Women often conform to the existing sexist beliefs and patriarchal norms. Not only conform, but they also end up endorsing such notions. Apparently, women end up stigmatizing and stereotyping against their own. This is referred to as internalizing misogyny. It takes the form of sexist behaviors enacted by women towards themselves.
Women, since childhood, are conditioned to perceive themselves as subordinate to men. This clearly stems from the misogynistic viewpoints of the parents. Thus, on observing societal norms that are demeaning, women tend to internalize and start applying them to themselves and other women. This leads to less social support among women for each other. Instead of pushing each other up, they end up pulling each other down. This feeling of competitiveness and negative judgment of character among females makes it all the more difficult to overcome the ever prevalent sexism. A few examples could be- “Men will be men, it’s natural for them to do so.”, “I’m sporty and cool, unlike other girls.” “She’s such a slut eh.”
External sources play a vital role in learning the internalized misogyny. The portrayal of women as the inferior sex in media, movies, television has significantly contributed to the problem. In addition, we often used derogatory and oppressive terms for women while conversing. The objectification of women and different forms of invalidation leads to the imbalance of power between the two groups.
Internalizing misogyny has grave impacts. It challenges the self-esteem and self-worth of women. They start seeing themselves and other women as incompetent and weak. It not only affects women psychologically but has given rise to the shameful practice of body-shaming. Eventually, it leads to eating disorders among them. In addition, the heightened sexualization of the female body has reduced women to mere sexual objects. In the misleading light of ‘being the perfect woman’, females often end up losing their individual identity.
Thus, it becomes important to dismantle the institution of internalized misogyny. We need to throw light upon the cultures endorsing such regressive beliefs. It’s time to challenge the century-old notions of the past. To break the shackles of patriarchy, we should leave no stone unturned. We need to engage in dialogue, refrain from practicing such behaviors, spread awareness, and BE THE CHANGE.