Even the most educated women can harbor internalized misogyny and project it onto other women and even onto themselves without ever realizing what they're doing.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 20, 2021. It has since been updated.
No matter what path they take in life, women often find themselves being criticized, scrutinized and belittled for their life choices. While most women are, unfortunately, used to men who have a deeply misplaced sense of entitlement that makes them believe it's OK to comment on something that they really have no business commenting on, it really hurts when the taunts and censures come from a fellow female. Even the most educated women can harbor internalized misogyny inside them and project it onto other women and even onto themselves without ever realizing what they're doing.
A few years ago, writer Candace Sinclaire called attention to this issue by posting an enlightening Twitter thread about what women should and should not say to each other. "I want y'all to understand something: idgaf if a woman wants to dress conservatively, get married, cater to her husband, and have kids," she began. "I do not care if a woman chooses to be submissive. I don't give not one hot damn. Not one flying f**k was given. The issue is, most of these women don't know how to do all the above WITHOUT belittling women who choose not to live their lives that way."
Sinclaire went on to list out a few scenarios and what's OK to say in such situations and what's not OK. For example, it's OK to say "I just prefer to dress a little bit more conservatively." However, it is definitely not OK to put forth your personal preferences while pulling down other women for their life choices. Therefore, expressions such as "unlike h**s these days, I prefer to keep it covered," are to be avoided. Similarly, Sinclaire explained, if you are someone who enjoys the traditional caretaker role of a wife or partner, it's OK to say: "I really want to take care of my man. Cooking for him makes me happy." This, on the other hand, is not OK: "As women, our job is to cook & clean for our man."
OK: "I just prefer to only have sex within a relationship."— CANDACE SINCLAIRE (@delafro_) February 23, 2016
Not OK: "It's not cute to be a hoe. Get some self respect ladies!"
"It's not a hard concept to grasp. Live your life, just don't knock other women down for how they live," she tweeted. "Same applies to women who aren't interested in a conservative lifestyle. Calling other women 'prudes' for living modest [sic] isn't cool either. It's no longer a 'preference' when you bring down other women in the process. Now it's disrespect. And that is where criticism is warranted. Once you knock others down, you deserve to get read for filth."
Sinclaire added that badmouthing someone else to justify one's personal life choices is nothing more than a sign of insecurity. "If you have to tear someone else down in order to feel good about yourself, you're insecure as hell and that's not cute," she tweeted. "If you think you have to stand on the backs of other women to make yourself look better, you need to do some self-reflecting sis."
In a Psychology Today article titled "Why Are Some Women Nasty to Other Women?" vocational psychologist Meredith Fuller identified three main reasons for why some women are nasty to other women. "Because they project their unwanted parts onto the other women — especially their fear, envy, jealousy, suspicion, resentment, rage, anxiety, or lack of self-esteem and confidence; Because they can get away with it — as a sport, fun, panacea to boredom, delight in spite, or because their lack of curiosity/tolerance of difference suggests they probably don’t like people anyway; Because they don’t have the interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills to recognize or alter their behavior," she explained.