Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Misogyny and the US Elections

Senator Hillary ClintonScott McDonald dropped a note today protesting our use of misogyny in reference to US voters’ attitude toward Senator Clinton and other women in public office. The offending example in today’s Good Word is: “Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in the 2008 presidential elections may test the misogyny in US society.” Scott thinks:

“Today’s word misogyny is misrepresented in your example, much like the misuse of homophobia to describe any and all disapproval of homosexuality. These are words used loosely when they have a very specific meaning.”

To say, ‘I hate Clinton, Clinton is a woman; therefore, I hate women’ is a faulty syllogism, just as saying is, ‘You dislike this person, they are homosexual; therefore, you are a homophobe.'”

I actually agree with Scott in that the example might lead back to a faulty assumption; however, the statement applies more broadly to all the possible reasons people might avoid voting for Senator Clinton and I still think that misogyny is a major one. I even adulterated the sentence with a cautionary may: “may test the misogyny in US society”. The point of the example was simply to show how the word is normally used and I may have let this sentence’s topicality overwhlem my control of deductive logic.

The logic here does reek of guilt by association in that we are encouraged to assume that if Obama has any African blood in him and we oppose him, it is because of his African ancestry. If Senator Clinton is a woman and we oppose her, it is because of her femininity. In both cases there is no logical, let alone causative, relation between the two factors.  I certainly think above the range of the talking heads on US TV who use this mislogic with such passion night after night.

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