We have all heard of the words Sexism, Homophobia, Racism, etc but we do not often hear about the word Internalized Misogyny. Even though we do not know what it means, we have done that a lot in our lifetime. In the following article about Internalized Misogyny from the writer’s point of view, let's try to understand how it happen.
What is internalized misogyny and what does it do?
Misogyny is dislike,hatred or prejudice against women rooted deeply in patriarchy. When misogyny becomes unconscious standard practice, it becomes internalized.
The behaviors and mindsets of internalized misogyny can be seen in most women, mothers who learned from their mothers,which hands over to their daughters. Internalized Misogyny could be something like from “I am not like other girls, most women are shallow and dramatic” to “women cannot handle making big decisions or lead in the workplace”. Now, we are sure that we might have heard or said something like this in the past about women. This is one of the many atrocitus side effects that comes from patriarchy. Even though certain stereotypes that harm the development of women are said by women, that does not mean that it is their fault.
This is what Patriarchy does.
Patriarchy indoctrinates women and LGBTIQ+ community thinking that they are the inferior genders and thus makes women to contribute to the misogyny unawarely. One similar example can be seen in Rome’s gladiators fight arena. Most gladiators are slaves caught from wars or kidnapped from their homes, but instead of seeing the bigger picture and fighting for freedom from those who captured them, they deliberately started to accept their roles as slaves and started fighting each other for their masters’ approval. Some of them might even defend their positions as slaves by saying “If we are not slaves anymore, what do we even do? What kind of role do we take?”.
In patriarchy, it is mostly the same, especially across Asia, women and LGBTIQ+ started to believe that men are the “protectors'', “providers'' and “example of honesty, righteousness and diligence”.
This is where internalized misogyny plays a part in blocking women’s development.
When such stereotypes like “women are emotional” and “women are meant to be followers” are brought into the workplace, it can create an environment where women are not respected. It can and has already led to gender pay gaps, less women in higher positions, not having equal marital leave opportunities, being disrespected in the workplace, etc. Not only that, patriarchy has created a perfect diversion to control women from achieving gender equality by implementing internalized misogyny and by pitting women against women.
Not only that, the result of patriarchy and internalized misogyny has killed countless young women.
Other than sexual harrassments and domestic violence that most women are facing, Have you ever heard of FGM? FGM is abbreviation for Female Genital Mutilation, it is a practice in some Asian countries that cut/ seal off young women’s genital parts so that they can remain “pure” for their future husbands. In doing so, many girls and women have died from medical complications and infections. Even though it is a violation of human rights, some of the women willingly accepted that FGM is necessary for “purity” and forces their daughters and generations to go through with it. Only because they were informed otherwise about womanhood to fit into the world of patriarchy. There are many other traditional practices that violate young women’s rights, another example would be Lotus Feet in China where mothers break their daughters’ feet in order to look ”attractive” for men. It is also said to control women from running away in Chinese households because the Lotus Feet enables them to run or properly move. There are many other violations like this and we cannot argue that this is what internalized misogyny does to women and girls across the world.
We can now see how much harm patriarchy did than good, with internalized misogyny, it successfully infrastructures the women’s role by brainwashing them. Not only that, patriarchy enforces toxic muscularity and certain gender stereotypes that forces men and LGBTIQ+ to behave in certain masculine or feminine way that fits the heteronormative institutions.
So, what can we do to stop this?
Everybody might have different opinions about this but as respectful people, there are certain things that we can do individually to stop the internalized misogyny that harms everyone.
It is to acknowledge that the victims who fall into the propaganda of patriarchy are never at fault. Even though most of us played a part in blocking younger generations of women from reaching their full potentials, it is not women’s fault for contributing to patriarchy since they did not receive the right information and that they were also the victims. We have to understand that it is never the victims’ fault and we should be helping to give them the right kind of information and education. We also need to know who the real enemy of the society is Patriarchy.
All of us women, men, LGBTIQ+ should be fighting for gender equality by abolishing gender stereotypes. We can create a society where everyone can reach their fullest potentials based on their skills and experience but not because of their genders.