I'd honestly be lying if I said I've never subconsciously projected sexist thoughts toward other women or onto myself. Sometimes, I'm too quick to judge another woman for doing or wearing something, and I find myself having to take a step back to almost "train" myself not to think in such a harmful and unnecessarily mean way. Unfortunately, internalized misogyny is a very real thing, and it's something other women have experienced as well. When Redditor u/United-Heart-8696 asked women to share their most frequent form of internalized misogyny, the answers were extremely honest and had me thinking about the ways I may have been misogynistic without even realizing it. Here are some of the candid responses that just might have you reflecting as well:
1."I still subconsciously assume that attractive women are automatically going to be meaner or more shallow just because they are attractive. I know it's because I'm insecure myself, and society has pushed this idea that all attractive women are stuck up, but it's so hard to shake this instinct off."
2."My most annoying one is that I think men age better than women. I am afraid of looking old. When I look at a mature woman, I see all her 'flaws' and reconstruct how she is 'supposed to look' (young). Meanwhile, when I look at a man of any age, I see him how he is and simply accept it without judgment. It's really unfortunate and annoying that I think this way, and I hate it. I try to look past it, but it is difficult."
3."I always find myself comparing myself to other women through a male gaze. I'm not the jealous type, but I'll look at a woman and absentmindedly analyze why anyone would want to date her, sleep with her, be friends with her, hire her, etc. It's like there are little men in my brain constantly rating women. It's pathetic."
4."Somewhere in my mind, I still automatically go to men when something needs to get done. Women have been proven to be much more useful in most situations I've been in, yet going to a man is still my go-to reaction. This is because of years of little comments implying that men are better at doing stuff. However, I think it is also a reflection of myself. Because I don't trust myself to be capable of doing many things, other women are alike."
5."Thinking that I'm cheap and trashy for wanting or having sex — especially if it doesn't involve romantic settings or specific rules. Social media makes it so much worse, especially those 'classy-women-with-high-standards' videos made by women. They're incredibly hurtful and support misogynistic thought patterns."
6."Margaret Atwood said something about the male gaze and how there's always a figurative man in the back of your mind so that you're never alone and are always being watched. For me, that man has been my dad, other male family members, male friends, and romantic interests. In the back of my mind, it feels like they are always judging me."
7."Ugh, I have several, and I'm really trying to work on them. The biggest one is comparison. I compare myself to other women and have to consciously correct myself once I start building resentment toward women who are better than me at something. Especially when that something is a traditionally masculine activity. I'm a powerlifter, so this is a huge struggle for me in the gym. Patriarchy tells us that male attention and approval are to be sought after, and in the gym, the stronger (and 'hotter') you are, the more of that attention and approval you receive. I've worked hard to help cultivate an environment that supports women who are newcomers in the gym, but when I see other women who are stronger than me, I have to fight the urge to feel jealous and resentful toward them."
8."Probably that I assume women should be better than men. Like, because my experiences with women have been very comforting and friendship-based, I get violently disappointed when women do something bad — far more disappointed than when a man does something bad. Like, when I found out my friend's girlfriend cheated on them, I was so hatefully devastated that she would do something so awful. But, when my friend's boyfriend cheated on her, I was kind of just like, 'God, he sucks.' I didn't shake my head and feel disappointed like I did with the woman. Another example is that when a man supports an abuser, I kinda think, 'Welp, okay,' but when a woman does, I feel betrayed. It's very internally misogynistic of me to hold all women to higher expectations."
9."I've always worked out and kept fit, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I watch what I eat and work out is because I worry people will say I deserved the abuse and infidelity from my husband if I get too chubby. As if people will think, 'Well, no wonder — look at her.'"
10."I think the worst is that I've internalized the idea that girls and women are innately more responsible and organized. I'm not innately organized; I've spent 40 years with undiagnosed ADHD and have developed an elaborate system of tricks and notebooks to keep my life together. Because of that, I feel like I'm failing as a woman and a human when I make mistakes like forgetting to do the laundry or not signing my kids up for pizza day at school. The residual 'eldest daughter syndrome' coupled with this internalized misogyny means that I really, REALLY suck at asking for help. Half the battle is remembering that I can ask my husband for help. He's great and does a lot, but he needs to see the slack to pick it up if that makes sense. Anyway, I'm working on it."
11."That if no one has cooked dinner or the kitchen hasn't been cleaned — even though there's a second fully functional adult who lives in the house — then it's my fault."
