“I’m Not Like Other Women”: Internalized Sexism among Women

"I'm not like other women," the phrase that we'd often hear, which was a pretense to show men that we are not the stereotypical woman that men had created.

Patriarchy, Misogyny, and Sexism

Patriarchy is a term used to describe a set of political, social, and economic interactions and institutions that are founded on socially established gender imbalance between men and women. Men frequently dominate both political and economic life, and "femininity" attributes are frequently undervalued. Misogyny, on the other hand, is a form of hatred towards women that manifests itself in the objectification of women and the belief that women's only duty in society is to assist men. The view that one gender is physically and mentally inferior to the other is known as sexism. These three elements were important in knowing why women experience internalized sexism towards other women and themselves.

Sexism is the systematic unequal treatment of women by men and by society. Internalized sexism has long been ingrained in male-dominated societies whereas these societies portray men as superior. There are women who are perpetuating sexist ideals against other women or towards themselves. However, these women are also a victim of the ideology as internalized sexism serves to enforce that women, on the whole, are subordinate or inferior to men. This idea that women are inferior are justifying the actions of violence, hatred, and aggression toward them (Rahmani, 2020). Women adopt misogynistic attitudes and apply them to themselves and other women after constantly witnessing social beliefs that diminish women's worth and abilities.

Ambivalent Sexism Theory - a theoretical framework in which sexism is divided into two sub-components: Benevolent Sexism and Hostile Sexism

Benevolent Sexism (Paternal or Caring Attitudes) - women are seen as pure, innocent, and fragile. Men's desire to protect women (paternalism) in exchange for a more submissive role for women is often expressed in these views that limit women's roles.


  • Females' feminine-stereotyped characteristics are glorified and their counterparts were deemed unladylike

  • Traditional gender roles are important in order for men and women to work together

Hostile Sexism (Aggressive and Mistrusting Attitudes) - is defined as a hostile attitude against those who do not conform to standard gender stereotypes whereas women are seen as angry, deceitful, and manipulative.


  • make fun of ladies who pursue careers in traditionally masculine fields like science or athletics.

  • Women are seen as controlling men through seduction

Given that the usual victim of these beliefs was themselves, it's difficult to believe that women themselves endorse sexist ideals and attitudes. Szymanski and Feltman (2014) stated that to avoid more adverse mental health outcomes, women tend to have this internalized sexism towards other women as a way to cope in a male-dominated society. Ryan and Connel (1989) support this by saying that the oppressed tend to internalize the prejudice and discrimination in society as their own to cope in such environments. Women learned to internalize and absorb the same values that victimized them as a byproduct of a patriarchal society that often enforces these sexist attitudes. To protect themselves in this environment, women are forced to either oppose inequality or embrace sexist ideals.



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Dictionary.com. “The Definition of Misogyny.” Www.dictionary.com, 2019, www.dictionary.com/browse/misogyny.

Digitalcommons@usu, Digitalcommons@usu, and Audrianna Dehlin. Young Women’s Sexist Beliefs and Internalized Misogyny: Links Young Women’s Sexist Beliefs and Internalized Misogyny: Links with Psychosocial and Relational Functioning and Sociopolitical with Psychosocial and Relational Functioning and Sociopolitical Behavior Behavior. 2018.

Fiske, Susan, and Michael North. “Benevolent Sexism - an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics.” Www.sciencedirect.com, 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/psychology/benevolent-sexism#:~:text=For%20example%2C%20some%20people%20disparage. Accessed 29 Mar. 2022.

Ryan, R. M., & Connell, J. P. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization:

Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(5), 749.

Szymanski, D. M., & Feltman, C. E. (2014). Experiencing and coping with sexually objectifying treatment: Internalization and resilience. Sex Roles, 71(3-4), 159–170.

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