Women Who Are Sexist Against Women 

Women and men, alike, shouted “Lock her up!” and “Trump that bitch!” at Trump’s GOP Convention last summer.

Some women wore shirts bellowing, “Trump can grab my pussy!”

People often confuse patriarchy with men. But they aren’t the same thing.

Plenty of men fight against patriarchy/sexism. And plenty of women are sexist.

Why are women sometimes sexist? 

Accepting the patriarchal bargain

Some women accept the patriarchal bargain: If I promote patriarchy I get a reward.

Maybe a husband approves of a wife who accepts patriarchy.

Or maybe there’s money and status to be gained.

Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers and Mona Charen are a few women who have gained both money and fame by complaining about feminism. But also misrepresenting it as man-hating.

Kellyanne Conway gains fame, money and power by standing with men who try to eliminate insurance coverage for maternity care and mammograms.

The “Aunts” of The Handmaid’s Tale gained at least some semblance of power in a world devoid of female empowerment by brainwashing handmaids into believing they are worthless. Wives of Commanders, on the other hand, got fame and fortune for berating feminism before the revolution disempowered them, too.

It’s easier when you’re used to being secondary 

Disempowerment of women by women comes more easily when you are used to being secondary.

When you live in a world that shames women for having sex but celebrates men, and that shames women for being sexually assaulted, you get used to being humiliated and blamed.

Not to mention a world that body-shames women, leaving 80% of young women with poor body image.

Or learning a language that makes women secondary. It’s usually males first: men and women, boys and girls, brothers and sisters… Women are part of man and mankind…

I could go on…

Growing up in a world that is marked by patriarchy makes it seem natural and normal.

Yet it’s deeply harming.

Related Posts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 10, 2017, in psychology, sexism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. I think I’m guilty. I’ve found myself saying a few times in the past couple of years, ‘I’ll never work for a woman ever again.’

    First I’ll say that I’ve never responded on a blog and I’m more of a behind the scenes type of person. I just noted that most all the other readers’ comments are about the current fake president, and I took this in a whole other direction. I can’t stomach the president discussion, so here goes my guilt for feeling sexist against women.

    I’ve had a successful 29-year career that I’m quite proud of, and have been highly respected in my field. I’m known for knowing my stuff and getting the job done.

    When I think of all the jobs I’ve taken in which I reported to men, I’ve been appreciated for everything I am and all that I do, and men have always seemed more than happy to let me take the ball and run with it, with no drama nor fanfair, and not many questions. It’s typically an easy relationship that is less of a relationship and more of a “let’s just all be grown ups and do our jobs” situation.

    Then when I contrast that with all the women (except one, a smart, gay, no b.s. female attorney—my first professional girl crush) to whom I have reported at various companies, the above has rarely been the case. Instead, it’s a case of jarring disempowerment indeed to use your word which I like. Seemingly every time I’ve worked for a woman, there’s been so many moments of having to stop what I’m doing to answer her questions…’But what about this, and let me think about that, and what if you do it this way, and why didn’t you run this by me, and have you done this or that, and let me know when you’re done with this and I’ll tell you what needs to be done next…’ Say what?

    Working for women has been tantamount to playing tiddly winks with a child. I get nothing done and we go nowhere. Perhaps many women find the need to micromanage and ask so many questions and want to be involved in every decision and every step, because of some innate maternal instinct. And maybe some women do want to be mothered or coddled. I don’t. Maybe it’s a deep-rooted issue I have caused by my Mom dying when I was 12, never to have a female influence in my life ever again. Hmm, I don’t know.

    I gave working with a woman one more try when I joined a company two years ago, in a job that paid hundreds of thousands per year. I walked away after a few months ago from that job as I realized that life is too short. I am too old, smart, proud, stubborn? to ever be treated like a child or micromanaged again. I don’t know if this means I have subscribed to the patriarchy, and perhaps this is a personality flaw that I just have never figured out how to adjust or be less than what I can be to make it work with a woman boss, but working for the man has proven to be what works for me and my career and my work style.

