Misogyny. What’s in a word?

Sexism: See it. Say it. Stop it.

What’s in a word?

Leigh Dayton and Lesley Barclay ask why does any of this matter? The answer: The meaning of words matters.

ACCORDING to Shakespeare’s Juliet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But what about misogyny? Sexism? Are these words different names for the same thing? The question provoked an international debate last year after Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s so-called “Misogyny Speech” went viral.  When she accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of sexism and misogyny was she using the words interchangeably?

Because these words provoke strong emotional responses that threaten rational and useful discussion, it’s important to consider them thoughtfully and carefully. Resorting to the online Macquarie dictionary (accessed 23/01/13) confirms our belief that there are several ways in which sexism and misogyny are understood and used.

The noun “misogyny’’ incorporates two meanings: firstly hatred of women and secondly entrenched prejudice against women. These terms…

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