For most of my life, I emulated internalized misogyny at nearly every turn. Even now I still find glimpses of it in my thoughts from time to time. And this is after years of active work to rid myself of that particular brand of toxicity. For most of my life, I was an oblivious Pick Me girl who grew into a Pick Me woman. 

The thing about internalized misogyny is that we’re usually unaware we’re perpetuating it. We don’t even realize we’re tearing other girls and women down most of the time. We’re just desperate to be distinguished from them.

We believe that we must be different than other girls and women. Why? Because we’re conditioned to believe that all girls and women are the same. We know we are unique individuals with personalities and ideas of our own.

Therefore identifying with other girls and women who are all the same as one another defies logic. We fail to realize that every girl and woman is unique in their own way. As mentioned, from childhood we’re socialized into this is conditional thinking.

Social conditioning

How old were you when you heard someone use the label of girl to insult a boy? When you were expected to participate in household chores but your male family members weren’t? What about when a woman expressed the same anger as her male counterpart? Was she called a bitch?

Somewhere along the way, we bought into the misguided notion that all girls and women have a hive mind. A collective mindset that leaves them incapable of any depth of thought, meaningful opinions, or interesting personality traits.

We must subconsciously understand that boys and men hate a certain type of girl or woman. Otherwise, why would we vocalize sentiments along the lines of “I’m not like other girls”?

But what is that type? Girls and women are subjected to any number of sweeping generalizations. Often ones that don’t summarize even the majority of the sex or gender. Yet the Pick Me girls and women accept these stereotypes as valid. I know, I remember being indoctrinated into that thinking. 

Being a Pick Me woman

When women tear down other women we all lose. There are many terms for women who do this. But perhaps the most harmful is the so-called Pick Me Woman. They have internalized misogyny to the degree that they are determined to let men know they’re ‘not like other women.’

In a patriarchal society that perpetuates misogyny, it’s natural to internalize that value. At some point or another, we’ve all been a Pick Me so I’m not saying this to be combative. This is why it’s important to recognize the behavior of Pick Me women. When we envision our highest selves we don’t picture tearing other women down as part of that narrative.

Pick Me women seek the approval of men by typecasting all women. Think: all women are emotional, shallow, after a man’s money, complaining all the time, never want sex, and similar generalized sentiments.

The effect

The harm Pick Me women cause is that they are consciously creating a divide among women. It’s an us versus them mentality that hurts everyone. The implication is that there are ‘bad’ women who do all the things misogynistic men take issue with. And then there’s Pick Mes; the exception.

Being the exception means the rules don’t apply to them. It means they have no work to do, no need for self-reflection or self-improvement. If they’re already perfect, how are they going to grow and learn to be a better ally?

The other problem this reaction creates is accountability. All people who engage in misogyny, internalized, or not, contribute to the systemic oppression of women. Therefore all Pick Me women are both part of the problem and required to solve it.

If we refuse to listen to the part we play in the issue, we’re unable to take accountability. Consequently, we remain uneducated on the ways in which we can solve the problem. 

Looking back

It’s undeniable that internalized misogyny has done a number on all of us. It takes a long time to correct the miseducation around other women’s roles in our lives. Sadly, we’re conditioned to view them as competition with devious intentions towards us. This paranoid approach to female relationships is not only damaging to ourselves but also other women.

How many times have you gotten the feeling that for no reason, another woman didn’t like you? We’d be lying if we said those experiences didn’t weigh on us. That they didn’t impact our self-esteem to some degree.

What other people think of us shapes our view and opinion of ourselves. Whether it should or shouldn’t is a discussion for another time, the reality is that it does. It’s difficult to assess how deep the impact of internalized misogyny is. However, I’d venture a confident guess that it shapes our personality to a larger degree than it should. 

Naturally, we’re free to work through these psychological barriers at any point in our lives. First, we have to acknowledge they exist. We have to have the courage to self reflect long enough and deep enough to understand exactly what is holding us back. 

Equally important is to do the work required to understand how we hold other women back. And what we can change to be supportive and inclusive of our sisters. 

Self worth

Perhaps the most harmful and lasting impact of the Pick Me mentality is that our self worth is tied up in the approval of another person. This is problematic at face value, but doubly so when you’re seeking approval from someone who despises your sex. How are you going to win them over?

He will never pick you. Not really. There’s not a chance of him seeing you for who you are and fully accept you. He doesn’t see your sex as three-dimensional beings.

Unfortunately, he fails to recognize that women have uniqueness along with complex thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc. Why would he ever see you differently from the rest of your sex?

Ironically, misogynists tend to have a lot of overlapping characteristics with one another. Arguably, deeming them void of their own uniqueness.

The Next Step

The sad truth is that for misogynists you will only ever be a caricature of a person. However, this no longer matters once you begin to shift your attitude. Work towards building your self-esteem upon your own opinion of yourself instead of relying on someone else’s opinion of you.

When you rid yourself of the Pick Me mentality, you’ll notice the quality of men around you becomes elevated. The misogynists fade away and you’re left with decent, interesting, three-dimensional men.

Yes, it’s initially terrifying and hard to break free from internalized misogyny. It’s a struggle to stop caring what toxic men think of you. But the personal growth and self-love that comes from it are absolutely breathtaking.

I’d love to know…

What Pick Me woman moment have you had?

When did you realize you’d outgrown your Pick Me mentality? 

What would be different about yourself if internalized misogyny didn’t exist? 

How do you support other women?