Move Over, Toxic Masculinity—People Are Sharing Examples Of ‘Toxic Femininity’

Toxic masculinity is a term we hear thrown around a lot these days. Men who exhibit these traits are selfish, emotionally draining, and overall to be avoided. But with this in mind, not all women are angels either.

Men and women on Reddit decided to turn the tables around and share their examples of toxic femininity, and it was a critical yet fascinating view of the opposite sex.

Toxic Masculinity

Man looks off to the side as the sun sets
Photo Credit: Mariano Nocetti / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Mariano Nocetti / Unsplash

It’s a term people have seen thrown around a lot lately, but what is the definition of “toxic masculinity”?

According to Urban Dictionary, it’s a term “that describes [the] narrow repressive type of ideas about the male gender role, that defines masculinity as exaggerated masculine traits like being violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.”

Role Reversal

Woman in a beige hoodie with her arms crossed
Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels
Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels

So with that in mind, “toxic femininity” is a role reversal. Urban Dictionary says it “describes [the] narrow repressive type of ideas about the female gender role, that defines femininity as exaggerated femininity,” such as “embracing traditional feminine attributes like empathy, passivity, patience, and tenderness in order to prioritize caring for others to the detriment of their own health while minimizing their own struggles.”

User VysX_ asked Reddit for examples of toxic femininity, and the responses were eye-opening.

Mommy Shaming

Mother holds infant's tiny hand
Photo Credit: William Fortunato / Pexels
Photo Credit: William Fortunato / Pexels

One of the most popular responses was women who criticize other women for their parenting styles, and it’s often unwelcome and unsolicited advice.

“This becomes really toxic after childbirth. Some women will feel nothing about letting you know how you are parenting wrong by using this product or letting [your] child do this particular thing. Women who are able to stay at home will be made to feel guilty for not helping to provide, and women who work are made to feel guilty for abandoning their child.” —echano2340 / Reddit

Competitive Mommy Groups

Group of women look at the camera and smile while one of them holds a baby
Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

One mommy shamer can often be too much to handle, but for some users, “mommy groups” that are meant to be supportive can actually be toxic and overcompetitive instead.

“I’m witnessing this among my observation of baby mama and her other mom friends. It…starts off with a small comment about someone’s day and then it becomes a one-upping contest; just a bunch of pounding on their milk-stained shirts as they scream out who has the superior vulva.” —TheAverageJoe- / Reddit

The “Easy” Way Out

Woman's c-section and doctors delivering the baby
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

No two pregnancies are identical, and the same can be said for giving birth as well. The most important thing is that mother and baby are happy and healthy, but for some, one method of birthing is womanly and the other is not.

“Even things as simple as ‘you got the easy way out’ for having a c-section (NOTHING easy about major abdominal surgery). Women not supporting other women is disgusting.” —Bittersweetfeline / Reddit

Judge, Jury, And Executioner

A gold statue holds a sword and the scales of justice
Photo Credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm / Unsplash

Women are held up to impossibly high beauty standards and no matter what we do, it’s always wrong. No one wants to admit it, but the way we look determines how other people treat us.

“Women just judge everything about other women. Don’t do your makeup? Problem. Do your makeup well? Well now you look better than me so f you. You don’t shave? GROSS. Wear comfy clothes and you’re a slob. Wear nice clothes and you’re trying too hard.” —borderline_cat / Reddit

Aging Naturally

Older woman applies red lipstick in the mirror
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Not only must women look a certain way to be deemed worthy by society, but we are taught from a young age that our youth is everything and aging is problematic. The older we are, the less valuable we are in society’s eyes.

“Being shamed for natural functions. I know men do it too (to an extent) but women are more likely, I feel, to judge body hair, wrinkles, grey hairs, etc.” —DORIMEalbedo / Reddit

Menstrual Pain

Period pad with red balls on it meant to simulate blood
Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels
Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

Some people view life as a competition, and that includes comparing whose misery is worse.

“When I was younger I had a teenage neighbor that would have to lie in bed for 3 days during each period, and my Mom said once or twice that she was probably faking to avoid exams. Well a few years later she was diagnosed with endometriosis.” —dalaigh93 / Reddit

To Be, Or Not To Be (A Mother)

A mother holds and kisses her newborn baby
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

For some users, one of the biggest signs of toxic femininity is women who don’t accept another woman’s choice to not have children.

“Being told I’m not a real woman because I don’t…want kids. I was told this by a woman.” —An-Empty-Road / Reddit

Sexual Relationships

Two women in white dresses walk down the beach and hold hands
Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels
Photo Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

Relationships can also fall victim to toxic femininity, as one user experienced.

