As our hot girl summer comes to an end (or transitions to hot girl fall?) I could only think of how internalized misogyny has disguised itself as counter culture. Throughout this summer we’ve seen the rise of rap artist Megan Thee Stallion. Whether or not you listen to her, I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings she’s created ‘real hot girl $h-t’ or ‘hot girl summer’. It started as fun and catchy but has honestly transformed into something empowering between women. I’ve seen women encourage, praise, uplift, and gloat about one another in the name of hot girl $h-t! From sharing accomplishments, popping out on Instagram, to personal growth, women have been acknowledging each other in a big way. Unfortunately, a counter culture of being anti-hot girl has risen in efforts to downplay the movement. There are women (and men especially, whew, they hate to see it) who have talked down on the uses of these sayings. I’ve mainly seen the counter culture coming from men but many women have jumped on the bandwagon too. I’ve seen posts from women speaking negatively on other women for joining in on what has essentially become a movement in efforts to seem different or better than, perhaps. Example: “While yall having a hot girl summer I’ll be having a working girl summer” as if it is impossible to do both *rolls eyes*. Anyway, I’m saying all of this to say check your internalized misogyny sis.
If this term is foreign, I’m happy you’re here. To break it down, misogyny is the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women (dictionary via google). So putting internalized in front of misogyny describes women who have made this way of thinking part of their own beliefs about other women. Misogyny stems from patriarchy which is the bs system majority of the world operates under. Patriarchy is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it (dictionary via google). These beliefs are the reason for the mistreatment, exclusion, abuse, hypersexualization, and policing of women.
Internalized misogyny is not uncommon among women. This is largely due to the fact that we are socialized from childhood to think and behave in a way that puts girls/women second while simultaneously holding them to higher (often unrealistic) standards. This socialization leads women to judge themselves and other women through a lens of patriarchy. This lens is what can cause women to compete in what we’ll call the ‘pick-me Olympics’. Women making their daily choices around what they deem ‘desirable’ or ‘respectable’ to men is what I mean when I say this. Pick-me culture looks like: boasting (why one woman’s behavior in contrast to the next makes the other more worthy), blaming (why a woman deserves bad things to happen to her when a man is involved) and demeaning (efforts made to police a woman’s experience). We’ve all seen it and possibly at one point have participated (or still do).
It’s harmful, coming from one woman to the next but on a broader scale it’s harmful for the future of women. We already have men perpetuating this patriarchal system so having unchecked misogyny further pushes it’s agenda. Internalized misogyny keeps women from connecting with one another due to viewing the next woman as other. This alienation leads to us being a helping hand in oppressing each other. It gets even deeper when we discuss the intersectionality of women (for example being Black + queer, Hispanic + disabled, white + cis, etc) because of the privileges we may or may not have. Being a woman in this world is already difficult. Acknowledging our other identities, for some of us, means oppression comes from multiple directions.
Being transparent with ourselves admitting we need to check our internalized misogyny can be challenging. We must do the internal work of dismantling these beliefs to treat ourselves better, to treat other women better. We deserve a sense of community among one another. But we have to create it. It takes a lot of unlearning and even more reprogramming. Nonetheless, I implore you to assess how your own internalized misogyny and how you may project it onto other women. How does it show up in your life? How are you standing up for other women? What does your solidarity look like? How would you describe your own womanhood? Let’s talk about it. The future is woman.