By: Megan Graves, Columnist
When we think of sexism, we tend to imagine the oppression of women by men. We think of misogyny, the hatred of women, and, let’s be honest, we probably imagine it being perpetuated by a man.
This happens because in regards to sexism, the oppression of women by men is considered the “norm.” In other words, it’s so prominent that it doesn’t shock us when we see it. We’re used to it.
This disturbing phenomenon makes it easy for other types of sexism to go unnoticed. If we as a society come to associate sexism as being an act against women by men, we won’t recognize any other form of sexism as easily. If we think sexism is defined this narrowly, then we will also think that any act by or against anyone else can’t be sexist.
There are many problems with this way of thinking. First of all, it further normalizes misogyny. The more “common” we see it as, the less we care about it. We need to care about it. We need to be shocked and appalled every time we see sexism perpetuated by a man toward a woman.
But we also need to recognize that sexism isn’t quite that black and white, which leads us to problem number two: sexism comes in all shapes and sizes, and none of them are okay.
One of those shapes is pretty surprising, at least when you step back and think about it. Plot twist: women can be some of the biggest perpetuators of misogyny. I know, it makes no sense.
Why would women perpetuate an ideology that literally involves hating women? Well, for the most part, they’re not doing it on purpose. Internalized misogyny is an involuntary belief by women that the stereotypes and lies they hear about women in society are true. One of the biggest examples of internalized misogyny is slut shaming.
Have you ever been talking to your friend, or overheard a conversation between women, and everything’s nice and fun until a certain woman’s name comes up? You know, that girl that hooked up with two dudes in one night last weekend? You mention her to your friend and without skipping a beat, your friend blurts out, “oh my god, she’s such a slut.”
This happens because everyone in society is taught that women should not be sexually active, and that women who have sex before marriage are “tainted.” Women are supposed to be virgins, or at least keep their body count low, and if they aren’t/don’t, they must not be good people and they deserve to be shamed.
On the other hand, men are expected to screw everything that moves before they even turn twenty. So, as you can see, it’s not the best system.
When a woman shames another woman for having sex, she is perpetuating misogyny. The thing is that most people, in general, think sex is pretty cool. Some people don’t, and that’s cool too. But we shouldn’t be shaming half of the population for doing something that people, collectively, think is better than pizza.
So stop shaming that woman for being sexually active. It doesn’t make her less of a woman, and it certainly doesn’t make her a bad person.
It’s important to be aware of internalized misogyny. Once we are aware of our own problematic ideas and why we have them, we can begin to overcome them within ourselves and eventually within our society. How can we fight an entire system when we’re spending so much time fighting each other? The answer: we can’t.