Created By: AndreaTx on January 31, 2018 Last Edited By: AndreaTx on February 3, 2018
Troped

Mistaken for Misogynist

Character A is accused of sexism, but actually has a different motivation.

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Character A (usually male, but not always) says or does something that can be reasonably interpreted as treating Character B unequally or unfairly due to her gender. However, when Character A explains the actual motivation behind the preferential or discriminatory treatment, it's not a belief that Character B is less capable or deserving because of her gender. The true reason is far more benign and may range from being overly protective because Character B is secretly family or Character A is in love with Character B or Character A is using Tough Love because they really want Character B to succeed or because Character B is new to the field and genuinely needs the preferential treatment for their own safety even if they don't want it. This trope specifically requires that Character A not actually be bigoted, despite the way their actions come across to Character B.

Compare to Straw Misogynist where Character A actually is sexist but with comically terrible reasoning and He-Man Woman Hater where Character A is not only sexist but outright hates women. Compare Mistaken for Racist, where Character A is believed to have a different kind of prejudice.

Contrast Straw Feminist where Character A is very pro-women but it is played for comedy or so their beliefs can be dramatically undercut. Contrast Female Misogynist where Character A is a misogynist, but also happens to be female. Contrast the Noble Bigot who is sexist but views deferential treatment or exclusion of otherwise qualified women as chivalrous.

May overlap with Big Brother Instinct and Always Save the Girl. Usually highlights a Double Standard.

Not to be confused with Bait-and-Switch Accusation where Character B makes an accusation that turns out to not be what Character A thinks he's being suspected of or Discriminate and Switch where Character B is being discriminated against but due to a different prejudice than they believe.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


Examples

Literature
  • Artemis Fowl: At the beginning of the book, Holly (the only female fairy on the police force, apart from the well-connected flirt who does the announcements) accuses Commander Root of misogyny due to his endless chewouts over her every single mistake, claiming that if she'd been a male, they wouldn't be having this conversation. Root confirms that yes, he is harder on her because she's a girl... and as the only girl on the force, he needs her to be the best so more women will want to join up (her Cowboy Cop approach doesn't really help). In later books they have a better working relationship.
  • In the Discworld book Men at Arms, Sam Vimes is ordered by the Patrician to hire several new City Watch members to increase diversity, starting with Ms. Angua von Uberwald. Several times it's referenced that he's not pleased to have a "w—" on staff, giving the impression that he doesn't want to work with women. Eventually, it's revealed that von Uberwald is, in fact, a werewolf to Vimes' great displeasure.
  • The Troubleshooters series by Suzanne Brockmann:
    • Sam Starrett, Jr. He harasses Alyssa Locke, questioning her every move in the field despite the fact that she's a certified Action Girl with Nerves of Steel who also works for the FBI. The two are always sniping at each other and she can't figure out if he dislikes her because she's a woman in a man's field or because she's biracial and he's a white guy from the Deep South. She finally calls him on his constant racist and sexist remarks and he's shocked. Turns out he just really likes her but his troubled childhood left him incapable of expressing that in a reasonable way.
    • Daryl "Harvard" Becker in "Harvard's Education". When PJ Richards is assigned to a joint FBI-Navy task force team, she catches a lot of flack for being the only woman. When Harvard expresses his disdain, she assumes it's because she's a woman and reams him for assuming she's less than capable. Turns out Harvard is from a family of strong, progressive, action-oriented women and only dislikes working with PJ and the other federal agents because he thinks the entire task force is a waste of time and his unit is ham-stringed by being forced to work with Feds who aren't trained for the tasks his unit specializes in. He does, however, think PJ is the best of the four candidates the team was sent.

