A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman
I find it interesting that misogyny takes so many forms and yet never fundamentally changes its underlying nature. Women are evil, whether they are beautiful or unattractive, and whether they are superficial or industrious. The best part about Patriarchy is that there is no way to win, but such a variety of ways to lose!
Despite their more realistic characters, the fabliaux were no more true to life than the romances, but their antagonism to women reflected a common attitude which took its tone from the Church. Woman was the Church’s rival, the temptress, the distraction, the obstacle to holiness, the Devil’s decoy.
[...] [Preachers] denounced women on the one hand for being the slaves of vanity and fashion, for monstrous headdresses and the “lascivious and carnal provocation” of their garments, and on the other hand for being over-industrious, too occupied with children and housekeeping, too earthbound to give due thought to divine things.
[...] [Petrarch] had only to recollect, he wrote to his brother the monk, “what woman really is,” in order to dispel desire and retrieve his normal equanimity. “What woman really is” referred to the clerical doctrine that beauty in women was deceptive, masking falsehood and physical corruption. “Wheresoever Beauty shows upon the face,” warned the preachers, “there lurks much filth beneath the skin.”
Tuchman later makes the sardonic point that misogyny tended to ramp up (as a general rule) near the end of a man's life "when a man began to worry about hell, and his sexual desire in any case was fading". And perhaps this is true, that it's easier to openly hate women when you're no longer trying to seduce them.
But I offer a counter-theory, that the process of thoroughly and completely hating approximately half of the world's population -- as well as such close persons as female friends, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and all the other variety of women and girls who pass through the life of any given man -- takes, for many people, time and practice. Sustained, unremitting hatred is tiring and can be hard to sustain.
If true, that would mean that the constant background-radiation misogyny that we constantly see and experience is so much practice that may, given enough time, make perfect. Which is why it is all the more important to call out the low-level misogyny in addition to the obvious-and-egregious misogyny, because the former is a precursor that fosters and enables the latter.