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TRIBUNE PHOTOS: JAIME VALDEZ - Elle Stanger strips for a living, but that doesnt explain why people tell her she should kill herself, or get AIDS, or the leering stares she gets walking down the street. Thats misogyny, Stanger says.Elle Stanger, a professional stripper, has a unique perspective on a term that’s fast becoming the word for this year’s election season. The word? Misogyny.

Last month, three different front-page stories used the “M” word in one week. The New York Times spent nearly an entire page looking at Donald Trump’s relationship with women. Nevada supporters of Bernie Sanders went more than a little overboard with what Salon called a “misogynist rage” in attacking the chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic party. Not to be outdone, the Chicago Tribune went with “Cloudy with a chance of misogyny” to headline a story about a Los Angeles weather forecaster who, on the air, was asked to don a sweater to cover her little black dress.

Google “Donald Trump” together with “misogyny” and you get 789,000 results. All this for a word that practically nobody used a decade or two ago. Try the same with “Bernie Sanders” and you get 586,000 hits. “Hillary Clinton?” Just 333,000 results and most of those feature headlines like the Daily Kos’ “Trump’s strategy against Hillary Clinton: Misogyny, misogyny, and if that doesn’t work, misogyny.”

That’s why it’s important for people to have a working definition of misogyny, and not confuse it with “its less dangerous cousin, sexism,” says Lynn Fairweather, a domestic and sexual violence consultant and president of the Oregon Violence Against Women Political Action Committee.

“Misogyny is a different, darker animal than sexism because it manifests in attitudes and actions that convey a deep contempt for women,” says Fairweather, speaking only for herself.

“A sexist might verbally perpetuate the stereotype that women are bad drivers, whereas a misogynist might intentionally run a woman’s car off the road because she refused to give him her phone number,” Fairweather says.

Contempt? “I get that,” says the 29-year-old Stanger, an advocate for sex workers’ rights.

Both men and women regularly send her hate mail via social media sites. “You’re a whore,” is common, she says. Others she’s seen lately include, “Your parents should be ashamed of you,” “I feel bad for your kid,” “You probably have AIDS,” and “Go kill yourself.”

Another thing she’s noticed? “If a woman who works as an adult entertainer dies, much of the comment threads will be jokes,” she says.

Fairweather is concerned when people start to use sexism and misogyny interchangeably. That, she says, runs the risk of taking away misogyny’s power to describe truly threatening behavior.

That power is important, says Joe Gantt, who teaches rhetoric and media studies at Lewis & Clark College. “We’ve been desensitized to charges of sexism in our politicians,” Gantt says. “When that term is applied, it’s damaging partially, but not to the extent that misogyny might be.”

But YouTube videos and social media posts may be making it riskier to display sexual hate, in Gantt’s view.

“There are more people who are willing to call it out than 15 or 20 years ago,” Gantt says. “Trump gives a speech, and instead of waiting a day for the news to take the parts they consider significant and put them on the front page the next day, people are seeing it live and saying, ‘Wow, that is messed up, what he just said.’ ”

Stanger doesn’t see much of a difference between sexism and misogyny. “It (misogyny) sounds a little more sophisticated, but it’s the same concept,” she says. “If you’re a sexist you’re probably a misogynist.

“Since I was a tiny little kid, I knew I was being targeted with disdain,” she says. “I was targeted for violence, sexual violence and physical violence, because I am a girl.”

Recently Stanger bought a new home. During a final run-through, she was aware the home inspector would not look her in the eye or speak to her. All his words were directed to her male Realtor until she stepped in and firmly shook the inspector’s hand, asserting herself.

“Here’s the difference between sexism and misogyny,” Stanger says. “The inspector that wouldn’t look me in the eye until I asserted myself? That’s sexism. The tile contractor who, when I would ask him a simple question, was snarky and pointlessly rude to the point where I felt he was threatening me because of my gender? Later his boss told me (the contractor) couldn’t stop staring at me because he thought I was hot. That’s misogyny.”

