Today I learned: What Is Toxic Femininity?

five female motorists
It is a concept that is often pushed under the rug. Toxic femininity is the result of internalised misogyny and patriarchy has effects on all women regardless of gender or race. To think of an example, women who had been subjected to patriarchy in their lives, re-enact their roles as patriarchal agents and criticise their daughters or their friends for being treated disrespectfully. 

Also, referring to the idea that white women are the face and flagbearers of feminism and feminist movements, the term, “toxic femininity” also thinks of white women to be the only and primary victims of sexism and patriarchy. Toxic femininity legitimises the perceptions of a woman and what duties society expects her to fulfil.

It considers subjugation and susceptibility to men as appropriate and best-suited for a woman to be socially accepted. 

Suggested Reading: Toxic Femininity Is A Reason Why “Tomboy” Culture Is A Reality

What is Toxic Femininity?

  1. Not only does this belief undermine the double marginalisation which women of colour encounter in their lives but also, it perpetuates systemic racism. While toxic masculinity forces men not to feel emotions, the overwhelming concept of toxic femininity has several other interpretations. 
  2. Then U.S. Senator Ted Cruz posed the following question on a podcast, saying, “The Women’s March was this weekend. We are seeing women like Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett Smith, Megan Markle, and Kim Kardashian. Is it time we start talking about toxic femininity?” 
  3. In a 2018 Medium post titled Toxic Femininity Holds All of Us Back, social psychologist and author Dr Devon Price described it as a compelling remake of uninterested teenage girls being told to be “sit like a lady” by their teacher and their choice of not wanting to get pregnant, marry or “settle down” as “unacceptably unfeminine”.
  4. Toxic masculinity rests at the heart of wars, systematic rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. At the core of it is not only safeguarding gender norms and gender stereotypes but also re-enacting the domination of women and “feminine” bodies and behaviour. “This use of toxic femininity is a reactionary backlash against feminist discussions of ‘toxic masculinity,’” Hannah McCann, a University of Melbourne lecturer concentrating on cultural studies, told VICE. She adds, “These anti-feminist definitions promote harmful stereotypes of femininity – such as the idea that women are naturally gossips or ‘bitchy’ – and often suggest that men are ‘victims’ of this.” 

Toxic Femininity Is More Sinister Than We Think

Societies are breeding grounds for the ideal of the “nice” woman. Theatre practitioner and director at Ekk Junoon Performing Arts Anamika Gautam has told Freepress Journal, “I have come across a couple of incidents where some women almost jeopardised my relationship in trying to be supportive and showing me the correct path. It made me uncomfortable as I didn’t want to hurt them for helping me out. But I had to put my foot down and request them to stop interfering.” According to her toxic femininity is where women start harming each other with falsity and ill intentions, justifying it as feminism.