Sex Roles

, Volume 61, Issue 1–2, pp 101–109 | Cite as

Internalized Misogyny as a Moderator of the Link between Sexist Events and Women’s Psychological Distress

  • Dawn M. Szymanski
  • Arpana Gupta
  • Erika R. Carr
  • Destin Stewart
Original Article


This study examined the relationship between internalized misogyny and two other forms of internalized sexism, self-objectification and passive acceptance of traditional gender roles. In addition, it examined the moderating role of internalized misogyny in the link between sexist events and psychological distress. Participants consisted of 274 heterosexual women who were recruited at a large southern university in the United States and completed an online survey. Results indicated that internalized misogyny was related to, but conceptually distinct from self-objectification and passive acceptance. Findings also indicated that greater experiences of sexist events were associated with higher levels of psychological distress. In addition, internalized misogyny intensified the relationship between external sexism and psychological distress.


Internalized sexism Sexist events Oppression Feminist theory 


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychological Association. (2007). Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women. American Psychologist, 62, 949–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bargad, A., & Hyde, J. S. (1991). Women’s studies: A study of feminist identity development in women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 181–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, L. S. (1994). Subversive dialogues. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. Buchanan, T., & Smith, J. L. (1999). Using the Internet for psychological research: Personality testing on the World Wide Web. British Journal of Psychology, 90, 125–144.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burch, B. (1987). Barriers to intimacy: Conflicts over power, dependency, and nurturing in lesbian relationships. In Boston Lesbian Psychologies Collective (Ed.), Lesbian psychologies: Explorations and challenges, pp. 126–141. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. Corning, A. F. (2002). Self-esteem as a moderator between perceived discrimination and psychological distress among women. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49, 117–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cyr, J. J., McKenna-Foley, J. M., & Peacock, E. (1985). Facture structure of the SCL-90-R: Is there one? Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 571–578.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Derogatis, L. R., Lipman, R. S., Rickets, K., Uhlenhuth, E. H., & Covi, L. (1974). The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL): A self-report symptom inventory. Behavioral Science, 19, 1–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Downing, N., & Roush, K. (1985). From passive acceptance to active commitment: A model of feminist identity development for women. The Counseling Psychologist, 13, 695–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Enns, C. Z. (2004). Feminist theories and feminist psychotherapies: Origins, themes, and Diversity (2nd ed.). New York: Haworth.Google Scholar
  13. Fischer, A. R., & Holz, K. B. (2007). Perceived discrimination and women’s psychological distress: The roles of collective and personal self-esteem. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 154–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fischer, A. R., Tokar, D. M., Mergl, M. M., Good, G. E., Hill, M. S., & Blum, S. A. (2000). Assessing women’s feminist identity development: Studies of convergent, discriminant, and structural validity. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fitzgerald, L. F., Drasgow, F., Hulin, C. L., Gefand, M. J., & Magley, V. J. (1997). Antecedents and consequences of sexual harassment in organizations: A test of an integrated model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82, 578–589.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frazier, P. A., Tix, A. P., & Barron, K. E. (2004). Testing moderator and mediator effects in counseling psychology research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 115–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gosling, S. D., Vazire, S., Srivastava, S., & John, O. P. (2004). Should we trust web-based studies: A comparative analysis of six preconceptions about Internet questionnaires. American Psychologist, 59, 93–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Klonoff, E. A., & Landrine, H. (1995). The Schedule of Sexist Events: A measure of lifetime and recent sexist discrimination in women’s lives. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 439–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klonoff, E. A., Landrine, H., & Campbell, R. (2000). Sexist discrimination may account for well-known gender differences in psychiatric symptoms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 24, 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Koss, M. P., Bailey, J. A., Yan, N. P., Herrera, V. M., & Lichter, E. L. (2003). Depression and PTSD in survivors of male violence: Research and training initiatives to facilitate recovery. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 130–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Landrine, H., Klonoff, E. A., Gibbs, J., Masnning, V., & Lund, M. (1995). Physical and psychiatric correlates of gender discrimination: An application of the Schedule of Sexist Events. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 19, 473–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McKinley, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1996). The Objectified Body Consciousness Scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 181–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Michalak, E. E., & Szabo, A. (1998). Guidelines for internet research: An update. European Psychologist, 3(1), 70–75.Google Scholar
