In Entitled (Crown, Aug.), Manne, a philosopher at Cornell, scrutinizes recent case studies of male privilege and misogyny.
You mention in the book that you wrote your previous book, Down Girl, from a place of despair, but Entitled from more of a hopeful space. How did you get from one to the other?
I wouldn’t say that I was exactly hopeful when I concluded Entitled, so much as I had more of a kind of grim commitment of a political nature to keep fighting for gender justice. Whereas when I finished Down Girl, I had trouble seeing a way forward even for successful resistance efforts. I think that the intervening three years have taught me a lot about the kinds of activism and scholarship that can mean successful resistance in spite of grave problems.
What do you hope readers take from the book?
I’m trying to give a philosophical analysis of phenomena like misogyny and entitlement, and also to identify their real world forms in the milieux I inhabit. More than anything, I’m aiming to try to break certain silences that are very prevalent and pernicious. So even if someone ends up disagreeing with me about the right way to analyze these phenomena, or their concrete manifestations, what I hope they can take from the book is a general framework, a set of questions and starting points for how to think about male entitlement as a problem that we need to tackle in order to work toward social justice.
How do you define himpathy?
A lot of my work is about misogyny, the policing and punishing of women who violate gendered norms and expectations. I see himpathy as the flip side of that—the rewarding, sympathizing with, and exoneration of men who do misogynistic things. And in particular, the way we often extend sympathy to them over their female victims. It’s part of the way the whole sordid system works—we punish “bad women” for not meeting patriarchal expectations, and give a free pass to and sympathize with men who are perpetuating misogyny and hurting women in various ways.
In discussing consent, you write that women no longer have a socially acceptable escape path out of sexually uncomfortable situations. How do we recreate that?
I think a lot of the responsibility when it comes to heterosexual or so-called straight relationships will fall on men, to genuinely care about and check in with female partners, to make sure that every step of the way, it’s not just that she’s consenting, it’s that she really wants to be there and wants to be doing whatever it is she’s doing. That lack of care, that lack of checking in and providing space for women to opt out, is well illustrated by the Aziz Ansari case. His date was clearly trying to find an out, and he certainly did nothing to help in that endeavor.