Not Like Other Girls?
Have you ever heard a woman say something like, “I’m not like other girls”? Maybe you’ve seen women slut-shaming other women. Have you ever been embarrassed or repulsed by menstruation or body-hair on a woman? Have you ever faked an orgasm for a man? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve witnessed or taken part in internalized misogyny. If you are a woman, it is entirely possible that you have been an accomplice to the patriarchy. If this is your first time hearing about internalized misogyny, allow me to do a quick breakdown of the term.
To internalize something means to adopt attitudes and behaviors through learning, and misogyny is simply the hatred or mistrust of women. Thus, internalized misogyny can be described as the belief by girls and women that all of the stereotypes they’ve learned about their gender are true. If it helps, I often envision internalized misogyny as a cycle; Men tell women they are inferior, women begin to undervalue themselves and perform their assigned role as weak and fragile, so men continue to consider women inferior. Women have been systematically broken down by sexism, and internalized misogyny is one of the many byproducts of that.
I’d like to note that there are different layers of internalized misogyny. It can be on the surface, and superficial, like when Chloe Moretz shamed Kim Kardashian for posting a nude selfie on Twitter. It can also be so deeply rooted that 53% of white women voters elect Donald Trump, the dangerously sexist candidate, and alleged rapist. It is all around us; It is woven into our speech and demeanor towards women, and it is embedded in our values. It is toxic to the well-being and the very existence of women.
It’s important to remember that internalized misogyny is usually subconscious and hidden. We do not notice it until we are looking for it. Women do not purposely police their behavior, it is learned, but it can be unlearned. The next time you find yourself looking down on another woman, scrutinizing another woman, or wanting to harm another woman, remember where these ideas stem. Be aware of the ways that you have contributed to the perpetuation of patriarchy, and do your best to break the habit.