We all know that Sexism refers to prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sexes traditionally against women. While Misogyny refers to the hatred of women, stereo-typically exhibited by men in cases of unequal power balances in relationships, simply dissing women and in extreme cases sexual assault. But what on earth can “internalized misogyny” mean then, because surely women are not going to exhibit sexism against their own kind. Well think again. From the simple act of women accusing women of being “sluts” due to who they have sex with, petty gossips by women about women relating to appearance to the “I am not like the other girls” statement. Yes, we may not realise it because of it’s discreet nature, but it can be so easy to slip into the habit of taking out our unpleasant experiences and exhibit our cultural learning against other women, and ourselves. However it is important to become aware of how we may be enacting sexist attitudes and thoughts towards our own kind, in order to be able to know how to go about tackling this…
At the Workplace:
So let’s face it, despite of what people say, we are still living in a predominately male world of work. Yes of course times have strongly changed since it was expected to stay at home performing all domestic tasks before the husband returns from work, with his dinner at the ready. One could even argue that instead the system prefers women, with girls generally achieving higher educational attainment while women are actually far more likely to attend university compared to their male counterparts. Nevertheless those forking in the juice from their successes tend to actually be men, with all of the top 10 richest people being men. Suggesting that it is either harder for women to get into a top position where they are able to earn a great deal of dosh, or that men have the natural tendency to be more forceful when it comes to business, explaining why they make more “successful” entrepreneurs (at least materialistically). But what does this say about internalized misogyny then?
But still there are going to be times when a woman occasionally happens to be at a high place in a work place. However without necessarily realising, if she uses the same tactics as men in order to accustom further success, such as showing a rather “strong personality”, a lot of women as well as men can dislike this. Both seeing her as a bit of a threat. However women are much less likely to see a man in the same position as a threat, therefore are showing a kind of prejudice and hostility toward themselves due to the confined and competitive nature of the male based work force.
The sense of competitiveness definitely doesn’t end at work, with many women competing against themselves in day to day life resulting in jealousy. Which can of course manifest in what is known as “bitching”. Furthermore the way the patriarchy teaches that it is acceptable for men to act and speak in a dominant way, without interrupting, while a women being shamed for acting in this way, can naturally lead to women disliking this behavior among themselves. But this doesn’t stop there, as women are taught that a wide range of behaviors and looks aren’t appropriate, which will lead to women disliking things about themselves and others when displaying these “undesirable” values.
Complaining about Bitching
But still there is irony, as quite rightly not highly regarded. In-fact it is hated, and women are accused of “bitching”. As we all know, a “bitch” is also the term for a female dog, funnily showing how closely oriented with women. And there is no equivalent word for men…
The classic term “bitch” doesn’t exactly give us a good name then does it? Therefore there’s no real surprise that a lot of us (myself included) pride ourselves in engaging in bitching less frequently. But without considering the root cause of bitching, it can be very easy to become led astray and claim “I am not like the other girls!” Sadly this desire to want to be “better than other girls” and probably more “masculine”, roots from shame about being female as well as misconceptions. Because what is wrong with being “like the other girls?” Therefore it is important to recognise the causes of internalized misogyny in order to remember to carry on supporting one another.
Sex and Slut Shaming:
Right, so sadly the patriarchy also teaches that if a man chooses to sleep around a lot, he is “bold” or “strong” or a “player”- all described in a positive manner. Nevertheless is a women chooses to sleep around, for some bizzare reason we are just “sluts”, “slags”, “impure”, “unworthy”. Sadly even today, if you listen to a woman speaking about this they are likely to be ashamed, nonetheless generally males are going to have a sense of pride. Proving this way of thinking is very much alive today. But ladies, it doesn’t end there. Whatever women choose to do it is not correct! Because the only alternative is being “prude”. From this it should be quite clear that women are also basically being taught these misogynistic ideas, due to the shame that burdens us for however sexual our lives are. But this behavior can lead to women also choosing to shame each other for the way other women behave- calling them a “slut” or “prude”, while they probably know men who are instead “bold” or “loyal”. Life sucks…
And if this is not bad enough, we can’t even really choose what we want to wear! Wearing revealing clothes is sadly perceived as being “slutty” once again, while wearing less reveling clothes is considered “prude”. And once again, unfortunately this can lead to other women judging each other for what they wear- just naturally I think. Which I feel is also linked to the intense competition which many feel they are in with one another.
So it can be gathered that internalized misogyny is definitely something which is taught to us, as well as something which manifests through our environment because at such a young age we are taught, maybe discreetly, about what women are “meant” to do. Meanwhile as we grow older because there is so much inequality existing for us in differing ways such as regarding partaking in various activities, correlating to how we are expected to behave, it can mean it is ever so easy for us to become more negative toward ourselves as well as toward other people. This way it is important to recognize the signs of internalized misogyny rooted in us, when it acts out against ourselves or against other women. Therefore women really can and should work together in order for things to move forward.