Decoding Internalised Sexism
As a society, we have often been conditioned to perpetuate certain stereotypes about women.
These stereotypes range from projecting women as delicate, stupid, weak, and a passive gender. The consequences which ensue from such stereotypes result in their further promotion. It is a vicious cycle, which sadly involves women as well as men. It is not mere patriarchy that we intend to contend with, it is the idea of women hating women. Girl-hate is a phenomenon that has become a common sight.
The whole concept of homogenizing the entire female gender because of certain negative remarks that are often stereotyped is sexist in nature. And, when women indulge in such acts, it is termed as internalized sexism or internalized misogyny. For instance, when a woman disregards another woman’s feelings as being ‘too emotional or prefers being surrounded by male friends because they involve ‘less drama’.
These instances show how women have been a part of sexism, by terming feminism as ‘weak or bad’. Men perpetuate sexism by believing the stereotypes against women and motivating it further. On the other hand, women believe these stereotypes to be true, and then this acts as a driving force for them to act out these stereotypes, often leading to an urge to compete with each other. This girl-on-girl hate is furthered when we often disregard certain choices made by women for being ‘typical feminine’, solely based on the fact that they flow from these stereotypes. It is not bad to enjoy something that does not owe its roots to the norms but unhealthy criticism of choices that are ‘stereotypical is advocating the idea of internalized misogyny. It is empowerment, certainly feminism, but then there is a certain trade-off at play. One kind of woman is being empowered at the cost of another. Either way, it is the women being the victim, it is us.
It is we, who set standards of beauty, reinforced them with these stereotypes, and pushed them further by internalizing misogyny. We often see each other as competition, solely for the ‘reward’; the reward of winning a man, wooing him to gain his attention. It is assumable and natural for the existence of women to covet male attention. But, what we often leave behind is the idea of shaping each other rather than tearing each other down. We often end up judging women based on the choices that they have made, merely because they went off the tangent. It is only a choice that instills and more often than not reaffirms the stereotypes existent against women.
At this stage, it is important to understand that even though, most of us have been a part of the basic structure of this cycle of internalized sexism, we can still choose to disassociate ourselves. It is a battle against an establishment that is deep-rooted within our society. The motive is to ensure that often choices are made not because they are at loggerheads of the stereotypes but because they are the ones that connect to you. Internalized misogyny needs to be addressed because it distracts women from acting against the sexist culture but rather looks at the minuscule fragment of sexism, where people often hating each other and themselves for the oppression of female gender. It is important to embrace the idea that tearing down each other clubbed together with the idea of male supremacy promotes sexism, rather than establishing one’s own uniqueness over another.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Nirupam Gehlot. Nirupam is our intern.