Updated: Jan 30
Yup. It’s true—we’re gonna talk about the BIG ONE. A topic that's not easy for men or women to discuss. Why is that?? Because each of us participates, that’s why! INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY is our next topic. And it may take a couple of blogs to include everything that needs to be discussed—my apologies if I leave out some aspect that you might think is important. (I’m sure you’ll let me know if that’s the case.)
Misogyny. One reference defines misogyny as the hatred of, or prejudice against the female gender. Etymologically speaking, “the word combines the Greek root for ‘woman’ with the prefix ‘miso’ meaning hatred.” (Merriam-Webster’sonline dictionary) Dictionary.com adds the word mistrust plus a second meaning—ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against women. That reference also states that misogyny is “manifested in physical intimidation and abuse, sexual harassment and rape, social shunning and ostracism, etc.” WHOA. Is that inferring that a woman (or group of women/girls) is practicing misogyny when they shun another female for whatever silly reason (her looks, brains, boyfriend, etc)? You bet it is—and it’s called internalized misogyny. (Also known as “the dark side of female rivalry” or simply “mean girls”). Yes, you and I are complicit.
Cornell philosopher Kate Manne, in her book Down Girl, defines misogyny as controlling or punishing women that challenge male dominance (the patriarchy). Her definition goes along with Dictionary.com’s statement of how misogyny is manifested. She goes on to state that misogyny is the social system or environment where women/girls face hatred and hostility because they’re going against the system—“it’s a man’s world” (blah, blah, blah). You would have thought we’d have outgrown all this by now, but there it is. Sadly, we’re still facing the problem in the 21stcentury. Kate Manne states “sexism is the ideology that supports patriarchal social relations, but misogyny enforces it when there’s a threat of that system going away.”
Okay. Now that we have it defined let’s talk more about you and me and how we play this game. When we think of a misogynist, most of us have brains that immediately travel to that incompetent, peroxided male (poor excuse of a man) that was U.S. President from 2016-2020. (Thank god that’s over.) As long as women were “kissing up” to him, they didn’t get fired. They played the game of “supporting” the male who was in charge. Once again, women were in the subservient role to a man. Traditionally, that’s how the game was played—and still is in many countries and communities around the world. (That’s scary.)
Misogynists believe they are on the moral high ground and thus owed loyalty and service in spades. Let’s think for a minute about that last statement—misogynists think they are morally superior to women (or a woman). Women are “less than”. Quite a few religions pop into my head when I ponder that thought—and those are religions practiced right here in the U.S. of A. (Yup, four come to mind.) In our country, there are unconscious biases and cultural norms that sustain misogyny. Why do you think the #MeToo movement spread like wildfire? AND not just in the U.S. Women around the world came forward, calling out men’s bad (and sometimes horrific) behavior. (The disgraced and imprisoned Harvey Weinstein is facing more charges in California right now.) There are still men out there that think women are stealing privileges and opportunities, challenging male dominance. And they don’t like it.
How do we change this? It’s so embedded in our society that it seems almost impossible. But men need to accept (and boys need to be taught) that men in positions of power can be surpassed by women without having been wronged by them. And women (and girls) must not internalize patriarchal values—giving and giving and giving until there’s nothing left. We were not born to be servants of men, literally. And we were not born to be less than, no matter what some people think the Bible says. (After all, Lilith is a Goddess, right? She certainly didn't put up with Adam and his patriarchal ways for long.)
Let’s discuss how women and girls internalize misogyny. When it comes to competition between our “sisterhood”, females can be catty and mean-as-shit. I think it’s probably human nature for women to compete amongst themselves for a male’s attention, after all, that’s how the animal world works. Females fight amongst themselves for the right to mate. (We’ve all read Snow White and Cinderella—it’s no wonder little girls compete to be the prettiest.) But let’s take this a little further. What do we (females) do in the name of competition (whether it be for a man or in a sport, or other activity)? Hostile competition grows from wanting another person to fail. Often those feelings are hidden behind aggression, insecurity, and fear. And this is how women/girls act out—
We adopt a “Winner takes All” mentality
We de-value other women to make ourselves look better
We use jealousy as a strategic weapon
We shun women/girls who are a threat
We do things to impress others instead of working on our own self-worth
Instead of the above, let’s focus on our own messy feelings.
