Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,

Actor, Writer, Jedi, Singer,
You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Internalization of Misogyny and How This Sort of Thing is a Problem in Our World

If you are a part of a group that faces any major sort of oppression(being a woman, being a person of color being LGBTQA+, or any intersection of these things, etc), you probably have internalized some of the negatives beliefs held by society(sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc).

Since I am a white, cisgender(I'm a tomboy but I still identify as a girl), mostly straight female (I'm demisexual and semi-bi romantic; so basically I'm on the asexual spectrum but I still identify as straight), I will be talking about internalized misogyny, since that is what I have had experience with.

Internalizing a problematic way of thinking is a very common thing for people and it can manifest itself in a variety of ways. I managed to avoid a lot of the common internalization of misogyny but I came to realize the older that I got that some insidious messages had squeezed in. In fact, some of my internalized misogyny is a bit like how sexism hurts men(which I'll explain below).

One common thread running through internalized misogyny is that of women and their bodies. The prevalence of eating disorders and the high number of girls unhappy with the way they look testify to this. Gender roles also play into this- girls are shoved the notion by the media(and sometimes even by their family and friends- luckily my parents weren't like this) that they HAVE to be beautiful and fit a certain archetype of beauty(and in concerns of women of color, they also are fetishzied so much by the media that they have a hard time being taken seriously by those who buy into those stereotypes). Women are also pushed away from anything involving physical labor, math or sciences, or anything that is deemed masculine; in fact, there are many things that are considered 'biological' but are actually just society(such as the notion that 'women are better at nurturing a child than men are')
However, sexism in general does not only harm women in this way. Men are taught that they have to be strong, tough, the leader, and that they can't show emotions like sadness(and that they can't cry). And if you don't fit into these strict gender roles(be you transgender or just someone who, like me, just doesn't fit the 'female mold') people and society seems to deem it strange and wrong.

Now, I was lucky and born into a feminist family. I don't have the worry as much about how I look since I never looked at fashion magazines growing up and I hardly ever saw those adds on TV(and when I did I thought the women looked creepy in their too-perfectness- flawless skin, really? Creepy!). However, me being homeschooled protected me from this to a degree as well, since , now that I've started college, I've started worrying about how I look more than I used to.


Like I mentioned above, my main internalization of misogyny was something men tend to get more than women. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I do have some ideas of where it may have come from.
    Basically, I have an obsession with being physically strong(always have), I worried about height a lot as a child, and around my tweens I developed a dislike of feminine things. For quite a few years, I viewed feminine things(which, to my childhood mind, was things like girls wearing too much make-up at twelve, girls that obsessed over jewelry and screamed for no reason, over-enthusiastic hugging, what I deemed "girly" fiction, the term "ladylike", and more femininely cut shirts) as "bad", "weak", and "dumb". While not as bad as some girls like this can get (I liked and did have close female friends), I did have a warped view of the world. As I got older, I learned more and read more about feminism and learned that what people deem as 'feminine' is not inherently bad at all- being feminine doesn't mean you're weak(look at Buffy- a very big girly-girl and a badass slayer, who kills vampires in a dress quite a few times). And as I read more, I came to the conclusion that feminine and masculine don't mean anything- they are just social constructs that tell us how to behave(now, I'm not saying he should do away with gender, that would be silly, but just allow for free gender expression and let people, no matter their assigned-at-birth sex, be who they are).
     Even though I learned this and know it logically, I still have some internalized misogyny in me about this. I still don't want to associated with the word 'feminine' or 'lady' and I will go to lengths to prove that I'm not that feminine; however, I am naturally not that feminine anyway, so it's not too hard, but still(I prefer wearing shapeless, unisex clothing, though I do like wearing a modest dress every once in a while). I get angry when people tell the lie that men are physically stronger than women(since I take it as a personal affront to me and my capability- I don't want to be seen less as because of my gender and that lie that comes with it), and I get offended at being called stereo typically feminine things.
     But my fears aren't unfounded. While my aversion to the feminine is definitely wrong, there is a reason for this. How often do we see women in movies/TV shows/books/the news the victim, the ones that get beat up/assaulted/etc? How often do people use the word "like a girl/woman" as an insult(such as "you throw like a girl!"). Now the reason I am not as bad as I could have been is because I did have some good female role models in reality and in fiction- such as all the female Jedi(Siri and Jaina in particular), Hermione Granger, Eowyn in LOTR, etc, but the pervasive message of women being weak(which is saturated in the media and is hard to escape even if you are raised by feminist parents and hated sexism from a young age) still got to me.
      I'm no longer a tween(I'm an adult now) and I now know that thoughts were wrong and it is definitely something for me to work on. Because, while it's perfectly okay for me to not be all that feminine(and to identify as a girl, and like stereotypical 'guy things' like science fiction, fighting, battle scenes, etc), it's also perfectly okay for someone to like more stereotypical 'girl things' and be more on the 'feminine' side of the spectrum(though, like I said before, feminine and masculine are just words that don't really mean anything- I asked several people what the terms meant and no one really knew what it meant, or the lists were really sexist).
      There is no right or wrong way to be a man or a woman
(well, don't a criminal who is a rapist/mass murderer, but that's a given, since those types of people aren't even human).


                               The effemephobia I mentioned above is my main internalization of sexism, but I've noticed a few others as well. One in particular that I noticed that freaked me out a bit, was that I worried I would have to date someone if they liked me. While my brain knew that was just plain idiotic, a strange part of my mind seemed to think this was true. Thankfully, however, I am smart enough to push that thought away from me.


The reason internalized misogyny(and other internalized bigotry) is such a problem in our world is that it keeps us back. It impedes our going forward and feeds the oppressive nature of our world. If we push away what makes us a member of a oppressed group, we risk that we'll not only hurt others but ourselves as well. Don't push away what makes you you(well, except for evil stuff, but that's different), don't put others down, and don't step on others to achieve success.
We're in this together and we need to hold each other up and cherish our differences, because otherwise we will never free ourselves from the chains our history and society has trapped us in.



  1. Great post, very well written and thought provoking. I can relate on some of this, like when I was younger I thought of teenage girls as makeup/clothes/boy obsessed and shallow because of it. But now the girls I know either aren't into those things, or are but it's not a bad thing at all. So yeah, good post.

    1. Thank you, glad you liked it! :) Yeah, I had similar thoughts, glad we've both grown so much and learned so much :)
      Thanks again! :)