In this presentation I identify and apply Kate Manne’s Down Girl to Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre. Manne explores in depth how she defines misogyny as a form of hostility received by a woman when she does not conform to her role in a patriarchal society, distinguishing it from sexism which is the idea that women are inferior to men, and its effects upon society. She also theorizes what occurs when a woman steps beyond women’s role and out of the unspoken standards of misogyny. In Zofloya, Victoria steps out of her role as a woman from a very young age, behaving and appearing more masculine as the novel progresses. With Manne’s philosophy, I explore how Victoria’s character changes and how her body changes to become more masculine when subjected to misogyny. There is also the parallel case of Laurina, Victoria’s mother I address briefly to highlight the generational effect of misogyny. Overall, I ask, what happens to a woman in a misogynistic society when she subverts her gender role? What happens to her children if she has any like Laurina did? I expect to find that a woman who does not conform to her prescribed role in a misogynistic society will no longer be considered a woman. She will become something other, no longer the caring, nurturing human she should have been, but neither will misogyny allow her to become a man because she never was one to begin with.
Lisa Ann Robertson
English, Philosophy, Women's Studies
Reiss, Elizabeth, "Turning Masculine: The Un-womaning of Women" (2021). IdeaFest. 416.