by Karen Laslo
I saw him standing on the corner of 4th and Main streets in downtown Chico on January 20th during this year’s Women’s March for Women’s Rights, Human Rights and Unity. His sign and the sneering smile on his face told me what he thinks of women.
Particularly offensive is the sign’s reference to a speculum, a medical instrument used for examinations that saves women’s lives, but here he was using it and the humiliating “C” word to abuse, denigrate, insult and express his hatred of women. And contrary to the sign’s assertion, women don’t want “extra rights.” We want — no, we demand — that the laws of human rights that already exist be enforced: namely, the right to govern our own bodies and the right to not be sexually harassed, raped and/or physically abused by men.
At the time, I didn’t want other women, especially young women, to see him and his ugly sign because I didn’t want them to feel the anger and humiliation I was feeling. But one young woman did see him and confronted him, and another older woman walked by and spit on him. I, too, was so revolted by him that I felt nauseated and didn’t know what to do, so I simply took his photo and subsequently filed it away. Now for the first time I’ve shared it so that others might see what I and the other women marchers were subjected to that day.
I knew I had witnessed a graphic instance of misogyny, but I wasn’t exactly sure what the word “misogyny” meant so I looked it up in three different dictionaries. They all gave the same definition: “hatred of women.” Such hatred is so prevalent and has been going on for so long that a special word was coined to express it. In contrast, I don’t know of any word that expressly describes a “hatred of men.”
Then, on October 6th, 2018, I witnessed another instance of blatant misogyny on a much larger and even more consequential scale, when the U.S. Senate, dominated by old, Republican, white men, chose to ignore the credible, heartfelt testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in a rush to confirm her accused sexual predator, Brett Kavanaugh, to a lifetime position on the United States Supreme Court.