  25. Miner-Rubino, K., Twenge, J. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2002). Trait self-objectification in women: Affective and personality correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moradi, B., & Funderburk, J. R. (2006). Roles of perceived sexist events and perceived social support in the mental health of women seeking counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53, 464–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moradi, B., & Subich, L. M. (2002). Perceived sexist events and feminist identity development attitudes: Links to women’s psychological distress. The Counseling Psychologist, 30, 44–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moradi, B., & Subich, L. M. (2003). A concomitant examination of the relations of perceived racist and sexist events to psychological distress for African American women. The Counseling Psychologist, 31(4), 451–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moradi, B., & Subich, L. M. (2004). Examining the moderating role of self-esteem in the link between experiences of perceived sexist events and psychological distress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 51, 50–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moradi, B., Dirks, D., & Matteson, A. V. (2005). Roles of sexual objectification experiences and internalization of standards of beauty in eating disorder symptomatology: A test and extension of Objectification Theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52, 420–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Muehlenkamp, J. J., & Saris-Baglama, R. N. (2002). Self-objectification and its psychological outcomes for college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Myers, R. (1990). Classical and modern regression with application (2nd ed.). Boston: Duxbury.Google Scholar
  33. Noll, S. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). A mediational model linking self-objectification, body shame, and disordered eating. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22, 623–636.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. O’Neil, J. (1981). Patterns of gender role conflict and strain: Sexism and fear of femininity in men’s lives. The Personnel and Guidance Journal, 60, 203–210.Google Scholar
  35. Pavalko, E. K., Mossakowski, K. N., & Hamilton, V. J. (2003). Does perceived discrimination affect health? Longitudinal relationships between workplace discrimination and women’s physical and emotional health. Journal of Health and social Behavior, 43, 18–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Piggot, M. (2004). Double jeopardy: Lesbians and the legacy of multiple stigmatized identities. Psychology Strand at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia: Unpublished thesis.Google Scholar
  37. Polusny, M. A., & Follette, V. M. (1995). Long-term correlates of child sexual abuse: Theory and review of the empirical literature. Applied and Preventive Psychology, 4, 143–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Saakvitne, K. W., & Pearlman, L. A. (1993). The impact of internalized misogyny and violence against women on feminine identity. In E. P. Cook (Ed.), Women, relationships, and power: Implications for counseling. Alexandria. VA: American Counseling Association.Google Scholar
  39. Sabik, N. J., & Tylka, T. L. (2006). Do feminist identity styles moderate the relation between perceived sexist events and disordered eating? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 77–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmidt, W. C. (1997). World-Wide Web survey research: Benefits, potential problems, and solutions. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments & Computers, 2, 274–279.Google Scholar
  41. Snyder, R., & Hasbrouck, L. (1996). Feminist identity, gender traits, and symptoms of disturbed eating among college women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 593–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swim, J. K., Cohen, L. L., & Hyers, L. L. (1998). Experiencing everyday prejudice and discrimination. In J. K. Swim & C. Stangor (Eds.), Prejudice: The target's perspective (pp. 37–60) San Diego. CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  43. Swim, J. K., Hyers, L. L., Cohen, L. L., & Ferguson, M. J. (2001). Everyday sexism: Evidence for its incidence, nature, and psychological impact from three daily diary studies. Journal of Social Issues, 57, 31–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Szymanski, D. M. (2005). Heterosexism and sexism as correlates of psychological distress in lesbians. Journal of Counseling & Development, 83, 355–360.Google Scholar
  45. Szymanski, D. M., & Henning, S. L. (2007). The role of self- objectification in women’s depression: A test of Objectification Theory. Sex Roles, 56, 45–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Szymanski, D. M., & Kashubeck-West, S. (2008). Mediators of the relationship between internalized oppressions and lesbian and bisexual women’s psychological distress The Counseling Psychologist, 36, 575–594.Google Scholar
  47. Szymanski, D. M., & Owens, G. P. (2009). Group level coping as a moderator between heterosexism and sexism and psychological distress in sexual minority women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33, 197–205.Google Scholar
  48. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  49. Tiggemann, M., & Kuring, J. K. (2004). The role of body objectification in disordered eating and depressed mood. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 43, 299–311.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2001). A test of objectification theory in former dancers and non- dancers. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 25, 57–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolfe, J., & Kimerling, R. (1997). Gender issues in the assessment of posttraumatic stress disorder. In J. P. Wilson & T. M. Keane (Eds.), Assessing psychological trauma and PTSD, pp. 192–238. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  52. Worell, J., & Remer, P. (2003). Feminist perspectives in therapy: Empowering diverse women (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  53. Worell, J., Stilwell, D., Oakley, D., & Robinson, D. (1999). Educating about women and gender: Cognitive, personal, and professional outcomes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23, 797–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zucker, A. N., & Landry, L. J. (2007). Embodied discrimination: The relation of sexism and distress to women’s drinking and smoking behaviors. Sex Roles, 56, 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn M. Szymanski
    • 1
  • Arpana Gupta
    • 1
  • Erika R. Carr
    • 1
  • Destin Stewart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Tennessee-KnoxvilleKnoxvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations