Smash the patriarchy

Patriarchy is not merely things men do to diminish women. It is more complex. If we are serious about dismantling the present culture we need to look at the ways in which we as women have internalized the thinking and the narrative of this self-legitimate oppressive system. And subsequently change that. Women having internalized the sexism are subconsciously perpetuating it. And this is pretty much all of us. After all, we have been exposed to lies, stereotypes and myths about women our entire lives.

Let me tell you a story:
I have a male dentist. The other day when I came to have my tooth filling changed they told me he is sick, and another female doctor will take care of me today. Enter the room: not just female, but a very good-looking, young, Italian female doctor. I immediately caught myself questioning her competence and technical skills to fix my tooth. Boom – there it is: internalized sexism. Needless to say she did a great job and was as skilled, professional and efficient as any male doctor.

Another thing happened on my flight back from India. When I heard that they the main pilot was a woman I worried about my safety for a moment. Embarrassing for someone who calls herself a feminist, isn’t it?
Can you imagine how many of such deceiving beliefs are ingrained in us without even realizing it? Even within us who are involved in all things sisterhood and support of women.

Internalized Sexism or internalized patriarchy is a real thing my friends. It is the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about girls and women are true. We have been hearing our entire lives that women are weak, passive, manipulative or not good at maths. We judge women in leadership roles as cutthroat, driven, bossy and bitchy, or too pretty. By saying you’re feminist you’re often labeled as a man-hater. How many times have we heard women are their own worst enemies?

Listen up ladies, doubting and mistrusting other females - also called “horizontal hostility” means doubting ourselves. This is the way women collude with the perpetuation of sexism.
There is not much talk about this phenomenon. Mostly we blame it on men. I’ve been working in the field of woman empowerment for years now and I am continuously trying to up my game in this field. I have been trained and have been working hard to reprogram my own sexist thoughts. And as you can see, still to this day the patriarchal conditioning comes up. Luckily, I am aware of this now and open to look at my limited beliefs.

There is no quick fix, easy solution to internalized sexism. We have been conditioned by a patriarchal society our entire lives. In order to deprogram our own misogynist thoughts the first step is to become aware of them.

This article is an invitation to start recognizing and examining the harmful impact of the sexist messages on our self-image as well as attitudes toward other women. Confronting unconscious sexism is key to eradicating a sexist society - as Gloria Steinem says: you could not subordinate half the human race unless a lot of that was internalized. 

Below you'll find a brilliant list of questions to ask yourself to help you identify your own internalized sexism. Just by reading it you will become more aware of this rampant problem and start changing the status quo by changing your own patterns.

Here’s an “inventory” of some of the potential and logical consequences of internalized sexism, as seen in our attitudes and behaviors.

It is taken from the website of Cultural Bridges to Justice. where you will find the full list of questions.

1) Do I give more credibility to men’s respect, approval, praise or criticism than women’s?

2) Do I trust women? How often do I mistrust another woman’s intentions?

3) Have I protected men from accusations of sexist behavior? or minimized the seriousness of their behavior?

4) When I dress, how much do I seek men’s approval for what I’m wearing?

5) When selecting providers of critical services for myself or a loved one (eg. surgeon, legal counsel, pilot, police etc.) do I feel more confident of men’s or women’s skills?

6) How much time and energy do I spend reviewing what I said or worry that I said the wrong thing, at the last meeting, or at the party. How often do I feel I said or did something stupid or wrong?

7) Do I ever feel like a “fake;” feel incompetent even though I have more training and/or experience than most of the men in my area?

8) Do I ever censor my own opinion and or passion when in conversation / discussion / argument with men? 8) Do I ever get embarrassed by other women?

9) Do I ever try to silence other women?

10) How often do I reinforce gender stereotypes in the children in my life? Do I buy toys for the children in my life that conform to “traditional” gender roles? Do I encourage, so called, “feminine” behavior or clothing; or try to tone down “tomboy” behavior?