Culture of Himpathy

Democracy in Danger / Episode 14

The Women’s March drew nearly half a million people to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2017, the day after President Trump’s inauguration. And as many as 7 million people marched in solidarity in cities around the world. Organized in direct response to Trump’s election, the march was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Our guest says there is hope for gender equality — if more and more people join the struggle.

Photograph by Roger Sheldon via

Kate Manne argues that contempt for women is not a bug but a feature of Donald Trump’s politics. She says this helps explain why “masculine” issues — like the military, gun rights, law enforcement and border security — have drowned out health care, education, climate change and food protection. Manne, a philosopher at Cornell, also tells Will and Siva how such misogyny is refracted in the “himpathy” afforded to male perpetrators of sexual violence, and internalized not only by men but many women, too



About our guest

Kate Manne is an associate professor at Cornell University’s Sage School of Philosophy. Her latest book is Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women. She has written for the Atlantic, Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington Post, and Politico. Follow her on Twitter @kate_manne.

This episode was posted on Oct. 20, 2020.

What we’re reading

By our guest

Entitled (Crown, 2020) rejects the idea that the gender hierarchy pervading modern societies is about sex per se. Instead, Manne says, it’s about a power dynamic that enables men’s efforts to control and exploit women.

Manne’s first book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (Oxford, 2017), put her on the map as the “philosopher of #MeToo.” She argued that misogyny isn’t about dehumanizing women. Much more perniciously, she says, it is rooted in an acute awareness of women’s humanity.

In March, Manne asked why Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for president flopped. Did misogyny have something to do with it? You bet, Manne says. But it’s complicated.

Recently, she commented on Kamala Harris’s vice-presidential bid in an essay for The Atlantic. This much is clear: parsing out legitimate critiques of Harris from attacks motivated by sexism and racism won’t be easy.

And in The New York Times, Manne explains why electing Harris wouldn’t necessarily do much to upend gendered power structures in American politics.

From around the web

The week we released this episode, news broke about Jeffrey Toobin revealing himself on a Zoom call with other New Yorker staffers. It’s hard not to notice the outpouring of himpathy that followed, writes Erin Keane in Salon.

Tressie McMillan Cottom explores the intersection of sexism and racism in her award-winning and deeply personal book Thick: And Other Essays (The New Press, 2019).

The World Health Organization calls domestic violence a “global epidemic.” In this chilling work, journalist Rachel Louise Snyder unpacks the many myths behind intimate abuse: No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury, 2019). She shows that it’s a mythology which largely places responsibility on victims rather than attackers or, for that matter, social systems.

Find out more about the play Gas Light — and consider whether the concept it begat helps us understand Trump’s political framework... in the 2018 book Gaslighting America, by Amanda Carpenter.


A transcript of this episode is available here

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