Are male narcissists more likely to be misogynistic? A study suggests that heterosexual narcissistic men tended to lash out more often at heterosexual women than any other group (including homosexual men and women). Dr. Keiller (2010), lead author of the study, writes:
The present study suggests that heterosexual men’s narcissism is linked to an adversarial and angry stance toward heterosexual women more than toward other groups. Although narcissists may want to maintain feelings of superiority and power over all people, narcissistic heterosexual men are particularly invested in subordinating heterosexual women.
While narcissists and their victims can be of any gender and sexual orientation and women can certainly be misogynistic as well (internalized misogyny is still well and alive),this study does seem to align with the accounts of many female victims of malignant narcissists, who have noted that their abusers tended to demonstrate patriarchal attitudes.
This link between misogyny and narcissism becomes even clearer when we consider that:
- Misogynistic trolls who target women online are also part of the larger group of narcissists who have been shown to have high levels of psychopathy, sadism and Machiavellianism (Buckels, et. al 2014). This will not come as shocking news to any woman who has been trolled online and been subjected to violent threats, put-downs about her appearance and intelligence if she dares to speak out or basically exist on any online platform. For example, feminist writers and advocates such as Jessica Valenti and Anita Sarkeesian have been subjected to numerous threats over the course of their careers (Goldberg, 2015; Ryan, 2014). As Tory Shepherd writes, “Were not talking about teen bullies here. Were talking about grown men getting deviant pleasure from trying to hurt women.”
- There is an established connection between misogynistic attitudes towards women and homicide against women (Campbell, 1981).
- Many male mass murderers have also been shown to have a history of domestic violence against women. As Hadley Freeman (2017) writes in The Guardian:
“Paul Gill, a UCL lecturer who studies so-called lone wolf terrorists,told the New York Times last year: Having a history of violence might help neutralize the natural barriers to committing violence. In other words, wives and girlfriends make good target practice.”
Elliot Rodger is a prime example of what can happen when malignant narcissism and misogynistic beliefs merge in heinous acts of violence (Broogard, 2014). The 22-year-old created many disturbing videos and an entire manifesto about his entitlement to women’s bodies prior to his murderous rampage.
Are you dating a misogynistic narcissist? What to look out for:
Given the overlap between misogyny and narcissism, there are red flags that can point to the fact that you may be dating someone on the narcissistic spectrum. Common signs include:
An unwavering sense of sexual entitlement. Since male narcissists have been shown by Keiller’s study to have hostility towards women due to them being “sexual gatekeepers,” it is unsurprising that many male narcissists also display a sense of sexual entitlement as well. They feel entitled to women’s bodies and these are often the types to pressure, coerce or covertly manipulate women into fast-forwarding the physical aspects of the relationship early on and showing resentment, cold withdrawal or even forceful attempts when their advances are rejected.
TIP: Be wary of any dating partners who pressure you to get intimate with them early on. While this sense of entitlement may be more common than ever in today’s modern hookup culture, a refusal to respect your boundaries when you’ve communicated them is a sure red flag you’re dealing with someone toxic.
Stalking and harassment, especially in the face of rejection. All narcissists, regardless of gender, are capable of stalking and harassing their victims. This is because any form of rejection, even if it’s simply due to incompatibility, causes what is called a “narcissistic injury” which results in rage. You will find that male narcissists especially like to insult the women who reject them by degrading their physical attributes and sexual desirability.
Websites like Tinder Nightmares and Stop Street Harassment catalog what happens when women reject men and it seems that women disproportionately face certain types of harassment on social media, such as cyberbullying and revenge porn (Angus Reid Institute, 2016). If a woman “dares” to refuse a second date with a narcissistic man, she will be on the receiving end of his rage or multiple attempts to change her mind.
TIP: When dating someone new, never reveal your address and avoid using your real phone number if you can. Use a Google voice number instead or message primarily through another text messaging app until you’ve met. It’s important to get a sense of who a person is before you give them full access to where you are and how you can be reached. Many stalkers take advantage of any personal information you give them to harass their victims after they’ve been rejected.
Deep-seated and harmful patriarchalbeliefs that remain unquestioned. While it’s normal that both men and women have internalized gender roles to some extent in a patriarchal society, be on the lookout for harmful beliefs that any dating partners seem all too invested in defending and reinforcing. This can be overt, like a dating partner who believes women shouldn’t work or becomes enraged if you assert yourself. However, it can also be covert. Some abusive males mask themselves as feminists and “nice guys” when they are in reality simply looking to convince you of their credibility.
TIP: Rely on actions more than words. How does your dating partner react when you assert your boundaries and differing beliefs? Does he validate you or does he become contemptuous? How does he handle rejection? Does he often brag about what a “nice guy” he is and rant or rave about women who rejected him in the past or does he seem to take it in stride?
How does he respond to your accomplishments? Pathologically envious narcissists are often jealous of their partner’s achievements because it threatens their sense of superiority and their sense of control over you. Misogynistic male narcissists take it one step further: they feel deeply emasculated when they see their female partners accomplishing goals because it disrupts their stereotype of the “submissive woman.”
Such an attitude is not limited to narcissists alone: it has been shown as sadly common, even among highly educated men who may not be aware of these subconscious attitudes (Fisman et. al, 2006; Park et. al, 2015).
Another thing to note is how your dating partner approaches social justice issues. Does he dismiss or minimize the plight of women by claiming that men suffer equally or even worse horrendous treatment? It’s one thing to address the issues in society that affect men (such as expectations of toxic masculinity) but a whole other affair to continue to invalidate the systemic inequalities and realities that women worldwide face every day (everything from street harassment to honor killings). A man (or even woman) who refuses to acknowledge the unequal treatment of women in society is probably not one you will be compatible with in the long run regardless.
Narcissism isn’t exclusive to any gender, but it’s important to note that misogyny can be a trait of narcissism. It would be interesting for future research to also explore whether female narcissists possess misogynistic attitudes as well.