How to spot a misogynist
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Singapore ranked 4th in the Mercer Global Cost of Living Survey and is a city of choice for the many foreign talent that call it home. But it also ranked 54th out of 145 countries in the 2015 Global Gender Gap Survey, meaning there's still work to do when it comes to respecting women, their right to non-violence, to being in the work place, and the right to say no.
Indeed, a #WeCanSingapore survey says that 1 in 10 women in Singapore experiences abuse and physical violence, and 6 in 10 victims suffer repeatedly. The survey says over 70 percent of cases go unreported to the police and that AWARE’s Sexual Assault Befrienders Service gets a minimum of two referrals a week. The survey, which polls some 3.7 million people across six South Asian countries since its launch in 2004, found that 1 in 3 women are likely to be victims of rape and battery in their lifetime. Another survey of 10,000 men across seven Asia Pacific countries by four United Nation agencies found 1 in 4 men guilty of having raped a woman or girl and 1 in 25 admit to participation in gang rape.
Abuse and toxic relationships have always made headlines. But how does one tell if someone they fancy could end up being "borderline violent," has fantasies of "relationship rape," had poor role models (Dad hitting Mum) or traumatic relationship experiences that have left him cynical and resentful. What are the warning signs? Thankfully, most men are not their own reality TV re-run of relationships gone bad. Some men will always have a bone to pick with the fairer sex, no matter how good his lot is. Here's how to tell if there are red flags in your budding relationship.
1. By the things he says
A man who is angry with women has an intrinsic dislike of women, their feminine powers and ability to wield a man into submission. He may not be aware of his misogyny but his disrespect and resentment will slowly and surely unfold over time.
The telltale signs are in the contradictions of what he says and does. He'll love your innocence, yet he drools in the face of beauty and readily catcalls women half his age. He'll declare a man's duty is to provide for his gal yet he will swear in the same breadth that marriage is a scheme to decimate a man's chequebook. He complains women are "drama queens" but offers a mea culpa saying "God made men responsible for their women." He'll callously say women should be seen and not heard, and he hints that painting your lips red makes you look like a slut. He regularly blames female hormones for tempting men's predatory instincts, makes rape jokes like "if only women knew how to enjoy it, it wouldn't be statutory rape?" If his "jokes" continually make you feel uncomfortable, trust your gut instinct. Did he say ever he and Donald Trump think alike? There you go. Not all red flags signal the end of the road. But some are clear alerts. Pick your battle and call him on it. If you don't, this bad behavior may never end.
2. By how often he rants on about women
At first you believed all his gripes were one offs. Now, it's obvious, it isn't. He rants on and on about women being shallow, materialistic gold diggers. Everything around him is a constant reminder that women are irrational because "they were created as the weaker sex." His disclosures about past relationships will often turn into unedited expressions of rage. He relives his angry days as if it were just yesterday. And he is demeaning of all his exes, not just one or two.
Even if he was genuinely wronged and it was a sad one-sided love, you should be able to tell the difference between a man who's hurt and understandably angry from one who is cynical and jaded. A "normal" guy references past relationships somewhat academically, spells out what went wrong and forlornly but philosophically says it couldn't be fixed. A man who's gone off the grid will find every opportunity to slander a woman and peg her the sacrificial lamb for everything gone wrong and for everything else he predicts will fail.
3. By his past actions
If you're falling for him, it's your job to find out if your guy has grown and matured from his relationships or if his love wounds haunt him to the detriment of his own mental health. If he gloats about cheating on his ex, ask him why. Figure out if he's a sadist who believes in dishing out "an eye for an eye." If he admits to physical and sexual abuse but swears his ex had it coming, then it's time you wake up to the gnawing fact that your man is chronically cynical, has anger issues and is irrationally driven by his rage when things don't work out his way. His blueprint for revenge may be the same for all women in his life. Are you signing up for that?
Did he "accidentally stain" her pink Nike running shoes with blue magic marker, stole money from her purse and threatened her by saying she hasn't seen anything yet? Be afraid, be very afraid. A person who intimidates and threatens isn't likely to have a good relationship with anyone. He's clearly not a big fan of dialogue and conflict resolution.
Now, makeup sex is hot and always welcome. But if he's a makeup-sex-to-say-sorry-but-will-do-it-again type of person, you're in for a repeat of the same treatment that made you hurl in the first place. If he's holding you hostage to his version of your life, if he hints that women who wind him up are asking for trouble, ask yourself who deserves relationship talk like this.
4. By his present actions
He's super attentive and seems genuine. But something gives. He plays games. He's both gallant and charismatic yet he's cocky, self-centered and seems to have a nasty tongue even when in a relaxed mood. His friends say he's awesome but you know that's his alter-ego talking. He seems like a happy person yet he has frequent gripes about his lady boss being top of his food chain. He often breaks into preachy monologues on how gender equality has given men unnecessary competition in the workplace and why a woman's natural station in life is not as Head of Org Chart. His constant reminders that he's been unfairly cuckolded and shamelessly milked will tell you this guy is complicated.
His demeanor may be gregarious or indicate a quiet observer. But he will practice double standards and drive you insane. He believes being unpredictable keeps his woman keen. He will be hard to read. On purpose. If he meets a lady his equal, he will flirt ruthlessly with her in front of you and rub it in by saying you're being over sensitive. His male ego says a woman should look up to her man yet instead of being the stoic force in your life, he manipulates you emotionally and mentally to the brink of tears. He has no respect for you.
Does he know what he's doing? Maybe. Or maybe not. It's a psychological game that even the men sometimes don't realize they're playing. As you both get used to each other, he may "jokingly" accuse you of trying to seduce other men by the way you walk, talk, dress and behave. He'll admit he thinks you're fraternizing with other males. He will roll out his rendition of When Harry Met Sally and tell you for the 101th time why men and women can't be friends. He will profess piteously but believably that he loves you too much for you to be in the company of other guys who are undressing you with their eyes.
Perhaps unconsciously to him, his pleasure clearly comes first. He may blame you for being frigid. Reciprocation on his part is expected to be a glorious fraction of your time spent on him. He'll be a champion of withholding sex as punishment and won't be the kind of partner who will kiss you or look at you lovingly when you are intimate. Once he's confident you're inexplicably drawn to him, he'll pressure you to act out his femme fatale fantasies against your will. He'll sulk, get angry and even blackmail you into having sex when you're unwell or tired. Perhaps even be "forcefully playful." After all, he calls you a tease and says "rape turns me on?"
Sure, a woman should honour and please her man. But when you're not ready for it and he won't take no for an answer, you're facing a very different conversation now.
5. By tales of his future life with someone
They believe in their own pecking order. They'll spin semi romantic tales about how he'll "take care of his woman," that they won't go wrong betting on him. He believes "men know better" because they are the stronger sex. Men who don't accord respect to women will always say women need a man to put them in their place. They believe implicitly that women are happier if they have a man in their lives.
He will act like he's God's gift to women. He'll talk about his ability to please women and profess to know the geographic location of all women's hotspots. Everything about a woman will be sexualized and everything he sees equates to being a phallic symbol of power and pleasure. They feel licensed to comment on a woman's body and believe that men have ownership over their women. They may even come across as being pro-women.
The truth is, men who are misogynistic feel they owe women nothing and that women owe them everything. They feel good when they put women in their place and gets a dopamine fix from the bad behavior. Can you be at peace with that?
Karen Khng is Managing Director of Love Script International. Find Love Script at www.love-script.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.