On Internalized Misogyny

The other day, as I sat in math class, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a couple of girls seated directly in front of me. They were discussing the volleyball game that was supposed to happen that day after school. At one point, one of the girls noted that the girls on the team had to wear their athletic uniforms around the school for that day (to invigorate school spirit and what not). The other girl responded that it was ridiculous and unfair that the athletes were permitted to break with the school’s dress code for the day (their shorts were *gasp* above their knees), and continued to say that the shorts were “an invitation for rape.” At this point, I was struggling to keep my mouth shut. However, they must not have noticed my blatant repudiation, as they went on to agree that “the shorts just scream ‘I’M EASY.’”

This whole episode left me uncomfortable. “Slut” is not a graceful word. It does not roll effortlessly off of the tongue. It is sharp and biting. “Slut” is considered one of the worst insults that can be projected upon a girl, connoting a worthlessness and disgust that cannot simply be eradicated or ignored. At its core, it is used to suppress female sexuality and attacks a young woman’s right to say “yes” to sex. It contributes immensely to the rape culture already far too prominent in the media and is the basis of the sexual double standard. What could such a sexist affront contribute to any healthy conversation? More importantly, how did it weasel its way into our vernacular?

Internalized misogyny is defined as conscious or unconscious sexist attitudes from women towards other women. Slut shaming is a prime example of this that is common to a concerning extent in modern western society. It should go without saying that one’s sex life and manner of dressing hold no correlation. Furthermore, should a woman choose to approach sex casually, it should be no one else’s business. A primary idea perpetuated by the patriarchy is that a woman’s body is this arcane, pure object that, once used, is degraded and of a lesser value. This is the commodification of virginity. Our culture draws upon this idea to instill misogyny into young women, leading them to believe that their worth is directly influenced by their sexual history (or lack thereof). The detrimental cycle is perpetuated by girls who, to make themselves feel somehow superior, lower other girls’ self-esteem based solely on what they perceive as a negative trait. More often than not, this trait is a girl’s apparent receptiveness to sex.

Girl hate and internalized misogyny must be completely eliminated from pop culture, as it further transforms completely extraneous and negative sexism into a social norm. A woman’s right to say “yes” to sex should be respected, and no girl should be made out to be a bad person for showing any amount of her own skin. The word “slut” needs not a definition or qualification, but to be totally eradicated in the name of feminist progress.

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Sarah M
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