Recently, I was skimming through a Facebook group for mothers of boys when I saw a post from a mom who claimed that the Disney Channel spent too much of its time on commercials that empowered girls, which to her translated into not spending enough time on topics that (supposedly) empowered boys. And she was pissed.
Many moms were chiming in to agree with her, and I damn near broke my fingers off typing a response to that nonsense. I don’t remember my exact words, but the gist was that being male is still the default setting for greatness, and that, you know, women and girls kind of need the extra nudge in a world that tells them — and treats them like — they’re second-class citizens.
I would have loved to stick around and be the feminist voice that this conversation so desperately needed, but when another mom said that gender neutrality, non-binary, and gender fluidity were all specifically constructed to disarm masculinity I had to peace the fuck out before my head exploded.
Listen up, ladies, because I’m only going to say this once: Internalized misogyny is a thing.
In fact, it’s alive and well. You can deny it, but that doesn’t change the truth.
That thread was only a tiny example of a rampant problem.
I feel confident saying that there aren’t many places in the modern, industrialized world (or elsewhere) where there is a war on men or masculinity. I know with certainty that there isn’t in the United States of America.
I mean, all you have to do is look at that the flaming dumpster fire that is our current administration. They’re waging a freaking war on women starting from the uterus and working out. And yet, there are women who vehemently defend their actions: 53% percent of white women voted for the current president even though he was grossly unfit by all standards and even admitted to grabbing non-consenting women by the pussy. So it’s not surprising that there are women in a Facebook group who are trying to say that the men of the United States are being unfairly persecuted for their gender. It’s batshit bonkers, and I am literally unable to get my brain to process the information, but it’s true.
Those poor, poor men.
Let’s circle back to those white women who voted for the sexist, misogynistic pig president we have for a minute, shall we? These women are one of the strongest examples of internalized misogyny. A common sentiment I heard from white women I knew around the election was “well, I don’t get treated differently by the men at work/home/wherever because I’m a woman, so clearly this whole inequality thing is bogus.” Excuse me while I laugh out loud and point out that not everything is about you.
Just because you don’t see it, or choose to recognize it, in your life doesn’t mean it’s not a problem for other people. I’m glad that you feel like the men you interact with treat you with the respect that you deserve. But you can’t be so shortsighted to believe that the problem doesn’t exist. It just means that you can’t see past your own experiences to realize that women who aren’t you face discrimination simply because they identify as a woman — and even more so when they are a woman of color.
Donald Trump is a stark-raving-mad misogynist. He can only see women for their physical attributes, which he has made clear time and time again. He has sexualized his own daughters, admitting that he would date Ivanka if she weren’t his daughter. He just publicly assessed the first lady of France by saying she was “in such good shape” and “beautiful.” But women he doesn’t like are called “fat pig” and “disgusting” and “ugly.” He also has an unnatural obsession with bleeding women. Like that’s all we do — go to the gym and bleed. He has made no qualms about “grabbing them [women] by the pussy.”
And I’ve seen the the comments from women defending his “locker room talk”: “That’s just how men are!” “All men talk like this!” “This is normal guy stuff.” “It’s harmless!”
And you’re going to sit here and tell me that internalized misogyny isn’t a thing? You’ll have to miss me with that bullshit.
I don’t get how you can’t see what’s literally right in front of you, but I know where your thought process stems from — because the bonds of the heteronormative patriarchy run deep. Have you ever heard a story about a drunk girl at a party being raped and thought, “Well, she should know better than to get drunk”? Or found other excuses to blame the victim (“What was she wearing?” “Was she flirting with him?”), and thus, defend the perpetrator of sex crimes? If you can say yes, that you dissolve into this line of thinking when confronted with sexual assault victims, then you have caught a strong case of misogyny. Victim blaming is a sure sign of it.
And I have to tell you that isn’t how it works. A woman who decides to get drunk doesn’t “deserve” to get raped because some guy chooses to take advantage of her. She could be walking around naked, and she’s still not “asking for it.” Not even a little bit.
Once, I shared an article about a young woman who was raped by her friend. A woman I know actually commented on the piece saying that the young woman in the article should have “known her limit of alcohol” so that she would have been more cognizant of what was happening to her. Excuse me, what? No. The man just shouldn’t have raped her. Period. No, ifs, ands, or buts, no analysis needed. She was the victim. He was the rapist. Full stop. Trying to rationalize rape, and find ways to attribute sexual assault to the victim’s choices, is a classic case of internalized misogyny.
And it happens all the freaking time.
It is not easy for women to deprogram their misogynistic thoughts — we are conditioned by a patriarchal society after all — but we have to. We must. And we can’t do that if some women are still making excuses for men and giving them a pass on their sexist, and sometimes criminal, behavior.
Say it with me: Internalized misogyny is real, and it’s a bad thing. And you need to deprogram yourself, stop blaming victims, stop making excuses for your male acquaintances, and start calling it out.