I’m a feminist with a male best friend. While I support women equality, I haven’t grown up with many female role models. Mine and my sister’s relationship is challenging, and female friends have disappeared in petty disputes and rivalry. Toxic femininity is just as real as toxic masculinity. For society to move forward, we need to acknowledge both.
Despite the marches, the movements, and men like Prince Harry declaring their feminists, women across the world have a long way to go. I’m disappointed to read the reviews for ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’. Two of the most captivating women in history, are shown to exemplify the worst traits of femininity. Similarly educated, innovative and accomplished, Mary is portrayed as a beautiful queen with a baby and no title, while Queen Elizabeth is pitied for no children.
Women are sweet baby pushers or corporate, cold figures. To take incredible Tudor history and narrow it down to miniscule theory, proves society’s stuck. An opinion piece published in the Washington Examiner, declares “The Women’s March has twisted feminism into toxic femininity”. Writer Kimberly Ross wrote, “the Women’s March enthusiastically supports killing the unborn as part of their basic platform of supposed equality.”
Toxic masculinity to blame?
We once used clear lines to identify ourselves. Men as muscular providers who protect and provide. Women as nurturing mothers who comfort and emotionally support. Although females throughout history have proven their strength, it’s taken the 21st century to see real change in questioning gender stereotypes. Now we have arguments on abortion, pay-gaps and sexual harassment. The underlying problem, is that in the fight for female empowerment, we are narrowly attacking men’s power.
Gillette’s latest advert is as tone-deaf as Kendall Jenner’s short-lived Pepsi commercial. The ad provides images of toxic masculinity – boys bullying other boys and male corporate dominance, followed by an almost awakening. Guys stopping other guys from catcalling women on the street; fathers stopping their sons from play fighting on the grass. A piece written by Jon Gabriel on AZ Central points out, “I don’t expect Maybelline to tut-tut “toxic femininity” using outdated stereotypes for women.”
I don’t believe ‘toxic masculinity’ is a direct feminism solution. Yes, it’s an issue. Boys are often raised with less emotional support and conditioned to compete. In school, girls didn’t play fight with each other. We knew it wasn’t ‘lady-like’. Men receive a cultural pass to bed numerous women and explore their sexual appetites. Women are sluts, whores, tarts and slappers. We have to watch what we wear because our clothes signal whether we have class or not.
Male gender exceptions
Guys (not all), approach girls on the street and stare till their uncomfortable. They speak with degrading words; following, touching and harassing. A guy last week wouldn’t leave me alone. He had such a desire to buy me a drink. After telling him my boyfriend was with me, he still persisted. A boyfriend had never stopped him before, apparently. In my school uniform at 15, builders would wolf-whistle and make sexual comments whilst in ear shot.
These gender exceptions are what I can’t stand. Nonetheless, men possess positive gender traits. I love gentleman manners and suits with waistcoats and ties. Women have negative gender traits. Every girl has a book of stories, filled with bitchy girls and gossip. Some women believe they have the right to decide what freedom others have with their bodies (Kimberly Ross shaming abortion).
Published in November last year, Asavari Singh for News 18 said, “Men have long had a physical and social advantage, allowing them to aggress more forcefully and openly. Women have been deeply and systematically oppressed so they have had to hone their skills in subtler but also devastating forms of warfare.”
Customarily associated with passive aggressive strategies. Women can back stab with friendly smiles on their faces. Target with social humiliation and exclusion. Girls are known for their jealousy, whether due to appearance, wealth or accomplishments. Society teaches women to know that if another sees them as opposition, they have to watch out. They may lose a promotion at work or become innocent perpetrators.
Asavari Sigh’s article links statistics that report women are likely to identify with typical masculine traits as their careers develop to higher positions. We have to face that feminine and toxic masculinity need addressing together. Women are gaining muscle and asserting power; men are increasingly purchasing beauty products. Male suicide rates are high, women in CEO positions are low. I believe we have to tackle the gender fight in an honest and encouraging way. And we have to look at ourselves individually.
I enjoy associating with my feminine side, and my masculine. It’s a confusing time for gender; attacking either side is not the way forward.
How do you feel about toxic masculinity? Do you think there is too much confusion around gender?