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The Internalized Misogyny Fueling Recent Social Media Feuds

This week the celebrity news cycle is filled with various social media feuds targeting high profile women. Two women, in particular, Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen faced brutal criticism from other women for how they choose to conduct themselves in the public eye. For Markle, the critics took aim at her mothering, and Teigen, her business ventures.

At the root of this criticism is an unfortunate aspect of the patriarchal culture we live in, internalized misogyny. Internalized misogyny is not an outward belief that women are less than, instead it is a viewpoint that often manifests in behavior that causes women to hold ourselves or other women to different standards. Internalized misogyny can cause even the most enlightened among us to undervalue ourselves or other women in the most insidious of ways.

This is what is at the root of this week’s social media feuds. Both Markle and Teigen faced harsh criticism from other women online for simply existing.

Compounding this issue is the fact that both Markle and Teigen are women of color, meaning that the misogyny they face is complicated further by racial biases. Both of the women who publicly came for Markle and Teigen were white women.

Meghan Markle Reads to Her Son, Somehow Causing Controversy

Author Emily Giffin caused a significant stir after her comments on an Instagram video posted by Markle went viral. Markle posted a video of herself reading to her 1-year-old son Archie in support of Save the Children UK. Giffin shared screenshots of text messages sent to a friend on her Instagram stories calling Markle “unmaternal” and a “phony”.

Giffin’s response is evidence of a much larger issue than one bored woman with an inexplicable ax to grind. It is evidence of the internalized misogyny the women in our culture direct at other women. It is evidence of how we hold each other to utterly unattainable standards of womanhood and motherhood. A black woman sits reading to her baby in order to support a charity. Somehow it immediately becomes fodder for criticism and hate.

Chrissy Teigen Faces Criticism for Making Money Doing What She Loves

In a similar vein, Chrissy Teigen recently decided to take a break from Twitter after prominent food columnist Alison Roman lambasted Teigen’s career choices in an interview with The New Consumer.

Roman said that Teigen’s career path “horrifies” her, implying that Teigen is a sell-out for converting her successful cookbook into a product line. Roman directed similar criticism at Marie Kondo. Teigen is not one to take such comments lying down. So, the whole thing escalated into a very public Twitter feud in which Roman came out looking pretty bad.

These social media feuds involve different specifics and different people, but it all comes from the same idea. An idea that has been beaten into all of us about how women should behave and what is appropriate for us to do. Women, especially women of color, must conduct themselves in a societally approved fashion. Otherwise, they open themselves up to a world of criticism from supposed white feminists looking for a fight to pick.

Markle and Teigen will continue to be the amazing women that they are, regardless of any online misogyny directed their way. They should read to their children however they want. They should do whatever product line that helps them further their careers and supports their families. Any self-respecting feminist can learn from this. It’s important to think twice about where the criticism is coming from before remarking on another woman’s choices or actions.