Learn how to be your own inspiration
Gain confidence in yourself so you are less vulnerable to being threatened by another woman’s success
Keep focused on your challenges. Learn how to embrace and overcome them
Support your peers. Be a cheerleader for others, compassionate and uplifting toward them
Ladies—are you what’s called “a guys’ girl?” Are you easily accepted by the guys and allowed to hang with them while they (and you) "talk down" other females? Or maybe, instead of openly hating women/girls, you tell others how much you pity their efforts to conform with today’s standard of beauty, calling them “too girlie” for your taste. Or have we wanted attention so badly, we pity the female getting it because she’s showing a lot of skin (that one hits home with me). Women/girls are compelled to step up their game by any means necessary when genetics is involved. Why do you think Scottsdale, Arizona is known for its silicone women? And then, of course, there’s Hollywood. Have you ever wondered why large breasts and facial augmentation aren’t a thing in Great Britain? Hmmm. (I do wish there was more availability to dentists across the pond—but there I go being shallow again.)
A lot of internalized misogyny by women is covert. But let me tell ya, it hurts all the same. I have been on the receiving end of jealousy, shunning, and shaming my whole life. It never ends, only the women (and men) saying cruel things about me changes. If I had only done half as many things I’ve been accused of I’d certainly have more fun!
I had a counselor once tell me, “When you’re out in front of the crowd, there’s always someone nipping at your heels.” And it’s true. Recognize the dark side of females—jealousy, envy, and competition—we each want to be crowned Winner. These feelings can become toxic. Female rivalry is often increased by a workplace that doesn’t offer equal pay or equal opportunity for a position of leadership—and so women compete with each other for the big office. And then there's "male worship", sucking up to the boss. (Talk about toxic competitiveness.)
Author Susan Shapiro Barash urges us (women and girls) to take a reality check. ADMIT there is a problem. We become envious when our friend gets pregnant and we can’t, or our friend’s child gets into Harvard and ours goes hiking around southeast Asia. If you find yourself becoming envious, harboring jealousy that you keep secret, stop going on and on about it. Try these steps:
Look at your own life and recognize what you are unhappy with.
Stop comparing yourself to others and get busy making whatever changes you need to make for happiness
Consider detaching a little as you focus on yourself
Find a mentor/cheerleader. Someone who believes in you and encourages your growth. (Take advantage of your counselor's wise advice)
Build your confidence
Control what you can when you can
Become a Role Model, mentor other women by encouraging their growth, being their cheerleader.
To look at another woman with inspiration rather than the green eyes of envy.
To love another woman as a sister, rather than seeing them as the enemy.
To remember we each hold love so vast and powerful it could heal the World,
To realize within our femininity is a strength that can move mountains,
That can either heal or crush another’s soul,
To take our responsibility as the wardens of Mother Earth as a privilege, rather than a burden.
To embrace and engage with the unspoken within and without.
To heal our wounds consciously for ourselves, our ancestors, future generations, and one another.
To allow the feelings to flow through,
To be acknowledged and let go.
To speak from the heart,
To accept our vulnerabilities as strengths,
Sister, I see you as you speak your truth,
Sister, I honor you as you claim who you are,
Sister, I hold you as you rise to who you are destined to be.
Author: Clare Deale
And so, my friends, there is certainly more to say about this topic, but I want to close for today. Be well and stay safe out there.
Love and light-
GUTSY WOMAN: Wilma Pearl Mankiller
“I've run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.”
Native American and activist Wilma Mankiller changed the world by becoming the first woman elected as Chief of the American Cherokee. She drew on her education in social work to revolutionize and reorganize the largest Indian-run health care system in the United States. Wilma also doubled the annual tribal revenue as well as tripled tribal enrollment. The Cherokee Nation, under her visionary leadership, became what her ancestors had set out to achieve—a modern world. Her improvements in tribal government, education, and utility management are renowned. Wilma is also the first woman to be elected as chief of a major Native American tribe.
Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Wilma Pearl Mankiller (1945-2010) was the sixth child out of eleven. Her father, Charley Mankiller, was a full-blooded Cherokee whose ancestors were forced to relocate to Oklahoma’s Indian Territory from Tennessee walking the infamous Trail of Tears in the 1830s. Her mother, Clara Irene, descended from Scots-Irish and English immigrants who had settled in Virginia in the 1700s. The surname Mankiller (Asgaya-die) refers to a traditional Cherokee military rank—similar to captain or major.
At age eleven, Wilma moved with her family to the San Francisco area as part of a Bureau of Indian Affairs’ relocation policy—sounds better than what her ancestors were forced to endure. This policy aimed to move Native Americans off federally subsidized lands into American cities where jobs were plentiful. (Wilma’s father later called it “my little Trail of Tears.”)
By age 24, Wilma began developing her social activism when a group of Native Americans took over Alcatraz Island—laying claim to it by “right of discovery.” They did so to expose the suffering of Native Americans. Wilma recognized what needed to be done “to let the rest of the world know that Indians had rights, too.” Inspired by both the Alcatraz situation and the women’s movement, she began working to empower the Native tribes in California. She firmly believed that restoring pride in the Native Heritage would slow the downward spiral of young Natives growing up on city streets.
After her father died in 1971, Wilma returned to college. Transferring to San Francisco State University, she focused on classes in social welfare. Over the next five years, she helped the Pit River Tribe in their campaign against Pacific Gas and Electric Company for lands illegally claimed during the California Gold Rush. In 1974, she moved with her two daughters to Oakland to take a position with the Urban Indian Resource Center as a social worker. Wilma focused her research on child neglect, abuse, foster care, and adoption. She worked with staff and attorneys to make it illegal for Native children to be adopted out of their culture. The federal law is called Indian Child Welfare Act, and it was passed in 1978.
After returning to Oklahoma, Wilma completed her Bachelor of Science degree in social sciences with an emphasis on Indian Affairs. While continuing to work in tribal offices, she took graduate courses in community development from the University of Arkansas. Her work focused on Indian child welfare protocols, home health care, language services, developed a youth shelter and senior citizens program.
Upon developing and raising funds for a clean water project in Bell, Oklahoma, Wilma began receiving recognition. She ran for deputy Chief in 1983. Despite widespread sexism, including death threats, she won! Wilma ran two more winning campaigns giving her a decade as the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief.
Well known for her accomplishments helping her Native tribe, Wilma earned national recognition in the 1980s and ‘90s. She was continually working hard until illness overtook her. Gloria Steinman once said, “In a just country, she would have been elected president.” Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Wilma died at age 64 with Ms. Steinman at her side. “Ancient traditions call for setting signal fires to light the way home for a great one; fires were lit in 23 countries after Wilma's death. The millions she touched will continue her work, but I will miss her every day of my life.” (Gloria Steinman) Wow.
Did you know?
1.) In 2021 it was announced that Mankiller, along with Maya Angelou, Sally Ride, Adelina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong, were selected to have their likeness appear on the quarter-dollar coin as a part of the United States Mint's "American Women Quarters" Program.
2.) In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Wilma Mankiller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
3.) Wilma published her autobiography Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, in 1993
Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists (September 5, 2001)
Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women sparked the revolutionary vision of early feminists by providing a model of freedom at a time when American women experienced few rights. Women of the Six Nations Confederacy possessed decisive political power, control of their bodies, control of their property, custody of their children, the power to initiate divorce, satisfying work, and society generally free of rape and domestic violence. Historian Sally Roesch Wagner recounts the struggle for freedom and equality waged by early American women documenting how Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Matilda Joslyn Gage were influenced by their Indigenous women neighbors.
CRAZY BRAVE: A MEMOIR
by Joy Harjo (Author) Three-term poet laureate Joy Harjo is the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate. Her book, CRAZY BRAVE, is grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music, and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to become a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and a connection with the natural world. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a haunting, visionary memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice