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Macquarie Dictionary gets Orwellian and redefines Misogyny

October 20, 2012

Macquarie Dictionary gets Orwellian and redefines Misogyny


Redefining ‘Misogyny’ to match a government run smear campaign

How many people can remember those screaming noisy radical feminists who used to call every word they came across as example of patriarchal oppression? They had their day somewhere between 1972 and 1979 as they ran about demanding that ‘manholes’ be called ‘people holes’. In between claiming that all men were closet rapists ready to prey upon women and claiming that families were oppressive dangerous environments they became a real pain. The vitriol and hate that their tiny unrepresentative clique managed to create a few sensational headlines but also a female rejection of their style. These days the only place you can really find the bra burning style of militant radical feminist in any numbers is on a university campus or online.

Some people might be horrified with my assessment but I call it as I see it. So far I have seen the rise of people like Germaine Greer and the slow dying out of her influence. Some readers might point to appearances on the ABC TV program Q&A but fail to point out anything of influence such people have said. Also I am extremely sceptical about any claims of how influential Q&A is. It is at best talking head show for inner city Lefty types who seem to salivate over obvious leading questions and verbal entrapments. Big deal.

Yet there are still a few of old school radical feminists about who delight in making everyone around them the target of any false accusation or insult that they can think of. The last one that I encountered on line was pesky little thing that delighted in trolling other people’s forums and blogs to fling insults and verbal abuse. Then if any of her logical errors and fictional evidence (ie:direct lies) were pointed out she would retreat leaving a trail of cheap insults. Yet the following day she would return to fling the same kinds of insults and calling everyone who did not automatically accept her radical feminist dogma as a misogynist. In fact ‘misogynist’ was the only word she loved more than calling people ‘hypocrites’. Dear little thing she was with such a rich vocabulary of four letter words. I wonder what became of her. I think she wrote an article for the ABC Drum blog site bleating on about how bad online trolling is. If only the ABC readers knew where to find the record of her own online trolling… But I digress.

As you may have guessed, I am extremely sceptical when any word that has huge negative connotations is being used in a conversation. When deeply emotional language is used frequently it is usually done for the purpose of emotional manipulation of an audience. It becomes loaded language that is designed to poison the image of an opponent to that of an evil stereotype. Continually calling someone a ‘misogynist’ creates an image of sinister woman hater and a danger to all women. Such false accusations are rarely made by accident but are usually motivated by desire to engage in character assassination rather than engage in issues.

In the last two weeks we have seen some of the most ludicrous and false accusations of misogyny flung across the Federal Parliament Chamber by Prime Minster Julia Gillard. Her rant became a viral video that has circulated the world and brought applause from the kinds of people who love rants and write ‘PWND’ as often as they can.

The context of Gillard’s outburst was completely ignored and there was no mention that she was defending the former speaker Peter Slipper for sending extremely sexist, degrading and obscene text messages to a former staffer. Free of context Gillard was striking one for the ‘sisterhood’. In context Gillard was protecting the job a genuinely vicious sexist because she needed his number to keep her job.

The government was questioned about its deliberate use of the strong term of ‘misogyny’ against its political opponent. The actual definition meaning an entrenched hatred of women.

However Labor Minister Bill Shorten when appearing the Q&A proclaimed that he had a more ‘modern’ interpretation that that included people who hold a different view about the role and status of women in society that he espouses. It was as clear an example of cheap semantics and Shorten appeared like he was defending the indefensible.

That was until publisher Susan Butler of Macquarie Dictionary held a special meeting to redefine the meaning of the word misogyny. In an interview to ABC Ms Butler made the follow statements.

”We decided that we had the basic definition, hatred of women, but that’s not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language,” she said.

”’Sexist’ does seem to be moving towards this description of surface features and ‘misogynist’ applies to the underlying attitude.”

Misogyny was like sexism, with a ”stronger edge to it”.

Already the Macquarie Dictionary has been flooded with complaints in what looks like redefining words to match a political party’s smear campaign. So much so, that the publisher has made a press release to explain their Orwellian reasoning.

Ref: http://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/pdf/editors_response.pdf

However they do have one telling passage:

“It has been brought to our attention that misandry is used in a similar fashion to misogyny in texts relating to gender issues, and that misandry should have a similar second definition which covers entrenched prejudice rather than hatred. There seems, at first glance, to be evidence for this so we are looking into it. Thank you to everyone who has brought this to our attention.”

No need to feel too bad because, at first glance, one day they will look into redefining the word misandry.

Editorial Comment:

Editor: Semantics 1, Reality 0.

Response: That is not fair. Susan Butler takes her job very seriously checking the ‘immense resources of the internet such as newsfeeds, blogs, videos, etc., to research the use of the word over time, in different areas of the world, and in different kinds of texts.’ (Refer to press release link above)

Editor: Maybe they should redefine ‘political hack’ as a person who edits the Macquarie Dictionary (cross referenced by Ms Butler). My other suggestion is to redefine ‘misogyny’ as a word that means anything that the government wants to mean at the time.

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