March 29, 2018 • Sarah Jean Gosney
It seems like whenever we hear the word “masculinity” these days, it is preceded by the word “toxic.” But what of toxic femininity? This is not something that is discussed in mainstream culture, but I see far more of it than I ever do toxic masculinity.
What does it mean to be a toxic female? It means to be immature, wildly irrational, vindictive, and vicious. It is a matter of letting your negative emotions rule and terrorize others. It is taking no responsibility whatsoever for your actions and blaming anything and anyone in sight for your problems.
A toxic woman uses her physical attractiveness to get away with murder and to avoid developing any personality or virtues that would redeem her later in life. Additionally, a toxic woman may be a formerly beautiful woman who is experiencing the hard crash into reality after her looks fade, and is taking out her bitterness as well as her lack of skill or virtue on the world.
Toxic women usually have their favorite victims for taking out their emotions. They usually have a captive audience in their husband and children, or if they’re unmarried in a boyfriend or family member. Anyone she can regularly blame for the problems in her life will be kept around as a punching bag.
Let’s take the example of a family friend. (I inherited these people, if you start wondering why I spend time around them.) She has been married for several years and has three children. She stays home with the children while her husband works. While she does clean, she cannot cook and leaves this task to her husband. She does little to modify the behavior of her children, when they misbehave giving out weak ultimatums or erratic punishments that have no consistency or lasting effect.
She also gained weight with the pregnancies, probably 30-50lbs. She frequently whines or makes jokes about being fat, but she does nothing to change her weight, complaining that she “just can’t lose weight,” despite drinking nothing but soda and eating fast food frequently. Once I made the mistake of meeting her complaint with the advice to stop drinking her calories, to which she simply replied “but I don’t want to. I’d drink all my calories if I could.” I knew from that moment that it was best to keep my mouth shut, as she was not even open to considering suggestions of self improvement.
This in itself isn’t so bad, at least in comparison to the average American woman. Which is not to say it’s good–just because the average American woman is overweight and can’t cook doesn’t mean these are positive attributes. But these things alone wouldn’t make her stand out particularly, although these qualities are enough to inspire critique.
What is truly toxic about her are tantrums and attempts to stir up drama. She once tried to take me down in the eyes of her sister (who I have a better relationship with) by saying that I had been talking about the sister behind her back with the woman’s husband, forming a sort of alliance against the sister. The sister (who doesn’t get along particularly well with the woman’s husband) believed her. She stewed on these “facts” for God knows how long before getting angry at me. When confronted, I stuttered some confused defense and ending up going in another room and crying, at which point the sister realized she’d been duped. It was resolved relatively quickly, but not without instilling in me a sense of walking among landmines.
Then there are her tantrums. One day I was watching her try to complete some homework for a course online. She was having trouble working the module, but instead of taking a break from it or asking for help, she began to throw a fit.
Not wanting to deal with her outburst, her husband took a look at the program and easily fixed the issue she was struggling with. Instead of this making her happy like it would a sane woman, it only enraged her. She had decided that the program was just broken and likely out to get her, and his ability to fix the problem revealed her as both irrational and incompetent. When she was still upset, he asked her what was wrong. Instead of humbly accepting the help that she was given despite her bad attitude, she escalate her anger and started attacking her husband. She invented an issue on the spot and blamed him for her foul mood, saying that it had been a problem between them for a long time.
She completely diverted all her frustration and ego defense onto her husband, the one who was helping her. Talk about biting the hand that feeds. After a few minutes of trying to reasonably get to the root of the issue, her husband gave up, knowing that there really was no issue and that she’d just entrenched herself in her anger. He simply started ignoring her, at which point she fought at him until she realized she couldn’t get another reaction from him. Then she proceeded to pout and act like a petulant child for several hours.
This woman was pretty before the kids (nothing mind-blowing in my opinion, but pretty), but more than that, she had been completely spoiled by her parents and never been disciplined or held accountable for her actions.
Needless to say, I spend as little time around her as possible, but I still run into her on occasion.
Is this what we want for our daughters?
Is this this kind of woman we want to raise?
Because this is what you get when you combine indulgence with lack of responsibility and a little beauty. Which describes a large portion of American women these days. If you are a parent, remember this woman the next time you consider letting your daughter get away with something.
So what can we do to prevent this? First off, we must provide boundaries and consequences for our daughters. Punishment for bad behavior, rewards for good, and a clear delineation between the two types of behavior. Next, we must encourage our daughters to develop feminine virtues. We must emphasize the importance of embracing positive femininity, regardless of physical attractiveness. A beautiful woman must develop them to keep a man and to give her positive qualities to fall back on when her beauty fades, and a plain woman needs them to attract a man.
Toxic femininity is perfectly avoidable if we raise our children properly. Don’t encourage more toxic behavior.
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