[Manne's] like a pathologist wielding a scalpel, methodically dissecting various specimens of muddled argument to reveal the diseased tissue inside…One of the qualities that makes Manne's writing bracing and even thrilling to read is her refusal to ingratiate herself by softening the edges of her resolve…Feelings of entitlement may be essential to misogynybut Manne argues that they're essential to defeating misogyny, too. She ends by writing about her newborn daughter, and the things that she wants her daughter to feel she deserves, which are necessarily connected to a set of moral obligations. This more reciprocal understanding of entitlement encourages us to think hard about what we owe, not just to ourselves but to one another.
“Kate Manne is a thrilling and provocative feminist thinker. Her work is indispensable.”—Rebecca Traister
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE ATLANTIC
In this bold and stylish critique, Cornell philosopher Kate Manne offers a radical new framework for understanding misogyny. Ranging widely across the culture, from Harvey Weinstein and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to “Cat Person” and the political misfortunes of Elizabeth Warren, Manne’s book shows how privileged men’s sense of entitlement—to sex, yes, but more insidiously to admiration, care, bodily autonomy, knowledge, and power—is a pervasive social problem with often devastating consequences.
In clear, lucid prose, Manne argues that male entitlement can explain a wide array of phenomena, from mansplaining and the undertreatment of women’s pain to mass shootings by incels and the seemingly intractable notion that women are “unelectable.” Moreover, Manne implicates each of us in toxic masculinity: It’s not just a product of a few bad actors; it’s something we all perpetuate, conditioned as we are by the social and cultural mores of our time. The only way to combat it, she says, is to expose the flaws in our default modes of thought while enabling women to take up space, say their piece, and muster resistance to the entitled attitudes of the men around them.
With wit and intellectual fierceness, Manne sheds new light on gender and power and offers a vision of a world in which women are just as entitled as men to our collective care and concern.
Cornell University philosopher Manne (Down Girl) delivers a hard-hitting and outrage-inspiring interrogation of the links between male entitlement, both individual and systemic, and misogyny. Addressing entitled male sexual behavior, Manne scrutinizes “himpathy,” “herasure,” and victim blaming in the public response to sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and Stanford University student Brock Turner, and analyzes issues of consent and “social programming” in the viral New Yorker short story “Cat Person” and a woman’s account of her distressing sexual encounter with comedian Aziz Ansari. Manne also documents discrepancies in the medical care received by men and women, and claims that the assumption of the male body as a default leads health-care professionals to doubt women’s accounts of their own pain. In the political realm, Manne cites studies showing that women seeking power must be “exceptionally communal” to a degree not required of their male peers to explain the rise and fall of Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. Manne concludes with an avowal that girls and women are justifiably entitled to be valued, cared for, and believed, and gives readers a powerful framework for understanding and confronting challenges in their own lives. This incisive feminist treatise is a must-read. Agent: Lucy Cleland, Kneerim & Williams. (Aug.)
One of the qualities that makes Manne’s writing bracing and even thrilling to read is her refusal to ingratiate herself by softening the edges of her resolve. . . . She’s like a pathologist wielding a scalpel, methodically dissecting various specimens of muddled argument to reveal the diseased tissue inside.”—The New York Times
“Manne’s concept of entitlement is versatile and useful; like the theory of gravity, it has equal power in explaining phenomena both big and small.”—The New Yorker
“With perspicacity and clear, jargon-free language, Manne keeps elevating the discussion to show how male privilege isn’t just about securing and hoarding spoils from women, but an entire moral framework.”—The Guardian
“With wincing clarity, Manne explains how a society that organizes itself around the wants and whims of men will radiate that bias into every area of life. . . . Her observations offer that rare brand of insight: the kind so ingenious that it quickly begins to seem obvious.”—The Atlantic
“[A] clear-eyed analysis of misogyny [with] an element of timeliness that translates to something of a gut punch . . . Reading the book is in fact a bit like taking a sweeping tour, a la It’s a Wonderful Life, of one’s history experiencing misogyny, except Manne is a sharper, more astute Clarence. . . . Cathartic.”—Mother Jones
“Entitled is the perfect guide to fight an imperfect world.”—Times Higher Education
“Entitled is not just timely, but timeless—sure to be part of the feminist canon.”—Jessica Valenti, columnist and author of Sex Object: A Memoir
“Entitled is the work of a once-in-a-generation mind, and as always, Manne succeeds in leaving feminism richer and more robust than when she found it.”—Moira Donegan, columnist, The Guardian
“Entitled is electric.”—Darcy Lockman, author of All the Rage
“Manne weaves feminist theory through a multitude of incidents that reveal patriarchy’s spellbinding matrix . . . Entitled is essential reading.”—Kimberlé Crenshaw, UCLA School of Law and editor of Critical Race Theory
