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  • Betti Kobak

Speak Up: Internalized Misogyny Originates in Childhood

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Why are we taught from a young age that misogyny and hatred are signs of male attraction and desire? Why are we taught as a society that men can be mean because they are probably “joking” or just “like you”?

Feminism and women’s rights are often displayed in the media by female employees and activists proving that they are worth more than sexist stereotypes perpetuated for centuries. From where does this male superiority originate? Where do people learn that misogynistic behavior is acceptable?

As a child, I was brainwashed into thinking that when a boy tugs on my hair on the playground it means that he has a crush on me. Yes, it was most likely a harmless action. But throughout my adolescent life, I carried the mindset that whenever I was mistreated or disrespected by a boy it was a result of his ignorance, and should be excused. Although ignorance most likely causes boys to act this way, that is no excuse.

Anytime something offensive or sexist comes out of a boy’s mouth and I call him out, I am laughed at or instantly told to calm down. Although I seem strong, this reaction certainly affects me. Often times, no other females have my back or stand up for me when I stand up for myself. It is almost always a group of boys against me, laughing and joking while I am left wondering what I did to earn such blatant disrespect. I am told by friends that “I can’t react or else it encourages them [boys] and they will keep doing it.” Am I supposed to sit and be quiet while experiencing objectification and sexist remarks?

Today, we wonder how grown men can often still act so disrespectful towards women given the growth women have had in the fight for equality. The way men grow up, often being excused for their actions, and even sometimes being encouraged leads to this blatant disrespect men show towards women. According to Atavist, not being held accountable in the younger stages of life correlates directly to poor behavior in men as adults. From the moment a boy is born, they are implicitly taught that their sex is superior. As a child, males are constantly using the female gender as an insult. Have you ever heard the phrase “you throw like a girl”? This normalized phrase is a prime example of our society's subconscious bias against women.

The president of our country, Donald Trump, among other politicians, have exhibited misogyny on many occasions. He openly discusses his idealistic standards for women, women’s incompetence, and more. He also has been accused of sexual assault over 25 times. Regardless of political affiliation, if it is normalized to elect leaders who are misogynists, people are going to view toxic masculinity as an excusable trait.

There is no excuse for letting this behavior go unnoticed. Simply speaking up and holding others accountable for their internalized misogyny can help lead us to a better understanding of this issue. We cannot let public figures continue to have influence over people while being openly misogynistic

Support and learn from women politicians who fight against gender inequality. If females do not speak up, men will continue to have implicit power over us. As feminists, we need to erase the stigma against women speaking up and replace it with female empowerment and action.

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