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Misogyny: The World's Oldest Prejudice

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  586 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In this compelling, powerful book, the late Irish journalist and essayist Jack Holland set out to answer a daunting question: how do you explain the oppression and brutalization of half the world's population by the other half, throughout history? The result is an eye-opening journey through centuries, continents and civilizations as it looks at both historical and contemp ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 18th 2006 by Running Press (first published 2006)
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Ben Babcock
How many people have sat down one day and said, "Gee, I think I need to learn more about the history of misogyny!"? I did! I saw my coworker reading this and expressed interest in it. Unfortunately, I don't think the brief part of A Brief History of quite sank in at the time ... I was expecting something a bit more....

For anyone largely uninitiated into gender issues or the history of misogyny, I would recommend this book as a good read. Holland is a good writer, and he covers the subject compre
Feb 18, 2008 'Auli'i rated it it was ok
This book was a fairly interesting run-through about the hatred of women though I found it lacking in historical scope. The notion that misogyny originates in Greece is rather ridiculous. I tire of histories that travel up the Fertile Crescent, to Greece, to the Dark Ages of Europe, to England, and finally to America while presenting the rest of the world (Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, et cetera) as though they exist in this ahistorical vacuum in which nothing ever changes. Where did their misogy ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
**Warning--this is a LONG review but I wanted to remember some of the important parts of this book that had meaning to me, so I explain and quote in detail here.**

Although I feel the writing in this book could use a bit more editing and refining (according to the intro, the author died and his family worked to get this published, so that may be why it is a little rough), I found the topic to be fascinating. This book really is a "brief" history of misogyny--and yet, although I know the author co
Sep 30, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Misogyny: The World’s Oldest Prejudice by Jack Holland

“Misogyny” is a powerful and riveting book about the cruel and crude history of misogyny. The late Jack Holland delivers an important book, an eye-opening book that at times is very uncomfortable to read but the knowledge is appreciated. This 320-page book is composed of the following nine chapters: 1. Pandora’s Daughters, 2. Women at the Gates: Misogyny in Ancient Rome, 3. Divine Intervention: Misogyny and the Rise of Christianity, 4. From Q
Aug 03, 2011 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
A clear, well-researched, erudite history. I found myself nodding and agreeing with Mr Holland's conclusions, and thanking whichever deity happened to be listening that he had written this book. If anyone doubts that misogyny exists, or that worldwide political, social, economic, religious and cultural groups are inherently sexist, they should read this and think again. How is it possible that the oppression of women is still allowed to continue? Why do women collude with this oppression? It is ...more
Excellent book about the history of the hatred of women, dating back to Greek and Roman times, continuing through the rise of Christianity and the Catholic Church, up to the witch craze of the Middle Ages, the stultifying and sexless Victorian era, Freud, and the anti-choice movement. I thought I would feel anger while reading it, but the author's style is such that I was just wrapped up in the story of the many injustices perpetrated upon women lo these thousands of years.