    • I’m wondering if there is something in the way we teach girls to behave behind this. Employees tend to be more uncomfortable with a woman directing them, telling them what to do, and so women tend to lead in a way that is more “democratic” with women getting a lot of input from those they lead.

  2. Geawna Hernandez

    I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I don’t understand how women can support Trump.

    In this article, it mentions Kelly Conway and how she supports a man who is okay with getting rid of insurance coverage for maternity leave. How could one woman be okay with that? How could a woman be okay with someone saying that if you’re a celebrity you can get away with anything? Like grabbing the private part that should be personal to us? I would NOT be okay with someone grabbing mine and I would not want someone to grab any women’s if they didn’t want.

    I went to a Christian high school and we as students weren’t even allowed to hug our boyfriends/girlfriends. We weren’t allowed to hold hands, kiss, etc. Yet, some of my former teachers who work there are okay with a man talking about grabbing a female’s pussy? Like do you not think of your daughters when listening to this man?

    Even if you want to say you believe in God and that’s why you follow Trump/Pence because they don’t support abortion or gay marriage. It’s still ridiculous. I believe in God, I was raised super catholic and I still do not understand how people of my religion can be okay with him as a person and president.

    I truly believe that women who are okay with the Trump administration lack self-respect. These are the women who make excuses for men and think that “boys will be boys.” Stop making excuses as to why people are rude, it’s stupid! There is absolutely no way you can be a woman and support him. I don’t understand it. I think people who support him do not care about others, are not kind whatsoever and lack values.

  3. Women are hard to please – we are tough critics due to our gifted nature of reading between the lines and over analyzing situation. Sometimes we know how we are and how we see situations so it is easy to criticize other women for being the way they are. I know that when I go out with my girlfriends plus a little alcohol, we start yelling and screaming (for fun). But if we were the girls watching ourselves (like seeing other girls acting like us – drunk and wild) we would mock them and eye roll. This is on a minute level. The blog post mentioned things on a grander scale like Kellyanne Conway wanting to eliminate insurance coverage for maternity care… Stuff like that, I don’t understand the point..

    • Unfortunately some women accept the patriarchal bargain: if I accept patriarchy I will personally benefit even if other women are hurt. So Kellyanne Conway promotes legislation that hurts women but she gains by being in the White House and gaining influence and money at the expense of her sisters.

  4. Mariah Poitier

    This blog post neglected to mention the powerful impact of socialization. The primary source of socialization in the household, and additional sources include school, media, and the social environment. As infants boys are girls are exposed to patriarchy and norms where woman are only supposed to cook, clean , be inferior and boys are unemotional, and superior beings. Even within the school system, girls were required to take home-economics ( learning how to be a wife and mother 101) and even today are tracked in to the humanities while boys are encouraged to go into stem fields (which pays more). Personally women that I see who are “sexist” i see women who see themselves as inferior being which makes me sad. It is my belief that each person who was put on this earth for a reason and each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully” made and no human being is inferior or superior to another. Feminism is important to push this idea, because in order to solve issues related to gender inequality and this would benefit both sexes.

    • Huh? “This blog post neglected to mention the powerful impact of socialization” ?????

      The entire post was about the powerful impact of socialization.

      This entire blog is about the powerful impact of socialization.

      The home is just one small part of that socialization. Feminist parents often wonder why they don’t raise gender equal children. But the children are not raised in a hermetically sealed environment. They are also exposed to language, television, movies, billboards, clothing… how are we punished and rewarded outside as well as inside the home we are raised in? …

      As I said, “I could go on…” (there’s only so much you can talk about in 500 word posts.)

      • “Feminist parents often wonder why they don’t raise gender equal children.”

        Err yeah, there’s also the fact that male chimpanzees tend to play with male human toys and female chimpanzees tend to play with female human toys. Who you gonna blame that on? The chimp patriarchy?

