Many people have heard the term toxic masculinity but have you ever heard about toxic femininity? Toxic femininity is discussed a great deal less than toxic masculinity is yet it is a real phenomena.
Toxic femininity is not, as a poorly written Psychology Today article claims, women acting passive, receptive and feminine. It is not women simply behaving like traditional ideals of femininity. Rather toxic femininity is the traditional and instinctive behaviors of women when competing for resources against other women, much like toxic masculinity are the instinctive behaviors of men when competing against other men for resources. In comparison to men, women tend to engage in more psychological manipulation which is more subtle and may be more difficult to detect.
(It is worth pointing out that the term ‘toxic masculinity’ has been wholly misapplied to any and all traditional concepts of masculinity when it is actually very specific behaviors, particularly unwarranted violence against others. Unfortunately the misapplication of toxic masculinity toward all traditional male behavior has entered the public consciousness due to an ill conceived ad campaign by Gillette, where even boys who were playing by wrestling in a backyard were deemed to be behaving ‘toxically’. Play wrestling is not toxic — it is a normal, instinctive behavior among young males of many species and it is part of social bonding behavior. Indeed, competitive sports can be viewed as an extension of this instinct. )
While I could write a lengthy essay with many examples of toxic femininity I have decided not to do so for this article. Instead, so that no one can accuse me of “mansplaining”, here is a video from Daisy Cousens where she discusses what these toxic behaviors among women are and how they have their roots in early human evolution.
As Daisy Cousen mentions in her video, the 2004 film Mean Girls showcases many examples of what toxic femininity is.
How toxic femininity effects men
I have previously written about the Tinderella in two articles (this one and this one), a stereotypical woman in her 20s and 30s who engages in serial hypergamy. This is primarily done so that woman can avoid having to deal with any of her negative psychological issues while using attention received from men to boost her ego, instead of getting counseling so that she can maintain a healthy relationship and settle down into a marriage. Tinderella behavior can be viewed as an expression of toxic femininity qualities toward men, as women engage in Tinderella behavior in order to acquire resources such as money (sometimes in the form of gifts) or even a place to live, but also to satisfy her psychological need to feel valuable by being desired by men that will make other women jealous. Indeed, women who expressly compete against other women for attention of men simply so they can be the “queen bee” are manifesting toxic femininity behaviors, especially when these women have no intention to build a lasting relationship with the men they become involved with and are driven primarily out of a desire to be competitive.
Yet toxic femininity can also be viewed outside of romantic relationships. There are women in the work force who will use the same bullying tactics they use against other women against men in order to compete for attention and ultimately, power (via influence) and/or promotions in the work force. These women will spend an inordinate amount of time eavesdropping and gossiping as they seek to sway others opinions against those whom they view as a threat to their goals. This behavior often distracts them from actually performing at their jobs yet can be beneficial, as the woman are able to manipulate human resources policies by creating perceptions of unfairness and harassment toward themselves whenever they become criticized for their lack of performance. In companies with weak executives who allow this kind of rules lawyering of the HR system, these women can often fail upward and find themselves promoted (usually so that the company can avoid discrimination lawsuits and the consequential negative PR associated with them) instead of fired for their bad conduct. This inevitably harms a company in the long term much worse than dealing with a potential lawsuit would, as it develops a company culture where incompetent employees can thrive by playing a game of political checkers against competent employees, ultimately driving competent employees away from these companies. This allows other companies to obtain these employees and compete against them.
Toxic femininity in the work force has become such a commonly encountered problem that many men will no longer spend any time alone with female co-workers, even when assigned together to work on projects together. This is because the men are concerned that if the woman chooses to manipulate the company’s HR rules to eliminate him as a rival for promotion she can easily do so by making false accusations against him, making the situation a ‘he said, she said’ scenario where the women are normally believed, and it becomes very challenging to prove her claims are lies. Likewise it can undermine the credibility of legitimate cases of sexual harassment as a consequence of too much false reporting.
It is unfortunate that toxic femininity has become such a common occurrence in society that many men feel they must view all female co-workers with suspicion yet this is the current status quo. Until companies start caring less about paying superficial lip service to trendy social issues and instead approach conflicts between employees in an objective and rational way with proper investigations instead of knee jerk reactions, it is likely that women who engage in toxic behaviors in the work force will continue to profit from doing so, much as women who engage in toxic behaviors in their dating life can often sucker another man into funding her lifestyle until she moves on to another.
How can a man be a gentleman in a world of toxic femininity?
The current cultural zeitgeist against masculinity in popular media magazines and news reports, and even some television shows and movies produced today, can give a mistaken impression that the majority of women in Western countries are no longer attracted to traditional ideas of masculinity. However this is incorrect, as the majority of women are instinctively attracted to traditional masculine values. That is why they are called ‘traditional’ in the first place. These are the qualities that attracted women to breed with men, and consequently resulted in those traits passed down to future generations of men.
Heterosexual women still desire male celebrities who showcase the qualities of traditional masculinity and when browsing dating apps like Tinder they gravitate toward men whose profiles and photos indicate they have similar qualities. What we are seeing at present in some media is not representative of the majority, but rather representative of the majority of people who are producing that media that goes against the norms. It happens to be that the majority of people working in media today graduated colleges with liberal arts degrees, and for the past few decades liberal arts degree programs have been pushing women’s studies as an elective. Women’s studies are, unfortunately, overwhelmingly approaching the subject of gender within modern society with a Common Enemy philosophy instead of a Common Humanity one. This has indoctrinated many people working in media toward believing they must be activists to create social change by eliminating masculinity in society in order to create ‘equality’. The problem with this misguided approach is that social behaviors among genders have a biological component; there are behaviors that are more instinctive to people of certain genders than others as a result of these biological differences between men and women. While this does not mean that members of one gender cannot imitate the behaviors associated with the opposite gender, it does mean it is more instinctive for members of one gender to behave in certain ways that are traditionally associated with their born sex. Likewise it is true that these differences among the sexes form the basis for how tribes of people organize and operate as a unit. It is therefore as impossible to eliminate men who behave in traditional masculine ways as it is to eliminate women who are attracted to these men.
Centuries of human evolution cannot be unlearned by having people watch a few videos and reading a few 800 word articles on Buzzfeed. Traditional masculinity is not going to go away.
The Millennial Gentleman is written from the point of view that traditional masculine values are positive for men and society as a whole, as these are the qualities that best enable a man to succeed in his life. These positive qualities include the idea of chivalry and virtues, which are the traditional code of conduct that balances the more toxic instinctive qualities of a man. It is the abandonment of ideas like chivalry that leads to toxic masculinity, not the other way around. Likewise when women do not behave in traditional ladylike ways their instincts are not kept in check and they engage in toxic feminine ways.
We could all do with more chivalry in this world and hopefully this blog will be a gateway to more people subscribing to a life that promotes it.