[Dash of SAS] Internalized Misogyny: Women hating on other women
While many netizens are still reeling from the overload of sexism from women during – in the most piercing of all ironies – events to celebrate Women’s Month, there are many for whom the verbal onslaught sounded painfully familiar.
At a women’s summit entitled #EveryGirlCan, Congresswoman Pia Cayetano defended the President’s callous remarks about women and chalked it up to “boys will be boys." Growing up, Filipino girls are constantly told that they cannot and should not do certain things like stay out at night or lose her virginity before she gets married because they are girls – but their brothers can because “wala naman mawawala sa kanya kasi lalaki sya” (he has nothing to lose because he is a boy).
At a women’s event hosted by the Palace, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag called for women to learn to adjust and turn a blind eye to Duterte’s vulgar comments and barbaric behavior.
“As women, we should have a forgiving heart,” she implored. It’s the same advice women are given on how to cope with blatant philandering. I might add, it is also the reason that so many men get away with not just womanizing but opting out of child support. (More of that in another column coming up soon.)
Among the most incredulous statements made by Banaag was that catcalling is relative. “It’s up to you if you will find it offensive,” she intoned sounding very much like those who tell a woman that she was beaten because she nagged, those who attribute rape to a woman's regretful wardrobe choices.
We can call it sucking up to a man in power or an attempt to assure their political position but let’s cut to the chase. Let's give it a name and give it a face. It is internalized misogyny and in the Philippines, the poster girls for internalized misogyny are faux feminists like Cayetano and Banaag.
Internalized misogyny is where women excuse, defend, and justify men whose behavior is clearly oppressive and demeaning to women.
It is the enabling framework that gives men a free pass starting from when they are boys all the way until they grow up to be sexist men. It is the way the oppression of women is passed on from one generation to another. It is what fuels the double standard where women are shamed for behavior like being assertive, outspoken and yes, sexually liberated while on men, these very same attributes are applauded.
Internalized misogyny has always been something that feminists have fought against, but it has always bubbled under the surface. Now it has been normalized by this current administration with the President acting as its principle endorser.
Just think about how Dutere contextualized the warped thinking of the Speaker of the House in flaunting his many girlfriends, his many children out of wedlock and daring others to file an ethics complaint against him. Ok, down boy, I mean, Mr. Speaker, we know your penis works. The only thing missing from Mr Alvarez’s litany of achievements was him beating his chest with both fists and let out a roar.
Duterte’s selective misogyny
It needs to be pointed out that Duterte’s brand of misogyny is selective. Women like Cayetano and Banaag will stay in his good graces as long as they play by his rules – which is also why they see themselves in a position to defend Duterte. As long as they do so, their romantic liaisons will not be made public, their legs will not be made a subject of public adulation, and they will not be catcalled even if they think being offended by it is optional.
(In case you’re wondering, in the other instance when the President openly ogled a woman, Duterte reportedly apologized to Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat for publicly telling her to close her legs. He apologized and said that “Berna remains to be my ideal first lady…She’s one person I’m proud of showing to the world” leaving many to wonder how the nation’s default First Lady Honeylet Avanceña really felt about such pronouncements.
Under these circumstances, it isn’t really surprising – but not any less despicable – that the women in government are defending the President and his blatant misogyny. They’ve sold out to the path of least resistance, have been beaten into submission and cornered into compliance.
Internalized misogyny turns women against women and breeds an “us versus them” suspicion among women. Internalized misogyny ensures that you don’t need men to oppress and demean women – not when you have women like Banaag and Cayetano already doing it. – Rappler.com