      • Yet what is considered feminine/ masculine varies from culture to culture and Boys and Girls conform, regardless of how the idea is understood. Primates too. In fact, bonobos are closer to humans than chimpanzees are — they look more like us — and are not patriarchal. Here are just a few samples (I have more if you’re interested — and will be writing more):

        My Son Likes Girl Stuff. Is He Gay?

        Women = Natural Nurturers = Less $, Status and Power
        Male Monkeys May Be More Nurturing

        btw, your comment on the terrorist war on women was unnecessarily inflammatory — and the first comment — so I didn’t post it. But I did actually answer it. If you are interested see my response to Jin Hyuk Go.

        “And particularly patriarchal forms of religion are the problem. ISIL is a strongly patriarchal form of Islam versus the Sufis or West Indonesia or the Wodaabe of Nigeria in Africa — all of whom are Muslim but quite gender-equal.”

        You can also take a look at these articles:

        Why Do The “Isms” That Affect Men Seem More Important?

        Why Do Women Fight Their Own Interests?

        Modesty Objectifies Women Says Nude Egyptian

        Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even If It Mutilates You
        Did Women Create Burqa Culture?
        The Burqa and Individual Rights: It’s Complicated

        The Islamic State Isn’t Islamic

      • “In fact, bonobos are closer to humans than chimpanzees are”

        Bononos are a type of chimpanzee, and are considered by the people who analyse such things to be equally close to humans with the common chimpanzee. Chimps and Bonobos are believed to have split from each other after humans already split from that line. The percentage of DNA shared between us and the Chimp vs the Bonobo is the same. We humans actually have some Chimp DNA that Bonobos don’t have. So you have no cause for appealing to Bonobos whilst ignoring Chimps.

        “and are not patriarchal”

        That’s hard to comment on since feminist mythology can’t pinpoint what “patriarchal” actually means. However the immediate topic here isn’t patriarchy, but rather gender equality, and one thing that we can’t say is that Bonobo behaviour is gender equal. Bonobos are a sexually dimorphic species just like humans are. Male and female Bonobo behaviour is very different. Yet for some odd reason you want to cling to feminist mythology that human behaviour ought to be the same.

        “btw, your comment on the terrorist war on women was unnecessarily inflammatory”

        Inflammatory in what sense? Are you saying that if I explain to you the reality of how terrorism works, that’s inflammatory? Maybe if you can find some nicer terrorists, I won’t have to explain inflammatory reality.

        “If you are interested see my response to Jin Hyuk Go.”

        Not sure where I’m supposed to find that.

        “patriarchal form of Islam versus the Sufis or West Indonesia or the Wodaabe of Nigeria in Africa — all of whom are Muslim but quite gender-equal.”

        The only way to have gender equal Islam, is to discard all the Islamic holy books. The Quran says to beat your wife, and the Hadith says to cut off females’ clitorises. Now if Muslims want say that Muslim holy books are rubbish, I’m all in favour of that, but the problem is, even these “liberal” Muslims, as they become better educated, they find out what their holy books actually say, and they tend to retrograde into something that gets closer and closer to ISIS. That’s because Muhammad himself led a nation that was basically ISIS, and he is considered the perfect man in Islam. I dare say the Wodaabe probably can’t even read, and would have no clue what the Quran or Hadith says.

      • Chimps and bonobos have both been identified as our closest relatives, but bonobos more closely resemble us physically. They behave most like our earliest societies, which are forager societies. And every forager society on every continent is radically egalitarian.

        patriarchal society is where men rule and men and masculinity are more valued.

        Islam isn’t the problem. Fundamentalism is. The Jewish and Christian Scriptures have places where God tells his followers to go and kill everyone and take their stuff. It’s just that most Jews and Christians aren’t fundamentalist.

      • “bonobos more closely resemble us physically.”

        Which is completely irrelevant.

        “And every forager society on every continent is radically egalitarian.”

        Not true: http://hraf.yale.edu/ehc/summaries/hunter-gatherers

        “recent hunter-gatherer societies are economically specialized by age and gender, divide labor by gender, with women gathering wild plants and men fishing and almost always doing the hunting.”

        “On average, the nitrogen-15 levels of adult male chimps were about 10 percent higher than those of adult females. Moreover, adult male chimps that field research had revealed were gifted hunters could possess nitrogen-15 levels about 13 percent higher than less successful ones.”

        “Everywhere men hunt large land and water fauna, trap small animals and birds, hunt birds, build boats, and work with wood, stone, bone, horn and shell. Everywhere women gather fuel and food, fetch water, prepare drinks and vegetable foods, and cook. Most of women’s activities are performed close to the home and involve monotonous tasks that require no concentration and can easily be interrupted and resumed. Male activities may require long absences from home and travel over great distances, not possible for women burdened with children. Male tasks may be dangerous, because men do not bear or rear children, and may be more highly valued in order to motivate the expendable male to perform them. Men do women’s jobs more than women do men’s jobs.”

        “patriarchal society is where men rule and men and masculinity are more valued.”

        Which is not modern western society. Therefore I remain confused about how you evaluate such things.

        “Islam isn’t the problem. Fundamentalism is.”

        Fundamental just means adhering to the core. Islam without its core beliefs is what? It’s nothing at all. What would a feminist be who abandoned the core belief in equality of women? What’s a Mormon who doesn’t think Joseph Smith was a prophet? They are not Muslims, not feminists and not Mormons, they are just fakes.

        “The Jewish and Christian Scriptures have places where God tells his followers to go and kill everyone and take their stuff. It’s just that most Jews and Christians aren’t fundamentalist.”

        Really. But the USA is full of fundamentalist Christians. Can you point to some of them who “kill everyone and take their stuff”? You can’t, because you are falsely representing the fundamentals of these religions. We know what the earliest Christians were like, because of the book of Acts. We know what the earliest Muslims were like: they were warlords. There are the archetypes of fundamentalism in the respective religions.

      • Bonobos being a closer physical fit to us suggests that they are closer to us than chimps are — and they are not male dominant.

        Every culture has a division of labor by gender. But that does not create inequality in and of itself: A World Before Male Dominance https://broadblogs.com/2015/04/17/a-world-before-male-dominance/

  5. I completely agree with you. I’ve seen so many cases, some in my own family, where women turn against women and truly, it makes them gain ‘something’ in one way or another. When the same thing happens with a big scenario, the gain naturally becomes greater. I’ve even seen women slut-shaming other young women just because of their ‘bold’ dress. I often wonder, why they do so. Perhaps this act is fuelled by some insecurity they feel while seeing a woman more beautiful, fashionable and successful than they are.

  6. Our community has created such culture where it seems normal to be in a world filled with sexism produced by both male or females. Women that subject themselves to this sexism just seem to egg on the problem at hand and don’t actually address it. Similar, to the “trump can grab my pussy” shirt is not a great slogan to advocate for and is pretty gross to be honest. Patriarchy has negatively affected our culture and will continue to poison our youth and will sadly be passed on to the next generation. It is difficult to fix the system in our society because it has been so deeply rooted that patriarchy seems normal, but hopefully feministic views will restore some balance to this problem. I never noticed the fact that in language males usually come first, which was an interesting thing to discover and shows how many little things prove the patriarchy in our society.

  7. Amelia de Leon

    Women and girls are pitted against each other from day one. We’re basically led to believe that there is finite space for women to be successful in the world.Since it’s designed to look like a competition, the motivation to help and support other women gets sapped from the atmosphere as we fight to do everything we can to keep other women from getting what we want. Women often turn to using words as weapons, knowing how and where to hit to do the most damage to people’s emotions as well as their public image. Women forget or don’t realize that they’re basically just fighting the men’s battles for them and not breaking any sort of cycle. I think some women end up sexist because the patriarchy and society are determined to keep trying to separate women into factions to make us appear divided and weaker.

  8. I feel like women who are supporting patriarchy to this level (wearing T-shirts like that), are in some way embarrassing themselves. For me it seems like they do not have any self respect as a women because how can you respect yourself if you disrespect other women in the way.

