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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » internalized misogyny

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Author Topic: internalized misogyny
Member # 39969

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This is sort of a tangential follow up to this post, but I was curious how do people go about overcoming internalized sexist/misogynistic thoughts/patterns/beliefs?

I am trying to be pretty committed to feminist values, but I find it sort of difficult to find out what to do when I catch myself thinking in a sexist manner. To put it differently, how do people overcome internalized misogyny?

Here's a concrete example of what I'm talking about: when I'm out with a mixed group of friends (both male and female) watching a basketball game I catch myself thinking something dismissive about the women like "Why are they here? They can't understand what's going on." And other stupid things. In my head, sports is a man's domain, and these women are out of place. I have even stupider thoughts about other matters as well. Thankfully, I don't act or say anything, but I'm frustrated that I think like this.

For me, feminist values are sort of a no brainer. I didn't like the way my dad treated my mom, my sister or me, so I'm not going to walk from this, but at the same time, I don't know how to continue make progress. I've read tons of books and follow a few blogs on a consistent basis, but what then? It doesn't seem one can read oneself out of sexism. For what it's worth I understand that unlearning one's privilege is a lifelong matter. People spend their entire lives overcoming homophobic and racist attitudes, and I get that this is a lifelong journey for me.

Also, I have other problems too. How do you call out your friends over their attitudes towards women? A lot of my male friends hold very standard sexist attitudes--slut shaming, fat shaming, sexual double standards, victim blaming ogling, etc. I can make some meek statements against it, but I can't really be very aggressive with them about their beliefs and make any progress regarding stuff like this. It doesn't matter what type of guy I'm talking about too.

Anyways, I'm apologize for sort of invading this space, but I remember getting really excellent help in the past so I wanted to try again.

Okay, one more question: is there a list of things every feminist should know? Like a list of books and topics that ought to be covered? Thanks again!

Posts: 21 | From: USA | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
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Hey BobbyC,

You know, I think all of us, at one time or another, think things that we know aren't appropriate. The key, I think, is to identify when we're thinking that way, to not act upon (and often to not voice) those thoughts, and to positively react to them.

So, in your example with the basketball game. If someone were to think "Why are the women here?" I would encourage them to then go ahead and answer their own question. I think that generating answers might start to help put the brakes on that sort of thinking, rather than just putting the brakes on and chastising oneself for being sexist.

To use a car metaphor, generating a response to the sexist thought would be like finding a different route to a destination that would avoid the steep slippery hill. sure, you can go down that hill, but you'll always be worried about whether your brakes will work and keep you from sliding out of control, or even into danger.

No, one cannot read oneself out of sexism, but that doesn't mean that doing that kind of reading, keeping up with the blogs that fight sexism (and other social justice concerns) isn't beneficial.

Regarding your friends, you may not be able to change their minds. However, you can be firm iny your convictions so that they know exactly how you feel about something.

How have your friends reacted when you've objected to their sexist comments and behaviour in the past? do you feel like you can withstand the hostility or teasing you might get from them if you were to be very clear in your convictions with them and state clear objections when they get into unpleasant territory with the things they discuss?

Sometimes, when talking with friends, it can help to have difficult conversations one-on-one. So, you could say, when hanging out alone with a friend, something like: "I really didn't like how everyone was saying nasty things about fat women when we were hanging out the other day." And see where the conversation goes from there. What do you think?

In terms of a list of what every feminist should know: As far as I know there isn't such a list, and even if there was, it, by the very nature of feminism, and, more broadly, social justice, would make it impossible to cover everything. would you find it helpful for people to share here what feminist resources they've found helpful or interesting?

These are just a few thoughts from me to hopefully get the conversation going and get you started thinking about this.


Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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Robin said a lot of what I would say [Smile]

One extra thing is that I think a lot of our thoughts - deliberate and subconscious - about what the world is like are based on what we've known our own personal world to be like. So, for example, if we don't think that women are all that interested in sport, maybe we don't know many women athletes, don't watch or follow women's sports, don't watch or read women's analyses. In many of our personal communities, sports Is a more men-oriented thing, so it isn't surprising if we're missing those things. If we're invested in changing our inner voices and assumptions about it, one thing that contributes is deliberately changing our own personal reality a bit. So, for example, if you're interested in sports, you might start following a women's sport, a women's team or a women's league; search out and regularly read an internet site or two that features knowledgeable and incisive commentary and analysis by women; if you know any women athletes, maybe ask them about it occasionally, and make "athlete" a deliberate part of your mental image of that person.

If we're doing that kind of thing, it becomes much harder for our subconscious brain to think "but women aren't really interested" or whatever, because we're actually living the opposite. Obviously we can't take this approach with every single issue, but choosing even one or two things can really change our brain's channel, and then make it easier for us to challenge other peculiar thoughts it has.

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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