Written by Sana Ilyas, The Meraki Project Team
From the time you were placed in your cradle to when you are buried in your grave, if there is one thing in the entire world that is a constant companion to your existence it is Misogyny. It follows you like a shadow and frightens you at times when you aren’t really aware of it. It’s the kind of imprisonment that is really hard to break free from and when you finally manage to do so it still accompanies you as a whisper in your ear, an ever present silent voice in the back of your head which sways every single choice you make. Many like to advocate the internalized misogyny is make believe like the boogeyman. But is it really?
Misogyny is to put simply, the deeply ingrained prejudice and oppression against women. Over the course of time, we've come to accept the expectations and demands imposed by misogyny as a definite must. It is such an intrinsic part of our behaviour that it doesn't occur to us to challenge or question it. And when we finally do learn to see the error in it, we still try to seek validation for our every action by measuring it with the moral scale of sexism and misogyny, thus is the birth of internalized misogyny.
When we are quick to judge another woman on the length of her skirt or for the number of people she has hooked-up with or even question ourselves, that is internalized misogyny.
When you seek out careers that are deemed fit for women in the hope that you will be appreciated or when you recommend only such careers to fellow sisters, that is internalized misogyny.
When you believe, you and any other woman should know her way around the household chores, that’s internalized misogyny.
When you give into the pressure of marriage and kids thinking that it is what a woman should do, that is internalized misogyny.
When you justify your actions saying that you “aren’t like the other girls”, or when you prefer hanging out with boys rather than girls - because honestly less drama, it's internalized misogyny.
When you are preoccupied with concern about the amount of make-up you’ve put on, is it too much?, is it too little? That’s internalized misogyny. When you give in to the unrealistic beauty standards set by society, that’s internalized misogyny.
When you feel ashamed and embarrassed about your posture, your laugh, the volume and tonality of you voice and are constantly keeping a check on yourself - back straight, legs crossed, gaze low, hands in your lap and smile on your face, that’s internalized misogyny.
When you feel the need to hide your emotions be it your tears, your anger, your frustration or literary any emotion, because you’ve been told that women are known to exaggerate and blow things out of proportion, that’s internalized misogyny.
When you are constantly comparing yourself to other women because you feel insecure, and start molding yourself into the “real woman” bullshit, that is internalized misogyny.
With every decision, we women make, to a certain extent we unknowingly alter it to seek validation from what we feel is society’s acceptable standards, which are usually dripping in misogyny and patriarchy. The bitter truth is, when you have been fed misogynistic ideas on how to be a woman, your whole life, a small part of you starts buying into it and leaves you hollow, with your very being brimmed with insecurities. It then only seems fair when you look to patriarchal ideations with an urgent need to validate yourself. And we all have slipped more than once, so you aren’t really at fault here and if someone needs to carry the blame then it’s the patriarchal society for enforcing misogyny upon us.
But now that you and I are more aware, the next time we find ourselves slipping down this path let’s take a deep breathe and remind ourselves that these ideas stem from a society that practices oppression of female minds, bodies and robs us of the right to choose for ourselves. Let us start making decisions based on what we believe is right or wrong and not based on ideas that are forced upon us. Let us remind ourselves to be kind, not only to ourselves but to other women as well, and realise that we all have a choice and that it deserves to be respected. The more aware we are, the easier it is to rectify ourselves and take a step closer to creating a society that is built on respect, acceptance and choice.