You Disgust Me
Seven Ways Women Disparage Other Women and Seven Ways to Respond to Their Internalized Misogyny
Facebook can be a hostile place.
You probably are already aware of that. No doubt you’ve experienced the wrath of your neighbor down the street who you thought was “nice.” That is until you posted something innocuous like—oh I don’t know—you don’t use herbicides on your yard because you want the bees to enjoy the first fruits of spring from the blossoming clover and dandelion flowers.
Now you find yourself on the receiving end of a rant about “you being the problem” when she’s spending hundreds for her pristine yard to stay dandelion-less.
Or something like that.
Even worse—go ahead and upload that pic of you at a Black Lives Matter protest, hit that post button, sit back and watch Aunt Velona go off on you six ways to Sunday about how you were “raised to know better” than to hang with antifa.
Dandelions and social justice seem to bring out the inner demons in people.
The Issues that Divide Us:
America has often been described as a melting pot, a blending of many cultures, traditions and beliefs from around the world. But the reality is far from this. We are a country where that symbolic pot of humanity has been simmering, its temperatures incrementally rising with each passing decade. Those decades hold the stories of the historically oppressed pushing against the barriers of the patriarchal systems. The simmering became a slow boil as the marginalized challenged the gatekeeping of freedom and equity. As long-fought for rights were won for some, the entitled still raged inside that pot because they’ve equated their entitlement to tell another how to live is a loss of freedom for themselves.
It isn’t—it’s oppression.
Plain and simple.
But when your indoctrination from your white Christian patriarchal upbringing preached this to you every Sunday, it’s hard to let it go.
So, the slow boil continued, until one day their prejudices, phobias, racism and misogyny were anthropomorphized into a human being who descended the escalator, wearing a poorly fitting suit, relishing in the attention of the moment to declare that “I am running for President of the United States.”
When a television star turned politician runs on a campaign of sexism, racism, xenophobia and homophobia, it gives permission for others to slither out of the darkness and openly express their rage that equality for others means loss of entitlement for themselves.
The pot spectacularly boils over, spilling hatred and bigotry on anyone within close proximity of it.
And now Facebook is not only hostile—it is a war zone.
Social Media and the Weaponization of Faith:
In late 2015, I was accepted into seminary. This was a defining moment of my spiritual journey. Although I had been deconstructing for several years prior to applying to seminary, I had done it covertly. I knew the consequences of rejecting a religious heritage that was the cornerstone of my familial bonds and upon which many of my friendships were based. To say I feared becoming the target of their judgment was putting it lightly. I knew what it meant to lose favor, and I saw what it did to a person to be considered an outsider from the very group who used to love and support you.
With acceptance into seminary, I knew that my ability to be covert was coming to an end. I also knew it was time, for my story that led me out of the church doors would help others.
So, I began to write and post to social media just as the political spotlight turned on Donald Trump. I initially experienced many men offended that I was sharing my experience about seminary and celebrating how I, a woman, could be called into ministry.
“Under whose male authority are you authorized to preach?” they would demand. Some would label me a heretic or an apostate. Those labels stung at first, but they soon became the catalyst for me to press on. I knew there was nothing I could say to change their minds about me, for I had once been just like them—convinced that I was the keeper of the exclusive knowledge of Christianity. That exclusive knowledge gave me the right to be the jury and judge over all of those who didn’t believe as I did. Yes, these are indeed powerful indoctrinations that convince us of our moral and spiritual superiority.
Women Carrying Water for the Patriarchy:
As time went on, the hate-filled rhetoric continued to escalate until those who were attacking me in the comments of my posts far outnumbered those who were supporting me. This isn’t surprising. Who wants the mass wave of Christian love that is expressed through vitriol aimed at them? Daily, I spent hours cleaning up those comments, blocking the bigots and encouraging safe and sacred dialogue between me and my growing number of followers.
As exhausting as it was to deal with the men who were attacking me, the most toxic and hurtful comments came from women. Here is a fact that is hard for people to accept—women can be the fiercest defender of religious patriarchy. And by fiercest defender, I mean the most hate-filled, judgmental, and vitriolic kind of human being.
It seems counter-intuitive to think that a woman who believes her salvation is intricately linked to her willingness to be humble, submissive and the nurturer and caretaker of her home and family is the same woman who will wield such wicked attacks at others who do not belong in her Christian club. But that is indeed the reality.
One of the most hate-filled tirades I received was when I posted what I thought was a harmless video about preparing to attend the ordination ceremony of the seminary students who were one year ahead of me.
“You disgust me,” she posted and then went on to say that from my excessive makeup, my idiocy revealed in my childish posts, my arrogance for posting without a man’s consent, my risking my entire family’s salvation by not going to church, and by my showing such disregard for the souls of others who would surely peril if they continued to follow me, I was a woman of Satan.
Wait a minute?
I wear too much makeup?
You may think I jest, but I am not. Out of all of the hurtful things that this woman hurled at me, the one that stood out the most was that she thought I had too much makeup on. I literally laughed out loud. I recalled my 3 ½ minute makeup routine that gets me out of the house each day and quickly realized that this woman’s religious indoctrination was so entrenched into her psyche that she was pulled every insult she had and hurled it my way.
This is what carrying water for the patriarchy looks like. It’s important for this woman to be seen as an obedient servant to her faith. That obedience includes telling a stranger on social media that she is responsible for everything in the world, ranging from who will be hurled to hell to keeping Ulta in business.
They no longer have power over you.
I distinctly remember the day that comment was posted. I moved swiftly to protect my followers by screenshotting the comment (because I knew there was a writing in that moment to share today—and alas, here we are), deleting the comment and blocking the person.
