I mentioned in my previous piece how much importance I give to all subjects and issues concerning equality and discrimination. I am convinced that they are also crucial for a healthy society as a whole – because they concern everyone without exception. Even those who count themselves as part of a “majority” (many of my clients, fellow immigrants, have discovered through their own painful experience how easily one switches from being part of a “majority” to a “minority”). Today I would like to talk about an unexpected form of sexism: internal sexism. To put it simply, it occurs when women are being stereotyped and discriminated against by other women. Look at the story of a girl I know (let’s call her Masha). She told me recently how she came to review her idea of women.
She and her two brothers were raised together. She always got on easily with boys. She also always liked STEM subjects, protested loudly whenever people said that these were not for girls, and did her best to prove them wrong. She enrolled in a technology degree at university and was really good at it. Masha was ambitious and was walking towards her dream: she pursued her goals and eventually got into a top management position.
Now she admits that what she always wanted was to prove that she was just as good as any man – by working alongside men, solving difficult problems, drinking whisky, telling dumb blonde jokes and despising people from Humanities a bit. Instead of accepting gender equality, she aimed for what society considers “male” and thus dismissed everything that is traditionally “feminine”. When she examined this side of her personality in therapy, she saw her own motives and aspirations in a different light. She didn’t stop loving her job and she didn’t give up on her ambitions either as a result. But now she goes ahead not in order to be “as good as any man”, but in order to be herself, to do what she likes to do and to develop in her own way. She was actually surprised to discover that despite having what externally appeared like feminist views, she used to feel and act stereotypically towards her own gender.
Also, as a result of her new resolutions, now she has more respect for housewives, more understanding for women wearing bold makeup, more indulgence for those with a passion for rhinestones and stiletto heels, and true admiration for art historians and literary scholars.
A simple story. You may draw your own conclusions.