Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Going Against Your Own Interests

Internalized misogyny is a phrase that has been thrown around in recent feminist dialogue.  The idea is that women have become accustomed to sexism and have now taken on sexist actions and attitudes towards themselves.  This is all I could think of in the days after the election and when reading Phyllis Schafly's argument against the ERA.  Phyllis Schafly cites reasons such as "the family gives a woman the physical, financial and emotional security of the home—for all her life." and "the honor and respect paid to Mary, the Mother of Christ, resulted in all women, in effect, being put on a pedestal. " as reasons why women should be and are content in their current position.  But Schafly fails to recognize that other women aspire for more for themselves.  They feel limited by the roles that have already prescribed to them.  As Gloria Steinem so aptly points out "Women suffer this second class treatment from the moment they are born. They are expected to be, rather than achieve, to function biologically rather than learn," a recognition that Schafly's argument is one of "internalized aggression"-- internalized misogyny by another name. 

I take this same attitude towards women who voted for Trump.  Many, including myself, assumed that the leaked Access Hollywood Tape, numerous women coming forward claiming sexual assault, and other misogynistic comments and acts made by Trump would give Hillary the women vote fair and square. Many were affected by his comments but not enough for the women vote to flock to her.  But on the flip side many white women who voted for Trump cited the indiscretions of former President Bill Clinton as reasons that show Hillary does not respect women.  These facts are startling and to me show that feminism has a long way to go.  It shows that many women in this country still view misogynistic comments as a par for the course, not deal breakers.  It says to me that many women think so lowly of themselves that they don’t think they are worthy of the presidency.  Much like white men they too believe that their place is in the kitchen, the place that Hillary had rejected to pursue her career.  Throughout this election when Trump’s misogyny was pointed out, people were quick to retort with Bill’s indiscretions.  But the reality is that Bill Clinton was not on the ballot, and Hillary should not have to answer to those who felt that she was to blame for his actions.  She is not her husband’s keeper.  The fact of the matter is that both males and shockingly females were not ready to see a woman elected to the highest office in the land.  

Although motherhood is a crucially important role, it doesn't mean that women should only aspire to be mothers and nothing else or should they alone bear the burden of raising children.  Society has a long way to go when it comes to dismantling patriarchal gender norms and allowing women the freedom to do "whatever the fuck they want". 

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