“I’m a lesbian and I’ve had plenty of straight women react to this with complete puzzlement. Have I ever TRIED having a boyfriend? Who fixes things around my apartment when they break? Who kills bugs? You know, there ARE good guys out there…” —scm96 / Reddit

High School Cliques

Teenage girls take a selfie in a school hallway
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

There’s nothing like a high school clique to really make a person feel like an outcast, but apparently, for some women, it’s a habit that continues long after graduation.

“Also the women who seem to enjoy forming cliques and cutting out anyone they deem to be an outsider. Worked with an office full of them once. It really sucked!” —BringBackRobotWars / Reddit

Mama Bear Mode

Growling and angry brown bear
Photo Credit: mana5280 / Unsplash
Photo Credit: mana5280 / Unsplash

Another example of toxic femininity is women who treat other people terribly but then excuse it by saying that they’re just being a protective “mama bear.”

“‘I’m a mama bear and I WILL protect my babies!’ Lady, you just screamed at a waitress because there was broccoli in your kid’s mac and cheese and your kid doesn’t like broccoli.” —GaimanitePkat / Reddit

Possessive And Controlling

Woman puts up a
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

“My ex-husband and I separated when our child was 2. Went to a birthday party for [my] daughter’s friend and was having a casual conversation with one of the husbands. The group of women stood in a corner staring at me, and the wife came up and grabbed him by the arm and started doing that strange possessive peacock dance.”

“What were we talking about? Real estate prices.” —YourMothersButtox / Reddit

Personal Views On Feminism

Woman writes
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

The cornerstone of feminism is choice. But for some women, individual choice doesn’t matter and their way of doing things is the only correct option.

“Women who think other women that enjoy cooking, child-rearing, and homemaking are perpetuating stereotyped gender roles enforced by the patriarchy. Tearing other women down because what they enjoy doesn’t fit into the tiny box of what YOUR version of feminism should be is toxic femininity to the max.” —Oichbro550 / Reddit

Body Shamers

Woman looks at herself in the mirror
Photo Credit: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels
Photo Credit: MART PRODUCTION / Pexels

If our clothing choices and makeup are magnets for criticism, then the ultimate lightning rod when it comes to how we look is our weight.

“No matter the trendy body shape, criticism from others will always continue. I’ve only had one guy ever comment on my weight compared to the many, many women, even strangers.” —Screaming_Weak / Reddit

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

Three women hold out their hands and show off their diamond engagement rings
Photo Credit: Zacke Feller / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Zacke Feller / Unsplash

Not only is period pain a competition for some women, but so is the size of the rock on their engagement ring. Whether it’s the ring, the proposal, or the wedding, bigger is always better.

“I’ve got a quote from an ex. ‘My girlfriend Sandra got a 2-carat diamond ring if I don’t get at least a 4-carat ring I’m literally going to die.’” wrongplug / Reddit

If You Can’t Handle Me At My Worst…

Woman looks and points at the camera
Photo Credit: Designecologist / Pexels
Photo Credit: Designecologist / Pexels

Some people might live by a quote such as “she is who she is,” but as one user pointed out, that’s often just an excuse for terrible behavior.

“‘If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.’ Sorry – that’s not how life works.” —badlilbadlandabad / Reddit

Drama Queens

Woman wears a purple dress and a tiara
Photo Credit: Ferdie Balean / Pexels
Photo Credit: Ferdie Balean / Pexels

“’I’m drama so I’m interesting.’ No you are just an attention seeker. Anyone like this please seriously get a better personality.”jessness024 / Reddit

Dealing with drama queens can be a handful, and whether someone else’s or their own, they thrive on drama and chaos. For some users, this trait is a red flag to run.

Male Caregivers

Father and son play in the park while the son holds a teddy bear
Photo Credit: Anete Lusina / Pexels
Photo Credit: Anete Lusina / Pexels

Women are always assumed to be a child’s primary caregiver, but when those roles are reversed and men care for their children or niece/nephew, suddenly it’s a crime.

“Harassing/calling [the] police on fathers (or other legit male caregivers) minding their own business bringing their kids to a public park.” —Washjockey / Reddit

Playing The Victim

Woman wearing all black and black wings
Photo Credit: KoolShooters / Pexels
Photo Credit: KoolShooters / Pexels

Another example of toxic femininity is when in cases of abuse, unhealthy relationships, or divorces, women are always presumed to be the victim and men are automatically guilty.

“Honestly, I’ve always found this assumption by some that women are always innocent is ridiculously sexist. Women are human and entirely capable of abusive and criminal behavior.” —illy-chan / Reddit