Dear Kate: Understanding feminism and how to respond to misogyny


July 15, 2014

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What should you do if a close friend offhandedly says a misogynistic comment like “when women smile when they say no, they’re really just saying ‘try harder’” or “women falsely accuse men of rape all the time”? And how do you navigate the conversation to avoid being negatively branded as an overzealous feminist? The latest edition of the GWAMIT Mentoring advice column, Dear Kate, addresses the nationwide debate on misogyny, male privilege, and feminism.

Kelley Adams at the Violence Prevention and Response office at MIT Medical, rather than the usual mentor/volunteer Kates, responds to these concerns in a two-part column. Part I discusses the idea of “rape culture,” and how feminism historically has — and likely will continue to have — negative connotations. Part II suggests multiple strategies for responding to misogynistic comments such as asking where that belief came from or cultivating empathy. Even though violence and beliefs that foster it are prevalent throughout our society and culture, every individual has the ability to change this by starting discussions and getting more people to think critically.

If you would like to submit any questions (pseudonymously) for a future column, go to the Dear Kate Google Doc. Photo by Kayla Sawyer

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