How Internalized Misogyny Is Harmful

Internalized misogyny is the unknowing and often unintended acceptance of sexist ideals by women, the very people that the patriarchy seeks to oppress and control. Internalized misogyny does not refer to the open belief that women are inferior, but rather it manifests as the side effect of this societal view. This side effect causes women to shame, judge, doubt themselves and other women. It causes women to hold themselves and other women in low esteem. It’s almost as if internalized misogyny was a brilliant plan concocted by the advocates of patriarchy.

A lot of women perpetuate sexist stereotypes and judgements without even realizing it.

For some, it is so deeply ingrained in their upbringing that they don’t even know that they are promoting misogyny. Internalized misogyny can be quite tricky to pin point. It is sneaky, sometimes hiding within the minds of women without them realizing it. Even a feminist, openly advocating for equality, can sometimes fall onto internalized misogyny. Remember the criticism Emma Watson received for her so called ‘revealing’ pictures? Quite a lot of this criticism came from women, women who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a shirtless picture of Zac Efron.

You may not even know if you or people you know are engaging in misogynistic thinking, so here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you believe that there are certain jobs that aren’t suitable for women?
  • Do you think that woman are weak, and therefore need to be taken care of by men?
  • Do you slut-shame women for things that you believe are okay for a man to do?
  • Do you view other women as competition?
  • Do you find yourself downplaying a woman’s achievements while praising a man’s achievements?
  • Do you believe in the ‘men are the alphas’ concept?
  • Do you believe that women should be submissive?
  • Do you doubt women in leadership positions just because they are women?
  • Do you find yourself placing stereotypes on women?
  • Do you believe that all women should look a certain way?
  • Do you find yourself seeking a man’s opinion on things that don’t concern them?
  • Do you find yourself trying to be less like ‘most girls’?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, there is at least a shadow of misogyny within your mindset. Hopefully, these questions will call attention to these shadows and help you see things from a different perspective.

Internalized misogyny is not a harmless concept — it manifests in the real world in scary ways. It is because of this that men like Donald Trump receive no true backlash for their actions and it is because of internalized misogyny that victim blaming is so widespread. Women don’t speak up in male-dominated environments, fearing that their thoughts and opinions are not good enough to present. It is internalized misogyny that makes a woman think that ‘being one of the guys’ is better than being a woman (the cool girl phenomenon). Internalized misogyny sets us up to compete with other women for everything and it makes women look down on other women for simply being. Internalized misogyny encourages us to feel guilty for speaking up about what we want and what we don’t want and it allows for people to downplay being a female by attaching negative connotations to phrases such as ‘like a girl’.

From a young age, many are taught that feminine traits include being emotional, weak, less intelligent, easily fooled and sensitive, while male traits include being strong, violent, smarter, capable and dominating.

This is a topic truly in need of a more in depth examination, as we do need to understand how we perceive certain things and why we perceive them this way. Once we examine the inner workings of our mind, we can effectively change the way in which we think. The way in which we view ourselves affects every facet of our lives: who we date and how we prepare for our professional future.

Internalized misogyny quells the potential of so many women and it’s time we all realize how unfair we are being to ourselves and to other women.

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Aishvarya Singh
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Aishvarya Singh is an aspiring writer and law student. She is into books, Bollywood and social justice. When she's not writing, she is either binge watching series or reading. She lives in South Africa, and no, she does not have a pet lion. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @ai5hvarya Email: aishsingh113@yahoo.com

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