I’m A Radical Feminist, But I Also Experience Internalized Misogyny

Internalized misogyny is not always aimed at other women — it can be aimed at yourself, too.

Radical feminist, female cottonbro studio | Unsplash

Internalized misogyny usually manifests in trashing other women, but in my experience, it can be trashing yourself, too.

I felt guilty about pursuing traditionally feminine hobbies despite really loving them in a vacuum; thinking about what these activities say about me as a person brings about immense guilt. I loved sewing, writing, and human-centered work, yet I hated that I loved them.

I tried to push myself into traditionally masculine pursuits despite really hating it. Being surrounded by disempowered women and, in contrast, looking up to empowered men made me want to take some of that power for myself.


I took up commitments and lifestyle choices that made me feel like I was putting on another person’s skin: I didn't wear makeup out of guilt despite loving it. I avoided wearing skirts out of shame. I majored in something that I thought would make people around me respect me. I even befriended Sigma males who didn't see value in my genuine interests.

For a long time in my life, I was constantly miserable because I thought you only did something right if you suffered. But now I realize that pointless suffering doesn’t necessarily have a meaning: it can just be pointless.

A friend told me, rather scathingly: “Try as hard as you can to be a man, and you’ll only look ridiculous, like a dog barking on all fours. You are not a dog. Get off your knees and stand up.”


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Due to internalized misogyny, I associated masculinity with value. I wanted respect, growing up in a patriarchal society devoid of it for women. And the only model I had for achieving that goal was to ascend above my permanently “inferior” social role.

The most common advice for overcoming internalized misogyny is to educate yourself. I have read Andrea Dworkin, Simone de Beauvoir, Catherine MacKinnon, Germaine Greer, and almost any other feminist perspective I could understand. Yet intellectual awareness does not provide a solution for deep, ingrained, and unfulfilled emotional needs.


I was raised entirely by my mother, who had to act as a substitute father figure on behalf of my absent father. My mother had to act like a man, perhaps due to a survival mechanism. We grew up in a conservative region of an already very conservative country, leading to an extremely patriarchal environment. Her parents cut her hair short as a child because they wanted a son and got her instead.

Growing up, she often scolded me for crying, having learned through experience that displays of emotions made one look weak and susceptible to being abused. She taught me to be “strong” to protect ourselves from external harm. And to be strong, you must be emotionally distant and dedicate your life purely to practical, money-making pursuits. You have to rule by fear instead of love.

I’m a Radical Feminist, But I Also Experience Internalized Misogyny KieferPix / Shutterstock


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I felt a constant opposition between my atelic pursuits (activities that make me happy at the moment) and telic goals (the end outcome I aspire to reach) — engaging in traditionally feminine pursuits and roles makes me happy. Yet, my end goal is to achieve the respect “alpha” males get from society, which, being antithetical to my personality traits, brings about shame due to its seeming impossibility.

If living according to how others around us act is conformism, then living according to how you are expected to act is totalitarianism. We live in a society of self-imposed totalitarianism, where we actively embrace often self-defeating impositions to chase some semblance of social acceptance and validation.

Not until we build a society where we do not measure people up based on superficial values such as industriousness and machoism are we going to end up with well-meaning people who inadvertently end up self-flagellating due to an inability to fit in within the dominant value system.


While internalized misogyny can look like shaming other women for things we would not criticize men for, it can also look like internalizing the male gaze and making disparaging remarks about one’s own body.

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Internalized misogyny can look like bringing other women down in a competitive professional setting and vying for the attention of men. But it can also manifest as making self-deprecating remarks based on gender stereotypes.


Internalized misogyny can look like justifying abuse of other women (“No wonder that happened to her — look at the way she is dressed!”), but it can also look like justifying mistreatment towards yourself (“It was my fault he groped me.”)

Internalized misogyny doesn’t always have to be aimed at other women. You are a woman, too.

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Celine Hosea is a neurodivergent UI/UX designer, essayist, biotech major, amateur sewist, and a staunch feminist. She's had articles featured in Salty, Fashion Journal, Indonesian Film Festival, and more.