    As sad as it is, I also think that some women are so used to living in a patriarchal world that they have got comfortable in the world where men will take care of her and fulfill her dreams if she will follow his rules. What some women lack to understand that every one of us has a chance to fulfill those dreams and whatever it is you might want, yourself.
    Sometimes it’s the question of courage as well; once you have lived in world like this it might be hard and scary to step up to your voice and support equal rights for everyone.

  9. As I progress in this course, I find it fascinating how many different instances in my every day life can be blamed on the internalized sexism within our culture. Throughout my life, I have met girls proud to say that they “can’t get along with girls” and proceed to label their own gender as “catty” and “fake”. I have always wondered why this perspective is not only accepted, but encouraged, and why women are comfortable with putting themselves down. It is so crucial to recognize this sexism within ourselves and understand that the female gender can only succeed when women can shed their internalized sexism and work together to form a proud, universally-fronted community.

  10. Especially with this political climate it was very easy to notice women supporting Donald Trump, and it was astonishing to see that they would support someone who is demeaning them. Reading this post it is a little easier to understand that it was mostly white women of money who were supporting him, and they have been seen as second to men their whole life, so why should anything change now. It is very interesting to grow up and learn that even women can be brain washed into thinking in a male perspective, because that is the way America has been, unless Feminists keep fighting against it.

    • Yeah, and it was a mix of White women with money and poor women with money. What they have in common is being part of the Republican coalition which is constituted of the selfish moneyed elite (the unselfish ones vote Democratic), but they weren’t the early Trump supporters. They voted for him over Hillary. The core Trump supporters were mostly working class cultural conservatives — whether they are conservative on race or sex.

  11. I really can’t get over the fact that someone would wear a T-shirt that says “Trump can grab my pussy.” Who are these people?

  12. “Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers and Mona Charen are a few women who have gained both money and fame by complaining about feminism. But also misrepresenting it as man-hating.”


    All of these women are feminist. The difference is they are critical of this new brand of feminism (modern feminism) that IS man hating to the core. They do not subscribe to modern feminist ideology which says men are bad. We are rapist (unless you are a Muslim man I suppose).

    It is criticism of men unabated.

  13. I’m not sure “Patriarchy” can be tied to a political candidate or a political party. Would the world today really have been that much different had Clinton and the liberals won? You could say yes, but than was there no “Patriarchy” over the eight years of the prior administration.

    You could say there was, but it is now worse with this administration. I think one can overall see progress if they have a longer perspective, but in the end we all see what we want to see.

    I never saw the election as a vote for or a vote against “Patriarchy”, but more a mandate on the pro and con of an increasingly powerful federal government, foreign policy, open boarders, loss of manufacturing jobs, etc.

    • We definitely live in a patriarchal world no matter who is President. I was using the Republican convention to highlight how much sexism against women was being expressed by men and women alike. There is sexism in both parties because all of us have unconsciously internalized patriarchy to some degree. There is sexism in both parties.

      That said, it’s worse in the Republican Party because the Republicans are made of three collisions, two of which are culturally conservative (the Christian coalition and cultural conservatives). Conservatives tend to want to keep things the way they were, and the way they were was more sexist than making progress toward gender equality and racially quality – and recognizing the work and dignity of all of us. Progress. Progressives. Get it?

      If Clinton jad won the working class voters who wanted a better shot would be better off. Trump, as usual, created a fantasy that people fell for. But when he got in power he aligned with the moneyed elite on nearly every issue.

      Trump voters feel like they aren’t being heard and then Trump appointed someone to the Supreme Court who is likely to uphold big money in politics. Money talks and big money in politics drowns out the speech of ordinary citizens.

      Clinton also would have had policies that better helped working people. When you looked at both of their plans The only thing Trump was really clear on was tax cuts for the rich. Hillary was promoting the idea that if you get money into working people’s hands they will spend it, which creates demand, which makes sales and profits go up. Everyone wins.