Online behavior even worse

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Pole dancer Morgan Ross experiences more abuse as an online game administrator than at work.Morgan Ross is a local pole dancer and, like Stanger, she confronts misogyny because of her work. But Ross says the misogyny she confronts on a daily basis in her hobby — online gaming — is more pervasive and scarier than anything she hears or reads about herself as a sex worker.

Ross plays a first-person shooter game called Wolfenstein. She’s risen to the post of volunteer administrator, which means she’s tasked with keeping the game’s servers clear of hackers, cheaters and trolls — people who post inflammatory, off-topic comments.

Ross says frequently she’ll read a comment claiming the reason she’s risen to administrator level is because she’s a woman. That’s sexism, she says.

But the online comments from men asking if she’d be interested in seeing their genitals, or the steady stream of propositions for sex from players crosses a line, in Ross’s view. The same goes for those men who refer to her as “fat” coupled with the “C” word — all because she’s not interested in them.

“Misogyny is taking it one step further to the point where you’re a lesser person,” she says. “They don’t know anything about me — age, appearance — other than I’m a female.”

Ross compares an online gaming server to a bar. There are regular players, others who wander in to play and just relax, and management — the administrators trying to keep things copacetic. But in terms of the ideas people express, it’s rowdier online.

“I sometimes get rape threats,” she says.

She blames the internet’s anonymity. Partially.

“There are no bouncers or regulations. Everybody likes to hide behind free speech with minimal consequence,” she says.

As administrator, Ross can suspend a player from the game and use tracking software to discover a player’s location. If she bans a player for vulgar or misogynist comments, the word gets out that a woman took a player’s comments too personally. Male administrators tell her, “It’s the internet. You get that all the time. It’s not that big of a deal, basically,” she says.

Matilde Bickers, who has been a stripper, hooker and professional escort in Portland, sued the owners of the strip club, Club Diablo, for wage discrimination and backstage sexual assault, which she says involved misogyny. (The suit was confidentially resolved.)

Bickers, an advocate for sex workers’ rights, says her union rep at her state government job was nearly as bad. “He used to tell me he couldn’t stop looking at my chest,” Bickers says. “That was both misogyny and rude.”

But what happens inside a strip club isn’t necessarily misogynistic, Bickers says. “There are situations where it’s appropriate to talk about sex and situations where it’s not. Talking about my boobs in a situation where you’re going to be seeing my boobs makes more sense.”

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Standup comic Wednesday Weiss wonders if the fact that women comics are so frequently solicited for sex has to do with some form of misogyny.

Double standard for comics

There’s this experiment she’s read about that bugs Wednesday Weiss to no end. Weiss is a local standup comic who also works as a stripper and as a provider of internet porn.

In the experiment, both men and women tell the same jokes to audiences. Invariably, the men get more laughs. And Weiss sees the same thing play out on Portland stages.

“People laugh harder, they find it funnier, they like it more when men tell the same jokes,” Weiss says. “I think it’s that thing where people aren’t sure if women are funny or not. Is that misogyny or sexism?”

Standup comedy until recently was almost exclusively a man’s domain, and women still aren’t that welcome, according to Weiss. She says she knows of well-known women comics who have received death threats. She’s experienced contempt from men who think a crude woman comic is fair game for sexual solicitation, and then get turned down.

When women comics are introduced, Weiss says, invariably the emcee uses words like sweet, cute or “very hot.” That, she says, is probably sexism as opposed to misogyny. But the line can be hard to discern.

“There are articles written, ‘Are women funny? Let’s debate that.’ The fact that people are still asking that question really points to a misogyny toward women as far as humor goes,” Weiss says.

Construction industry officials say they desperately need more trained plumbers, electricians and welders. But they should look at how welcome women are in the field, says journeyman line worker Jenna Smith.

As an apprentice line worker, Smith was regularly subjected to sexual abuse and generally crude behavior. One day she arrived at work to find a shrine in the locker room constructed out of a five-gallon bucket and gloves with her name on them. The display was made to look like she was performing a sexual act.

