Teenage girls and internalized sexism

I’m very emotionally tied to feminism; feminism alone got me through years when I did feel the weight of having a non-standard body. When I was a teenager, I hated myself. I was smart, but no one would listen because I was a teenage girl with non-evident disabilities. I hated my body, and so did everyone else, because I was big and because I actively rejected beauty standards. I felt judged, harassed, and hated – by my peers, by my teachers, by society at large. It was not some conspiracy theory: I was not well-liked by most.
But feminism loved me, feminism understood me. Feminism told me that I was still okay, that I was still worth loving, that I was still worth being. Perhaps this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had the many privileges I do, but I am still thankful for the deeply flawed movement at that stage. Feminism was there for me, even when I was in conflict with my main conduit to feminism – my mom. I didn’t like my name, I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like my face, but I liked my feminism. I didn’t know what I was ten years ago, but I knew I was a feminist.

Feminism couldn’t keep me from hating myself, but it was a safe space, my only safe space.

But since I shed my awkwardness and turned into the physically lovelyand confident person I am today, I have not shown the same kindness to girls in that tenuous position. I have had little regard for teenagers. Teenagers are silly and loud and don’t know shit about shit. Teenagers project their insecurity on other people. Teenagers are stupid and inexperienced.

I found myself adding to the conventional wisdom about teenagers – teenage girls in particular. That they are silly and shallow and not worth listening to. That they try too hard, particularly for male attention. That they have nothing of worth to contribute.

I wrote women and girls, female people, off because of their age. I didn’t pay attention to them when they spoke on important topics. I mocked their interests and fads (Twilight) not just because of their problematic content, but because teenage girls liked them. I laughed at jokes in South Park that compared the object of mockery to teenage girls to prove their lack of worth. And I’m not the only one: even in feminist spaces, younger people are often decided to be a lesser concern.

This is internalized sexism.

Hatred and fear of women in my once and future positions is a function of (what else?) the kyriarchy. I heard so much bullshit about women and teenaged girls as a teenaged girl that I started to believe it, and hate myself, and think I deserved this abuse. And then when I grew up and got stronger and stopped hating myself, I still believed that I’d deserved what I’d felt because I was a teenaged girl, and believed that teenaged girls deserved ridicule.

Read the rest at Deeply Problematic

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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