“Don’t cry like a girl” I heard a family member tell his son, in front of my 6 year old daughter. Later that day she cried with shame. “I don’t want to be a girl” It clicked then. I saw her internalise that hatred for herself in that very moment and I understood how engrained it was in me. My blood went cold and I was fucking furious.
It became clear to me then why I too had hated women. I hated their beauty and their stupidity and their vulnerability, because they reflected my own self loathing of my beauty, my stupidity and my vulnerability.
My anger raged towards any man I came into contact with, their arrogance for merely existing crawled on my skin like flies. I was angry for all women, for the abuse, the rape, the disrespect, it was palpable. It all convinced me to hate myself and to deny my own brilliance, which, in turn, mirrored my reaction to all other women.
In hindsight “I’m not like other girls” was just another way of saying “Please, respect me. Don’t treat me how you treat them.”
What I was most angry about was realising that internalised misogyny taught me I wasn’t powerful enough to stand alone. That attaching myself to a man was the only way to accomplish respect in society and financial security. The only way I would truly be able to love myself was if a man saw my worth, loved and validated me. The one obstacle I perceived as a roadblock to this was clear to me, other women.
Chances are that you’ve been sold the same lie.
The feminist movement has truly served in my growth, it is very the foundation of The Lipstick Lens. I could not and would not be where I am without everything I have absorbed, read and learnt, especially from conversations I have had with women I have spoken to on this platform. That being said, I no longer want to refer to myself as a feminist - not because I don’t believe in everything I’ve stood for in the last few years, far from it, that knowledge is deeply engrained in me. However, I want to get out of the label’s echo chamber, it weighs me down. I have come to understand that putting energy into what doesn’t serve you ends up feeding the very monster you are trying to make smaller. I no longer want to feed that monster because it was making ME smaller.
The tragedy with internalised misogyny is the domino effect it creates with our relationships with women because it mirrors the relationship with ourselves.
Feminism is the external and I want to shift that focus to the internal because ultimately change has to come from the within so as to shift the narrative. In order to encourage growth, awareness and connection it is necessary to focus on the SELF which supersedes all labels.
Love, Jessica Xx