There were a few inte
Lord Beardsley
Jan 02, 2016 Lord Beardsley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read2015
The last work of Jack Holland's life is this masterpiece: a complete and utter take-down of the fallacy of Misogyny and the ravages it has caused human kind. Passionate, sincere, incredibly well-researched and told with an engaging and approachable tone I can't recommend this enough. This work is a credit to humanity and I am also very happy to see that a male feminist ally in the fight to end gender discrimination wrote it. I could not admire this book enough. It's an essential work of feminist ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Zareena rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, and found it pretty easy to read. I thought that it was pretty lame that it said it was giving a history of misogyny, and then focused almost entirely on western cultures-- particularly British and American. It certainly could have gone into more depth about the taliban, arab countries, and even southeast asia. The author places a lot of blame for the origins of misogyny on the whole tree of knowledge bit from the Bible. I suppose it makes sense, but I am in denial, bec ...more
Nov 03, 2013 Erin rated it it was ok
I liked the historical information in this book, especially the discussion of traditions of misogyny in western philosophy. It should be noted that this is a history of misogyny in the western world, with only a cursory glance at eastern history and cultures. It is also intended to be a brief history of misogyny, yet even that seems like an extremely ambitious undertaking - it's simply too broad a topic. Throughout the book I hoped for better researched arguments and more source citations. There ...more
Alex Brown
Jun 06, 2014 Alex Brown rated it liked it
It would be better titled "Misogyny: A European History", the book appears to be chronological starting in ancient Greece and moving through the rest of Europe with different religious or philosophical traditions, only noticing other areas when they were colonised, etc by Europe. There is no meaningful discussion of misogyny in East Asia, North or South America or Africa until they are dominated by European states. This is despite an acknowledgement that misogyny exists in this areas beforehand. ...more
Kathy McDowell (Ryan) Miller
May 01, 2016 Kathy McDowell (Ryan) Miller rated it it was amazing
This book made me angry to think of the extremes in which people will go for the sake of religious beliefs and cognitive biases. And it made me cry to read about the "cure" for female masturbation (in all its graphic detail) from the 1867 British Medical Journal; the hundreds of thousands of women and girls sent to prison for crimes committed by men; the acceptance of rape as a normal part of war; and the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries.
"A prejudice can exist for a long time before i
Sehar  Moughal
Dec 27, 2015 Sehar Moughal rated it liked it
Misogyny simply means hatred of women...although there is nothing simple about it. I consider myself a feminist minus the knowledge on the history of female oppression. It didn't feel right so I decided to enlighten myself. My first stop: Holland's book. And it was an eye opener for me. It was comprehensive, and sometimes inaccurate (such as the interpretation of Islam and misogyny). Overall, a good read for anyone who wonders why the need/emergence/continuity for feminism.

I feel sick thinking
Aug 06, 2014 Maxine rated it really liked it
A wonderful general primer on misogyny through the ages, written by a man no less. Perhaps it's this outsider's perspective which causes many of the conclusions to ring true. Among these:
--Judeo-Christian/Greek dualism of mind and body, by identifying woman with flesh and nature, created much of Western misogyny
--the honor of women is inextricably linked in male minds to the honor of their society
--the more turbulent a society, the more it searches for scapegoats
--misogyny does not stem dire
Aug 09, 2013 Cristina rated it really liked it
I give this book 5 stars for the research, 4 stars for the content presented, and 3 stars for its delivery; hence the 4 stars overall. It took a long time to get through this book, for many reasons. Holland certainly did his research and I loved all of the annotations and references provided. This was a fascinating travel through time examining misogyny and its presence throughout history. Although the focus was primarily on Western cultures, there were forays into other cultures, as well.

I def
May 28, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
As with most books of history in English, I think this book should be called A Brief History of Western Misogyny. While Holland does touch on misogyny in Chinese, Indian, and Muslim traditions, his focus is very much on the foundations of misogyny in Greek and Christian traditions. Still, as such it is an enlightening, maybe not revolutionary, thing to examine how the stories of Pandora, Eve, and Mary have set into motion ideals of women as evil, captors of nature, and devoid of sexuality. Even ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Ashley rated it it was ok
Lacking in a lot of historical context, claiming that misogyny only started in Ancient Greece, blah blah blah civilization is bad, mkay.

I was half expecting the book to break into we should all go back and worship the mother goddess, but thankfully it didn't.

There was interesting tidbits here and there, but it never really spent the time it should have going into them, showing ANYTHING in context, or really explaining anything.

