Donald Trump has been labeled a misogynist by his opponents, mainstream media and a good portion of the general electorate for his comments about the appearance of women and his behavior towards a female reporter. Misogyny, like so many labels has taken on a wide variety of meanings far beyond its literal dictionary definition. Dictionaries define misogyny as “hatred of women” and as “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women solely based on their gender.” Trump’s response to being called a misogynist was his declaration that he loves women. Therefore, by definition he is a self proclaimed philogynist – defined as a lover of women. Can one be both? Confusing and also an obstacle to understanding the reality of gender bias. Unless one truly hates something, it is a natural defense to deny being called a hater and like trump to react simplistically with the opposite equally untrue label -lover – thereby avoiding taking responsibility for the labeled behavior.
In the earlier stages of the feminist movement Trump would have been called a male chauvinist rather than a misogynist. This is a far better descriptor since chauvinism is an attitude or bias. A male chauvinist has a bias favoring the superiority of men rather than a hatred of women. This is more than a subtle semantic distinction since most of us are far more willing to change an attitude or bias than a hatred. Labeling becomes the problem and hinders reasonable discourse and the pathway for change. Demonstrating that an individual’s behavior is prejudiced against a particular race or gender without categorizing that person as an entrenched hater can lead to self-reflection, dialogue and a change in attitude and behavior. Ardent feminists have learned that misandry – hatred of men – did not further the feminist movement. Revealing the history and damage of patriarchy without resorting to undue name calling has had a profound effect on making progress towards gender equality. Name calling and labeling only fuels the fire of gender warfare and masks the difficult issues that can only be resolved through thought, reflection and respectful dialogue.
The earlier question of can Trump be a misogynist and a philogynist can be answered. No he can’t but he can be a chauvinist and still love women.