– In high school (and for some years after) I called girls who had been known to sleep around sluts because others were doing it
– I’ve laughed along with sexist, offensive jokes in a room full of guys to appear like I was cooler than other girls who did get upset, so the guys would like me and in turn I would feel safe from being the butt of the same jokes (hint: I wasn’t)
– I’ve gritted my teeth and ignored truly malicious misogynistic comments from men because I was afraid of them/didn’t have the bravado at the time to call them out
– I didn’t stand up for other women a lot of times when I should have because I didn’t want to be attacked myself
– I criticized other women for complaining about workplace sexual harassment if I considered the harassment ‘minor’, because I thought women complaining about ‘minor’ issues made all women look bad
– I’ve said ‘it’s not like she was actually raped’ (*cringe*)
– I’ve rolled my eyes and muttered that women should ‘get over it’, like I had (hint: I hadn’t)
– I never said anything when guys said another guy fought/ran/threw ‘like a girl’ even though it bothered me, because I didn’t know why it bothered me
– When young and single I once went after a guy I wasn’t even into because he showed interest in my much hotter friend and I was sick of feeling like the non-hot one and I thought if I could turn his attention from her to myself it would make me matter somehow
– When I later had sex with said guy, during the event he called me a bitch and was too rough when he was doing it and it hurt and I didn’t say anything because I kinda thought I deserved it for going after him and agreeing to have sex with him in the first place and for being drunk
– The day after, the guy asked for my number and I gave it to him and let him booty call me for two more months because I had no idea how to even say no to a guy, not even to a guy I didn’t like who called me a fucking bitch during sex
– I once tried to sleep with a guy who had a girlfriend, because I believed he was ‘the one’
– I’ve hated women for being beautiful and having it ‘easy’
– I used to see crying as weakness
– I’ve hated other women for doing any or all of the above
– I’ve hated myself
Until a year ago, I didn’t even know what internalized misogyny was. I do now. It looks exactly like this. So when I see people piling on someone like Angela Lansbury, a 92 year old actress who has lived through almost a century of sexism and god knows what else, for victim blaming other women, I understand. I forgive her. She is the product of her environment; the patriarchy that told her over and over again the very things she’s now repeated to an unforgiving journalist looking to sensationalise comments that are much more complex than they first appear. I understand. I forgive her.
When someone like Mayim Bialik gets hauled over the coals for writing what was, yes, a problematic post that also boiled down to victim blaming, I understand. She thought the reason she’d avoided sexual harassment herself was because she was ‘unattractive’. It is an easy mistake to make. Beauty is a thing women are both rewarded and punished for in equal measure. Be attractive so you will be valued–but don’t be too attractive or you’ll be a temptation. You’ll ‘ask for it’. It’s confusing. It’s a mind fuck. I understand. I forgive her.
When women are hung out to dry for being sluts/trophy wives/angry/not angry enough/complicit, I see divisions where there should be unity. We’ve all made mistakes, because we’ve all been raised in a world that completely fucks with our minds, our bodies, and our agency and sometimes you have to do things you wouldn’t want to do in order to survive it. Sometimes the brainwashing turns our thoughts and feelings into things that aren’t our own. Sometimes it just takes us a while to follow the white rabbit out of the matrix and finally see it for what it is. A psychological and emotional prison.
We’ve all fallen for the tricks at different times. It’s time to forgive ourselves. And each other.