Bell hooks describes internalized sexism as “the enemy within” and explains that women have been socialized by the patriarchy to “judge themselves and each other without compassion and punish one another harshly.” The material realities of internalized sexism indicate that the feminist agenda need not only focus its attention on the relationships between men and women, but also on “the enemy within” women which perpetuates dynamics of patriarchy as well.
The opposite of internalized misogyny is female solidarity.
This brings up a very important subject which is the idea of reversals. We live in a reversal society. For example, the idea that Eve came from Adam is a reversal. It’s ridiculous. Who could believe that? It’s contrary to all biology. But with that myth in mind, people can justify somehow the idea that God is male. And therefore that male is God. And that he’s the origin. But he’s not the origin. The Bible is full of reversals. There are reversals everywhere. Orwell thought that when he wrote in 1984 about Doublethink. You know, the Ministry of Truth was where they made up lies, the Ministry of Love was where they tortured people. Everywhere you go there is Doublethink. There’s ‘natural’ make-up that of course is unnatural. Or think of ‘pro-life’. When they say ‘life’ they mean ‘death’.
Patriarchal reversals happen when a man, or a woman who has aligned herself with men, asserts that feminists are guilty of X when in fact it is men who are guilty of X. It’s a projection, a verbal sleight of hand that seeks to distract from what the patriarchy is doing by putting women in a defensive position.
Example: “Radical feminism is all about money”. In fact, the patriarchy is all about extracting financial resources and other resources like time, ideas and labor, from women for the benefit of men. Feminism is about redistributing those unfairly hoarded resources, not about greed, as some of its critics suggest.
You’re not supposed to say you’re a “victim” because most people hate victims and rush to align themselves with those they perceive as powerful: the victimizers. Then they imitate the bullying behavior of those victimizers. Then they blame victims, so that they don’t have to feel any guilt over what they’ve done, or any empathy with those less fortunate than themselves.
“Being a feminist for me didn’t come from reading academic theory. It also didn’t come from a hatred of men. It just came about from being a woman in this society and not understanding the way I was treated on a day to day basis; from the casual sexism of school playgrounds to being ignored in meetings as an adult, talked over, patronised and put down. It may sound simplistic, even trivial, but living in a world where women are constantly undermined and under-represented, makes those everyday ‘soft sexisms’ really hard to bear. Often too difficult to prove, often too vague to explain, often too complex to tackle, but always extremely difficult to bear.”
This is brilliant and so similar to my own story.