Created By: Xzenu on November 25, 2010 Last Edited By: Xzenu on December 22, 2010

Internalized Categorism

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Alice is a wizard, a squib (non-wizard of wizardly heritage), a heterosexual, a homosexual, a sadomasochist, vanilla (non-sadomasochist), a superhero mutant, a person without superpowers, left-handed, or WHATEVER.

Whatever such category of people it is she belong to, it makes her hate herself. And while the trait itself is not destructive, her self-hatred makes it destructive. It might even lead her to seriously harm herself or others.

When this phenomenon is about homosexuality, it's called "Internalized Homophobia", but the mechanism can be the same no matter what trait it focuses on. However, the trait is always something the character consider herself to be, not something she's considering herself to believe in: If it's her beliefs that gets scorned but she keeps her faith in them, she will see the scorners as bad instead of seeing herself as bad. Lets say she eventually gets Driven to Suicide : If it is out of self-hatred then it is this trope, but if it is because she can't stand the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of other people then it is a variant of Too Good for This Sinful Earth.

"Categorism" is a catch-all word for racism, sexism, homophobia, and all such prejudice where people gets reduced to being a catergory of people - usually a negative stereotype about that category. As a trope, Internalized Categorism cover real social categories as well as fictional ones such as mutants with superpowers.

The self-hatred of Internalised Categorism may cause the character to become a Boomerang Bigot. However, it should be noted that a Boomerang Bigot does not necessarily suffer from any such self-hatred: The character might be too shallow for such emotions or might side with the oppressors for any number of reasons that leaves room for feeling good about oneself: Greed, Stockholm Syndrome, even delusions of grandeur. For example lets say that a certain afroamerican man believes that black people are lazy criminals & rapists. If he doesn't live like that but attributes it to denying his "true nature", then he's only a Boomerang Bigot. If he doesn't really try to get a real job because he's just a negro and/or commit criminal offenses of the drug-related or sex-related kind, going "I'm a negro, I can't help it", then he's only a case of Internalized Racism.

Compare I Just Want to Be Normal.

For other tropes relating to categorism, see Stereotype Reaction Gag and Stop Being Stereotypical.

Specific kinds of Internalized Categorism that have their own tropes:

Specific kinds of Internalized Categorism that are Internal Subtropes here.


Comic Books
  • In Bitchy Butch, the protagonist learned in her teens that she's a horrible person, and took it to heart. As an adult she don't believe in that stuff anymore, but it's obvious that she still have a lot of self-hatred inside her and that her aggressive attitude is partly an overcompensation for this.
  • In Marvel Universe, it is socially stigmatized to be a mutant. That is, to have superpowers. One issue of the new mutants have a buy hanging himself in shame of being able to create beautiful sculptures of light.
  • Much of The Feeling Prince Charles Had is about women learning to hate themselves for being the gender that society consider less valuable.

  • In The SM Judge, Magda initially hate herself for being a masochist, ruining her own life as well as making her husband miserable. This turns around early in the movie, but the character had already wasted decades of her life when the story began.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand starts with a little angel trying to cut off his own wings (and maybe he did that quite often) in his desperation to be normal. Later his father tries to help him get "cured" of having white wings to fly with. Angel changes his mind at the last minute, however, and later use his flight to save his father's life.

  • In Harry Potter, some of the meanest persons are said to hate themselves because they are squibs -and taking this self-hatred out on young wizards that they are jealous of. While more ambiguous, it is also possible that Tom Riddle (Voldemort) himself was embarrassed over being a half-blood and that his Fantastic Racism was partly a overcompensation for this. (This example is for the novels only, the movies don't have room for such nuances.)
  • In one of the official collections of shortstories for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the pratagonist go through severe identity confusion and selfhatred as he discovers that he's actually a child of the evil werewolf clan, the Black Spiral Dancers. (He eventually snap out of it and conclude that he doesn't have to be like his ancestors.)
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • November 25, 2010
    You might want to retitle this You Hate What You Are to go along with (and invert) You Are What You Hate.
  • November 26, 2010
    That name is too wide for this trope, it would include Cursed With Awesome as well as Sex Is Evil And I Amhorny... Actually, it might actually make a good index!

    Started the YKTTW entry: You Hate What You Are
  • December 16, 2010
    You Hate What You Are is currently the name of an index of tropes like this.
  • December 21, 2010
    Yep, that index is live now! :-)
  • December 21, 2010
    You don't need to say "Whateverphobia." You can just say "Internalized Phobia."
  • December 21, 2010
    Hmm. Tempting.

    The problem with that is that homophobia isn't a phobia. And neither is islamophobia or such.

    A person who suffer from homophobia can have a phobia against homosexuals, in the same way people have phobias against spiders or heights or whatever. But most homophobes are merely suffering from prejudice, nasty stereotypes, a sense of entitlement, or similar.

    Hmm, now I'm tempted to use one of my favorite words instead: Categorism. This word is a catch-all for racism, sexism, homophobia, and all that kind of stuff: Directing prejudice/hatred/phobia/whatever towards a certain category of people, no matter what group that might be. It's also a matter of stereotyping: How we limit our view of what a person is to how we have all ready defined a category of people to which this person belongs. The word exists, although it's kinda esoteric. With the Swedish spelling, Kategorism, most Google hits are articles that I have written for various journals, magazines, newspapers and blogs.

    Meh. That word is so much better then whateverphobia. I'll use it.
  • December 21, 2010
    Lets call racism, sexism etc tropes for a moment. :-)

    (Oh, and most of these words are quite esoteric. Don't bother memorizing them unless you happen to be interested in this particular field.)

    • Categorism: Supertrope of Racism, Sexism, Paraphobia, Ageism, etc.
    • Racism: Supertrope of Antiziganism, Antisemitism and Islamophobia
    • Sexism: Supertrope of Gynophobia, Androphobia and Transphobia
    • Paraphobia: Supertrope of Homophobia - Paraphobia itself include other sexual minorities and alternative lifestyles as well - "para" comes from "paraphilia".
    • Ageism: In Sweden often called "Ă…ldersrasism" = Racism based on age instead of race. Supertrope of prejudice against young people as well as prejudice against old people.
  • December 22, 2010
    Note about Angel: I think he was actually trying to file them off every morning
  • December 22, 2010
    Eeeew! Yeah, that's quite likely. :-(

    Hmm, Doesn't hellboy do the same thing to his horns? I don't think we have a trope for that yet, I'll start it.

    Speaking of Hellboy, I'll have to add more stuff about good characters from evil races. They ought to be likely to suffer from this trope.
  • December 22, 2010
    In the x-men a mutant hater (senator?) gets turned into a mutant, im not sure if he internalized it i think he just changed his worldview.
  • December 22, 2010
    Hmm, I think it simply killed him? I mean physically, not [[Driven To Suicide the other thing}}.

    Anyway, I just got asked to launch Troubled Sympathetic Bigot, and did. Launching this one and Black And White Insanity as well.