What is Internalized Misogyny?

On the topic of misogyny, it’s easy to recognize and discuss the patriarchal values set up by men. However, we often fail to realize that the oppressed can still be the oppressors. When combating sexism, we need to address one of its byproducts: internalized misogyny.

Internalized misogyny is women projecting sexism onto other women or women believing that they are inferior to men. It stems from the ingrained (and usually harmful) beliefs and stereotypes that society already constructed to weaken women. Conforming to these societal expectations reinforces internalized misogyny and only manifests hate within ourselves. Internalized misogyny can range from slut-shaming, supporting politicians who don’t advocate for women’s rights, or simply believing that you’re more superior than other women. An example I like to use a lot is Taylor Swift. While she claims she’s for empowering women, some of her actions harm other women.

The scary thing about internalized misogyny is that it’s so deeply ingrained in our culture that it sneaks up on you. You may not realize what you think or say is problematic towards other girls. Even feminists have a little bit of internalized misogyny inside. It’s harmful in the sense that you may be unintentionally putting other women down when you should be supporting them instead. However, you can teach yourself to be aware of any internalized misogynistic thoughts so you can unlearn the societal beliefs rooted in your mind.

To start, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

Do you compare yourself to other women? Additionally, do you perceive yourself as superior to other women?

When criticizing a woman, do you do it to demean her? Do you use slurs like “bitch”, “whore”, etc?

Do you find yourself adapting to societal expectations of what a woman should be? (I.e. shaving your body hair because you feel as a woman that you shouldn’t have any)

Do you judge other women based on societal expectations of women?

This Everyday Feminism article thoroughly highlights more specific examples.

Additionally, you can combat internalized misogyny when you spot it. Call out other women for putting women down, don’t be passive about it. Part of dismantling internalized misogyny is being aware when it happens.