Internalized Misogyny in Modern Society

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Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains how women internalize misogynistic culture in her speech “We Should All Be Feminists.” She writes: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls “You can have ambition, but not too much, you should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. We raise girls to each other as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments… but for the attention of men.” It is not surprising that girls internalize this and start to think the same. Internalized misogyny is essentially misogyny that is present in women about women.

Our society should raise our youth without internalized misogyny because it causes double standards which contribute to rape culture, it enforces gender stereotypes that can undermine the aspirations of young girls and it causes the objectification of women in a way that leads to abuse. There are double standards between men and women in our society that can lead to rape culture. Women are labelled as “sluts” when they are sexually active but men not being ridiculed when they behave exactly the same is an example. These double standards are encouraged by both men and women.

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Thomas, writer for NSVRC news (2016) writes that “NSVRC and PCAR have been contacted by people who were offended and angered when talk show host Joy Behar used the word “tramps” on “The View” on Monday, October 10th to refer to three women who made allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Bill Clinton.” This is a clear example of a woman internalizing the “slut-shaming” mentality which makes her call the victims of sexual assault “tramps”, instead of holding the attacker accountable for their actions. That NSVRC and PCAR were contacted by people who were offended by her should indicate enough that this type of behaviour against women are not to be accepted anymore and be passed down to young girls. Moreover, our society has enforced gender stereotypes on women and that can lead to young girl’s aspirations being undermined. The ones that are most debated on today are that women have to be feminine, damsels in distress and be pure. Although there is nothing wrong with being any of these things, it portrays women as childlike, not having skills to do something on their own and needing men to protect them.

According to experiments done by professors Cheryan, Meltzoff and research scientist Master (2017) “There are, however, several scientific disciplines that women are still much less likely to choose to study: computer science, engineering and physics. Our new research suggests that there is at least one important reason for this. We found that from a young age, American children form the belief that boys are better than girls in these technological subjects. This specific stereotype shows up even earlier than gendered ideas about math and science more broadly.” So although many girls may want to pursue a career or future with the use of technological studies, the gender stereotypes that are enforced on them from a young age prevent them from that, because they feel like it is something that they can not do or should enjoy. This gender stereotype that young girls have internalized can undermine their aspirations and affect their immediate future.

At last, it causes the objectification of women in a way that leads to abuse. Objectification of women is mainly done by men, but it can originate from internalized misogyny. When women speak negatively about themselves, it is “logical” that men mirror this behaviour. seeing women in a negative light makes it easier for them to separate women’s sexual parts from her person. Linking objectification to abuse may seem far-fetched, but according to research done by Wright and Tokunaga (2016) 'the more men are exposed to objectifying depictions, the more they will think of women as entities that exist for men's sexual gratification (specific sexual scripting), and that this dehumanized perspective on women may then be used to inform attitudes regarding sexual violence against women (abstract sexual scripting).' The results of this research indicates that the more men see women as objects and only for their own sexual gratification, the more they feel entitled to women’s bodies. This can cause them to be violent and abusive to get what they want.

In conclusion, internalized misogyny causes double standards between men and women, our society has strengthened gender stereotypes on women which contribute to our existing rape culture and it causes men to see women as objects and gives them a reason to be abusive towards women. We need to deviate from internalized misogyny and start encouraging women to support other women.

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