“Kate Manne is among the greatest political philosophers of her generation. Her work is clear, compelling and intellectually devastating . . .”—Laurie Penny, author of Unspeakable Things
“Kate Manne is the Simone de Beauvoir of the 21st century . . . [Her] writing is as breezy as it is sharp and unflinching, and will give any patriarchy-fighter the ammo she needs to keep fighting.”—Amanda Marcotte, author of Troll Nation
“Entitled is a clarion call to undo the intimate ravages of patriarchy. . . .”—Imani Perry, author of Breathe
Having astutely explored the nuances of hostile treatment faced by women in her previous work Down Girl, Manne (philosophy, Cornell Univ.) now takes another angle on the social inequalities of gender by examining nine kinds of male entitlement and their effects. Most of the topics discussed throughout—the expectation that women should freely give housework, childcare, and sex and refrain from claiming positions of power and intellectual space—will certainly be known to readers familiar with the overall issue; indeed, several incidents in this book, such as the 2014 Isla Vista killings and the furor of the 2016 election, are ones that Manne has discussed more abstractly in her previous work. She also describes the influence of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, and continues the conversation on "himpathy," or sympathy towards male perpetrators of sexual violence, that began in Down Girl. Manne's philosophical approach provides valuable fresh insights, with the chapter on the disparity in health care being of note. VERDICT An effective text on how women are affected by the assumed privileges of men, and the structural forces that enforce and uphold those privileges.—Kathleen McCallister, William & Mary Libs., Williamsburg, VA
A Cornell University feminist philosopher takes aim at male privilege in the age of #MeToo.
Building on the ideas from her previous book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, Manne expands her critique of “himpathy,” her word for the sympathy given to “powerful and privileged boys and men who commit acts of sexual violence or engage in other misogynistic behavior.” She’s likely to make few converts, though, with a book that preaches too heavily to the progressive choir. Manne draws on decades of studies showing that Americans judge women more harshly than similarly or less competent men, which may interest Gen-Z readers more than their elders, most of whom will be familiar with much of the research. A larger problem is the air of special pleading. Manne argues that many men have “an unwarranted sense of entitlement”—exemplified by mansplaining, male hostility in online “incel” (“involuntary celibate”) forums, and Brett Kavanaugh’s “aggrieved, belligerent, and, at times, borderline unhinged conduct” at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings—while women are often deprived of “their genuine entitlement” to things such as political clout and adequate pain relief from doctors. Without convincingly reconciling those two positions, the author’s polemical case also takes a shortsighted view of sexual double standards, genuflecting before recent feminist scholarship (from Patricia Hill Collins, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and others) and academic orthodoxies while ignoring landmarks like Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex. It’s striking that this book—appearing just before the Aug. 26 centennial of women’s suffrage—says so little about the contributions of earlier generations of feminists or philosophers. Hopefully in her next book Manne will extend her range and build on the potential she showed in Down Girl.
A well-meaning but myopic view of sexual double standards in the U.S. and how they hurt women.
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Read an Excerpt
Indelible—On the Entitlement of Privileged Men
He was a picture of entitlement. Brett Kavanaugh, fifty-three, was red-faced, petulant, and shouted most of his answers. Clearly, he thought the proceedings were beneath him, a travesty. It was September 2018, and Kavanaugh was being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding allegations that he had sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, fifty-one, when they were both in high school. At stake was not only Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court; this was, more importantly, a tribunal on sexual assault, male privilege, and the workings of misogyny.
America did not pass the test. Despite highly credible evidence that Kavanaugh had indeed sexually assaulted a fifteen-year-old Ford some thirty-six years prior, Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was confirmed by a slim majority.
Ford testified that she had been attacked by Kavanaugh, who, together with his friend Mark Judge, had “corralled” her into a bedroom at a party in Maryland. Ford alleged that Kavanaugh had pinned her to the bed, groped her, and ground his crotch against her. She said he tried to remove her clothes and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Ford said she was afraid that Kavanaugh would accidentally smother and kill her. She said that she managed to escape when Judge jumped on the bed, knocking the two of them over.
“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” said Ford—a professor of psychology—in describing the incident and its traumatic aftermath. But even for many of those who professed to believe her, Ford’s experience just did not matter enough to be worth depriving a man like Kavanaugh of his perceived due, given his background and reputation. And, of course, there were also people who refused to believe her, saying she was either lying or mistaken.
