The term shouldn't be perceived to be 'blaming the victims of sexism for their own suffering... It's pointing to how both our views about masculinity and our views about femininity are socially enforced.'
The r/AskReddit community often witnesses important discussions about human existence and the positives and negatives of our society. Reddit user u/FilthyCasual_AF ignited one such discussion recently when they asked: "We all know of toxic masculinity, but whats a toxic femininity trait that needs discussing?" According to VICE, the term "toxic femininity" has been in usage for almost a decade. "I think a lot of people who use the term arrived at it independently, because it seemed so self-evident that if toxic masculinity is a social force, well, toxic femininity must be too," social psychologist and author Dr Devon Price explained.
It is "important to highlight that just as culture imposes a lot of restrictive standards on us about what it means to be a man or to be masculine, it also does the same to us regarding femininity," they added. Meanwhile, Hannah McCann—a University of Melbourne lecturer in cultural studies—pointed out that online discussions of the term can often be "very antifeminist" and "used to argue that women can be 'toxic.'" Speaking of the rising popularity of the term, she said: "This use of toxic femininity is a reactionary backlash against feminist discussions of 'toxic masculinity.' 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."
According to Price, the term shouldn't be perceived to be "blaming the victims of sexism for their own suffering... It's pointing to how both our views about masculinity and our views about femininity are socially enforced, not individual neuroses or insecurities that came out of nowhere." Keeping that in mind, here are 25 responses to the query posted by u/FilthyCasual_AF:
"A lot of women's attitudes towards birth are extremely toxic. A good friend went into labor recently. I texted her the next day to ask how it went, and she responded 'horribly.' Alarmed, I called her, and she tearfully explained that she had to have a c-section. Like, the baby was fine, my friend was fine, but there had been an irregularity during the delivery so they did a c-section. My friend said she felt like she'd 'failed as a mother' because she hadn't 'been able to' have a natural birth (as though she had any amount of control over that).
It's not just c-sections either. I once had a coworker who would brag about the fact that she'd had all four of her children without an epidural. She thought any woman who did have an epidural was an inferior parent. I've heard similar things about hospital births in general - you're not a 'real mother' unless you give birth at home with a dula.
Calm the fu** down y'all, birth is hard enough as it is without adding all these weird, arbitrary conditions of suffering the mother has to endure lest they be tarred and feathered." — Notmiefault
"God, why is everything a competition? I made the mistake of saying I can’t have kids. My body is fu**ed six ways to Sunday and trying to carry a child would cause indescribably agony and severe damage to my body, if it wouldn’t outright kill me. I got harassed by women who needed me to know that 'technically' I can have kids, so I should shut up and let the infertile people be the only victims in town." — an_ineffable_plan
"Older women treating their younger women colleagues like sh*t. The meanest people in my workplace haven’t been men, but older women. If anyone wants an example my friend (young, blonde, very cute/attractive) isn't a sweets person so didn't eat cake whenever someone had birthday in the office. An older woman who worked there for 30+ years would always embarrass her in front of everyone and put her down for not eating the cake. Insults would be along the lines of 'oh these young girls nowadays, so obsessed with calorie counting. I’m not worried about that' etc." — iamjigglyjoogs51
"Treating their bf/husband like their own personal bodyguard and expecting them to defend them physically if they start some drama. I once dated a girl like this. We'd go out, she'd have a couple of drinks and then get loud/confrontational with strangers on the street and expect me to jump in and 'fight for her.' She would literally pick fights with people at a bar or nightclub just to start some drama and then say something like, 'Oh yeah? Well, my boyfriend here will kick your ass!' Ummm, no I won't. I have no desire to fight some random stranger just because you can't control your attitude or handle your drinks." — mox44ah
"Not being feminist enough for some feminists. I have a friend who has VERY hard opinions and came into my home for a friendly Christmas gathering last year and prattled on about 'stupid white boys' (we are ALL WHITE, including my husband and two other men who were present who are all loving, supportive, evolved gentlemen).
I made the mistake of saying that I LOVE performing the 'traditional' gender role tasks of cooking and homemaking and decorating and cleaning, even though I have a full-time job. My husband and I both make good money and have similar salaries. He takes care of me and sacrifices for me in every possible moment.
She went ballistic and told me I was setting feminism back. I told her feminism means I GET TO CHOOSE WHAT I ENJOY IN A ROMANTIC DYNAMIC. I really can’t stand it." — heck_no_friendo
"I'm in medical school, and if I had a dollar for every time some other woman (often not even parents) told me that they feel sorry for my children, I could pay my tuition. If you work, you're a bad mom, but if you stay at home you're a bad feminist. I had another mother ask me if I resented my kids for putting my career on hold when I did stay home for a while. It's insane and we need to accept that people can have jobs or stay home, and that choice is no one else's business." — MegMeganNutmeg
"Using the fact that they can get pregnant in a manipulative way. I mean I know a lot of women who got pregnant where they guy didn't want to have kids with them. They lied, and said that they take birth control, when in fact they did not. They got pregnant, and the guy left them. It's not cool to force someone to become a parent. It's really unfair to bring a kid to this world with the sole purpose of trying to keep a guy around. I can't imagine the kind of mindset to actually do something like this and still sleep at night. I had a coworker like this and she was miserable with the single mom life, and jealous that I don't have kids. Wtf." — miau_chiu
"All that girl-boss or lean-in sh*t. Like if a woman is career focused and takes pride in her work, I get that, but climbing the ladder doesn't make you an inherently good person just because other people of your gender previously weren't allowed to do that.
Most dudes who obsess over trying to get a ahead are fu**ing a**holes and so are women who do the same thing. Bosses suck almost universally. If you're so obsessed with status, just fu**ing own it. You don't get to be a killer in the boardroom and also claim some weird folk hero status. You're just as empty and sociopathic as the men doing that, only you're more annoying because you demand we cheer you on for it." — actuallyurgay