Internalized misogyny is when there’s a blatant display of sexism by women against other women. In simpler words, internalized misogyny is when women subconsciously project sexist ideas onto other women and even onto themselves. Some examples include judging other girls, slut shaming, ridiculing girls on basis of their choice of living a certain lifestyle, sometimes done with no motive other than making one feel good about oneself. This is done in many ways and I will be addressing some of them today.
In order to unlearn internalized misogyny we need to understand what it truly is, and what it involves. It can range from not being friends with other women because they’re “too much drama” to slut-shaming women. Internalized misogyny makes you objectify yourself and the women around you. If you measure your value or the value of other women on the basis of how men perceive you/other women, then you need to work on your internalized misogyny.
I personally have been a victim of this unknowingly and I am so proud of myself for getting out of it as soon as I realized how problematic this type of mentality really is.
Let me quote some of the most common phrases that reflect the internalized misogyny imbibed in people’s personalities.
“I like hanging out with guys because it is less drama.”
The type of friend circle that you have is your choice and there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to have boys as friends instead of girls, but if you are going to label yourself as ‘one of the boys’ and claim that girls are just sources of drama then you are heavily mistaken.
Internalized misogyny has reproduced a toxic culture that pits women against each other, teaching us that we must compete for either male attention or to simply be better than one another. The very idea that women can unconditionally support each other’s success and exist as mutually empowered individuals upsets the patriarchal hegemony of society. As a result, we are brought up to feel like the world is against us, that women are “catty” and they “stir drama”, when in reality, there is enough space for us to feel whole without tearing each other apart.
One thing I absolutely adore is strong female friendships where they support and empower each other and not tear them down. When women support each other, revolutions take place. We need to be the ones empathizing with each other because there’s already enough of them out there to bring us down. The power of female solidarity is incomparable.
“I am not like other girls.”
Have you ever said these words? That knowingly or unknowingly makes you a victim of this phenomenon because this is the quintessential phrase used when portraying said internalized misogyny.
This type of behavior encourages looking down on what is deemed to be the socially stereotyped womanly behavior. Being different is not a problem. Every person has a different personality and rightly so. But if you believe that simply the fact that you do not behave the way society expects a girl to behave, makes you special and makes you stand out, then you need to understand that it really doesn’t. Neither does it make any girl who actually does all these things look bad or ‘basic’.
It truly saddens me to se many girls say the same thing over and over again in chorus. As if being a girl is something bad or something to be ashamed of. The media portrays girls as shallow, mean, backstabbing, appearance obsessed shopaholics who have nothing in their brains except cute boys and tv shows and boy bands. And every other girl trying to prove the fact that she is not like that.
Eating food that is junk or in large proportions or liking baggy clothes or choosing not to wear makeup are just some of your personality traits and IT’S OKAY. But please don’t shame the girls who like to do things differently because that is just how they are and THAT’S OKAY TOO.
“I am all for gender equality but I am not a feminist.”
This is the most ridiculous oxymoron I have heard in a long time. It is absurd to assume that feminism and gender equality are two different things whereas gender equality is what feminism stands for in totality. But if one wants to point the negative aspects of a notion while completely ignoring the sole cause it stands for it is just sad.
Especially when coming from a girl simply because she wants to stand out and doesn’t want to seem like the ‘angry crazy feminist’ everyone claims them to be, it is even more disheartening. Since that belief is drifting girls away from the very cause that is supposed to help them feel even more empowered and stand up for themselves. And saying things like “I believe in gender equality, but not feminism” inflicts your ignorance and internalized misogyny and makes me realize that young people need to be educated better so that they make the right choices.
But if I specifically talk about little snowflakes like Divyangana Trivedi who boldly stated that we don’t need feminism in the first place because women are already empowered enough, I think they really need to work on eradicating their own contempt for other women who like to speak out for each other.
“Have you seen the way she dresses? Such a slut!”
Slut shaming is directly proportional to victim blaming in my opinion. It’s no surprise that judging somebody on the basis of their choice of clothes is unethical. But even though everybody preaches this on social media, a lot of girls are still guilty of doing this behind closed doors. But what’s problematic is that this instills ideas and beliefs in your brain that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
We are living in the 21st century, drawing a connection between what the girl is wearing and what her character is, seems to be puerile now. This tendency to question the woman’s character at every instance in a society which boasts of equal rights to all its members is unacceptable. Slut shaming takes a toll on the mental health of the survivor, it about time we as individuals start behaving more responsibly and callout such behavior around us both in the online and the offline world.
These are some of the very few examples. Somebody once said to me “Unlearning things is more important than learning things.” And I agree. Real growth is reflected when you introspect, find faults in yourself and work hard to make a better version of yourself everyday. If you have ever done any of these things, it is okay. Years of oppression, patriarchal setup of society and wrongful portrayal in the media have led to many girls to reject the whole idea of being a girl. But as you grow up you learn to embrace your femininity, and realize that there is strength in being alike and still having a personality of your own.
The only way to end the cycle is by working on yourself, and then working to improve the lives of women around you. In a country where crimes against women are committed at an alarming rate, it is important that women stick together. The toxic cycle of internalized misogyny leads to preconceived notions of how a woman should exist, and nobody should have that power over us, except us.