Friday, 6 December 2019

Let's talk about: Toxic Femininity...

The Sixth Sense - Videotape scene

With all the talk about "toxic masculinity" that is popular right now, I find it frustrating that no one seems to be discussing the feminine equivalent.  As someone who has been harmed by men, I understand the need for the discussion of how toxic masculinity must be stamped out - however, bad feminine traits also exist, and I want to discuss those a bit, as this is a conversation I have had a couple of times with others, where we tried to figure out qualities that could be filed under the negative feminine.

The most classic example of this that I can think of (and probably one of the worst) is the Munchausen syndrome by proxy person, which is demonstrated well in this scene from "The Sixth Sense" by N. Night Shyamalan (back when he could make a film I could stomach).  The Munchausen syndrome by proxy means a parent or caregiver, often a mother, hurts their child or patient to keep them ill, often to promote the need for medical attention, or to simply cause harm - it's a strange kind of poisonous motherly quality that often is seen in old age homes and hospices, especially.  I file this under "toxic femininity" because of the role of being in charge of someone's care being of the more feminine qualities, and it is not restricted to just women, of course... only that it seems women engage in it more than men.  Not as common as most examples of toxic masculinity, but definitely worth discussing.

A more common example of the toxic feminine would be the partner who presents with a gentle facade of sweetness, but underneath this, uses manipulative emotional tactics to get their spouse to do exactly what they want, controlling the situation and hiding behind excuses like, for example, common mental health disorders or addictions, things that would not hold up as an excuse in court if there was a trial for something serious.  Mental disorders such as schizophrenia and sometimes an acute bipolar manic episode mean people who have committed crimes while not well have been legally freed of doing jail time (though not necessarily mental hospital time), and can be excused for certain behaviours, the person not being of a sound enough mind to be criminally responsible.  However, things like certain personality disorders and most mood and anxiety disorders mean the person has enough wherewithal as a mind to control themselves enough not to cross the line, and most never will.  It is a person's responsibility to better oneself mental health wise, despite a diagnosis, and I am tired of the idea of people identifying heavily with psychiatric labelling - not everyone does this of course, but some use mental illness labels as excuses for poor behaviour.  I consider this, also, a form of toxic femininity that any gender can be responsible for, and it seems to be growing in the populous.

These are just two examples, one severe, and one milder and more common, that I can think of when I think of toxic femininity.  I wonder if this subject has or will be discussed at large... I have endured a bit of this sort of energy in my life myself, so I wanted to discuss it here.


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