Could have been better.
Feb 14, 2015 Zippy rated it really liked it
How anyone who is a subscriber to any of the major religions could read this, and not have an immediate crisis if faith feels next to impossible. Jack Holland has put together a brief history of Misogyny in which he starts way back in the Roman times of Caesar, around 100 BC, and ends during present day. While it may seem like attempting to drink from a fire-hose, Holland has broken the book up into different eras, and is made even more captivating by the immense amount of reference (for EVERYTH ...more
Chip Walter
Jan 07, 2013 Chip Walter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
My daughter turned me onto this book, and it is extremely well researched and well-written. Not only is it an eye-opening account of the way women have historically been put down, mistreated and demonized by certain societies and men, but it unfolds the story step by step in a way that renders the situation in which the world and, billions of women, find themselves understandable. As a result, it also clarifies how we can undo the damage we have done, and why it is so important to do so. We have ...more
Danika Ellis
Aug 12, 2007 Danika Ellis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I'm not done this book yet, but I really like it so far. Well-written, full of interesting facts, and thoroughly supported by references (I enjoy footnotes/endnotes). This is a great overview of the history of misogyny. It includes tons of facts that were entirely new to me. Definitely interesting. The only thing that keeps this from a five star rating is that I'm having some trouble convincing myself to read it. I keep checking how many pages are left. It's written engagingly, but so fact-dense ...more
Frederick Abeysundera
Oct 11, 2014 Frederick Abeysundera rated it it was amazing
Here's a book that looks at misogyny from ancient Greece and Rome to the present. As a man, it shames me to think of the injustices perpetrated on women by men. And yet it continues even today. I found it hard to take in, but I think every man should read this book.
May 09, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. Women and any man that loves a woman, mother, sister or romantically. I haven't considered myself a feminist. But this is very enlightening.
Jo Payne
Aug 24, 2014 Jo Payne rated it really liked it
Firstly, this is not a book to make one feel great about being female. It is however, a well summarised account of historical events that have been inflicted on women in the last 3000 years. Misogyny at it's best; witch hunts, executions, mass murders of women, control over women's bodies and everything else that the privileged man has used to control woman. I was skeptical of course, as this is written by a man; a white, straight (assumed) and privileged one. So we need to remember that it is t ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Svenja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deutsch
Es ist unglaublich wei sehr man bei diesem Thema nie auslernen kann. Feminismus ist mir sehr wichtig, dennoch denke ich dass dieses Buch jedem etwas bringen kann. Es ist nicht nur die Geschichte des Frauenhasses oder der ältesten Diskriminierung der Welt, es geht um die komplette Geschichte der Frau. Wenn man in Geschichtsbücher über antike Völker liest oder lernt, was Philosophen vom Menschen denken, ist es nie klar, dass es dabei immer nur um Männer geht. Hier wird gut recherchiert und einfach ...more
May 01, 2012 Tina rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
This was a mixed bag for me. For Jack Holland to tackle such a weighty and important topic is admirable, but the writing was uneven and not up to the task. Of the historical ground he covered I was enthralled, but he often made sweeping conclusions and comparisons supported by shallow analysis.

Reading this overview of the stranglehold of misogyny throughout history aroused feelings of anger and sorrow at the magnitude of loss for our ancestoral sisters. How horrifying that misogyny is still dest
Oct 06, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
well worth the read. should be a starting point for anyone interested in gender issues. perhaps if read, people wouldn't be so quick to throw the word misogyny and its derivatives around for everything.
Ronald Lett
Jan 20, 2016 Ronald Lett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is an excellent overview of the (mostly Western) history of misogyny, with many welcome philosophical hypotheses added by the author. As such, this isn't merely a history book, as in several cases, the author states his opinion very plainly (Without these asides, I doubt many would make it through such a litany of injustices). There is some attempt made to explore Eastern and Middle Eastern misogyny, but most of the events described stick to the standard Western history markers. Even so, th ...more
Jessica Strider
Aug 11, 2011 Jessica Strider rated it it was amazing
A fascinating look at male/female relations throughout history. Neither a rant nor a justification for injustice, this book clearly explains how and (as much as he could) why half of the human population has for numerous reasons mistreated the other half. He shows how for the most part women have either been demonized as whores or elevated beyond reality as goddesses. Even in modern times the idea that women should control their bodies (abortion) or their sexuality and procreative abilities (con ...more
Desirae Golis
Apr 07, 2014 Desirae Golis rated it it was amazing
It's hard to read about this topic without becoming full of rage and despair... Jack Holland did a good job of summing up the subject - hard to do because it is broad and horrific. I can no longer think positively of Plato, Aristotle, or Nietzsche. The more you delve into this topic, the sadder it is; you realize just how many people are undeserving of the reverence society gives them.
Ruth Anderson
Mar 16, 2015 Ruth Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should be required to read this book.
Wow, just wow! I don't recommend reading this before trying to go to sleep. It may leave you frustrated and pissed off and tossing and turning because of it.

Excellent, though mostly European/Western based information on the history of misogyny and the treatment of women from Greece on. Fairly detailed, but still a well-written, easy to read, broad overview.

It gave historical information, though not any how to change ideas, which was fine. There's plenty of internet related info on how to, and g
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