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Modern Problems: Defining Toxic Femininity

Updated on April 16, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Gender issues never bothered me, until gender issues were forced down my throat.

Beauty can hide the beast within.
Beauty can hide the beast within. | Source

Have you ever felt victimized by a woman?

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We live in a world where it is now, generally speaking, inappropriate to point out when women are being toxic if they are spreading toxicity in the name of an otherwise noble cause. I'm not one to figuratively bend over and accept forced relations, however, and will be exploring the topic of toxic femininity as it concerns my own life. This shouldn't come to anyone as a surprise but toxic femininity plays a huge part in my daily goings-on.

Definition of toxic femininity as used within this article: Any predominantly feminine trait (literal, figurative, perceived, etc.) that inherently causes unnecessary and damaging issues when present within an individual's interactions.

[Unnecessary Clarification]: I will be doing a "Toxic Masculinity" article at some point in the near future as a comparative article to this one.

No, I Am Not Hitting on You

Whether it be a rare occurrence, or an every day thing for you, I can assure you that if it is the first time we have met I am not hitting on you. Even further, if you are an attractive woman the chances are pretty high that I am attracted to you, but you may still rest easy knowing that I am still not hitting on you. My lack of trying to pick you up should be more than apparent, if not blatant, when my son is present with me. Yet, "Are you hitting on me right now?" is a pretty common question when I approach a woman.

You see I view this not only as an appropriate defense mechanism against a man who is hitting on you without any real engagement or encouragement on your part, but also as a very important part of the ongoing toxic femininity occurring in society. Before you misconstrue why it is I attribute this to toxic femininity, allow me to tell you of my dismal failure in finding friends for my son and I.

Being a stay-at-home father I am one of the rarities you may stumble upon in your daily life, or at least the lack of men at the park with their kids on any given day gives off the appearance that I am a true rarity. I have been seeking someone to go hiking or just hang out with my son and I for over half a year now, and in that time I have found one stay-at-home mom and not a single stay-at-home dad who fits the bill. That stay-at-home mom was actually just looking for a "play" partner for herself, if you catch my drift, and ended up being someone my son and I could no longer associate with safely.

I say I've only found one mom who fits the bill of wanting to hike and hang out, but is that because I haven't been trying hard enough to find others? No, and even my girlfriend has been on the hunt for friends for me and all the people who are stay-at-home parents also happen to be female, and they do not want to hang out with their male peers. Not to mention those I do approach often think I am hitting on them. Perhaps it is the way I approach them that gives off the vibe I am hitting on them?

When I approach anyone, male or female, the first thing I ask about is their child. I never approach someone who doesn't have a child because I'm looking for baby friends, friends who can hang out with me and my son all on an equal playing field. The first thing to come out of my mouth is, "How old is (s)he?" and usually the second thing is what their name is. After that it always comes to talking about my son's birth weight being ten pounds, he is saying pee pee and poo poo now and knows what they are, etc. Then I ask if they want to go hiking with my son and I. Every time I ask if they want to go hiking, though more often sooner, they get a tense and uncomfortable look and begin to draw back with their body language. If I do finally manage to get an affirmative answer out of them, I try to give them my number, and more than once this has led to them thinking I am hitting on them!

Ladies, I can admit I am a man and that automatically makes me a selfish, sexual creature who oozes creepy vibes and poses an inherent threat to you, but please for the love of whatever deity you choose to subscribe to, at least let me make the mistake of hitting on you before I'm punished for it. Really, literally, you're punishing my son and only confusing the heck out of me. Thinking every dude who comes your way is hitting on you is a trait of toxic femininity I haven't just witnessed out and about with my son, but in the workplace as well.

Is toxic femininity even a real thing?

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The workplace is a dangerous place.
The workplace is a dangerous place. | Source

Workplace Tensions

To say I am scared of women in the workplace would be an understatement, and to call my fears valid would be down-playing them. We all know what kind of damage a woman on the business war path can do, and if you don't then I can't be pressed to explain because you've been living under a rock for far too long. I'm going to tell you a strange story about working with a female whom I would describe as feminine to a degree of toxicity, and I will be doing my absolute best not to invalidate her and her claims as I do so. This story is strictly to promote complex thought about the topic of toxic femininity.

When I was working overnight security at Lawrence Memorial Hospital we regularly got into physical altercations with patients and their visitors alike, the job was hostile and required strength usually only found in large men such as myself. One day our company decided to hire on an individual we shall call Penny, and Penny was somewhere around five-foot-nothing, appearing to weigh in at what I would call an exaggerated two-hundred pounds, and had recently been "wrongfully terminated" from a corrections position by her own words. To say that we were rightfully worried about our safety while working with her, and her own safety would be putting it as nicely and concise as possible. We had no idea what was really awaiting us as it concerned Penny.