Live-Action Film
  • Ant-Man: Although it is never explicitly stated, it is heavily implied that Hope believes her father refuses to let her take on the Ant Man mantle because she's a woman and she is endlessly frustrated that he recruited Scott who needs to be trained when she already knows everything about the mission and how the suit works. However, after seeing the two argue about it yet again, Scott, a father himself, explains that Hank won't let Hope wear the suit because he's desperately afraid of her dying. This is confirmed when Hank finally reveals the truth to Hope about how her mother Janet died, working as The Wasp on a mission with Hank. At the end of the movie, Hank presents Hope with a Wasp suit to show that he trusts her to be able to take care of herself.

Live-Action Television
  • Arrow: When Laurel takes up the mantle of Black Canary, she decides to patrol on her own with no help from Oliver, who doesn't even know she's moonlighting as a vigilante. She routinely gets beat up by the bad guys she's pursuing and Ollie finds out what's she doing when she has to be rescued. She accuses Oliver of treating her differently because she's a girl, but he reminds her that he fought as equals with the original Black Canary, Sarah, and he only "babies" Laurel because she literally has no fight training or the necessary skills to protect herself. Once she starts training with Ted Grant, Oliver is more accepting of her in the field.
  • Dexter: Harry Morgan. Flashbacks show that Deb always felt left out of the close relationship Dexter and Harry had. This was particularly exacerbated once their mother died. Deb tries to get closer to Dexter and Harry by working to get good at the things they're always doing, but Harry severely scolds her when he sees her handling knives and guns, the very things he spends all his time teaching Dexter to do. Deb is left feeling like Dexter was the son Harry always really wanted instead of his biological daughter. This misconception doesn't change until Deb finds out Dexter's secret decades later and realizes that Harry was simply working hard to teach Dexter to blend in and knew that Deb would be fine.
  • Justified: When Deputy US Marshall Rachel Brooks is called to task for playing fast and loose with the rules in capturing a suspect, she points out that Art is coming down on her harder than he does any of the male deputies in the office and that she didn't do anything Raylan hasn't done, but Raylan never seems to get in trouble. Art, their boss, agrees but says he doesn't come down on Cowboy Cop Raylan because he thinks Raylan is a lost cause and he actually considers Rachel his best deputy. This is backed up by Art making Rachel interim Chief Deputy when he is injured in the line of duty.
  • Supernatural: The season 2 episode "No Exit" centers around Jo Harvelle who wants to be a hunter like her deceased father, Bill. Her mother, Ellen, doesn't want her to be in the field because she is afraid Jo will die like Bill. Jo finds a case and her mother gives it to Sam and Dean instead. Jo sneaks out to work the case anyway. Jo is irritated when Sam and Dean insist on helping her work the case, but on more than one occasion Dean has to point something out that Jo doesn't know. Eventually, when Dean insists on accompanying Jo to investigate a lead but lets Sam go off on his own, Jo accuses Dean of being sexist and treating her like less than a hunter because she's a woman. Dean insists women can be hunters and that he's treating her like a rookie with no experience, unlike Sam who's been hunting since he was a pre-teen. Sure enough, Jo is kidnapped by the Monster of the Week and has to be rescued although she does ultimately assist in defeating the baddie.
  • Stella Gibson from The Fall is a female version of this. A no non-sense Iron Lady detective, she seems like a Female Misogynist, bristling any time her colleagues try to give her the traditional deference given to women and eschewing things that might be considered overly feminine or weak. However, this is soon revealed to simply be a result of her constant attempts to make sure her professional competence is not overlooked in favor of her natural beauty or attributed to feminine wiles. Stella is actually quite feminist and doesn't not think less of other women. When given the opportunity to promote and mentor beat cop Danielle Ferrington who displays flashes of brilliance, Stella does so, explaining the trial-and-error rules she's created for being treated as an equal in a traditionally chauvinistic field.

Magazine
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip story "Cuckoo", the Doctor explains to Ace and Benny that he has to ensure that fossil-hunter Mary Anne Wesley doesn't succeed in winning the respect of the whole scientific establishment with a prize fossil. They are outraged and initially assume he's sexist, but he then explains that it's because the fossil is actually an out-of-place alien that will send Earth's scientific biology down a blind alley for centuries, and that in a short time Wesley will find an actual marine reptile fossil that really will secure her reputation.