12."That wearing heavy makeup equates to being shallow and ditzy. I think it helps that makeup is seen more as an art form nowadays, but I think a part of me still views heavy makeup as a signifier that the woman only cares about attracting men. Thankfully, I'm conscious enough of the inherent misogyny to shut down those thoughts whenever they creep up."
13."I don't like walking around town alone with my child because I don't want to attract judgment for being a 'single mother.'"
14."That women whose kids all have different daddies make poor decisions and aren't good judges of character. It's my own personal bias that was formed way back when I was young and reinforced through knowing women who had kids with a bunch of different men. I know the woman didn't get herself pregnant, but it still makes me judge them for bringing another human being into their situation who didn't ask to be there. I judge the baby daddy, too, but I hate that I expect more from the mother."
15."It seems a small thing in comparison to other responses, but always labeling my son's toys as male, especially when there is no characteristic that would indicate gender. For example, a little toy astronaut. I'm trying to catch myself and switch things up until my son can decide on his own."
16."I can't get it out of my head that women are less capable. I will trust any man in any position you can imagine before any woman doing the same task. I work with plenty of capable women and am very aware of their skills, so this mindset only applies to strangers. Like, with strangers, the thoughts do not even take form — I'll trust my middle-aged male doctor more than my young female doctor. Age plays a part in it, even though it should not. And I do it to myself, too. I'll believe that I'm not proficiently doing home repairs and ask a male friend or relative for advice, only to find that they know less than I do, which makes sense! Why should they know?! Anyway, I hate that I think this way with a passion. I try to go against this instinct every time I realize I'm falling into it because I know it can't be trusted."
17."I'm slightly ashamed to admit this, but I judge women who relinquish custody of their children to pursue a life without them harsher than I do men. I cannot imagine leaving my kids to go live a life on my own; I was bonded to them when they were in my belly, so I could never think of a life without them. It's hard for me to imagine another woman who's had a child in their womb not think the same."
18."I don't know if this fits the usual definition of internalized misogyny, but my worst one lately is expecting myself to be taken less seriously than men and just having the expectation that I'm going to struggle more in my career generally. I'm finishing university and want to go into a pretty male-dominated field, and I feel pessimistic about it. Even though my personal experience throughout my academic life has been treated respectfully and seriously, reading about the systemic issues and other people's bad experiences has made me feel almost hopeless. Even though it's so important for those types of stories to be out there, I've had to unfollow a lot of feminist content pages because of how it was affecting my mental health."
19."It's weirdly specific, but it irks me when I see girls cosplaying male characters. It makes no sense; I'm not even into cosplay. And I'm nonbinary and queer! Even so, my first thought is, 'Ugh, you could have tried harder, couldn't you? Costly costume, elaborate shot, and yet, it's clear you're a girl.' I hate to have that reaction. I never say it out loud because I feel ashamed. Further, I have no problems with men cosplaying as female characters, so it's just something against women having a perfectly legit hobby."
20."My initial reaction to seeing long underarm or leg hair on another woman is to feel grossed out. I have to actively remind myself that it's none of my damn business how someone chooses to deal with their body hair. I also judge women who follow trends too quickly. Like, I have to remind myself every time I see a Stanley Cup that women are allowed to enjoy things, even if I don't get or understand it."
21."Judging a woman by what she's wearing, especially if it's a very risqué outfit. I can't even justify why I do it, but I find myself doing this too often. I can't say it's because I can't put the same outfit on and not look the same or that I can't afford it, but I guess it's because I think the outfit is inappropriate for the time or setting. I'll think something like, 'She's doing too much.' Whenever that happens, though, I usually smack my thoughts away and start thinking things like, 'She probably has never had the confidence and is now confident with her appearance. Why can't you accept that?'"
22.Lastly: "I have resented some women for the idea of their 'pretty privilege.' I consider myself to be smart, hardworking, and disciplined, but it always feels like that's overlooked because I'm overweight. I feel the need to shirk myself for taking up space. It doesn't help that I've always been told to relegate myself to the background, but it totally hurts to shoulder the burden of needing to accept things that aren't 'for me' because someone decided I wasn't good enough for it based on how I look."
Sometimes, going against the patriarchy means stopping yourself in your tracks and reevaluating your initial instincts and reactions, and that's okay! What are some forms of internalized misogyny you find yourself having that you're actively trying to work on? Let me know down below in the comments, or you can anonymously submit using this form.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.