By the time the Kavanaugh hearings were front-page news, I had been thinking for quite some time about male privilege and the toll it takes on girls and women. The case seemed to encapsulate many of the social dynamics I’d been studying. It perfectly captured the concept of entitlement: the widespread perception that a privileged man is owed something even as exalted as a position on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a perception that Kavanaugh himself shared, judging by his aggrieved, belligerent, and, at times, borderline unhinged conduct during the hearings. In contrast with Dr. Ford’s calm, tempered demeanor, and her poignant attempts to be “helpful” to the senators in responding to their queries, Kavanaugh was furious about being questioned. Especially, it might appear, when the questioner was a woman. Senator Amy Klobuchar asked him, in a now notorious exchange: “You’re saying there’s never been a case when you drank so much that you didn’t remember what happened the night before, or part of what happened?” “You’re asking about a blackout. I don’t know, have you?” Kavanaugh replied, in a tone both contemptuous and whiney.
The case also highlighted the phenomenon of himpathy: the way powerful and privileged boys and men who commit acts of sexual violence or engage in other misogynistic behavior often receive sympathy and concern over their female victims. Senator Lindsey Graham, fuming, epitomized such a himpathetic attitude:
Graham: [To Democrats] What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. . . . [To Kavanaugh] You’ve got nothing to apologize for. When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, tell them that Lindsey said “hello,” because I voted for them. [To Democrats] I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. . . . [To Kavanaugh] Are you a gang rapist?
Graham: I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through. [To Democrats] Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. . . . You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford—none. [To Kavanaugh] She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it, because these have been my friends. But let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend. Do you consider this a job interview?
Kavanaugh: If the advice and consent role is like a job interview.
Graham: Do you consider that you’ve been through a job interview?
Kavanaugh: I’ve been through a process of advice and consent under the Constitution, which—
Graham: Would you say you’ve been through hell?
Kavanaugh: I—I’ve been through hell and then some.
Graham: This is not a job interview.
Graham: This is hell.
According to Graham, it was unconscionably hellish—and, beyond that, ridiculous—for a man in Kavanaugh’s position to have to respond to serious, credible accusations of sexual assault, and undergo a truncated FBI investigation, in order to ascend to one of the highest positions of moral authority in America. And Kavanaugh clearly shared, and was further emboldened by, Graham’s views here—not wasting the opportunity to indulge in self-pity. No comparable outpouring of feeling for Ford and her family was forthcoming from Graham, despite his giving lip service to the idea that she was “as much of a victim” as Kavanaugh in this process (referring to the supposed attempt on the part of Democrats to discredit Kavanaugh for political gain). “Miss Ford has got a problem, and destroying Judge Kavanaugh’s life won’t fix her problem,” Graham fulminated on Fox News, later.
Himpathy made Kavanaugh seem to Graham to be the real victim in all of this. And not confirming a man like Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court became tantamount to ruining his life, not just withholding an opportunity. It wasn’t only men like Lindsey Graham spouting this kind of rhetoric and casting such aspersions on Christine Blasey Ford, either; many of the naysayers were women, and included other senators, journalists, and laypeople.
Finally, the Kavanaugh case highlighted several aspects of misogyny’s nature and function. In my previous book, Down Girl, I argued that misogyny should not be understood as a monolithic, deep-seated psychological hatred of girls and women. Instead, it’s best conceptualized as the “law enforcement” branch of patriarchy—a system that functions to police and enforce gendered norms and expectations, and involves girls and women facing disproportionately or distinctively hostile treatment because of their gender, among other factors. The sexual assault of Christine Blasey Ford (about which, for the record, I believe her) would certainly fit this description, since girls and women are significantly likelier to be subject to assaults of this kind than are their male counterparts. In addition to this, misogyny is typically (though not invariably) a response to a woman’s violations of gendered “law and order.” The fact that Ford received abusive messages and death threats for speaking out about a powerful man’s mistreatment of her exemplifies such punishment.
In general, I think of misogyny as being a bit like the shock collar worn by a dog to keep them behind one of those invisible fences that proliferate in suburbia. Misogyny is capable of causing pain, to be sure, and it often does so. But even when it isn’t actively hurting anyone, it tends to discourage girls and women from venturing out of bounds. If we stray, or err, we know what we are in for. All the more reason, then, why Ford’s testimony was so courageous.
In contrast to misogyny, I take sexism to be the theoretical and ideological branch of patriarchy: the beliefs, ideas, and assumptions that serve to rationalize and naturalize patriarchal norms and expectations—including a gendered division of labor, and men’s dominance over women in areas of traditionally male power and authority. Though this book focuses more on misogyny than sexism, it’s important to recognize that the two typically work in concert.