You must have gone through many studies, research articles, and blogs on the concept of toxic masculinity and how it affects the socio-political structure of patriarchy but far less about toxic femininity. Beginning with the concept of toxicity it is “the degree of being poisonous” by Merriam-Webster dictionary. Toxic masculinity is the way through which male members of society use their rights and privileges provided by patriarchal culture and it leads to suppressing the position of other groups particularly women. But apart from toxic masculinity, toxic femininity is another aspect that keeps on maintaining the social structure of patriarchy.
So let’s connect these aspects of society and how it relates with you?
When women are following the social hierarchy and express the stereotypically feminine traits such as inactivity, kindness, tolerance, and compassion that keep them inferior, modest and passive to men’s superiority and dominating nature based on their gender, it is referred to as toxic femininity. However, both the dominant form of masculinity and the passive form of femininity are present on the same axis of gender.
In many cases, women act in ‘toxic’ manners for themselves and other women too: they are manipulative, hateful, hurtful, and wicked. Due to inequality caused in society and balancing the system of patriarchy. Generally, toxic femininity provides benefits to others but creates disadvantages to women and women surviving with internalized misogyny. For instance, mothers-in-law portray themselves as a victim in front of their sons and husbands to suppress their daughters-in-law and vice versa, which is very common in household politics.
Furthermore, through toxic femininity, tenderness is used as a weapon, such as some women adopt the fake nature of victimhood to gain power over men. An example of this is practicing the norms of patriarchy by women in Indian contexts, such as keeping fast on karwa Chauth creates harmful effects on the health of women, and when parents expect daughters to have long hair, piercing the ears, etc., to ensure that her daughter looks “pretty” and following the restrictions like mobility issues formulated by the families affects the mental health of women negatively.
Feminine traits are highly valuable in the culture and society and women are being rewarded for maintaining these traits. Hence, feminine traits are innately toxic in that sexism influences the status and position of women, simultaneously toxic femininity keeps on reminding women about the notion of womanhood. Masculinity, femininity, patriarchy, and sexism affect and suppresses their opinions and positions.
If you faced any consequences due to toxic femininity in your life, please let us know in the comment section.