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Check for symptoms of internalised misogyny



The fight for equality is an external, social, economic and political battlefield. Sometimes the fight is in our own heads, and we can internalise some of that misogyny. In between tearing each other down, putting dinner on and exercising some self-loathing while we're at it, how can one find the time to identify all of the ways a person can internalise the patriarchy? To save you some time, here's a list of the types of women who maintain inequality.

Women with laptops looking at each other with anger and suspicion. Photo by Antonio Guillem via Getty

Ophelia the Woke: Ophelia considers herself a champion for women's rights. And she'll tell you that for her, feminism is a verb. She's read The Second Sex and The Beauty Myth. Germaine Greer is her idol. For her, every day is a chance to call for equal opportunity and sisterhood. But her belief in women's liberation and gender equality is selective. Transgender women, non-binary folk and sex workers are excluded from her resolve to create a better world for women. According to Ophelia, all women deserve equality, but some deserve it more than others. 

Kathy the Red Pill: Kathy's woken up and discovered that feminism is the real problem. Those pesky feminists assume that all women are victims living in the Big Bad World Of The Big Bad Patriarchy™. And Kathy's not weak! She will admit that there's some bad stuff that happens to women, but that doesn't dampen Kathy's resolve to fight for men's rights and create a better world for men. In her opinion, female genital mutilation is a very bad thing, domestic violence is terrible and workplace sexual harassment is pretty lousy, if you think about it. But female only gyms? Now that's genuinely problematic.

Amanda the Dude: Amanda has some reservations about people working together to dismantle toxic masculinity. What about toxic femininity? There's no backstabbing or bitching with men. I actually prefer to be friends with guys. Men are just less dramatic. Pete and Davo might not be bitches, per se, but that's probably because they weren't conditioned into using manipulation, cattiness and emotional violence to suppress their enemies. Even after watching Pete play video games and witnessing Davo's mourning periods after his footy team loses, Amanda considers her male friends less dramatic than her female ones.

Serena the Cat: Serena's got better things to do with her life than be concerned about sexual harassment in the public and/or the workplace. Stop being so sensitive. There's nothing wrong with some harmless flirting. It's called a compliment, you should learn to take one. Perhaps we could all take a leaf out of Serena's book and add nice arse, sweetheart and come over here, baby to the lexicon of acceptable behaviour.

Karen the Skeptic: In the face of great cultural change, there's always been the naysayers, and Karen is a case in point. We don't need all this PC #metoo crap. It's just a bunch of feminazis demanding special treatment. Karen's idea of society giving women 'special treatment' consists of women not getting sexually harassed in the film and television industry and traditionally male roles being played by female actors. Which is all, in fairness, a bit extreme. Our 'special treatment' should continue to be capped at getting free drinks from guys and Mother's Day cards.

Petunia the Anthropologist: Petunia's not a legitimate expert in human psychology, but she has three brothers, so she knows a thing or two about how men work. Her observations about why certain toxic male traits exist closely resemble tired excuses for shitty male behaviour. Guys can't control their instincts. Men can't help themselves. It's just what men do. Women, on the other hand, know better. It's because we mature earlier than guys do. We're not as impulsive, we've got a bit more self-control. Although Petunia has concluded that women are the less impulsive sex, she hasn't come to the conclusion that perhaps we should be the ones who rule the world.


"In lieu of respecting that her fellow women are allowed to find joy in vampires and boy bands, she'd rather ridicule them for being happy."


Rita the Ear: Women are sensitive creatures at the best of times. Sometimes they cry when they watch a sad movie, and sometimes they call you out on the horrible things you say. Fortunately for dudes who don't like hanging around high-maintenance women, you can let your guard down around Rita. She's not like those other girls who can't take a joke. You can tease her about her making you a sandwich, or explain your feelings about why women 'getting maternity leave' invalidates the existence of the gender pay gap. Rita doesn't get all hysterical or defensive when you tell it like it is, not like other women.

Kylie the Chosen One: Kylie would like you to know that she doesn't like romance novels or pink. She also despises skirts, dancing and other girly things that Only Idiots Would Like. Her life is a constant effort to distinguish herself from the rest of her species. When One Direction, Justin Bieber and Twilight were cultural phenomena, she was the first person to denounce Such Absolute Rubbish. I'm definitely not into that crap! I'm not like other girls. Girls who like Justin Bieber are complete idiots, get some real taste in music! In lieu of respecting that her fellow women are allowed to find joy in vampires and boy bands, she'd rather ridicule them for being happy.

Jolene the Paragon: Jolene tends to echo a lot of conservative opinions she's heard rather than say anything a bit more creative or do a bit of soul-searching. With her non-confrontational personality and conventional attractiveness, the men in her life hold Jolene up as an example of what women 'really want'. See? Jolene doesn't think that she's being sexually harassed when she gets a compliment. Jolene's a woman and doesn't feel like we need more female voices in politics. You feminists can't really say that you're speaking for all women, can you?

Stella the Practical: Stella's coming to terms with some of the lefty lingo that floats around on the internet. While she might understand things like 'internalised misogyny' and 'MRA,' she can tell you straight off the bat that there's no such thing as 'rape culture'. Not that she doesn't think predatory male exists. In fact, Stella has some handy advice if you wish to fend off unsolicited creeps. Just say 'no'*Stop complaining and playing the victim.

