Say it aloud, and it sounds like a bunch of alien syllables strung together to sound even more alien. Yet, it’s a concept that’s ingrained far deeper and surer than most traditions in society: we hate women. Why? Simply because they happen to be women and that implies a number of unquestioned things about them: their successes are undeserved, their problems exaggerated, their opinions irrelevant and their voices whiny. Yet if you look beyond the need to put other women down in order to bring yourself up, you’d realise that internalised misogyny is a tumour born from the ‘baap’ of all social plagues: the unrelenting patriarchy that casually lets you know that a constant effort to stray from stereotypically “feminine” behaviour alone will validate your efforts.
Patriarchal expectations notwithstanding, it’s exhausting running away from the stereotype. Rebellion against the stereotype can be just as variedly passive and aggressive as the patriarchy that spawned it. It can start off as simple as coming to the realisation that a lifelong aversion to the colour pink is not so much about its aesthetic merit or a lack thereof, but because it’s “girly” and therein lay the cause for widespread aversion. Admitting to a girly trait or interest means admitting a flaw, but why?
Strangely, at some point in our efforts to establish more “masculine” traits, like unparalleled stoicism, single-minded devotion to our academic careers, an appreciation (fake though it may be) of sports, a borderline infuriating chillness to help us stand out amongst our “whiny” female counterparts, internalised misogyny began to lose its clout and suddenly pink wasn’t just meant for Wednesdays.
In an era where we’re trying to encourage boys to cry, to fight the sutta to internalised-misogyny’s chai- toxic masculinity, internalised misogyny’s easier to point out in ourselves and others. In this same vein, it’s become easier to fight it too. Instead of invalidating your own expertise and achievements, take risks that a Y-chromosome would empower you to take: ask for a promotion that’s not already centuries deserved, venture a guess to a teacher’s question that you aren’t completely sure of, stop dismissing other women trying to shake off the dust of internalised misogyny as “annoying”, deliver an acerbic retort to any errant mansplainer or out-dated misogynist in your midst.
Let your X-chromosome take you places that were previously ‘Y-chromosome-allowed-only’.
Written by- Mihika Antonia Dean
Artwork by- Ritika D