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Believe it or not, internalized sexism is often formed in your childhood years. As a child, many boys are told to be strong and individualistic while girls are told to be submissive and soft. The two sexes are often held at completely different standards.

Artwork by Sanaa Denise, VOX Teen Staff

Let’s Talk About Internalized Misogyny [OPINION]

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So, you want to talk about internalized misogyny? First, let’s identify it.

What Is It?

Internalized, a word meaning taking the process of something and making it internal. Misogyny, a word meaning a stereotyping or ingrained prejudice against women. Internalized misogyny, a phrase which means a woman who projects sexist practices and ideas onto other women, including herself.  Women are constantly being degraded in our everyday lives, in things like music, on social media, or even our families and friends. It can be arduous to identify internalized misogyny. 

There has been an imbalance between women and men when it comes to treatment in society. Women are often made to be the weak sex, the soft sex, the powerless sex, and the incapacitated sex. This includes empowering one sex and not empowering the other. Praising one sex for an action but degrading the other sex for the same action. Telling a woman what is and isn’t “acceptable” for their sex. These practices have contributed to the deeply rooted systemic oppression of women. My hope is for this article to increase consciousness of internalized misogyny. 

It Can Begin in Childhood

Believe it or not, internalized sexism is often formed in your childhood years. As a child, many boys are told to be strong and individualistic while girls are told to be submissive and soft. The two sexes are often held at completely different standards. Girls are told at a young age that jobs like a police officer, CEO, or other leadership roles are things that boys do. They are under the influence that they should stay home and take care of the kids, cook and clean the kitchen, and do other chores before the husband gets home from work. They are told to take care of their husband and be submissive towards him, and to do what he says. Not to mention how society has painted a picture that portrays the man in the relationship as the person who should pay the bills and work hard to provide for his and her children. 

Why aren’t girls told that they can provide for their families too? Why do the men have to be the ones who go and work hard and support the family? A woman could work just as hard or even harder. 

Victim Blaming

Victim blaming is when the victim of a wrongful act is blamed or blames themselves for what happened to them. In this case, we are talking about victim blaming in sexual assault cases. According to nonprofit RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a woman is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. Forty four percent of victims are under the age of 18 years old. Eighty percent of victims are under the age of 30, and 68% of sexual assaults aren’t even reported. Not to mention that 98% of rapists never spend a full day in jail. Sexual assault is a crime of hate and often causes women to internalize hate against themselves if they don’t have an advocate. 

By blaming the victim, the observers gain more power while the victim suffers. The victim is left feeling alone, often with nobody to talk to. How would you feel if you knew one thing happened but everyone else is telling you it didn’t? This can also contribute to the reason why a lot of women may wait 5-10 years or more to share their experience.

Why Women Don’t Speak Up

For instance, on the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” women talk about experiences they had with singer R. Kelly. Many of these women said they were treated terribly, but they didn’t say anything about it at the time, out of fear. During closing arguments in Kelly’s New York trial in Sept., prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes told jurors deciding the case, “Mr. Kelly used his henchmen to lodge threats and exact revenge,” blackmailing women with nude photographs of themselves or embarrassing information. At the time, the women said they didn’t want to seem like liars and that they were making all these things up. This is why some of them waited a while to speak up about this situation.  On Sept. 28, R. Kelly was found guilty of all charges in his racketeering and sex trafficking trial. This is something that has been long overdue but this is just the beginning for women. 

Here’s Some Questions To Ask Yourself:

Do you sometimes value or respect male figures more than female figures?

Do you judge women based only on their appearance?

Do you think women need to be taken care of by men or are physically weaker than men?

Do you think that a woman should be submissive towards a man?

Do you think some jobs aren’t made for women solely because you think a man should do it?

Do you think some jobs aren’t made for women?

Being able to recognize internalized misogyny may be foggy when you first come across it, and can lead to many negative and confusing thoughts. Things like body issues, lack of self-confidence, or even a sense of inadequacy are all signs of internalized misogyny. If you ever find yourself experiencing internalized misogyny, remember your worth and how powerful you are. It is our job as women to not let these expectations of us lower our self worth. 


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comments (1)

  1. Azaria

    I strongly agree with this. Its bout time man. Thanks Sanaa