*Side effects of rejecting a man's advances may include death threats, violence, actual death, death of loved ones, online abuse, stalking, poisoning, being burnt, et cetera. If you experience any additional symptoms, have you just considered saying yes or pretending you already have a boyfriend?



Vivienne CowburnVivienne Coburn is an eclectic writer and ardent coffee snob from Brisbane. Her work has been featured in Junkee, Ibis House, PASTEL Magazine and on her mum's fridge. She is also the host of 'Spookzzz' on 4ZZZ (102.1 FM). You can follow her on Twitter @pearandivy

Main image by Antonio Guillem via Getty

Topic tags: Vivienne Cowburn, feminism



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My daughter must be an "Amanda the Dude". An honours Social Science graduate, she had a stellar career, eventually becoming the European, African and Asian manager of one of NYBC's (No 1, Wall Street) enterprises. She was a vice president of NYBC at age 31, retired at 32 to have her children, hasn't worked since despite attempts from head hunters, and does volunteer work with a disabled charity organisation to keep her mind working. She says the only toxicity she encountered on the way to the glass ceiling which she shattered at age 26 came in spades from other women and that she never encountered the same from the men. She is also a feminine feminist who once received 0 out of 20 for an essay in which she argued that sometimes women invited the criticisms they attributed to discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere. She believed the mark confirmed her thesis and brought her great amusement. I suspect she would enjoy this article but would probably say that it would never see the light of day if it had been written by a male. From my viewpoint, I enjoyed the article immensely for its entertainment value and wry humour - I presume it is not intended to be serious - hopefully?

Failed Parent? | 25 July 2019  

One of my feminist role models is the novelist Muriel Spark who has made such outlandish statements as "If I were not a Christian I would worship the Cat". And what is more states that Heathcliff is her favourite villain (mine too). Written in 1951, though, is my favourite essay by Spark, "Passionate Humbugs" in which she debunks the Victorians (not the State, however, but the large number of people devoted to Queen Victoria). I wonder which category a Muriel devotee belongs in. Perhaps Perpetua the Outdated.

Pam | 25 July 2019  

The essay is amusing as well as devastatingly accurate. (A shame that Eureka Street stuffed up the author's name!) BTW, Pam, I wouldn't regard Spark as a feminist. In may ways, she was a clever but reactionary writer and a self-confessed antimodernist, ridiculing Jean Brodie for making her pupils aware of the Spanish Civil War in ways that caused some to join the wrong side. And then there's her conversion to a premodern antediluvian Catholicism to also account for.

Michael Furtado | 27 July 2019  

What about Veronica the Chooser? She’s all for women’s right to choose, especially to choose life or death for her foetus, which is part of her body and therefore her property. But Veronica only supports one choice for other women. If a woman has reason to consider termination of her pregnancy, but chooses not to do it, Veronica will condemn her as a mindless victim of the patriarchy and deny her own agency or ability to choose wisely. Another type that divides women and helps to maintain the patriarchy, as Vivienne rightly observes.

Joan Seymour | 27 July 2019  

Thanks for your feedback, Michael. Although not in the modern definition of feminism, I think Muriel Spark was, for her time, definitely not one to pander to patriarchy. I would recommend you read her book "The Abbess of Crewe". Apart from immense enjoyment you may experience a very modern take on religious life.

Pam | 29 July 2019  

A brilliant eccentric, Spark based 'The Abbess of Crewe' on The Watergate Tapes scandal, Pam (see Wiki on this). While I recall enjoying many a chortle at the time about the personas in her novella, I also remember wanting the religious surrounding me at the time to be as clever, intriguing and ruthless as Spark's. Perhaps they were...and I was blind. I shall have to read her again with eyes renewed. Thanks for the reference.

Michael Furtado | 29 July 2019  

I suppose too, Pam, that its a timely lesson from ES's mellow moderation for me to heed that unqualified virtue is hardly the prerogative of one side in various fiery ES exchanges on social justice, theological and synodal matters. In this regard I should add that my introduction to Spark came from Bill Pitt of Keble, at the time newly emergent from the Inglese, who offered her work as an eloquent but devastating example of the doublespeak that had banished him from the College. In later life this former paragon of justice & truth became the mastermind behind Thatcher's ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) scheme and was awarded a title by her for it. I myself reflect that I once had to reluctantly alert the police about a troublesome neighbour, who in the end had to be evicted. Spark herself endured many vicissitudes in her life, including the estrangement of her only child. P'raps there's a Muriel Spark under wraps in all of us.

Michael Furtado | 30 July 2019  

I wonder how misogynistic this actual thread is? While I agree that these traits are undesirable, they tend to put the focus on how ridiculous these women are... I mean come on! I feel like everyone has traits that are internally misogynistic. I would find it more helpful if you listed these traits and tendencies and perhaps origins/cool ways of combatting them/deconstructed it a bit more. As things stand this is hate mail to female stereotypes.

CHARLIE | 30 September 2019  

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