Not even five minutes into her first shift she began to tell us how every person, inmate and fellow officer, at her corrections job sexually harassed her; then when she tried to do something about it she was promptly terminated with no valid reason, and was considering suing the company. Due to the current social climate propagated by toxic femininity and all the horror stories about false claims available online, this threw up red flags for all of us, and we now felt unsafe in speaking to her for fear of being falsely accused of sexual harassment. Despite a lack of input from any of us she went on to tell us stories of college where she got really high and egged guys into sleeping with her, got really drunk after going to a coworkers house to drink and waking up in the nude, and then telling us all this was most likely her being "raped" as she also acknowledged giving consent. She gave off so many red-flag vibes with these stories that even the women in the hospital were concerned for our team. Luckily, I resigned from that job soon after she began but she went out of her way to find me and keep talking to me.

About one day into opening up an app on my phone called KiK, there Penny was sending me a message, and I decided it was now safe to talk to her. Apparently after I had left she began filing reports on everyone left and right, including one of the officers she alleges pulled his genitals out in front of a nurse and everyone else in the emergency room. She then alleges that the supervisor erased thirty seconds or more of film to hide the supposed flashing of this officer's genitals, and had her transferred to another site so that she could no longer file reports against the team.

After hearing all this I felt I needed to make it clear that I was scared when I worked with her, and even then as we chatted through a texting app, that she was going to or already did make false allegations against myself. She was quite shocked and stunned, turning to ad hominem and saying every man that questions her allegations is an insecure rapist. At this point I tried to deescalate and bring her attention to the logical conclusion that it would be hard to believe such claims from someone you barely know, and from someone who claims it happens everywhere they go.

What really made all this worrying wasn't that a possible victim was speaking out about their transgressors, their traumas, it was that she would often initiate sexual conversation with any of us who would dare to listen. Granted, this is common between male coworkers and even female and male coworkers, I've even had three female coworkers discuss how I "could handle all three of them at once" if things came down to such a situation as I was watching over a distressed patient's room. Yet, when someone claims they are sexually harassed everywhere they go you can't help but recoil away when they begin to tell you about how much they love what I would describe lightly as "non-traditional intercourse" for lack of a more appropriate phrase. Perhaps I am oversensitive due to the social climate, but I think we all made the right decision in regularly avoiding her and the toxic femininity within her.

If you ever feel that you or someone you know has been sexually abused, or abused in any way, please seek out the proper resources online to get justice for yourselves. Most people have not undergone sensitivity training, nor any formal training as it concerns abuse, and will not react in a way conducive to your healing and have no authority conducive to you getting justice.

Has a female ever made you feel harassed in the workplace?

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You're a fighter, I respect that.
You're a fighter, I respect that. | Source

Girl on Girl Toxicity

Having been in a relationship with a lovely woman for the last eight years, I've been given the opportunity to witness how women interact with one another on an intimate level on top of what I can observe from random women in various situations while out and about in the community. My biggest concern when it comes to toxic femininity is that of women using it against one another, because that is like trickle-down-cruelty as it goes from woman to woman, then woman to man. When women use their toxic femininity against one another, I am often witnessing it as it concerns body image and societal standards as it concerns image overall.

Growing up in a predominantly rich area as I did, I was often able to witness the damaging effects of teaching young girls poor body image practices. Practices such as remaining insufferably skinny, never ingesting a single carb, shaming your friends for every bit of "junk food" that they consumed, and even abusing drugs in order to remain at a "healthy" weight and appearance. These girls, and their intolerant mothers, would often discuss others and their bodies as if it was pertinent to their own well-being and existence as a whole. If a girl decided to eat some steak and potatoes, and actually finishing her meal, rather than eating a few bites of a caprese salad as they did then oh boy, things were about to get messy with gossip for the next few days.

Inevitably gossip gets back to the girl who innocently ate her steak and potatoes at brunch a few days ago, and she hears that even mothers were talking about her "chunky thighs and a$#" as if her body wasn't one of the most beautiful things anyone could hope to lay their eyes upon. This would put the girl in an unstable emotional state, she'd stop eating, sometimes she'd leave class to go vomit up her lunch and cry, and even seek out the local drug dealers for amphetamines or other stimulants to keep her hunger away. A year later we would see her forty pounds lighter and diving head first into a sea of unhealthy behavior, all because of toxic femininity propagated by females who would see men blamed for their behavior.

Societal standard is rough for everyone, especially women, but you can ease the strain on other women by making sure you are there to support them rather than gossip about them behind their backs. You can promote a healthy lifestyle, with healthy goals, rather than beating someone's self-esteem into the dirt as is so commonly the case.

Do you suffer body dysphoria?

