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Speaker Series: Kate Manne (Cornell)

February 16 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

More than Fair: How Excessive Sympathy for Him (“Himpathy”) Obscures and Causes Misogyny

Abstract: According to my ameliorative definition, misogyny is, roughly, the “law enforcement” branch of patriarchy, which serves to police, enforce, or restore patriarchal social order—often by visiting hostility on girls and women for perceived violations of gendered norms and expectations. As well as complementary ideologies (most notably, sexism), there is also the flipside of misogyny which deserves to be considered: the exonerating narratives and excessive sympathy of which comparatively privileged men tend to be the beneficiaries. I call the latter ‘himpathy.’

This talk departs from the main example of himpathy I discuss in my recent book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny: that of Brock Turner, the convicted sexual assailant and then student at Stanford University. (Turner’s trial became notorious when he received disproportionate and inappropriate sympathy over his female victim from multiple sources, including the judge who found him guilty.) But, as I will argue, this turns out to be only one variety of himpathy among many. Himpathy comprises a family of emotional biases that distort our moral thought and attention in ways that not only serve to obscure, but may even plausibly cause, damaging forms of misogyny—e.g., the hostility girls and women face when they try to testify against or seek justice vis-à-vis an antecedent recipient of himpathy for his misogynistic behavior, sexual violence, and so on.

I will close by exploring some implications of this claim about moral/social psychology for the future of the #MeToo movement.

Kate Manne is an assistant professor of the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell University, where she’s been teaching since 2013. Before that, she was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2011 to 2013. Kate Manne did her graduate work at MIT from 2006 to 2011, with the generous support of a General Sir John Monash scholarship. She was an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne (her hometown), where she studied philosophy, logic, and computer science.


February 16
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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John T. Roberts