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#GirlontheStreet: How Do You Call Out Sexism/Misogyny in another Woman?

By Agatha Adadefe

I was at a family gathering a few weekends ago. It was an old uncle’s birthday. I was super excited to see everyone and then, it all went sour with the internalized misogyny of my grand aunties. “Agatha, join the women in the kitchen or the gift room” Auntie Anita said so confidently and authoritatively. This had always been the culture at family events. Women doing the domestic work and the men sitting, eating and drinking. But, “not today”, I thought. So, I ignored Aunty Anita and joined my kid brother in the living room. “Agatha, why are you sitting in the living room? Are you a man?”, Auntie Anita started again. “Auntie, if you want to place yourself in the kitchen, that’s fine. But, I’m okay here”. That was the response I wished I had given. “Okay, Ma. Sorry, Ma” I found myself muster instead as I wondered why I just could not call her out on her sexism.

Research shows that ‘Internalized sexism’ are the sexist behaviors and attitudes enacted by women toward themselves or other women and girls. It states that “Internalized sexism has potential to lead to body issues, lack of self-confidence, competition, and a sense of powerlessness. It is a major setback in resolving issues of sexism as a whole”.

So, how do we destroy and dismantle internalized misogyny and sexism in women without being counter-productive by bringing another woman down? Do we stay silent and let this vice eat deeper into our culture as it perpetuates the patriarchy into future generations? Or, do we call it out and rebuke it on the spot at the risk of dismembering the bond and unity of our sisterhood.

I asked a couple of women how they called out sexism and misogyny in women and this is what I found out:

Busolami, 26 (Writer)

I don’t call them out. I don’t see the point. Sexist or misogynist women are conditioned to be that way by society, not by choice. They are not the problem. The social structures that have influenced them to be the way they are is the real problem. We need to address the problem from the root instead.

Eseosa, 30 (Pharmacist)

It is always so shocking to me anytime it happens. Whatever it is, I try not to get into arguments with them. I wait for the tension to ease, then I find time to come back, call them aside and try to make them see how their actions are destructive not just to other women, but also to themselves. It is never an instant conversion, but I understand that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Ola, 29 (Banker)

My former boss was aggressively sexist. She kept glorifying the men and bringing down all the women in our team. One day, I just had it with her ignorance so, I immediately called her out on her bullshit. “You are being sexist!”. I yelled. Of course, she gaslighted me and made a whole debacle out of it. But, it struck a chord and she has since been more careful and conscious of her actions around younger, bolder women like me. Miss me with that bullshit!

How do you call out sexist/misogynistic women around you? Let us know in the comments section.


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