Internalized Sexism Inventory - 2011

Here’s an “inventory” of some of the potential and logical consequences of internalized sexism, as seen in our attitudes and behaviors.

1)    Do I give more credibility to men’s respect, approval, praise or criticism than women’s?

2)    When selecting providers of critical services for myself or a loved one (eg. surgeon, legal counsel, etc.) do I feel more confident of men’s or women’s skills?

3)    As I board an airplane, or am rolled into an ER, or call for police intervention in a violent situation, if I discover the pilot, or the ER doc, or the responding officer is a woman - what is my first feeling? Do I in any way question her complete competence for my safety?

4)    When I dress, how much do I seek men’s approval for what I’m wearing?

5)    Do I trust women? How often do I mistrust another woman’s intentions?

6)    When I need information about something technical, mechanical, mathematical, car repair, plumbing, computer or science - related, etc. Do I assume I can’t figure it out? Do I usually first ask or hire a man?

7)    Do I ever censor my own opinion and or passion when in conversation / discussion / argument with men?

8)    Do I ever get embarrassed by other women?

9)    Do I ever try to silence other women?

10)    Do I compete with other women for the attention / approval of men?

11)    Have I put down another woman to other women or men?

12)    Do I diet often?

13)    Do I shave my body hair, pluck, dye or otherwise remove hair from eyebrows, face, arm pits, legs?

14)    Do I wear clothes that restrict my freedom of movement?

15)    Do I wear shoes with heels over 1” high?

16)    How often do I feel I should put on make-up before I go out of the house?

17)    How often do I reinforce gender stereotypes in the children in my life?  Do I buy toys for the children in my life that conform to “traditional” gender roles?  Do I encourage, so called, “feminine” behavior or clothing; or try to tone down “tomboy” behavior?

18)    How often do I doubt or second guess myself?

19)    How much time and energy do I spend reviewing what I said or worry that I said the wrong thing, at the last meeting, or at the party. How often do I feel I said or did something stupid or wrong?

20)    Do I ever feel like a “fake;” feel incompetent even though I have more training and/or experience than most of the men in my area?

21)    How often do I make myself “smaller?”  Take up less physical space (bus, train, airplane, waiting room). Speak more quietly? Make my voice higher? Gesture less largely, less passionately?

22)    How often do I DEFER to men? In my work, decisions, food, pleasure, sex, anything?

23)    How often do my declarative statements sound like a question?

24)    How many times each day do I say “I’m sorry,” or apologize for something?

25)    Do I let men interrupt me? Do I let women interrupt me? Who am I more likely to I interrupt or “correct” in public, men or women?

26)    When watching someone perform some difficult task with great skill, have I ever said “I could never do that!)

27)    Have I ever undermined or sabotaged another woman?

28)    Have I protected men from accusations of sexist behavior? or minimized the seriousness of their behavior?

29)    Do I hold women to a higher standard than men?

30)    How often do I expect perfection from myself, or hold myself to a higher standard than I do other people?

31)    Do I ever talk to other women about my disagreement with a particular woman, rather than talk directly with her?

32)    Do I hesitate to “make waves” even when my values are compromised?

33)    How often do I change plans with women friends to accommodate a man’s schedule?

34)    How often am I critical or unsupportive of women’s leadership?

35)    Have I ever declared “I’m not a feminist.”

36)    When someone pays me a compliment, how often do I protest or minimize the compliment?

37)    Have I ever blamed myself for the actions of other people?  (Thought I deserved the angry outburst, the insult, or to be lied to, disrespected, coerced, hit, assaulted?)

38)    Have I ever blamed a woman for the actions of some man? (Held her responsible for his behavior?)

39)    Have I ever said or thought “women are our worst enemy?”

40)    How do I usually feel when I look in a mirror?

© 1999-2011      jona olsson      cultural bridges to justice