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23 Ways You May Have Internalised Misogyny Without Even Realising

Because being a woman doesn’t mean you're free from misogynistic thoughts.

Internalised misogyny is when women police their own behaviour, and that of other women, to conform to societal ideals, even when it's detrimental to them or devalues women. Here are just some of the many ways in which we might do that.

1. You’ve been shocked/appalled/offended to see body hair on other women, even though you damn well know you have it too.

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This kind of judgment about other people’s choices may show that we’ve bought into an unrealistic conception of femininity, even if it's at odds with our real-life experiences of other women and our own bodies. We expect women to be flawlessly smooth even though we know very few of us are that way naturally!

2. You've felt embarrassed by stubble on your body or that you should apologise for it.

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What you do to your body hair is up to you, but you shouldn't have to feel ashamed over something that is entirely natural – would a man apologise for his stubble before kissing you? This is also applicable to other perceived bodily "flaws" in general, like scars and stretch marks.

3. You've automatically felt sorry for women who are over 40 and single.


This often works on the assumption that she can't possibly be single out of choice, that something must have gone wrong in her life for her to "end up" this way, whereas we probably wouldn't make similar assumptions about a 40-year-old bachelor. People know what will makes them happiest, and sometimes being single is exactly that.

4. You've said “You’ll change your mind” to women who say they don’t want children, or thought that such a decision is selfish, but would not say the same to a man.

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Different people have different wants. Also, let's not put the entire burden of propagating the human race on women – we all know that's not how it works.

5. You've thought there is something wrong with you for not wanting or not liking children.

Let’s just stop assuming that within every woman lies this benevolent motherly instinct that just needs to be awoken by a single blessed sperm fertilising her; you know yourself and you know what will make you happy and what won't.

6. You've thought a woman in a heterosexual relationship is “lucky” if her partner does domestic work or looks after the children, but wouldn't think the same if the roles were reversed.

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Partners are partners in life, therefore they should be free to choose how to divide responsibilities in a way that's fair and effective, rather than by assigning duties by gender.

7. You've assumed something negative about a woman because she spends a lot of time or money on her appearance.

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Choosing to wear a full face of makeup every day does not in any way prevent someone from being able to explain the general theory of relativity. In fact, one could do both of these things simultaneously! Nor does this mean that someone is insecure about their appearance; makeup and style should be seen as a voluntary thing people do for fun, like cooking fancy meals just for the joy of it.

8. You've judged other women for not wearing makeup/not spending a lot of time or money on their appearance.

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It just means this woman is not as interested in makeup and clothes, or maybe she was just in a rush!

9. You've taken pride in how much or how little time you spend on your grooming routine compared with others.

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All this shows is different levels of interest and should be neither a source of pride nor shame.

10. You've equated being sexually dominant and/or promiscuous to “having sex like a man”.


It might sound empowering to think this way, but in reality you're assigning sexual roles to people based on their gender alone. Everyone is more complex than that.

11. You've felt obligated to ensure a male partner climaxes during sex but you don’t demand or expect the same treatment from him, even though you really want it.

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You’re putting his pleasure above yours, as though men take sex and women give it. It is a mutual act, my friends.

12. You've faked an orgasm while with a man because you didn't want to hurt his feelings or offend him.

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You're making your own pleasure about his ego and masculinity rather than about your own pleasure. Also, as a side note, you're not actually doing anyone any favours! You've got to let your partner know what you need if you're not getting it, girl!

13. You've judged a woman for keeping her full-time job after she's had a child.

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If you assume that this woman’s child is miserable or neglected, you may also be assuming that there is no one else to look after the child because the entire burden of childrearing should fall to the mother.

14. You've judged a woman for not keeping her job after she's had a child.


Childcare is difficult, so why do we not treat it like the hard work that it is? Sometimes it is just not a viable option for someone to keep their job and look after little children simultaneously. In a truly equal society people of all genders should be free to look after their children in whatever way is convenient for them personally, rather than in the ways they're expected to.

15. You've felt embarrassed when talking about your period, or even buying sanitary items.


Why do we struggle to make eye contact with the cashier when buying tampons? They probably don't even care! We're often made to feel ashamed about a normal bodily function that cannot be prevented and much of the world’s population regularly experiences. It's not the same as other bodily functions that may also be seen as embarrassing, such as diarrhoea, because periods are necessary for your own health and the future of the human race.

16. You've thought “you’re not like other girls” was a compliment.


Because that inherently implies all other girls are terrible in some way. Some of them are, just as there are terrible people in all walks of life, but you cannot dismiss an entire gender that way.

17. You've been immediately threatened by another woman because you felt she was prettier than you, or you felt quietly assured because she wasn't as pretty as you.

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It's natural to be threatened by someone – that's human nature. However, when it's only based on looks, you're equating your own self-worth and the worth of the other woman to your respective appearances alone. We're all so much more than that!

18. You've judged other women for their sex life.

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No human being's worth is in any way tied up with how many or how few people they've had sex with.

19. You’ve immediately assumed a woman was in a lower-ranked position than she is.


Have you ever thought a woman was a nurse when she was actually a doctor? Or have you ever assumed that a man who works in a hospital is a doctor, and been surprised when you learned he is actually a nurse or a midwife? In both instances we assume that masculinity is somehow inherently tied up with authority.

20. You've thought that you “just get along better with guys” because girls are “too bitchy”.

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Nope, there isn't one character trait that can applied to an entire gender.

21. You've assumed that the fashion or beauty industries are more frivolous than other industries.

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There is no reason why this should be the case. That's not to say they don't have huge issues, but just because they're dominated by or geared towards women, doesn't mean they're inherently frivolous.

22. No matter how much you achieve and how incredible you are, you still feel shit about yourself because you don't feel pretty enough.

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There are women CEOs, world leaders, and renowned artists who feel their self-esteem plummets when some tabloid paper points out their cellulite, despite their Grammys, Nobel Prizes, and other achievements. We need to be kinder to ourselves. We are not objects that need to be, above all, pretty and admired. Your value is so much greater than your body alone.

23. You've thought that you “don’t need feminism” because none of the main issues seem to affect your daily life.

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You might be one of the lucky few who have never experienced discrimination or violence, but you shouldn't put your own experiences and the rhetoric of many male politicians above the billions of female voices that have had different lives. The idea that women are just complaining and whining, even when there are countless first-hand experiences and scientific evidence to prove otherwise, is just what's been said for decades to silence women.

We're all guilty of at least some of these behaviours, and that's okay! But if we can be aware of them and change our own thinking, we'll all be living in a far more supportive and accepting world.