Entitled How male privilege hurts women

Kate Manne

Book - 2020

"An urgent exploration of men's entitlement and how it serves to police and punish women, from the acclaimed author of Down Girl, which Rebecca Traister called "jaw-droppingly brilliant." In this bold and stylish critique, Cornell philosopher Kate Manne offers a radical new framework for understanding misogyny. Ranging widely across the culture, from the Kavanaugh hearings and "Cat Person" to Harvey Weinstein and Elizabeth Warren, Manne shows how privileged men's sense of entitlement--to sex, yes, but more insidiously to admiration, medical care, bodily autonomy, knowledge, and power--is a pervasive social problem with often devastating consequences. In clear, lucid prose, she 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 currents 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"--

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New York : Crown [2020]
Main Author
Kate Manne (author)
First edition
Physical Description
270 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • 1. Indelible-On the Entitlement of Privileged Men
  • 2. Involuntary-On the Entitlement to Admiration
  • 3. Unexceptional-On the Entitlement to Sex
  • 4. Unwanted-On the Entitlement to Consent
  • 5. Incompetent-On the Entitlement to Medical Care
  • 6. Unruly-On the Entitlement to Bodily Control
  • 7. Insupportable-On the Entitlement to Domestic Labor
  • 8. Unassuming-On the Entitlement to Knowledge
  • 9. Unelectable-On the Entitlement to Power
  • 10. Undespairing-On the Entitlement of Girls
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

Following the publication of Down Girl (CH, Aug'18, 55-4534), Manne's latest book investigates many of the same themes, discussing contemporary events through a feminist philosophical perspective. Here, Manne (Cornell Univ.) explores entitlement, defining it as someone's sense of what they "deserve or are owed." Male entitlement, she argues, expects women to offer traditionally feminine goods (like care) and refrain from taking traditionally masculine goods (like power or authority). It deprives women of the things they are genuinely entitled to, like sexual autonomy, jobs, and epistemic authority. Manne analyzes prominent events to develop her thesis, including Brett Kavanaugh's hearings and Elliot Rodger's mass murders (Rodger inspired the "incel" movement). Citing her previous work on misogyny, which she defines as "the 'law enforcement' branch of patriarchy," Manne argues that one aspect of male entitlement is punishment of (any) women when men are denied what they expect. The best insights involve the author's discussion of how the policing of bodies overlaps through the anti-abortion movement and transphobic activism--in both cases, the well-being of women is used as a guise to uphold social norms that ensure women's bodies remain clearly demarcated for their socially prescribed roles. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals. --Margaret Alison Betz, Rutgers University, Camden

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

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

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

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. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

one 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? Kavanaugh: No. 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. Kavanaugh: Yes. 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. Excerpted from Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women by Kate Manne All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.