      And we wouldn’t be having the constitutional crisis we are seeing now as Trump fired someone who was investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

      • I live in the rust belt, Clinton and the Democratic party didn’t do so well with the working class in the closed up factory towns. As for the Russians, didn’t they just reveal how the Democratic party did everything possible to keep Bernie from winning the nomination.

        Trump and Bernie were both anti-establishment candidates. I suspect Bernie’s supporters either stayed home or voted for Trump.

        Anyway, I always enjoy hearing your views.

      • Yeah, Hillary’s message was totally off for the times. Yet if you looked at their economic plans hers was better for the working class. She needed to get that message out. And Bernie shouldn’t have been thwarted.

      • “If Clinton had won the working class voters who wanted a better shot would be better off. ”

        Then why were they not better off under Obama? Our food stamp President!

        All she was going to do was to continue his lame bullshit policies.

      • GOP Congress blocked $ to stimulate economy, hoping for failed President. As hoped, the people largely blamed Obama, not Congress. Although employment greatly grew under him — just not as much as it could have.

  14. Double standards are so embedded in our culture we often don’t recognize when we’re reinforcing them.

    Many women share similar experiences of having their actions judged by a different yardstick than their male colleagues. I once had a client who, when she asked why she was passed over for a leadership role she felt she’d earned, was told she was “a little too nice for such a tough job

    Given the pervasiveness of everyday sexism, there is clearly much to be done to arrive at the day where gender is a non-issue in how we parent, speak, lead and pursue our ambitions.

    • Yes. And since we all internalize our culture (societies understandings and up in our heads) even people who are harmed have to work to overcome prejudices against themselves and their kind.

  15. happyfreeconfusedlonelyatthesametime

    Oh those women make me so angry!

      • “Plus, said he’d help workers but so far has sided w/ elite.”

        How? His cabinet is no less elitist than President Obama..I would argue it is less. It is not full of Ivy League people and Harvard cronies.

        As for the 3/4 comment…I am not surprised you did not say it was 90%!!!

        The Left is really overplaying its hand. I am loving it. Now we are seeing polls showing that many voters who did not vote for President Trump would do so now because they are totally turned off the grossly unfair treatment of President Trump by the bullshit fake media and the Democrats.

        We have Democrats who are refusing to allow ICE to deport murderers and rapists all to take a stab at the President. I wonder just how that is going to fly over in heartland of America. I cannot wait for 2018!

        God Bless America!!!!

      • Friday’s post is a response to your comment. Check it out.

        The only polling I have seen that sounds like what you’re talking about is Trump voters saying that they would vote for Trump again but Hillary voters saying that they would not vote for her again. But that doesn’t mean that Hillary voters would vote for Trump. It means they would vote for someone else like Bernie. When I heard the question asked I thought, “if I had it to do over again I would have supported Bernie in the primaries, not Hillary.”

        It’s sort of like all the people in Utah who said they would never vote for Trump, but did. If it were Trump versus Hillary I’ll bet Hillary would win given what people are witnessing, leaving Trump at historically low approval ratings for this early in office — 36-39% approval.

        Otherwise I suppose you are talking about sanctuary cities? People misunderstand that. They think that we are trying to shield people from being deported. The point of sanctuary cities is to make sure that people will report crimes without fearing being deported. Because if people fear reporting crimes the crime rate goes up, and that hurts everyone. So you have your police force. And then you have immigration officers.

    • Perhaps they are not wearing blinders?

      Maybe, as women, they know a liar when they see one.

      • Trump is the most lying Pres. candidate ever. 3/4 things he said untrue. Uninformed, he had to make stuff up.

        Plus, said he’d help workers but so far has sided w/ elite. Why do you all stick with him when he does that? At least why not push him to help workers instead of just defend him?

      • And Trump won’t fight for the people who voted for him. Witness Trumpcare:

        The most surprising aspect of the politics of the AHCA is that by and large the winners cast majorities for Clinton and the losers backed Trump.

        voters hit the hardest — eligible for at least $5,000 less in tax credits under the Republican plan — supported Mr. Trump by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent.

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