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Clickity clack, better watch your back.
Clickity clack, better watch your back. | Source

Social Media Wasps

My girlfriend has afforded me the opportunity to observe her friends on social media, whom are predominantly female and their femininity is often of the toxic variety, even my girlfriend has begun to recognize harmful feminine behavior for herself without my encouraging her understanding of male perspectives. I would love to break down all the behaviors I witness on social media, all the rampant toxic femininity, but I'm only going to go over one aspect that I feel is a very dangerous and damaging practice throughout social media wasp culture these days. This is the practice of performative cruelty that targets men and boys, aka performative sexism, and then touting it as a noble cause or otherwise righteous act of justice. Don't delude yourselves, you're poisoning society just as much as the minority of men you claim represent "all men."

For the sake of being concise let's dig into the ever-increasing-commonality among social media wasps of claiming that "We must teach boys not to rape," or "All men are rapists."

I see a post talking about how we have to teach boys, BOYS, not to rape every single day. At least one post, and that is under-exaggerating there, generalizing boys as being inherent rapists. Now, I suppose I can't speak for every man, nor every boy out there but I think it is safe to say that just because men commit a majority of the rapes that boys are not in need of anti-rape reeducation. This sort of mentality suggests that boys, and men alike, are waiting out there like rabid dogs with foaming mouths ready to take women to the nearest dark alley and have their way with them. Without taking into account that men have many more laws that could qualify them as a rapist, and harsher sentencing for the same technical crimes as women, we mustn't be understating that most men are not inherent rapists.

It isn't just damaging to man's social relations for women to be claiming all men are rapists and need reeducation so as to prevent rape, it is damaging to our interactions as a society as a whole. With claims such as these, compared to and combined with the story I told you about Penny in the previous section of this article, you are setting up a situation in which individuals are held guilty until proven innocent. God forbid any man have the audacity to stand against this ignorant narrative as well, the social media wasps frequently see them skewered atop a burning pyre of toxic femininity.

Has a woman ever harassed you on social media?

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You can treat everyone, regardless of gender, equally.
You can treat everyone, regardless of gender, equally. | Source

Simple Solutions

I always feel a bit silly when it comes to offering solutions because I already take the steps in my life to be truly inclusive, accepting, understanding, and tolerant of anyone no matter who they may be. This doesn't excuse any transgressions I will make in the future and I shall continue to atone for the ones in my past as well, but it would be a lot easier if others would take part in progressive behavior as well. So how would one go about taking the steps to be a more progressive individual fundamentally?

Well it requires first that you take an introspective look into how your behavior affects those around you. Do the actions you are taking provide for a better environment, an environment conducive to everyone's ongoing comfort and inclusion? Are you going out of your way to validate those you disagree with and try to meet in the middle ground as far as solutions to problems or arguments? Can you recognize when what you are about to say is trying to subjugate or hurt someone else, especially those of the opposite gender?

Putting this as concisely as possible: Be mindful and accept everyone's differences. We all have traumas, and those traumas form the basis of our opinions more often than not, no one wants to be attacked for their natural defense mechanisms and if those mechanisms are truly toxic then we need to sit down together calmly, and discuss how to better each other without trying to extinguish one another completely.

I hope you join me next time when I dig into the topic of "Toxic Masculinity" because I think that one is going to be really fun.

Comments

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    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 months ago from Corona, CA

      Thank you, Paula, I always appreciate your compliments and input on my articles. I'm happy that my points come across as valid, as I tried to explore the topic in as unbiased a way as possible while also touching on personal experience with the topic itself.

      I'm very happy to have so much time with my son as well, he is my best bud and so fun to be around. As we speak he is jingling keys in my face, hahahah! I look forward to hearing from you again in the future! Hasta luego!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      2 months ago from UpstateWestern,New York

      Kyler, Mi Amigo Nuevo.....Good to see you again.Your excellent writing talent, makes it a pleasure to read your work.

      I've always found it fascinating to discuss the many & various games people play. However, since my retirement, I spend little to no time, attempting to figure out WHY humans do these things. It tires me out, not to mention the reality that it seems we never can actually know a person's true "motives."

      I understand why you have defined (& explained) "toxic femininity," & believe you have valid points. Congratulations on your astuteness.

      As for Miss Penny......now there's a problem for certain. While you have made an excellent example of her as toxic, in my line of work, she most surely would be diagnosed with a serious personality/social disorder! Yes, she's one character from which one should remain distant.

      I love that you have such a wonderful, full-time relationship with your son. You're so lucky to have one another. Peace, Paula

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 months ago from Corona, CA

      I agree, and despite my best efforts to discern what it was that made Penny who Penny is today she was unable to hold on to any consistent timeline of events and what actually occurred in her life, as is so often the case with tragic back stories. If it were safe for me to continue speaking with her I would have, but I departed from our interactions wishing her the best and I still hope that she receives the justice to help her heal in the future.

      May we all get the justice we deserve.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      Penny seemed like she was carrying some really heavy baggage if you know what I mean. Terrible stuff.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 months ago from Corona, CA

      Thank you, Bushra!

