Both men and women can be narcissists. That being said, misogyny tends to be a key trait found in male narcissists (as well as female ones who demonstrate internalized misogyny.)
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, this study does seem to align with the accounts of many female victims of male malignant narcissists. Those who have been victimized by male narcissists 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, “We’re not talking about teen bullies here. We’re 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:
1. 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.
2. Stalking, rage 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 narcissistic 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.
3. Deep-seated and harmful patriarchal beliefs 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?
4. Responding to a woman’s accomplishments with rage, disdain and contempt.
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.”
As a result of their envy and feelings of being threatened by a powerful woman, they decide to lash out and criticize her, treating her condescendingly even though her accomplishments and assets may surpass theirs.
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).
5. Approaches social justice issues related to women with a dismissive attitude.
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.
This article was first published on Psych Central as “Are Male Narcissists Also Misogynists?”
Angus Reid Institute (2016). Trolls and tribulations: One-in-four Canadians say they’re being harassed on social media (Rep.). Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Brogaard, B. (2014, June 04). Elliot Rodger’s Narcissism. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Buckels, E. E., Trapnell, P. D., & Paulhus, D. L. (2014). Trolls Just Want to Have Fun. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 97-102. doi:10.1037/e520722015-006
Campbell, J. (1981). The Role of Misogyny in Patterns of Homicide: A Historical Survey Examining the Killing of Women By Men in a Midwestern City (Master’s thesis, 1981) (pp. 67-85). Advances in Nursing Science. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Fisman, R., Iyengar, S. S., Kamenica, E., & Simonson, I. (2006). Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence From a Speed Dating Experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(2), 673-697. doi:10.1162/qjec.2006.121.2.673
Freeman, H. (2017, March 28). What do many lone attackers have in common? Domestic violence | Hadley Freeman. The Guardian. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Goldberg, M. (2015, February 20). Feminist writers are so besieged by online abuse that some have begun to retire. Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Keiller, S.W. (2010). Male narcissism and attitudes toward heterosexual women and men, lesbian women and gay men: hostility toward heterosexual women most of all. Sex Roles. DOI 10.1007/s11199-010-9837-8
Ryan, M. (2014, October 15). The Threats Against Anita Sarkeesian Expose The Darkest Aspects Of Online Misogyny. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Shepherd, T. (2016, October 25). Research confirms online trolls are typically sadistic, misogynistic men who hate women. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Young, A. F., Park, L. E., & Eastwick, P. W. (2015). (Psychological) distance makes the heart grow fonder: Effects of psychological distance and relative intelligence on men’s attraction to women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41(11), 1459-1473. doi:10.1037/e578192014-596