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How Misogynistic People Make the Society Take a Great Step Backward

How Misogynistic People Make the Society Take a Great Step Backward

Have you ever had an odd feeling about something, but can’t seem to put your finger on it?

You’re in a meeting at work and notice how that male co-worker repeatedly interrupts the female coworker.

You’re playing a game with friends and the phrase, “you throw like a girl” just doesn’t sit well with you.

You hear a random joke that seems harmless at first, but it’s clear the women in the room are squirming.

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What you’re witnessing is misogynistic behavior. And it’s a big problem in society.

What exactly is misogynistic?

Derived from the Greek word misogynia (anti-woman), misogyny is defined as an unreasonable fear or hatred of women.[1]

People that practice misogyny are known as misogynistic and their behavior has an extremely negative impact on women. It can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, from sexist comments, oppression, and objectification, to more extreme acts, such as violence against women.

And while misogyny can be completely blatant in some situations, other times, people can demonstrate misogyny without necessarily realizing it. In addition, misogyny is more common in men, yet some women can also be misogynistic.

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Where does it come from?

The roots of misogyny can stem from a variety of issues, commonly started early in life. The person may have been raised a particular way, with a huge lack of respect for women. It can also start with a negative experience from a mother, sister, aunt, etc., resulting in an unreasonable anger or phobia of women. Oftentimes, a male-dominated society can breed misogynistic views.

Whatever the source, according to Psychology Today, once a negative seed about women is planted,[2]

“this seed will germinate and begin to grow, the tiny root working its way into the fear processing and memory areas of the brain as its tiny stem works its way into frontal areas of the brain, affecting emotion and rational decision-making.”

Misogyny can begin early in women as well. If they are in male-dominated environments, constantly experiencing a culture that makes women feel inferior to men, women become conditioned to think of other women and themselves in a negative light.

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Misogynists come in many forms:[3]

  • The Spreader – This type of misogynist literally spreads out all over the place. If he lives with a woman, he’s the kind of man that will drop his belongings throughout the property. Or if he is in a workspace, this man will leave out his books, documents, pens, etc., in a manner that makes it clear he has no intention of allowing a coworker to share the area even though it’s supposed to be a shared space.
  • The Explainer – If he sees a woman in a store, place of business, social gathering, etc., he quickly assumes she knows nothing about her surroundings and needs him to explain any and everything to her.
  • The Competitor – He’s the kind of guy that already hates to lose, regardless if it is a woman or man. But as a misogynist, he has a really tough time accepting a woman beating him. Even if she wins fair and square, the thought of a woman beating him is extremely hard on his emotions.
  • The Interrupter – No matter what is going on, this man is going to interrupt a woman during any kind of discussion. He usually talks out of turn to get his point across, and it doesn’t matter if his point isn’t even relevant. In addition, he has zero respect for another person’s time, especially women, and will completely ignore time limits when talking.

These are just a handful of many types of misogynistic people. Regardless of the type, these personalities really perpetuate negativity on women, which leads to the question:

How do we deal with misogynists?

Combatting misogynistic people can feel like an uphill battle at times. That’s because, as mentioned before, some characteristics of misogyny can go unnoticed so long, it’s practically accepted in society.

Some of the biggest places people have to battle misogyny is in the workplace. If women are going to have any chance of ever being viewed as equal to their male counterparts, certain commonly used terms, ways of thinking, and gender bias must go.

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For example, studies show when reviewing men and women regarding performance, women receive much more critical reviews than men. Women were typically described as abrasive, bossy, or confrontational. Yet men are viewed as assertive, confident, and strong. Men are given constructive suggestions. Women are given constructive suggestions – and told to pipe down.[4]

Fortunately, there are various ways to address misogynistic comments and situations. It starts with preparation and thinking about possible responses before a situation occurs. For instance:

  • If you find yourself describing a woman with misogynistic words, ask yourself what you would say if a man behaved this way. Would you comment at all? How would you describe him?
  • If you hear someone else describe a woman with misogynistic words, what could you say? One possible script, to attempt to open up conversation: “Hmm, it’s interesting you call her ‘shrill.’ I don’t hear men with strong opinions called that. Have you ever thought about that?”
  • If someone describes you with misogynistic words, especially in a performance appraisal setting, calling out sexism can be a big deal. “If you want to call someone on sexist feedback, you could try something like: ‘I’m interested why I’m being called ‘bossy’ and ‘opinionated.’ I wonder if you could help me sift through that feedback, and see what I can take from it.'”[5]

Misogyny has a long way to go before it is eliminated from society. But as long as people begin to take notice and address the issues, as well as change patterns and thought processes at an early age, we can begin to see change in society and push forward instead of going backward.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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