Fangirls, a couple weeks ago I was working, and a woman came up looking for assistance bringing a stroller up front to purchase. One of my managers (a female), said that she would be happy to grab it for the woman, if she wouldn’t mind walking back with her to show her which one. The guest’s response was, “Isn’t there a man who could do it?” Then spent the entire walk back to the stroller saying how unsafe it was for women to be working alone, without a man to help us, and repeatedly doubting my manager’s ability to carry a stroller. Her reaction to having a woman help her, is called internalized sexism.
A lot of us have dealt with internalized sexism. It is defined as
…the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about girls and women that are delivered to everyone in a sexist society ARE TRUE. Girls and women, boys and men hear the sexist messages (lies and stereotypes) about women over their entire lifetimes. They hear that women are stupid, weak, passive, manipulative, with no capacity for intellectual pursuits or leadership (Cultural Bridges to Justice).
Basically, internalized sexism is when women of all ages agree that women “belong in the kitchen,” and can’t do anything. That the gender roles are correct. This is a problem because gender roles are just a stereotype, and not for everyone. While some women may in fact feel more comfortable in the housewife stereotype, others are running for president. Women who feel that they fit into gender roles aren’t necessarily internally sexist, but the ones who feel that all women belong in the gender roles, by definition, are.
This is an issue. Not only is it bad because it helps external sexism along, but it can also make the women who believe in themselves feel very poorly. Imagine your mother repeatedly told you that you should’t pursue the career you want because you should instead find a husband to cook and clean for. That would be extremely upsetting (if you didn’t want to be a housewife; if that’s what you want to do, go for it!), and could harm your relationship with your mother, and possibly any and all future relationships. External sexism is a problem as well, because it turns everything into a boy’s club, that women who are working hard can never get into.
Obviously, any sexism is bad. Men who think that they have to “bring home the bacon,” and women who think that their sole purpose in life is to cook that bacon, are both internally sexist. But how do we change that? Well ladies, it’s up to us. If you have children, encourage all of their dreams. Any child can be anything she or he wants to be. Don’t yell at women who prefer to be stay home moms; maybe that’s what they love to do. But encourage dreams and goals, and help children achieve them. The future is bright.
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