Feminism | Posted by Sarah M on 06/10/2013

On Internalized Misogyny

Tina Fey nails internalized misogyny

The other day, as I sat in math class, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a couple of girls seated directly in front of me. They were discussing the volleyball game that was supposed to happen that day after school. At one point, one of the girls noted that the girls on the team had to wear their athletic uniforms around the school for that day (to invigorate school spirit and what not). The other girl responded that it was ridiculous and unfair that the athletes were permitted to break with the school’s dress code for the day (their shorts were *gasp* above their knees), and continued to say that the shorts were “an invitation for rape.” At this point, I was struggling to keep my mouth shut. However, they must not have noticed my blatant repudiation, as they went on to agree that “the shorts just scream ‘I’M EASY.’”

This whole episode left me uncomfortable. “Slut” is not a graceful word. It does not roll effortlessly off of the tongue. It is sharp and biting. “Slut” is considered one of the worst insults that can be projected upon a girl, connoting a worthlessness and disgust that cannot simply be eradicated or ignored. At its core, it is used to suppress female sexuality and attacks a young woman’s right to say “yes” to sex. It contributes immensely to the rape culture already far too prominent in the media and is the basis of the sexual double standard. What could such a sexist affront contribute to any healthy conversation? More importantly, how did it weasel its way into our vernacular?

Internalized misogyny is defined as conscious or unconscious sexist attitudes from women towards other women. Slut shaming is a prime example of this that is common to a concerning extent in modern western society. It should go without saying that one’s sex life and manner of dressing hold no correlation. Furthermore, should a woman choose to approach sex casually, it should be no one else’s business. A primary idea perpetuated by the patriarchy is that a woman’s body is this arcane, pure object that, once used, is degraded and of a lesser value. This is the commodification of virginity. Our culture draws upon this idea to instill misogyny into young women, leading them to believe that their worth is directly influenced by their sexual history (or lack thereof). The detrimental cycle is perpetuated by girls who, to make themselves feel somehow superior, lower other girls’ self-esteem based solely on what they perceive as a negative trait. More often than not, this trait is a girl’s apparent receptiveness to sex.

Girl hate and internalized misogyny must be completely eliminated from pop culture, as it further transforms completely extraneous and negative sexism into a social norm. A woman’s right to say “yes” to sex should be respected, and no girl should be made out to be a bad person for showing any amount of her own skin. The word “slut” needs not a definition or qualification, but to be totally eradicated in the name of feminist progress.

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  • Alanna @ at 7:55 pm, June 10th, 2013

    This is the greatest article i’ve ever read. I wish I could be best friends with you.

  • Astrid @ at 6:01 am, June 13th, 2013

    I mostly agree with your post. However, is it women’s responsibility to eridcate sexism by being first to tackle internalized misogyny? While I agree that women have a responsibility to challenge their own beliefs and keep them to themselves if they’re misogynist, I do realize that internalized misogyny is a deep-seated phenomenon which women are not solely responsible for. If I myself hadn’t read tons of feminist blogs, I may’ve t hought these same things, because society is full of slut-shaming from people of all genders.

  • Emma E @ at 5:47 pm, June 20th, 2013

    This is exactly what I’ve been saying forever, thank you! At my school, almost all girls–even the ones that claim to be feminists–will slutshame all the time,and even say that they’re better feminists because of it, which is frustrating AS HELL.

  • Gwydion @ at 7:13 pm, June 29th, 2013

    As a transman I’ve lived both side of the gender debate.

    We can’t fight with fighting all the time, there comes a point at which we need to acknowledge the hurt and allow ourselves time to grieve those hurts. If we don’t then we’re going to become our own worst enemies.

    We’ll take on the inner voice of those who have hurt us and then give it to our neighbour, thus perpetuating the ideals that men are superior.

    It’s time to ‘love’ one another, not condemn, and thus build each other back up.

  • swiss @ at 4:01 am, January 9th, 2014

    you say “math class” and refer to volleyball and school so you must be in high school(?!!!) I am a woman of Tina Fey’s age and I have to say you are wiser and have your ideas more together—and you’re a better writer—thank most people 3x your age. I wish you the best. This was a fantastic insightful, spot-on piece, on all levels! [by way of context–what landed me here–I was googling to see whether anyone else thinks that Tina Fey is really misogynistic and didn’t find anything (so I may be alone in that) but your post popped up so it wasn’t a waste of time.

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