All done in a matter of seconds.
It was after I had completed this simple task that I realized how this comment prompted zero response from me, other than a brief chuckle as I mused at how desperate it seemed. She clearly needed to hurt me, and I couldn’t have been farther from being hurt.
I was amused.
How interesting. When did the sting of rejection and judgment soften into a resolve that uplifted and affirmed me? Why did I no longer feel the sense of responsibility to over-explain myself to people who would never accept me for who I now was? How could I have easily moved past a comment filled with such vitriol and disgust for me with such ease that it barely registered on my emotional radar?
This moment of self-awareness flooded over me as I realized that I had risen to a new level of empowerment and healing. This woman’s comment proved that their words had no power over me anymore, and I was now walking freely away from that part of my religious heritage that taught me submission and obedience to a weaponized belief system.
Women Released From Patriarchy:
That experience was years ago. Looking back, it’s hard to remember the me who would spend hours replying to those toxic comments. I’ve healed far beyond the reach of religious patriarchal influences. But many women have not, and they continue to “carry water” for it—meaning they are happy to dump water on other women and historically oppressed if it means it protects their position on the hierarchical structure of patriarchy.
Women who carry this water are often the ones who are the most toxic with their beliefs, with words that can cut their intended targets to the core. The damage they have done is incalculable. The fallout can be seen in the lives of those who deconstruct from these belief systems and begin to heal from the harm they have caused.
While some of this damage is apparent—posting a comment like “you disgust me” is clearly an attempt to cut someone to the core. However, this water carrying can exist of more innocuous judgment that still inflicts harm on its intended targets. Below are some examples of things that women have said who have internalized their patriarchal indoctrination in an attempt to gatekeep another person’s life:
It's important to approach this topic with sensitivity, so if you find yourself triggered by these statements, please offer yourself some grace and time to continue reading:
- "You should focus more on settling down and starting a family, rather than pursuing your career." - Implies that a woman's primary role is to prioritize family and suggests that career aspirations are less important.
- "You're too emotional; try to be more rational like men." - Suggests that emotional expression is a weakness and reinforces the stereotype that men are more logical, and women are overly emotional.
- "Wearing revealing clothes invites unwanted attention; dress modestly to avoid trouble." - Places the burden on women to control others' actions by policing their own clothing choices, reinforcing victim-blaming.
- "She probably got that promotion because she's sleeping with the boss." - Discredits a woman's professional achievements by insinuating that her success is solely based on her personal relationships or appearance.
- "Why do you bother participating in male-dominated fields? It's not meant for women." - Reinforces the notion that certain industries or roles should be exclusive to men and discourages women from pursuing their interests or aspirations.
- "You're not like other women; you're cool." - Implies that femininity or traits associated with women are inferior, and by distancing herself from other women, the speaker seeks validation from conforming to societal male-centric standards.
- "Stop being so demanding and just be grateful for what you have." - Discourages women from advocating for their needs and rights, reinforcing the idea that they should accept substandard treatment and be passive.
Protect Your Peace—Step Into Your Power:
While statements like the ones above can be hurtful, your healing journey should include time for internal introspection and reflection, soul work to uncover those places where toxic religious experiences are still holding you back, therapy and working with a seasoned, experienced spiritual teacher or mentor.
It’s also important to practice using your voice to protect your peace and reclaim your power. Here are some suggestions for phrases you can practice to create the boundaries needed to safeguard your peace.
- "I will not tolerate disrespectful or sexist comments. Please refrain from making them in my presence."
- "It's essential for me to have my opinions and experiences respected. Let's engage in a conversation that values mutual understanding."
- "I am not interested in discussing or justifying my choices or actions based on gender expectations. My decisions are valid and do not require approval."
- "Your comments that reinforce gender stereotypes make me uncomfortable. I would appreciate it if you refrain from making such remarks around me."
- "I am setting a boundary around discussions that perpetuate discrimination or inequality. Let's focus on fostering understanding and inclusivity instead."
- "I value equality and respect in our interactions. Please be mindful of the language you use and the attitudes you express."
- "It's important for me to be treated as an equal and not be subjected to sexist behavior. Let's maintain a respectful environment."
- "I will not accept being silenced or dismissed based on my gender. I expect my voice to be heard and valued."
- "Your attempts to enforce traditional gender roles on me are not acceptable. I embrace my autonomy and the freedom to define my own path."
- "I am actively working to dismantle patriarchal beliefs and behaviors. I invite you to join me in fostering a more inclusive and equitable perspective."
Remember, it's crucial to assert your boundaries confidently and consistently. Stay firm in your convictions and surround yourself with people who respect and support your autonomy and equal worth.
It takes practice. Be patient and gentle with yourself if you find the words don’t come, or you falter as you try to protect your boundaries.
Also remember that quietly walking away, not returning phone calls or messages and refusing to be in the company of someone who disrespects you is a valid and sacred option.
Whether you encounter people in social media or in your personal life who want to wield judgment on you, never forget that their need to control you is not about you….
it’s about them and their belief in their moral or spiritual superiority.
You are Divine and perfect just as you are, Beloved.
Step into your authenticity.
Break free from the chains of toxic religious patriarchy.
Dive into the waters of living a life that is unapologetically you.
The water is deep, still and calm here.
And it is indeed sacred.
Looking to further your healing journey? Rev Karla understands that everyone’s spiritual journey is unique and deeply personal, that is why we offer communities for those desiring a safe and supportive environment. Engage with like-minded souls, and embark on a sacred journey of deconstruction, spiritual growth, and healing. Visit us online to join a community or Live event that speaks to you.