What is Toxic Femininity? Is it similar to Toxic Masculinity?

A brief overview of Toxic Masculinity

We’ve been hearing about Toxic Masculinity a lot these days. in a recent post, I talk about “Boys don’t cry” – a big lie that hurts men deeply.

Here’s a great article that explains it: What Is Toxic Masculinity? and this one shows the comparison between toxic masculinity vs. healthy masculinity.

If you like slide shows, this one is very helpful: Toxic masculinity vs. healthy masculinity. I’ve added quotes from the article because I think it neatly encapsulates the issues.

“To begin with, there is nothing inherently wrong with masculinity. It’s when someone becomes so attached to the set of values that it hinders their well-being and the well-being of those around them that it becomes a problem.”

The kinds of expectations

“Toxic masculinity describes the pressure for men to act tough and be physically strong, emotionally callous, and even aggressive.”

Dissociation with femininity

“As we understand femininity as the opposite of masculinity, a harmful notion is that men should reject qualities associated with femininity, such as showing emotion.”

Men rejecting qualities innate to them as humans

“Toxic masculinity describes a pressure for men to reject the qualities of themselves, branded as feminine qualities, which are inherent to them as human beings.”

Not showing emotions

“Associating masculinity with not showing emotions causes harm to the person. Men who feel like they cannot share how they feel run the risk of suffering from mental health issues.”

Isolation and loneliness

“Isolation and loneliness are two significant results of men not speaking about their feelings.”

Toxic masculinity vs. healthy masculinity

Toxic Femininity and Toxic Masculinity

Here are some societal points that we have consciously or subconsciously internalized, per the article Toxic Femininity and Masculinity:

Internalized Sexism

When women adopt society’s negative views about being female, we call this “internalized sexism.” Eberhardt[iv] identifies sexist behaviors women exhibit that are counter-productive.:

  • Mistrusting other women,
  • Believing that women are not as good as men in leadership roles,
  • Valuing men’s opinions more than women’s,
  • Putting men’s needs or wants above their own,
  • Avoiding leadership and authority positions,
  • Insulting men’s parenting capabilities,
  • Holding women more accountable than men for the same behavior.
  • Calling women “girls.”
  • Labeling boys “crybabies” when they are emotional.

Of course, men have their own internalized sexism:

  • Telling their sons not to cry, to “be a man
  • Refraining from seeking help because it’s “unmanly”
  • Making fun of men who show vulnerable emotions
  • Expecting boys and men to fight each other

The other side of the coin which I haven’t heard mentioned much is Toxic Femininity.

What is Toxic Femininity and what are THE DOWNSIDES?

Here are some good articles which help to explain this topic: What Is Toxic Femininity? or this one: Toxic Femininity Exists: What is it and what you need to know

Toxic Feminity isn’t any healthier than Toxic Masculinity in that neither one allows people to just be themselves. Instead, there are rigid norms and rules which not only are very confining, but they’re emotionally unhealthy.

Expectations of body and appearance

One extreme we’re seeing is the toxic femininity of the Kardashian clan which is placing unattainable standards on many women.

I say unattainable, for although the Kardashians seem to say that if a person buys their clothes and makeup a person will be able to look exactly like them, the reality is that unless a person undergoes the cosmetic surgical procedures they have undergone and continue to get, (but aren’t necessarily admitting to) we really don’t stand a chance of resembling the standards they are purporting to set!

The fact that the Kardashians have been exposed to have undergone cosmetic procedures, shows us that the standards they set are unattainable through natural means, even for themselves!!

How The Idea Of Body Positivity Is Actually Toxic To Women” is an article that illuminates the topic of how body dysmorphia is created.

The Biases women face, even from other women, (although the same can be said for men), seek to put people and keep people in boxes that are comfortable for a certain portion of people.

Toxic Femininity seeks to speak for all women, as though that were even possible! Unfortunately, many women face severe judgment not only from men but from women too if they don’t conform to certain ideals or standards set by the loudest voices in our society.

Here’s a great article: “Women face gender bias even when running against another woman, report shows

Unhealthy standards

The standards put forth by Toxic Masculinity and Toxic Feminity are extremely unhealthy, and don’t allow people to develop emotional maturity nor do they help relationships to thrive.

Each of us is a combination of both the “masculine” and the “feminine”, neither one being good or bad, more desirable or less desirable.

We are who we are!

By allowing ourselves to simply be ourselves, we get to live our most authentic lives.

Forcing people to try to bend and squeeze themselves into a mold they don’t belong in has been proven to be extremely detrimental to mental health, and is one of the driving factors behind people seeking ways to alleviate the emotional pain this brings up.

When people are told they’re unacceptable or unlovable in their natural state, this creates incredible mental and emotional anguish. Some people try to cover that up and it can turn into deep-seated anger, which, when triggered gets let out onto others around.

In order to help people in our society with their mental health, we each need to be able to look at ourselves and feel comfortable with who we are.

Sometimes not fitting a mold is the BEST blessing we can have, otherwise, our amazing skills and abilities would be squashed.

How many very talented people through history have exhibited traits which don’t fit in with society’s norms, yet they have made incredible contributions?

Be yourself!

I’m sharing more posts that may be helpful for you:

More good stuff:

Teaching ourselves to like, even to love ourselves

By changing our inner dialogue, we change EVERYTHING!

Challenge: When a negative thought enters your mind, think three positive ones. Train yourself to flip the script!

Red Ocean or Blue Ocean? How do you think?

An answer to dealing with the Inner Critic!

My top 10 most viewed posts, plus a few bonuses!

A helpful trick to be able to overcome negatively Comparing Ourselves to others…

Do you only accept yourself if you look a certain way?

A new you! Is this possible?

Start today, start tomorrow, just start!

There is no enlightenment outside of daily life – Thich Nhat Hanh

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13 thoughts on “What is Toxic Femininity? Is it similar to Toxic Masculinity?

  1. Really great post. I absolutely agree that toxic femininity/emphasised femininity is just as toxic as toxic masculinity. Living in a patriarchal world, women often feel pressured to look and behave in a certain way and often get rewarded for it. This makes it so much more difficult for women in general when they can’t live up to the absolutely impossible standards set by society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those impossible standards have become the stereotypes that get forced onto people who are then made to feel there is something wrong with them if they don’t or can’t live up to them.

      So much of the political process (here in the USA) is predicted on forcing people to live in stereotypical roles and it’s crushing people’s mental health who don’t conform.

      I realize that the people who try to force others to live according to their inner standards aren’t going to be the ones reading this post, they have their own sources they draw from.

      I’m writing for all the people (including myself) who don’t fit into those narrow limitations, who even cross over into more than one “category”. We’re the ones who need to be strengthened internally to be able to navigate a world which imposes those strict rules.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m definitely one of those people and truly appreciate you talking about this and it helps us know we aren’t alone.

        I think in most places people are forced into stereotypical gender norms and it’s exhausting both mentally and physically because realistically a lot of people don’t fit these norms since many of them are near impossible. I mean look at the Kardashians you mentioned- how many women actually look like that or able to afford to look like that? And when they don’t it ends up turning into body dysmorphia or an eating disorder.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this post!!
    I’ve faced internalised sexism so many times!! From women recruiters to women bosses – discouraging women. My ex super boss was a woman and she sat me down and told me that I should stay till late in office for “optics” because otherwise as a woman I won’t be taken seriously. *Eye roll* I sweetly said – thank you- and left at my regular time for home.

    The Kardashians are so problematic. Did you hear what Kim said about “women needing to get their butt off the ground and working hard to be successful instead of complaining” – so much internalised sexism!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Right?! They found a niche, jackhammered it wide open and then set it up as a standard! Even they can’t attain it for they have and continue to undergo cosmetic surgery to achieve those fake standards!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Right?! The facade of perfectionism can hide a whole bunch of things. Is it because they fear being less than perfect or do the know that they are (like all of us), but can’t accept it in themselves??

            Liked by 1 person

              1. They’re whole empire is built on them denying it and yet trying to say that they’re empowering women! Lol! Too funny, but unfortunately all too real!

                Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! I’m 60 now and have seen various waves of internalized and externalized sexism. Frankly it’s exhausting to deal with and feels quite demoralizing to go through.

      Mostly dished out by people who are very ill equipped to deal with people and who have little self esteem themselves.

      I’m looking forward to a day when (I may be very idealistic here) both men and women can just be themselves and not judged against arbitrary rules set by others for who they should be.

      I didn’t even touch on how a person’s race or color further affects these stereotypes imposed on us! That’s a whole other layer of pressure and even trauma!

      I’m astounded how in 2022 we’re still navigating some of the same issues we were 50-100 years ago!

      Yes, some inroads have been made, but look at how many times the inroads get reversed a few decades later by political or religious backlash! That’s a whole other set of books to write, not just another post or article!! 😕😕

      Liked by 1 person

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