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7 Not-So-Obvious Signs of Internalized Misogyny


A woman wrestles with internalized misogyny.

Internalized misogyny is more prevalent in our society than you might think at first glance. Research shows that many women regularly struggle with the negative psychological and physical impacts.

But, how do you recognize when internalized misogyny is affecting your life? Read on for some signs of internalized misogyny that you may have missed.

  1. “I’m Not Like The Other Girls,” Says the Voice of Internalized Misogyny

Differentiating yourself from other women, as though they’re a monolith, is a major warning sign when it comes to internalized misogyny.

Some signs that you may be falling into the “Guy’s girl” trap could include pretending to be chill or calm about men doing things you find inappropriate, or talking about women in a negative or off-putting way.

If you find yourself trash-talking other women in the company of your male friends, that is also a sign of a problem.

  1. Feeling Bad About Your Physical Appearance or Grooming

Disparaging different parts of your physical appearance can be a major issue when it comes to internalized misogyny. Feeling bad about your body hair, despite knowing that it is a natural part of being an adult, is something that’s instilled in people by the mass media, not something that’s inherent.

So, if you find yourself feeling ashamed about your body hair, that’s likely a sign of internalized misogyny.

That’s particularly true if you take steps to change your body so that it fits into a societal ideal. Fad diets may seem like a good idea, but they can cause negative health effects and damage your metabolism in the long term.

If you get plastic surgery or injectables to feel better about yourself or to change things about your body for your preferences, that can be a great and empowering choice. But, if you take drastic measures to change your body based on what you think is acceptable for you, it can quickly become a slippery slope.

If you can’t get out of the shame spiral when it comes to your body image, it may be time to talk to a professional about your issues.

  1. Comparing Yourself to Other Women

Comparing yourself to other people in your life is, in some ways, natural. But if you find yourself doing it constantly, in a way that makes you feel inferior, it can quickly become a problem.

Or, if you feel like you’re putting down other women to make yourself feel better, that can also be a symptom of internalized misogyny. Patriarchal ideals tell women they are not enough, and need to compete for a man’s attention to be considered worthy.

Everyone is unique, and there’s no reason to feel competitive with other women. There’s room for us all, after all! Social media can be a cause of these feelings, so make sure you’re using your platforms responsibly.

  1. Relying on Gender Stereotypes

If you find yourself using gendered stereotypes often in everyday conversation, even for humorous effect, it could be an issue. Of course, gender isn’t binary, and many people don’t identify as either men or women.

Gender stereotypes can be particularly hurtful for genderqueer or non-binary people. They can also be hurtful for trans people. That’s not the end of the list, either. They can also be harmful for other LGBTQ+ identifying people, as well as straight, cisgender people too, because these stereotypes impose a reductionistic and limiting window of expression that can leave people at odds with their authenticity, in the hopes of social acceptance.

Here are some gender stereotypes you may want to steer clear of:

  • Pink is for girls, blue is for boys
  • Girls should play with dolls and other “girl toys” and boys should play with cars and other “boy toys”
  • Men are naturally more aggressive and sexual than women
  • Girls are bad at math
  • Women should stay in the kitchen and take care of the children while men bring home the money
  • Women are more emotional than men, particularly during their period
  • Men are physically stronger than women, and other negative toxic masculinity traits
  1. Hiding Parts of Yourself

Many women feel they need to hide their intelligence or keep their mouths shut to be attractive to men. That’s a message many women grew up with. But, do you really want to attract men who aren’t okay with being challenged?

The same can be true for women who are into athletics. They may feel that if they physically outperform a man, they may “immasculate” him and make him feel bad. However, a woman’s success has no bearing on a man’s self-esteem. That is his business.

Basically, if you ever feel like there’s an aspect of your personality that you can’t share because of a man, it’s likely due to a form of internalized misogyny. That can easily lead to toxic relationships.

But, you don’t have to be stuck in a toxic relationship spiral. There are many options for you. If you struggle with toxic relationships, you might want to look into your options when it comes to taking steps toward recalibrating your relationships.

  1. Slut-Shaming is a Core Indicator of Internalized Misogyny

Shaming women for their sexual preferences or history is one of the biggest ways internalized misogyny manifests in our society.

No one’s sexual choices are anyone else’s business, no matter how many people they have slept with. And, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, it’s no one’s business who they are sleeping with, either. So, take steps to ensure you’re recognizing misogyny in your life when it comes to sex.

Victim blaming can also be an insidious neighbor to slut-shaming.

  1. Judging Other Women

Do you often find yourself judging other women based on what they look like or their style choices? Surprise, that’s a problematic sign of internalized misogyny.

If you find yourself feeling like a woman might be slutty or promiscuous based on the length of their skirt or how much skin they’re showing, you should take a deep breath and realize that you’re projecting societal expectations onto the woman and her clothing. Everyone should wear what they’re comfortable in, and the only reason others feel the need to take issue with it, is because misogyny has left women with a narrow window of “acceptable” choices.

Avoid These Signs of Internalized Misogyny

Hopefully, you’re now aware of internalized misogyny signs you may have overlooked, so you can start overthrowing patriarchal structures in your own life.

You may have trouble working through these issues on your own. If that’s the case, you might want to see if working with a professional can help. A therapist may be able to help you work through internalized misogyny, step out of proscribed gender roles and improve your self-esteem.

If you’re in a relationship, you don’t have to go through the process alone. You may want to work on these problems with your partner too.

Looking for more help with your sex life and relationships? Contact us today to schedule a consultation, so you can begin to disentangle from misogynistic views that wreak havoc on your life.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist (CA, FL, IL + NY), Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and PACT III trained Couples Therapist. She is the Founder of Modern Intimacy. Follow her on TikTok and IG @drkatebalestrieri and the Modern Intimacy team on IG @themodernintimacy.



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