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#HERStory – Episode 17: Surviving Misogynist Mum

What Was Her Experience?

Mum was a Big Misogynist

Surviving Misogynist Mum: You know, growing up I could never really understand why my Mum hated me so much. I honestly used to wonder if I was really her own child or if I was just adopted. My earliest memory of her hatred towards me was from when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I was in the living room watching cartoons and she was in the kitchen making lunch. She had served lunch for myself and my elder brother on the dining table and asked us to come eat, but we were so engrossed in the cartoon that we refused to go to the dining table. I didn’t see it coming, but, just when I was getting head-deep into the TV with my cartoon friends, I was yanked back to reality with a dirty slap on the back of my head that sent me face first into the centre table and opened up my forehead with a grim injury.

The mark from the injury still reminds me of that sad moment. What hurt more was not the injury but the fact that I was the only one attacked in that incident when it was clearly my brother and I who flaunted her instructions. And, NO, this is not a singular case. The instances of clear sexism and misogyny from my Mum are many and countless. She always seemed to find a way to remove the blame from my brother and place everything on me. Things only got worse as I grew older. I always paid the price for everything that went wrong, and soon, my brother caught-on to the pattern. If the house was dirty, it was my fault; if something broke, it was my fault for not putting an eye on the house; even when my brother was not doing well in school, she somehow made it my fault for ‘distracting him’.

For the longest time I thought that it was just that she didn’t like me, or maybe she just liked my brother more, or maybe it was because my Dad was always protecting me. I took a course in Psychology when I was in the university and we learnt something about the ‘Oedipus complex’ “a term used by Sigmund Freud in his theory of psycho-sexual stages of development to describe a child's feelings of desire for his or her opposite-sex parent and jealousy and anger toward his or her same-sex parent”. I thought that was the case until I started to notice her tantrums and attacks on women all around her. She always seemed to pick a fight with almost every woman she encountered. If it wasn’t about the other woman’s attitude, it would be about the way the woman ‘looked at her’, or that her spirit ‘did not just flow’ with her. It was even worse when it came to young girls. All young girls these days were ‘useless’ (including me). She would attack the way we dress, the way we wear make-up, she even strongly believed that a woman fighting a man for equality was possessed.

I still did not understand it, brushing it off that she was just ‘bitter’. But she managed to always be calm, kind, obedient, and respectful whenever she was around my father or my brother, or any other man for that matter. The same woman who would almost (and most times, successfully) slap me when I try to defend myself, would be so quiet and submissive whenever my father or brother raised their voices at her. Even when she is out, she barely interacted with men and would always maintain her cool around them while she would evolve to this type of tyrant around other women.


After years of trying to understand the root-cause of this, I realized that she was just someone who had a deep hatred for women. Now, the cause of this, I cannot tell. Maybe it was because she was denied many privileges growing up as a woman in a backward society, maybe it was because she was conditioned by society to always be in competition against other women, or maybe because she was taking out her anger with men on innocent women because she was not bold enough to confront the real enemies. Whatever it was it made me realize that unfortunately, my mum was a misogynistic woman who was out to make every other woman’s life miserable. Even her daughter’s.

A Moment That Tried Her

Years of Experiencing Hate

Surviving Misogynist Mum: For many years I battled self-doubt and a tonne of insecurities because of the mean and hurtful things my mother did and said to me. It was impossible building any form of civil and sane relationship with her, even till now. I hear stories of how other girls have strong bonds with their mothers and it sounds so foreign and strange to me. I wish I could just have a normal Mum like every other girl, but I guess this is just what my reality is.


Her Eureka Moment?

Letting Go

Surviving Misogynist Mum: The realization that she was a misogynist helped me lay to rest a lot of the resentment I had for her, and a lot of the pain I carried with me for many years. It gave me some form of closure to understand that, it wasn’t me, it was just her mentality. She did not hate me, she just hated women in general. Even better was the realization that I may not be able to change her, but I could make sure I broke the chain from there.

Misogyny among women is not an uncommon phenomenon. Many women have some unexplained hatred for other women without even knowing it. Most times, it is disguised as jealousy or just pushed aside as a usual culture amongst women… but the reality is that it is misogyny that is infused amongst women by a patriarchal society that conditions women to see each other as competition against each other, instead of as allies for one another. This phenomenon is setting back the fight for equality ages back because it divides our community and progress cannot be made when there is discord within the team. Whilst it may be totally impossible to fight this ill within the older generation of women, there is still hope to eliminate this culture amongst the new generation of women. Through more deliberate conversations on this issue, and the education of the younger generation of women in society, we can educate and create awareness amongst more young women to help them see the importance of being allies and not enemies.

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