Internalized Sexism Inventory

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