We often talk about toxic masculinity in our modern world, which is the traditional cultural masculine norm that can be harmful to both men and women. However, we do not talk much about what I would call “toxic femininity” for the sake of this post which is, according to me, a set of norms imposed on women since the beginning of modern Feminism. First, I want to make clear that I am a Feminist and will not criticize the advances of Feminism in this post, I simply want to study with you the problems an excess of it could lead to and build the foundations for a new wave of Feminism: a feminism based on choice.
Disclaimer: when I use terms such as “masculine traits” and “toxic feminism”, please do not feel offended. Those are terms I coined for the sake of this post as I wanted it to be as easy to understand as possible. I am, however, totally open to your suggestions when it comes to renaming certain notions.
The frustrated housewives of the 1950’s
I would like to start with an analogy by having a look at the 1950’s in the United-States, a period known as the “American Zenith”. In 1953, Alfred Kinsley published a study entitled Sexual Behavior in the Human Female stating that 25% of married women had affairs, which showed women were highly dissatisfied and felt loveless. At the time, lots of women dreamt of a high-paying job (some could work but only to supplement their husband’s income) and independence. With time and (lots of) fights, they managed to be able to work, become independent women and not be forced to marry to feel accepted (if they were single, they were seen as “mentally ill” or immature) like in a Jane Austen’s novel.
Today’s “Hustle culture”
Today, however, the things have been reversed, but we are facing the opposite problem: it is women who want to stay home and raise children that seem “mentally ill”. After all, have we made all these feminist advances for nothing? I do not think so. I find it sad to criticize women’s choice to stay home because in my eyes, Feminism is not about having all women in a wonderful career but having them free to choose for themselves as long as they are happy.
According to me, Feminism should mean valuing all women and not only the ones who show more “masculine traits” (commonly, love for competition &c.) and thrive in their career. Women should have the right to choose what is best for them and if, according to them, it means staying home and raising their children, so be it.
Misconceptions about housewives
The term itself has a very negative connotation, especially because of the series Desperate Housewives: people seem to think all housewives are desperate and love being involved in drama. Absolutely not! Nowadays, women are freed from most chores thanks to technology and can spend time taking care of themselves and running their business for instance. I think homemaking and the choice not to have a carer or to have a part-time job is totally fine as long as it is sustainable for the women who decide to go for it. It is all about balance: if a woman wants to stay home with her children (or no children at all!) and her computer while her husband or wife is at work, it does not mean she is oppressed at all (or that she is a “gold-digger” either). It is simply a team-work; maybe the “oppressed” one would be the one who works for two… or maybe, as I think it to be true, no one is oppressed and everyone is doing their part even though they differ.
I am personally a student and do not want to make the choice of being a housewife, but I think it is important to talk about this issue more on the Internet. It is important to continue criticizing toxic masculinity, but I think toxic femininity should have its share of criticism as well. I used the “extreme” example of a housewife, but it is absolutely true for everyone. Your choices are fine, even though people tend to make you think you are not enough and are a shame for women in the world. Feminism is about supporting all women and being a great community, not about competing all the time against each others; we have greater enemies Ladies.
Hoping you will realize that it is our duty to support our sisters no matter their choices,
Sending you lots of love,