Chauvinism and misogyny are two different sets of beliefs that are nonetheless highly dangerous and can have significantly damaging consequences. Although the definitions of both vary, it is typically agreed that chauvinism is a belief in the superiority of one group over another. Cambridge Dictionary distinguishes between traditional chauvinism, national chauvinism, and male chauvinism, but it follows the same perception: [it is a] strong and unreasonable belief that your own country, sex, or group is the best or most important” (Chauvinism par. 3). Contrastingly, misogyny is a theory that views women as the inferior group compared to men. The same source emphasizes the subjectivity of this thinking distortion: “feelings of hating women, or the belief that men are much better than women” (Misogyny par. 1). Therefore, the terms are dissimilar but have several overlapping connotations.
The words emerged during different historical periods, though both have existed since the emergence of humans. One of the first uses of “misogyny” was in the work of the stoic philosopher Antipater (221 in “Paul on Marriage and Celibacy”). Therefore, the word existed during the BC era. Contrastingly, chauvinism is a relatively new word. It was coined after the French soldier Nicolas Chauvin, who preserved his radical patriotism even after Napoleon lost his power (de Puymège 337). The time of the term’s emergence also demonstrates the recognition of a particular bias on a more official level.
While misogyny is strictly focused on hatred against women, chauvinism is not limited to it, although it is still possible. Misogyny exists to push women into submission and make sure that they follow patriarchal norms and expectations (Lopes 2521). This viewpoint considers women worse than men in all spheres of life. It exists to justify the privileges men have, and they can be either hidden or open. Interestingly, many people do not even recognize their own prejudice against women, and many of them will appear gentle and respectful. Only minor gestures would demonstrate the inner belief in women’s depravity. Chauvinism is typically more open and aggressive; however, it does not include prejudice against women only. It can exist to justify any kind of hatred. Nevertheless, it occurs through refusal to give women a chance to work, be protected, have equal rights, or not be physically or emotionally attacked.
Unlike misogyny, chauvinism is usually manifested in racism or radical nationalism that divides certain ethnic or national groups from each other. Chauvinism is a negative manifestation of national identity and self-placement in a particular national context (Huddy & Ponte 2). Such beliefs can require a person to either be openly aggressive with physical attacks or simply hold a particular belief without voicing it. Unlike chauvinism, misogyny has only gender-based mutual disregard. Evidently, national belonging can put women in vulnerable ethnic groups at a further disadvantage, but misogyny itself does not contain this connotation.
Despite their differences, both chauvinism and misogyny are partially dependent on the emergence of religion, as it was among the contributing factors. When religion shifted from polytheistic to monotheistic, women lost their equality because society moved to a stage where male physical force granted them more political and social influence. At the same time, Christianity and Islam are both examples of religions where people express distrust of the notion of “others” and women. Most religions propagate that women are inferior to men and can be respected as cattle or children. Similarly, chauvinism emerged at the moment when people started to divide into groups. It led to a conflict where one tribe or town competed against the other, which led to the emergence of conflict. Religion was among the first reasons for mutual distrust because it reinforced the idea that groups with other spiritual beliefs were enemies.
Furthermore, the emergence of misogyny and chauvinism has another crucial contributor: the need for survival that required fast categorization. Undeniably, both types of prejudice are unforgivable. However, they depended on some priorities existing in the society. Because men used their physical power to provide for their families and larger communities, they created distorted beliefs about women, which later became internalized. Chauvinism appeared as a response to a psychological reaction that required people to make judgments about other societies quickly. Such choices are seen as barbaric today, but they served as fast mechanisms for distinguishing between narratives of “others” and “self.”
Finally, although both misogyny and chauvinism aim at the members of the other group, they can become internalized in specific situations. Namely, women can develop misogyny that will make them view other females as inferior and even systematically victimize them. In the case of chauvinism, such beliefs may occur if the person is a member of two groups, one of which is seen as stereotypically worse than the other. It is evident that both distorted ideologies can transform into self-aggression and hatred toward oneself, even though it is destructive. Notwithstanding, both of them can be addressed through education, training, and empathy, but they also require a larger social intervention that will help people avoid developing such fallacies.
“Chauvinism.” Cambridge Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/chauvinism. Accessed 26 Aug. 2023.
Deming, Will. Paul on Marriage and Celibacy: The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996.
Huddy, Leonie, and Alessandro Ponte. “National Identity, Pride, and Chauvinism – Their Origins and Consequences for Globalization Attitudes.” Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions, Oxford University Press, 2019.
“Misogyny.” Cambridge Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/misogyny. Accessed 26 Aug. 2023.
Lopes, Filipa. “Perpetuating the patriarchy: Misogyny and (post-)feminist backlash.” Philosophical Studies, vol. 176, no. 9, 2018, pp. 2517–2538, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-018-1138-z.