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College of Arts and Sciences

Male entitlement hurts women, Manne writes in new book

By: Kate Blackwood
Cornell Chronicle
August 11, 2020

Kate Manne was dubbed “the philosopher of #MeToo” for her timely and widely read analysis of misogyny, 2017’s “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.”

Now, Manne tackles male entitlement in her second book, “Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women.” The book was released Aug. 11.

Manne, an associate professor of philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, defines misogyny as the hostility women and girls face – the “law enforcement” branch of patriarchy, as she calls it – which serves to enforce gendered norms, even in supposedly post-patriarchal societies. In “Entitled,” she addresses the gendered norms and expectations that misogyny polices and enforces: how the resulting social dynamics constrain possibilities for people, and how boys and men unfairly benefit from this system.

“While ‘Down Girl’ was a ‘crossover’ book, intended for both an academic and wider readership, ‘Entitled’ is squarely a trade book, aimed at a general readership,” said Manne. “I hope that people can get a basic grip on my views about misogyny and male entitlement by reading ‘Entitled,’ as well as some of the thoughts I’ve had since ‘Down Girl’ was published.”

Under a framework of male entitlement, Manne argues, women are expected to give feminine goods (sex, care, nurturing and reproductive labor) while not taking masculine goods (power, authority and claims to knowledge). Within this system, women are deprived of entitlement to both feminine-coded and masculine-coded goods.

“This results in inequalities that range from a woman not receiving adequate care for her pain, to her not being able to take up traditionally male positions of power, to her not being granted her rightful authority to speak about subjects in which she is expert,” Manne writes.

In nine chapters, Manne elaborates on the many spheres in which male entitlement hurts women and girls. The entitlement to admiration that some men demand, for example, has led to the phenomenon of “involuntary celibates” (or “incels”) targeting women in violent acts. The entitlement to bodily control has led to cis-gendered men legislating, often ignorant of basic facts, the bodily functions of pregnant and transgender people, Manne writes.

The entitlement to sex has led to a rape culture rife with what Manne terms “himpathy” – the sympathy extended to a male perpetrator rather than to his female victims. “Misogyny takes down women,” she writes, “and himpathy protects the agents of that take-down operation, partly by painting them as ‘good guys.’”

The release of “Down Girl” coincided with the launch of the #MeToo movement, providing a philosophical framework for the movement’s revelations of sexual misconduct. Similarly, points made in “Entitled” have particular resonance with events unfolding in 2020, such as the systemic inequalities being revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manne argues that male-centered medical systems hurt women – particularly racial minorities. She highlights double standards in domestic labor, as lockdown measures to control the pandemic multiply women’s already disproportionate workloads.

And she asks, as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden decides on a running mate for the 2020 general election, whether a woman really is “unelectable” to the highest office in the United States.

“When it comes to the question of who is deemed entitled to hold power, women are subject to marked disadvantages under many (though not all) circumstances,” Manne writes.

In the concluding chapter, Manne writes that she finished ‘Down Girl’ in a spirit of despair, pessimistic about convincing people to take the problem of misogyny seriously. She concludes “Entitled,” however, on a determined note, mindful of what the future might bring for her first child, a daughter.

“There is still an enormous amount of energy that goes into denying and minimizing misogyny, of course,” she writes. “But there is also a lot of momentum – extant and building – in the efforts to resist it.”

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.