Can Women have Toxic Masculinity: Unraveling the Problem

Toxic masculinity isn’t something that just hurts men, women are also suffering from its effects too. In this article, we will examine if women can have toxic masculinity, what causes it, and why it’s important to address this issue now.

Can women have toxic masculinity?

Women can exhibit and perpetuate toxic masculinity, just as a man could, with excessive levels of aggression or displays of domination. An example would be a mother telling her son not to cry because it isn’t manly. 

Women can absorb harmful ideas from toxic masculinity, especially if they have internalized misogyny. Women might feel the need to distance themselves from other women and stereotypically feminine behaviors (perhaps due to their sexual preferences, personal traits, or upbringing) and try and be “one of the boys.”  

This might lead them to take on toxic masculine traits such as being tough, stoic, etc.

There are some differences in how and why Toxic Masculinity might manifest itself in a woman. In the rest of this article, we will be looking at the how and why. 

What Is Toxic Masculinity?

Toxic masculinity refers to a system by which men enforce and perpetuate harmful social norms in each other.  Such as the idea that “manly men” are socially dominant, coupled with traits like homophobia, sexual assault, and domestic violence. 

A common example is a man mistreat another man for showing emotions.

Boys are taught toxic masculine behaviors by normalizing violence, e.g., “boys will be boys” with regard to bullying and aggression.

List of Toxic Masculinity Traits

  • Feeling inadequate or inferior to others 
  • Suppressing femininity in themselves and their children
  • Being aggressive verbally/physically towards women
  • Accepting rigid gender roles that favor masculinity over femininity. 
  • Seeing woman primarily as an object of beauty or conquest rather than as a person with her own desires
  • Expecting sexual gratification or favors in exchange for good treatment 
  • Believing that men are superior to women and should therefore dominate them, 
  • Being unable to accept equality in a relationship. 
  • Telling men they need to suppress emotions in order to be seen as strong

The list is mainly about how men treat women, and how they see themselves, but these behaviors/norms can also be perpetrated by women.

Women Can Perpetuate Toxic Masculinity

Women can perpetuate toxic masculinity as much as men do. 

One example is when a mother sees her son exhibit feminine traits, she might scold and suppress those aspects of her child. Causing trama that the boy might in term force upon other boys in the playground.

Another example would be women pressuring their partner to act more “manly” by taking on Toxic Masculine Traits. 

Women can also promote other women to promote toxic masculinity or silence the voices of women that are fighting against it. 

One way in which this happens is by women avoiding or ignoring other women that share their disenfranchising experiences, especially within a structure like work, church, and social groups.

List of ways Women can perpetuate Toxic Masculinity:

  • Limiting young men’s imagination to only “boys toys” and restricting them from doing anything not seen as masculine.
  • Referring to fathers taking on parenting duty as “babysitting”
  • Raising boys without teaching domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning
  • Seeing there boys interaction with girls as only romantic/girlfriend, rather than a friend
  • Belittling boys and men for showing emotion besides anger
  • Holding expectations that all men should provide and protect their woman
  • Body shame of men’s genitals and/or sexual performance
  • Enabling toxic men to continue toxic masculine behaviors
  • Assuming the male nurse is a doctor and other gender stereotypes in the workplace
  • Restricting predominately female trauma/issues to cis females only (e.g. domestic violence, eating disorders)

In order for society to move forward–to break the cycle of toxic masculinity and promote a more egalitarian future–we need to first recognize women’s participation in it as well.

Difference between Toxic Masculinity in a Man and a Women

Toxic masculinity in women is not the same as toxic masculinity in men, and recognizing these differences will be instrumental to moving forward.

Most men experience social pressure to behave in such a way that it either hurts them or other people. This pressure is the effect of Toxic Masculinity. 

Women do not normally feel this social pressure to act tough, be domineering, or violent. But a woman might see these as masculine traits. 

If a woman feels she needs to excerpt more masculinity (to protect herself or because she identifies as more masculine) she might take on toxic masculine traits because she sees them as the only way to present herself as masculine. 

A good example of this is when a woman, non-binary, or transgender person takes on Toxic Masculine behaviors as a way of proving they are worthy of being viewed as masculine. 

It’s important to note here, that Masculinity in this sense is separate from biology. It’s more about an expression of masculine traits. 

Anyone can take on Toxic Masculine behaviors, but how and why a woman (or anyone else) decides to take on those traits might be different. 

In Conclusion

In conclusion, women can play a role in the proliferation of toxic masculinity. They do this by promoting it or ignoring those that are fighting against it. 

But not all hope is lost! 

There are a number of ways to address the various problems that toxic masculinity has created including educating other parties and speaking up about these issues. By both taking charge of one’s own life and spreading awareness, people can help change their lives as well as others.

For example, Women have been instrumental in changing laws around rape testimony which has made convictions easier to obtain than before; police departments now require officers undergo sexual harassment training; anti-violence organizations work closely with schools on curriculums related to gender equality; advocacy groups focus on teaching young girls how to both stand up for themselves and how to protect their own, as well as teaching boys about consent.

There are many opportunities for change and working towards creating a world of equality among everyone no matter what gender they identify themselves with.

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Isaac Cotec
Creator of HeroRise, Isaac Cotec has dedicated his life to empowering others through art and creativity. He is a scholar of the subconscious and has studied the power of symbolism to help create enduring change.