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Internalized sexism

Internalized sexism refers to the manifestation of sexist beliefs and practices that individuals, irrespective of gender, may direct towards themselves or others.

This phenomenon arises from the assimilation of societal gender norms and expectations into an individual’s psyche, impacting their thoughts, behaviours, and self-perception.

Sexism is discriminatory by prejudicial beliefs and practices directed against individuals based on their perceived gender identity. It can affect people of any gender and appears on different levels, in the individual, organizational, institutional, and cultural dimensions.

Everyday sexism covers a wide range from serious incidents like sexual assault or job discrimination to smaller, more subtle actions in daily interactions. It’s deeply rooted in our culture, affecting how we talk, think, and interact every day.

The internalization process is the unconscious mental assimilation of characteristics, beliefs, feelings, or attitudes of others into oneself, shaping an individual’s worldview. Internalized sexism involves practices learned from cultural influences, impacting individuals regardless of their gender.

The impact of internalized sexism is seen in how it makes people expect less from themselves, leading to a sense of powerlessness. This shows up in various ways, like feeling powerless, competing with others based on gender, viewing oneself only by physical appearance, devaluing oneself, and doubting one’s own judgments, with lasting effects that rob individuals of a sense of power and create self-doubt. Internalized sexism isn’t a one-time thing; it continues over time and needs ongoing attention, often influenced by peers. It’s a process that happens within relationships, creating chances for rejecting oppressive attitudes within those relationships.

Internalization involves adopting values, beliefs, or ways of doing things for personal behaviour. In societies with prejudices, internalized sexism is seen as a form of internalized oppression, where individuals passively accept traditional gender roles.

Overall, understanding how internalized sexism works, recognizing its effects, and having the potential to reject it within relationships are essential steps in combating gender inequality and building a fairer society.

See more resources

Internalization. APA Dictionary. Retrieved 11th December 2023. 

Sexism. APA Dictionary. Retrieved 11th December 2023. 

THE FABRIC OF INTERNALIZED SEXISM. Bearman, S. Journal of Integrated Social Sciences, 2009 – 1(1): 10-47. 

Bozkur, B. (2020). Developing Internalized Sexism Scale for Women: A Validity and Reliability Study, International Journal of Eurasian Education and Culture, Issue: 11, pp. (1981-2028).

Internalized Oppression and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community. Nadal, Kevin L., Mendoza, RJ (Chapter 9). In Internalized Oppression – The Psychology of Marginalized Groups. Edited by David, E. (2013). DOI: 10.1891/9780826199263.0009.