“I didn’t take it down because I wanted one of the supervisors to see it,” Smith recalls. And the supervisor did see it, but he didn’t take it down. “It stayed up in that locker room for months,” she says.

Learning from Howard Stern

Tara Dublin was one of the better-known radio disc jockeys in Portland until she was laid off in 2009. She says misogyny is rife within the music industry, and it’s made it harder for her to get a new job as a deejay.

“There is this assumption that you’re just there to have sex with rock stars,” Dublin says of a prevailing industry attitude. “A tour manager for a band said to me, ‘There are two different kinds of women who work in radio. The big fat ones with a hot voice or the hot ones who are there because they’re hot.’ ”

Dublin says her on-air persona trends toward the aggressive and shocking, and that doesn’t play well, especially in polite Portland.

“I said the same things Howard Stern said. I’m a whiner, he’s a visionary, because I’m a woman,” Dublin says.

Dublin isn’t certain whether that indicates an industry sexism or misogyny, but she’s certain the online posts and tweets she receives cross the line into the latter. “You’re a hag,” is one. “You’re ugly” and “No wonder you’re single” also are common themes.

Dublin says she belongs to a Facebook group of women who support Hillary Clinton and have learned to keep their group secret, because misogynist men insist on posting similar comments.

Misogyny isn’t really different than sexism, says Jacob Daniels, director of the Donald Trump campaign in Oregon. Regardless of the definition, Daniels insists Trump is not a misogynist because he is crude to men and women alike.

“He’s an equal opportunity counterpuncher,” Daniels says. “Mr. Trump is counterpunching everybody who is going against him and he’s doing it with equal force. And the counterpunch means he’s taking you seriously, which is a terrific compliment.”

Mi·sog·y·ny: A linguistic look at the ‘M’ word

Elle Stanger has a problem with words.

Stanger works as a Portland stripper. Not surprisingly she's the target of a fair amount of abuse. Typically, people who don't like her or what she does call her a whore or refer to her with the "B or "C" words — three labels that inject into any dispute the contempt and sexual threat that define misogyny.

Even if she were of a mind to reply in kind, Stanger says, there aren't words that she could use to show the same level of contempt for men. They simply don't exist. And in Stanger's mind, there's a cultural reason.

“Men are not raised to feel shame about their sexuality,” she says.

There's a reason, says Lynn Fairweather, a Portland domestic and sexual violence consultant and author. According to Fairweather, women are lacking the history that would make demeaning words about men a fundamental element of language.

“Misogyny is backed up by thousands of years of history of women being oppressed and hurt if they don't cooperate. It doesn't happen the other way around,” Fairweather says.

There is a word for contempt of men — misandry. And there are insults specific for men, Fairweather says, but they aren't specifically attacking maleness, or using male sexuality in a contemptuous way. Even the word "slut," she says, has an equivalent in "stud," but most men won't object to being called a stud.

Noted linguist Ben Zimmer, executive producer of, says that lack of language equivalency is common in English. He cites spinster, coquette, Jezebel, vamp, concubine and mistress as examples of degrading words that don't have male counterparts.

“A lot of these words cast women in a negative light and they have persisted in the English language despite the progress of the feminist movement talking about the structural biases against women,” Zimmer says. “There's a kind of lingering systemic bias in the way we talk about women.”

Zimmer, who regularly consults with dictionary editors about how language is evolving, says misogyny is slowly being redefined to a more general term used to connote prejudice or hostility toward women, rather than the pathological hatred it has historically indicated. He's not sure that's a good thing.

“Perhaps misogyny should be reserved for the most hateful forms,” he says.

Wednesday Weiss is something of an expert on the subject of demeaning words. Weiss (also a standup comic and a stripper) works as an online provider of fem dom (female domination) porn. Her job is to verbally degrade people on a website, and she's learned that words focused on sex have little impact on men.

“You take away their masculinity, that's how you insult a man,” Weiss says. “You point out a woman's femininity, that's how you insult a woman.”

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