Web Comic
  • Downplayed in Gunnerkrigg Court. When Eglamore says that it "wouldn't be fair" for him to spar with Ms. Jones, Antimony coolly asks "Because she is a woman?" He quickly clarifies that it's because he wouldn't stand a chance against her.

Western Animation
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer Badman", Homer is accused of sexual harassment by a woman who thought he was trying to cop a feel. He was actually grabbing for a piece of candy stuck on the woman.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • January 31, 2018
    Lawman592
    • In The Simpsons episode "Homer Badman", Homer is mistakenly accused of sexual harassment after grabbing a piece of candy stuck on a woman.
  • January 31, 2018
    AndreaTx
    ^I tweaked the wording just a little to include the misconception vs the reality. WDYT?
  • January 31, 2018
    Chabal2
    Artemis Fowl: At the beginning of the book, Holly (the only female fairy on the police force, apart from the well-connected bimbo who does the announcements) accuses Commander Root of misogyny due to his endless chewouts over her every single mistake, claiming that if she'd been a male, they wouldn't be having this conversation. Root confirms that yes, it is because she's a girl... but because, as the only girl on the force, she has to be the best so more women will join up (her Cowboy Cop approach doesn't really help). In later books they have a better working relationship.

  • January 31, 2018
    Chabal2
    2xpost

  • January 31, 2018
    AndreaTx
    Potential page quote?

    Rachel: "How many times has Wyatt Earp here put himself in positions like that and worse, and how many reprimands have you written him?"
    Art: "Well, he's a lost cause. I still have some hope for you."
    Justified, "Truth and Consequences", Art reprimands Rachel for failing to call for backup
  • February 1, 2018
    Arivne
    • Examples section
  • February 1, 2018
    intastiel
    • In the Discworld book Men At Arms, Sam Vimes is ordered by the Patrician to hire several new City Watch members to increase diversity, starting with Ms. Angua von Uberwald. After a few references to how he's not pleased to have a "w—" on staff, it's revealed that she is, in fact, a werewolf.
  • February 2, 2018
    Snicka
    Compare Mistaken For Racist, where the character is believed to have a different kind of prejudice.
  • February 2, 2018
    Malady
    Are there not Bait And Switch Accusation, whoops, Discriminate And Switch, examples that would fit? Like the Literature.Codex Alera one?
  • February 2, 2018
    AndreaTx
    ^Good idea. I'll check.
  • February 2, 2018
    AndreaTx
    Does anybody have examples where Character A is female? I know women can be sexist to each other but I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.
  • February 2, 2018
    Twoeyesshort
    ^ I'd mine Female Misogynist for subversions, since that would result in this trope.
  • February 2, 2018
    AndreaTx
    ^Good idea. Thanks!
  • February 2, 2018
    AndreaTx
    • changed bimbo to flirt because bimbo is a gendered slur and ironic in an article about misogyny.
  • February 3, 2018
    intastiel
    • Downplayed in Gunnerkrigg Court. When Eglamore says that it "wouldn't be fair" for him to spar with Ms. Jones, Antimony coolly asks "Because she is a woman?" He quickly clarifies that it's because he wouldn't stand a chance against her.
  • February 3, 2018
    LondonKdS
    In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip story "Cuckoo", the Doctor explains to Ace and Benny that he has to ensure that fossil-hunter Mary Anne Wesley doesn't succeed in winning the respect of the whole scientific establishment with a prize fossil. They are outraged and initially assume he's sexist, but he then explains that it's because the fossil is actually an out-of-place alien that will set Earth scientific biology down a blind alley for centuries, and that in a short time Wesley will find a marine reptile fossil that really will win her reputation.
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