The Female Misogynist
by Polly Spain
May 11th 2018
I once had a friend that straight up told me women aren’t funny.
This instance was not the first time I have heard this statement. I’m sure you have heard it before too. The belief that women are not funny is commonly held among small minded people all over the world. Even though I was very familiar with this saying (maybe on some level believed it), hearing it did not hurt any less.
Oh, and guess what. This friend was a woman.
Christ on a cracker! This sentence hurt particularly bad because she said this immediately after I professed my new love for improv comedy. It was the first time in my life that I felt passionate about something. My mind was racing at a million miles a minute, and I was having several arguments with her in my head. She carried her opinion like she was a realist, like she understood the reality of the comedy world and I was just being naïve.
Is it true that I am destined to fail at comedy because of my gender? No. It will pose a disadvantage at most, but I will more likely fail because I am not funny. Regardless, on that sad day, I was exposed to a pivotal moment of internalized misogyny.
Whether you believe in the feminist movement or not, it’s hard to deny that misogynism exists. Think of the friend who told you “women shouldn’t swear.” OR the guy who claims “all women are sluts.” OR maybe, just maybe you heard it from the lips of your female friend who said, “women are not funny.”
Female mysogynists exist. You may be one of them.
Confused yet? I was too when I was first faced with this notion. It is kind of contradictory, “How can a female hate other women? Doesn’t that mean they hate themselves?” Probably… In fact, yes. You can’t hate a flaw in another person, then consider the same flaw to be a quality in yourself. I can vouch for this because I have been ridding myself of internal misogynism for years, and I am still not completely there.
I can’t exactly blame my friend for projecting her views on to me. Let’s throwback to a time when I was just as guilty for the same shitty perspective. Growing up, I always prided myself of being a guys girl. I claimed, and truly believed that guys were “less drama.” Whenever I was asked about wanting kids in the future, I always said I wanted boys because girls are too much work. Hearing the quote, "You're not like other girls" was like heroin to me (this is not a fucking compliment by the way).
What I didn’t realise, is that I was harnessing validation from the men around me, while truly being desperate for female companionship.
This burden followed me well into university. I pursued a career in a male dominated field, where men were expected to outperform women. I considered it an advantage that I was in this “secret club”, where my under-performance could just be summed up to being a female. An advantage! Holy fuck I was delusional.
About three years into my degree, I felt a sense of emptiness. This perspective was no longer fulfilling to me, as if it ever really was. After surviving a horrific breakup with my previous boyfriend, I tried to pursue a douchebag who was absolutely not right for me. I legitimately said to myself, “as long as I have a man to impress, I'll be the best version of myself.” When that situation inevitably went down the drain, I was lost. With no men to validate me, who the fuck was I anymore?
Distaste for my own gender became apparent in other ways. When Louis C.K. threw around stories about sleeping with women, I laughed; but when Amy Schumer did it, something inside me churned. Why did I expect these female comedians to be prim and proper? The only thing that would cause this subtle disgust, is a deep rooted expectation of women to remain private about their sexual endeavors.
The thing is, when you go to see a comedian you trust that they will make you laugh. BUT if you have the preconceived belief that they will be shitty, you’ve already decided you’re not going to find them funny. People who have written off female comedians will fall victim to this disadvantageous prophecy. This has just been my experience in comedy, but it can transfer to every other industry where male dominance is challenged.
The only way to tackle this problem is for everyone to start paying attention to their own internalized misogynism. It’s a painful thing to face, but it can be the most rewarding personal journey you can take. And it won’t happen overnight. Ultimately you have to start paying attention to yourself. Pay attention when you feel inclined to call other women sluts. Pay attention when you compare your body to another. Pay attention when you question the ability of your female colleagues. Pay attention when you second guess your opinion. Pay attention when you downplay your intelligence. AND GOOD LUCK