A fun one here for the word buffs! On Saturday, actor and aspiring etymologist Morgan Freeman conducted a panel discussion with his producing partner Lori McCreary, during which he chided her for wearing “a dress cut to here” when they first met. “She doesn’t want to be thought of as a pretty face,” he continued. “She wants to be thought of as serious. But you can’t get away from the short dresses.”
After moderator Mark Gordon pointed out the sexism inherent in such a remark, Freeman attempted to clear things up: “Sexist? Yeah. But I’m not misogynistic.”
While misogyny is typically taken to mean hatred of women as opposed to merely being prejudiced or discriminatory, the distinction actually isn’t so clear. Reflecting the increasing overlap between the two terms, in 2012, the leading Australian dictionary changed the definition of misogyny to mean “entrenched prejudice” as opposed to pathological hatred. And, as the late New York Times language columnist William Safire pointed out back in 2008: “In 1989, the [Oxford English Dictionary definition of misogyny] was ‘hatred of women’; in the 2002 revision, the definition was broadened to ‘hatred or dislike of, or prejudice against women.’ Thus, sexist and misogynist are now in some respects synonymous.”
Etymology can be such a tricky thing, eh, Morgan?