      As for your generation, Pamela, I tend to agree a majority of the time. The generation after yours seems to be where it started, and then began to really snowball in the 90's. The more time passes, the more things become volatile. Luckily a little self-awareness is all that is needed, though some would argue that is a rare trait in people.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I guess toxic feminity is real but I don't think this is true for my generation. I am kind of glad. As gender roles are questioned now it seems to make life a little more complicated. As for Penny, I would stay as far away from her as I could get. She obviously doesn't know truth from fiction.

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      2 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Thought-provoking!

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 months ago from Corona, CA

      @Devika: Yes, culture plays a huge role in workplace and other behaviors, you are correct. This is written from a heavily westernized culture perspective.

      @Ruth: As you reached the latter years of your life did you maintain some type of work out regimen? Due to my handicaps, if I do not maintain a workout regimen I'll shrivel up and be unable to move by the time I'm thirty. An elliptical that offers multiple workouts might be a good investment for you, low impact and you'd get in tip-top shape fairly quick if you stayed as disciplined as I think you are.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I think women behave differently in different workplaces. It depends on culture and how they were raised.

    • HousewifeHawaii profile image

      Kathryn Collins 

      2 months ago from UK

      We've moved to Hawaii 3 different times. . .

      Just wanting to lighten the tone of my articles for my own benefit as it is who I truly am and want to get back to. :-)

      I am definitely feeling my age. Today I carried a case of water bottles up a few steps and that was it for me. lol I remember 15 or 20 years ago I carried a 5-gallon water bottle several yards and up two sets of stairs and then a few more yards without much problem...

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      2 months ago from Corona, CA

      These are happy subjects for me, I'm sorry if they cause you any distress as that is not my intention. I think I am really going to drop the ball on the next article but I am giving the female perspective my best shot. Put the cart before the horse with my claims.

      I hope your move goes well, even those short moves can really take it out of you. My last move was somewhere around fifteen-hundred miles with an infant and I would wish that trek on no one.

    • HousewifeHawaii profile image

      Kathryn Collins 

      2 months ago from UK

      Looking forward to it. As for myself, my goal is to change to lighter subjects - happier ones. Currently in the midst of moving though but only a mile or two away. The place we are in will be up for sale soon and we are moving from a studio to a 1 bedroom.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      3 months ago from Corona, CA

      Stay tuned, Ruth, in my next article about "Toxic Masculinity" I plan to address these very same sorts of situations you were forced to endure. I won't have it be said I can't see from every perspective, though I did choose this topic to write about first because it affects me much more than its counterpart.

      I will do my best to do justice to situations such as yours, just as I tried to do mine here, with the next article.

    • HousewifeHawaii profile image

      Kathryn Collins 

      3 months ago from UK

      I was going to say that I would be curious to know how women differ from region to region but with the media as it is, it does bring about rather homogeneous situations no matter where we are.

      I graduated high school in Newport Beach 1982. In my last year or so of highschool I had 3 averaged men hit on me (not to mention my Arab neighbors offer to pay me $20 to sleep with their 12 year old son so that he could become a man.) They also left internal organs of a lamb (?) they must have slaughtered on our back door step. We never figured that one out.

      But I had men slow their car down as I was walking home from school to ask if I was a model or interested in doing any modeling - to which I ignored until they left me alone - it was not flirtatious - it seemed they were definitely wanting something that I was not interested in. Then there was my mail man who also asked me similar - said he did photography on the side and kept saying I would be perfect as a model for him. I am largely endowed on top and that was his focus though he tried to express it gingerly as he showed me semi nude photos of a classmate of mine standing next to a horse explaining that I could be like her. The third one was a man who said he wanted to buy my mom's 65 Mustand - or so he said to her at a stop light. Since she was having problems with it and could not afford to fix it, they exchanged numbers. He came to our house to look at it and the conversation went to the fact that I was interested in photography. This man eventually came back when I was home alone and gaveme some old camera telling me all about it - like he was trying to gain my trust. I don't remember all details but I do recall a point where he came by another time and my mom was at home - I don't think he knew. I tried to tell him I was not interested and began to shut my front door. He stuck his foot in the door as I tried to shut it. I recall my mom screaming and helping me to shut the door. I don't recall seeing him after that.

      Apart from that, I later realized that when I am laughing or smiling, that I need to be careful who I may be looking at. I had 2 guys think I was flirting with them when I was simply laughing at a conversation with the person I was with and glance their way. Both responded to me as if I was already speaking to them. I felt badly about it as I must have inadvertently given them the wrong opinion. They both seemed very nice and polite to be honest. The last time it happened, I was with my preteen daughter (over 20 years ago) and the guy was younger than me. I was raised fairly sheltered and was quite awkward in there things myself...

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