turner’s action immediately, he was still sympathized with and victimized.
Before becoming an assistant professor at Cornell University, Manne completed her undergraduate work at the University of Melbourne, studying logic, computer sciences and philosophy. She then continued her study in philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she completed her graduate work from 2006 to 2011. Her talk was both insightful and inspiring. It was refreshing to hear how she applied philosophical studies to her analysis of feminism, and how it all shapes the society we are currently living in.
Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.