What is Internalized Misogyny?
Sometimes referred to as “girl hate” this idea is primarily explained in everyday conversation as “women being catty to other women”.
The protagonist of Haganai discussing internalized misogyny with some members of his harem.
Internalized misogyny is associated with the sexist belief that women need to impress men, please men and compete for male attention by putting each other down. It’s usually accepted that it can’t be helped or that there’s no greater explanation involving the socialization of young girls in patriarchal society. (Spoilers: It does have to do with the socialization of young girls in patriarchal society.)
Growing up, girls (and boys) absorb stereotypes about the sexes. These are taught and reinforced by media and social interactions.
- Did you see what she was wearing?
- She’s trying way too hard with all that makeup.
- Girls are shallow and catty. That’s why I only have guy friends.
It’s everywhere, even in fandom.
“There are phenomenally, gorgeous cosplayers who love cosplaying and then there’s the total hoebags that do it for attention.”–Bamboo Dong, editor for Anime News Network on female cosplay
Women involuntarily internalize these sexist messages and assume them as truths. It doesn’t mean that some women consciously hate other women. It means that without giving it a second thought we are willing to judge and compete against other women because we think the stereotypes we’ve been surrounded by for most of our lives are automatically true. Women are not naturally “catty” toward each other, they are taught to be.
But even when you become conscious of your own internalized misogyny and attempt to unlearn it, you are very likely to still run into women that are hostile toward you for no reason. Next to the coffee pot at work or mingling at a party isn’t always the best time to start explaining feminism to your peers. So while it’s important to take responsibility for you’re own sexism, it’s much more difficult to help the people in your everyday life see sexism, especially when they might perceive their internalized misogyny as “normal”. This is a depressing reality.
What is Moe?
K-On!! is viewed by many fans as the poster child of moe.
Moe is a feeling of love for a fictional character. Some anime are designed to appeal to heterosexual male audiences by purposefully provoking moe. The shows themselves don’t have explicit sexual material but instead are expected to fuel erotic fan works and provide an outlet for sexual fantasy. K-On!!, Anne-Happy, Love Live!, and Kinmoza! are a few examples of these kinds of shows. Anime with this intent have been labeled by American fans as “moe blob shows” or “cute girls doing cute things” and are sometimes perceived as their own genre.
But many fans of these shows are female and don’t sexualize the characters. If they aren’t indulging in sexual fantasy or the passion of moe that these shows are known for, then where is the appeal of these kinds of anime?
Moe Combating Internalized Misogyny
Some fans may like “moe shows” because these anime might be funny or upbeat or offer some sense of nostalgia. There is more entertainment value than just the moe. These shows are about female relationships, specifically female friendships. The girls in these shows are kind and supportive to one another. These shows offer a picturesque feminine setting with few to no men. I repeat, NO MEN. Maybe one of the girls’ fathers or a brother will make a quick cameo, maybe. So in a fantasy world where men have no presence and are barely, if ever mentioned, one of the biggest motives behind internalized misogyny is erased.
The girls in these anime don’t feel pressure to impress men, or please men or compete for male attention. If you remove this key piece behind the motivation for conflict between girls that internalized misogyny dictates, then the female characters no longer have any reason to view one another as rivals and can partake in idealized female relationships. These female characters are always there for each other, cheering one another on and grow bonds of true friendship. “Moe anime” can actually provide a type of escapism from the harsh reality that women in patriarchal society are raised to see one another as rivals. These shows can fulfill a craving for non-hostile female friendships that are free from conflict and internalized misogyny.
So maybe moe isn’t all bad since it can demonstrate a change feminists are striving for, where boys don’t get in the way of friendships between girls. Maybe when looking at how we approach and treat women in real life, we can take a cue from how these girls in slice of life anime hold each other up instead of tearing each other down.
Kinmoza is easily my favorite slice of life anime. I really connected with the characters and watching always cheers me up.
[This post was originally posted: May, 11th 2016 on the Otaple 1/2 Tumblr]