Internalised Misogyny

[CW Sexist language, ableist language]

This one is a common occurrence in every day life, but it’s particularly in my mind today after two conversations I had at work.

A quick definition:

Misogyny noun
dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

Now a quick aside: whatever some people might tell you, reverse misogyny does not exist. Misandry is not a thing. Misogyny comes under the same umbrella of oppression as homophobia, transphobia and the like, and it’s pretty hard to oppress the group in the position of greatest power.

So, to the conversations I had today.

One was with a guy, who I happened to be working with today, and was about music. We’ve only just started working together, so are still getting to know each other, and as music is often a common interest, this is where the conversation went. Turns out we have a lot of songs in common, and it was all very nice.

He then went on to talk about karaoke, and how he likes watching karaoke, but doesn’t sing often. I’ve heard him sing, and he is competent, so I gently asked if this was because he was shy, or because he had been mocked before. His response was that it was neither, rather the artists whose songs he was interested in singing were women, and he had been told that guys just couldn’t sing those songs.

Oh, did we have a fun conversation after that.

The second conversation was with a woman, one I know to be mostly open-minded and kind, about a series of pictures she had posted on Facebook. They were all along the theme of “why are girls crazy?” or “get yourself a girl who [blank]”, and were all pretty awful in reality. Mostly because they either shamed women, or made out like the only way women should be is one that pleases men.

The reasons she gave for posting them were actually quite scary.

So how were these incidents linked? In the first instance, it goes back to that awful idea that being “girly” or somehow “feminine” is the worst thing a guy can be, and wanting to sing songs written and performed by a woman is somehow a disgrace. The young man in particular is young, and I know most of what he was saying would be parroted from what his parents had told him, but that doesn’t excuse it. They were passing on their internalised misogyny, the “facts” they had learned about men and women that are outdated and dangerous.

Thankfully he was very receptive to what I was telling him, and as far as I am aware is busy learning the words to “Firework”.

The second is a bit more obvious in its misogyny, but no less awful. All these memes about how “bitches be crazy”, or how women should change their lives around to please men and so “secure themselves a man” is violence against women, because yes, words can be violent too.

And this was being shared by a woman.

The thing is, in UK culture at least (and most of Western culture when you look at it with broad strokes), women are taught from a very young age that they are second-class, that they exist to please men, and will be scrutinised and bullied until they fit the desired mould. And after a while, that gets stuck in your head. I had to unlearn a lot of shit before I could come to terms with my gender identity, because for a long time it felt like my self-hatred was merely because I didn’t fit the desired mould.

This becomes especially sticky to explain when the other party can’t see it for what it is, and therefore doesn’t see the issue.

These are only 2 of an unlimited number of every day examples of internalised misogyny that don’t gain the attention of high-profile cases, but in some ways that only makes them more insidious, as they are the ones that slip under the radar and help pass on the same old shit from generation to generation.

So think before you speak: if the example you are using could be taken as degrading and misogynistic, perhaps rethink your words and ideals.

 

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