The Inheritance of Misogyny from Generations of Women
You would think it would be over by now. That, even if not indeed abolished, we would be close to achieving true gender equality. But the truth is, we are not. And you would not expect it to manifest from anyone important to you – your mother, father, grandmother, aunt, or uncle.
It can be heard in how they use “girls” and “women” in their sentences. It is seen in how they refer to certain household chores like cooking and cleaning as something for “girls” and how they do not encourage the men in the family to do these things. How they blame the female members for a faulty cleaning job that the men did because “they are not supposed to do women’s chores.” How they are afraid that a son would turn gay by doing these “girly” activities. How they set their daughters up to a higher standard than the boys. Girls should be clean. Girls should be neat. It somehow feels more disgusting and shameful if a girl is not these things than if a boy is not. Because boys will be boys. And girls should be more mature, respectful, and docile. Girls should keep their heads down when men whistle at them through their cars. Girls should smile when men make jokes at their gender’s expense.
It is shocking and cuts deep that someone with so much significance in your life would repeat these archaic stereotypes that were thought to be dead and buried. Wondering about when this behavior started has led you to notice how far these thoughts go. Not being neat or clean has become a source of deep shame and self-loathing. Speaking your mind is avoided, afraid of the fighting it could turn into. Even if it is unjust, even if it is distasteful, even if sexism is blatantly happening to you or in front of your eyes, smile, nod along, and keep your mouth shut. Constantly second-guessing yourself is the norm.
But, if there is a silver lining in these gray clouds, it would be the fact that these harmful behaviors can be pointed out. In this age of information where various women have told their experiences online, girls can now notice these signs and protect themselves because these thoughts are not valid. That they should not listen. It does not make it hurt any less, but it will serve not to let more of these misogynistic thoughts get passed on.
And it hurts. But getting angry at the people who do this would not solve anything. They grew up with these thoughts and were raised with these thoughts. These people probably do not even realize how hurtful or wrong the things they say are. What can be done is prevent these internalized misogynistic habits from passing on to the next generation. To make it end here. To help those in the same situation realize that they can speak their mind. That young girls do not have to take all these jeers and taunts quietly. That women do not deserve to be treated this way.
Noticing the misogynistic behavior in ourselves and around us is a step in the right direction toward unlearning these thought patterns. It will be an uphill battle, but in this age of information, it is easier to connect with other women and see how they overcame their experiences. Let us teach ourselves that we are human; we are women, and there is nothing wrong with that.