Misogyny

Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women.

This takes several forms in the novel. Joy is frequently met with condescension, disrespect and exploitation from men.

Male authority

Male authority figures are portrayed as patronising and looking down on Joy. Mr Peach shows little regard for Joy's wellbeing. He talks to her as if she were a little girl. It is clear his only interest is that Joy keeps up appearances and doesn't interrupt the smooth running of the school.

Doctor Stead attempts to help Joy but does not seem to listen to her or to discuss her treatment in any detail. He too talks down to Joy, referring to her medication as red, green and yellow things rather than explaining what they are and what they are intended to do.

The doctors at Foresthouse are even more detached. They know her name but she does not know theirs. This makes their interaction one-sided: The doctors are in control and their conversations tend to wrong-foot Joy, making her self-conscious and confused.

All these doctors are male, and it seems that gender plays a part in their treatment of Joy.

At the betting office, Joy is a junior member of staff. Her gender limits what she is allowed to do:

quote
I am not allowed to give out the big wins because I am just the girl at the till.

Despite being an educated, grown woman, Joy is routinely treated as inferior by the men she encounters.

Sexual object

Joy has a number of sexual relationships. None of these relationships seems equal and several are actively exploitative. Paul, David and Michael all maintain control of their time with Joy.

There is a suggestion that Paul's use of pornography, viewing women as sexual objects, contributes to the breakdown of their relationship.

David seems to prey on Joy's vulnerability. His return to her life just after Michael's death could be a sign that he is taking advantage of her.

Tony is the most obviously misogynistic character. His behaviour at work suggests sleaziness as he:

quote
squeezes close to my chair when I sit down again.

When Tony takes Joy out for the night it is clear that his purpose is to seduce her. He ignores how uncomfortable she obviously is and her obvious hints for him to leave. His only interest is his own satisfaction.