Internalized misogyny is a byproduct of a societal view that labels women as the inferior gender. It’s an oftentimes subconscious bias; an effect of the patriarchy.
|Mary Morgan||Oct 21, 2020|
It’s not as loud or obvious as societal inequality or outward chauvinism. It’s a slower, quieter way of stripping women of power. It’s death by a thousand cuts as opposed to a chainsaw massacre.
Internalized misogyny is a byproduct of a societal view that labels women as the inferior gender. It’s an oftentimes subconscious bias that results in women being shamed, doubted, undervalued and judged. It’s an effect of the patriarchy that’s been woven into our mindsets to project sexist ideas onto women.
Whether it’s at work or in personal lives, women are dragged for being anything other than easily digestible, pleasant, palatable, neutral beings. If she’s too loud, too bossy, too ambitious, too much, too sexual, too prudish, too made up, too confident -- if she’s “too” anything, she’ll be a target for people to make her lesser
Internalized misogyny is recognizing that sexism is all around us, even if it's not really obvious. And almost everyone has been guilty of it. People are quick to say "I'm not a sexist!" without recognizing their behavioral or mental sexism. I mean, even fucking Trump thinks he’s great for women. This shows how rare it is to find people who are boastfully sexist. But sexism is clearly still a huge part of our society, otherwise, women would be equal.
Recognizing sexism and misogyny in our society is crucial if we are to eliminate it and create a culture that is truly equal. Part of this is diving into our own internal sexism that has been driven into us. Why do we as individuals perpetuate oppression onto women? How are we personally guilty of upholding sexism in our culture?
So, what does internal misogyny look like? Let’s go through some common examples.
It’s judging a woman for her appearance. She’s too fat, too skinny, wears too little, wears too much makeup. Judging someone's appearance attaches their value and worth to their appearance. This means we become complicit in literally valuing women based off their appearance. Furthermore, it adds to the overall objectification of women in our society. When we compare ourselves to other women, we are complicit in this. IE, making ourselves feel better by saying something negative about another woman. Women are told to be their harshest critics, resulting in us hating ourselves. Hating our bodies keeps us controlled. Toxic romantic relationships take advantage of this in order to manipulate and gaslight. If someone makes you feel shitty and tells you that you're "letting yourself go" or "too fat" or anything that comments on your appearance, it's in order to manipulate and control you. They're actively stripping you of your confidence so they can exert dominance and power.
It’s using sexist micro-aggressions such as “bossy” “serious” “intense” “angry” “aggressive” “difficult” — the list goes on. These subtle (or not-so-subtle) snubs communicate covert insults that criticize and chastise women for being anything other than pleasant, neutral, palatable beings, and shames them into submission. This is especially true when women stand up for themselves; they're labeled "difficult" or "a bitch" because they've made an aggressor feel uncomfortable.
It’s using ambition and confidence as dirty words, but only when it’s applied to women. Ask yourself: Who is afraid of ambitious women? It's people clinging to traditional notions that only men can have successful careers, and women must only play supporting roles in our society. Men are rewarded for their confidence and women are penalized, especially in the workplace. Saying something is an attractive quality for one gender only is sexism.
It’s slut shaming. The idea that women lose their value if they have more sexual experiences is sexist. It’s a gross double standard. Slut shaming is about damaging a woman and her credibility because she exerts ownership over her body and her sexuality. Women slut shaming other women is a huge part of the problem. You’re doing the patriarchy’s work for it by holding other women down.
It’s pitting women against each other and disparaging women in general. This happens in so many ways. If you ever resort to hating other women to empower yourself, you are an active participant in internalized misogyny. It's viewing women as competitors and adversaries rather than allies. For example, how women are taught to compete with each other for male attention. In doing so, to win the "prize" of male attention (vomit), we put each other down. Anytime women treat each other as rivals, it benefits patriarchal desires because it keeps women competing against each other instead of trying to underpin the societal structure that disadvantages them. Holding each other up is exclusively what we should be doing, but internalized misogyny creates a toxic culture that makes us fight for societal crumbs.
Another example of this is when someone says "you're not like other girls," or when women say about themselves "I'm not like other women." These are huge red flags of misogyny, because these phrases are literally putting down all other women. Even if it feels like a compliment, it’s not - it’s disparaging an entire gender. That’s overt sexism.
Same thing with the "cool girl" trope. Anytime we shape ourselves in order to fit into a stereotype of what others desire, we do ourselves a massive disservice.
It’s putting down feminism. Sentences like, “I’m not a feminist”, or “What do feminists have to be so angry about anyway?” aim to diminish the movement for equality. Anti-feminism stances are rooted in aversions to female power. Perceiving it as a man-hating mission means sexism has successfully taken something literally about women and centered it around men. Feminism is about raising women up and establishing equality; centering it around men is inherently patriarchal. Being anti-feminist means you’re missing the point of the movement as a whole. Also, by saying "I’m not a feminist,” women are once again disparaging their gender in order to cater to the perceived desires of men.
It’s evaluating women’s societal value based off their contribution to family life. “You’ll get a boyfriend one day” “When are you having children?” “Isn’t it sad she’s single?” Seemingly harmless comments or questions like these force the idea that women should only be one thing in our society, and if they’re not, they’re without value. Men are never asked these questions; that shows its inherent sexism.
It’s making women shrink their accomplishments in order to keep people feeling comfortable. Anyone who needs to feel more powerful by making other people smaller is toxically fragile. Forcing women to tone down successes or confidence means forcing women to be smaller so they’re more palatable. If you feel inferior because of someone else's successes, that's your own insecurities coming to the surface. Don't make them shrink themselves, you should grow yourself taller. We should exclusively be glowing each other up.
It’s mansplaining, as well as ignoring women’s opinions or diminishing them. It's also interrupting women, pushing off their opinions, or mentally holding the opinion of a man in a higher regard. All of these things are related to an internal sexist belief that a man knows more than a woman, even if she’s an expert. Find me one woman who, after declaring an expertise in her field, hasn’t heard a man say “Yeah, but…” Lol once I was at a party and I was explaining an expertise I have from years of work, and a man said “yeah, but I read in an article once…” I told him to sit down, and he got himself a good lecturing. Not remotely sorry.
It’s blaming women for violent misogyny against them. “What did she think would happen going out like that?” “Did you lead him on?” Victim blaming has roots in internalized misogyny. It’s looking to the woman to make the injustice more palatable.
It's telling women to fucking smile. If you don't smile, you're a bitch. At work, at dinner, even on the goddamn street, women are told by men to cheer up and smile. God forbid we feel anything negative. It's the war on women's emotions. If we are anything, ANYTHING, besides happy and smiling, we're hysterical, angry bitches. Oh, truly, fuck off.
There are so many examples of internalized misogyny that this newsletter could easily be turned into a fucking book. I'd love to hear from you any examples that you've experienced personally.
It is incumbent on ourselves to individually investigate the ways that we subtly, internally, subconsciously diminish women. When you catch yourself doing it, ask yourself why you are trying to tear down that woman. It’s likely a projection of your own insecurities.
Slut, bitch, ice queen, intense, prude, loud, whore, flirt, too much, cunt - these words (and many, many more) have been lobbied against me in hopes of diminishing me in different ways. And to those who have said these things to/about me in order to try and tear me down, I hope one day you look inward and discover what it was in your life that made you project these words onto me to make yourself feel better.
When women don’t fit into the neat little mould that patriarchal values benefits from, people will try to tear them down. We must all stop dismantling women and instead dismantle the systems that keep women down.