Philosophy professor Manne wins book prize for ‘Down Girl’

Kate Manne, associate professor of philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, has won the 2019 American Philosophical Association’s Book Prize for her first book, “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.”

The biennial prize is awarded in odd years for the best published book written by a younger philosophy scholar.

“This prize brings well-deserved recognition to Professor Manne’s brilliant and timely book,” said Tad Brennan, professor and chair of the Sage School of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences. “‘Down Girl’ is a work of the highest philosophical standards, which also succeeds in reaching outside of philosophy to audiences in other disciplines, and to readers in the world at large. Here at Cornell we have known for many years what an amazing philosopher and thinker Kate is, and it is gratifying to see the rest of the world coming to the same conclusion.”

Manne said the book is intended as a “crossover” – appealing to both academic philosophers and general audiences.

“Down Girl” explores the reasons that misogyny persists, even in supposedly post-patriarchal parts of the world, including the United States. Written in the tradition of analytic feminist philosophy, the book examines misogyny and sexism – differentiating between the two – in the context of related cultural moments.

The book delves into recent issues, including:

•    the 2014 Isla Vista shootings in which a 22-year-old man killed six people, including two sorority members, at the University of California, Santa Barbara;

•    Rush Limbaugh’s diatribe against attorney and women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke; and

•    Hillary Clinton’s treatment during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Released in late 2017, “Down Girl” immediately became relevant in the atmosphere of the #MeToo movement, which was sparked by allegations of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and other men. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently dubbed Manne the “Philosopher of #MeToo.”

“Manne has succeeded in measurably improving the quality of public discourse on very timely and vexed issues by writing a book that is both accessible and rigorous,” the association said in its award announcement.

The book was reviewed widely and has earned other awards, including a Professional and Scholarship Excellence Award, in philosophy and the humanities, from the Association of American Publishers, which recognizes works making a significant contribution to a field of study in the humanities, biological and physical sciences, and reference and social sciences.

Manne said she’s honored and humbled by the recognition.

“I wrote this book largely to bring attention to some of the most pressing problems facing girls and women today,” she said. “My dearest hope is that, whether or not readers agree with it, my book will help to improve the conversations we are having about misogyny, sexism and related social ills.”

This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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 cover of Down Girl