I touched briefly upon a type of internalized misogyny in a recent post, but I didn’t delve too deeply into an explanation of what it was. Seeing as how the post has garnered a lot of attention, I thought it would be a good idea to flesh it out a little more.
In Western society, masculinity is privileged over femininity, which is seen as “lesser than”, therefore making it an undesirable trait. This is reflected in how men and women are encouraged and discouraged to act out socially. It is perfectly acceptable for women to emulate traditionally masculine behaviours such as wearing pants or engaging in sports that incorporate full body contact, such as football. However, if a male were to engage in stereotypically feminine activities like wearing a dress or taking ballet, he would face ridicule. Other stereotypical activities associated with femininity, such as shopping or applying make-up, are viewed as frivolous, whereas watching sports is a legitimate past time. This negative reaction suggests that being a woman is somehow degrading.
Women, who are exposed to this constant degradation, absorb these societal cues. Some women will therefore by conditioned to value masculinity over femininity and show disdain for all things feminine. Women can project these emotions by criticizing other women, particularly female celebrities in the tabloids.
Furthermore, women may also associate all things feminine with being female. It is not uncommon to hear young girls distancing themselves from femininity by proclaiming that they are “only friends with boys because girls are catty” or completely detach themselves from their own gender by uttering statements like, “I’m not like other girls”. This learned self-loathing is known as internalized misogyny.