The Trance of Captivity: How Women Unknowingly Internalize & Perpetuate Misogyny

OK Ladies, listen up. 

In full transparency, I'm feeling frustrated so I'm sitting down to type it out so that I can access some freedom for myself around this topic.  I have this way of becoming so impatient when I see something at play that no one seems to be talking about, and in this case it's around the unconscious way women tend to treat themselves (horribly) and other women (not so great either). 

My frustrations come from what I'll call "the trance of captivity" and how this plays out for us as women who have been raised inside of the patriarchal culture, and don't even really know what that means or how it impacts us in the world, but before I launch in...

Can we agree that Elephants are pretty powerful creatures?

They are, right?
They weigh in at around 24,000 pounds, and can stand as high as about thirteen feet.

 Blog Post : The Trace Of Captivity How Women Unknowingly Internalize and Perpetuate Misogyny and Sexism.

Blog Post : The Trace Of Captivity How Women Unknowingly Internalize and Perpetuate Misogyny and Sexism.

Their trunks are agile enough to pick up a single blade of grass, and strong enough to rip branches from tree's or uproot one if so compelled. 

Despite their enormous power, elephants can be chained in captivity. But how is that possible?  What chain is strong enough to "captivate" an elephant? 

You have to start conditioning early, from babyhood. 

The baby elephant will struggle, but eventually it will realize that it can’t break the chain, so it learns not to struggle. It accepts that the limit imposed by the rope or chain is permanent, and that there is no use struggling against it.

There is an elephant inside each of us – as women, we posses enormous intelligence, capability and power. Just like the elephants in captivity, we don't realize our power to break the chains. 

How does this happen?

When women are born into Patriarchal society, from a very young age, they are conditioned to believe in the limitations and messages that get passed to them from society from a very young age (these are chains, by the way).

Girls and women, boys and men hear the sexist messages (lies and stereotypes) about women over their entire lifetimes. They hear that women are weak, emotional, passive, manipulative, with little capacity for intellectual pursuits or leadership. They are fed messages that compare their worth to impossible and insignificant ideals of weight, beauty, motherhood, professionals, and are told through thousands of tiny paper cuts, that they must fit inside a certain role or ideal to be acceptable or worthy as women (myth, bullshit, just NO).

Internalized sexism is defined as the involuntary belief by girls and women that the lies, stereotypes and myths about girls and women ARE TRUE.  Internalized misogyny is women themselves doubting, disliking, and disqualifying other women from their pursuits, or undermining their abilities because they are not aware of their own negative attitudes about women (themselves) or where they come from. 

There are two logical, predictable consequences of a lifetime of such messages 

  1. Boys / men will grow to believe many of the messages, and treat women accordingly. They will be thoroughly indoctrinated into their role in sexism, protecting their male privilege by colluding with the perpetuation of sexism.
  2. The same messages also stick to girls and women, resulting in internalized sexism / internalized misogyny. Women and girls are taught to act out the lies and stereotypes, doubting themselves and other females (AKA: horizontal hostility) This is the way women collude with the perpetuation of sexism and misogyny. 

An example of what internal misogyny looks like in a way most women might be able to relate: 

 Photo from Your Story is Your Power: Free your Feminine Voice by elle luna &susue herrick

Photo from Your Story is Your Power: Free your Feminine Voice by elle luna &susue herrick

For our sexist system to be maintained and passed on to the next generation, we all must believe the messages (lies and stereotypes) to some degree, and collude with it by performing our assigned roles.

Most human services or social change organizations or even progressive companies who are all about making a difference in this area recognize that their mission cannot be completely fulfilled until all forms of oppression (racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, anti-semitism...) are addressed, HOWEVER, many of these same organizations do not recognize the forms of internalized oppression that interfere with accomplishing their missions because so much of the behavior is ingrained and unconscious by the very women who "support" their mission. 

Women’s organizations, in particular, have to become aware and take conscious action to recognize, acknowledge and interrupt internalized misogyny and sexism as it affects individual women as well as the organization as a whole.

We all need to start ZOOMING OUT and looking at ourselves through the lens of the observer, paying careful attention to the "story within the story" of where we are as a society and how we got here. As women, we need to encourage other women to recognize and examine the harmful impact of a lifetime of sexist messages and how they have shaped their own self image, as well as their attitudes toward other women. 

The impact of exploring and revealing your own hidden attitudes about women,  is the first step in noticing the trance of captivity and breaking it (there is no chain holding you, you powerful, beautiful beast!).

As women, we are in the trance of believing that women (ourselves) are not enough and we continue to seek approval from others instead of offering it to ourselves.   The very first thing we need to do is affirm ourselves and each other as capable, deserving and equal. 

Only then can we challenge internalized sexism and misogyny in our own lives, the lives of our children, and in our pursuit of a fair and equal society for all human beings. 

Please hit "like" below and share this with your people if you feel so inclined, and as always, THANK YOU, for witnessing me, I'm so proud of every one of you who is up to the task of revealing more...