Why modern feminism encourages toxic masculinity…among girls.

A conversation between a boy and a girl about toxic masculinity, and how it expresses itself in modern-day feminism.

Brooke Schwartz

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In high school, I hated shopping.

I hated makeup for a long time; I didn’t really wear it for a while, or only wore eyeliner, and scoffed at makeup “trends.” I viewed it as a waste of time and money, an invalid form of expression, silly and frivolous and not for serious, real people like me.

In other words, I had internalized the toxicity that lies underneath a Western approach toward feminism.

Toxic masculinity usually expresses itself through anger and belligerence: a male is hurt or upset but knows it is not “manly” to feel these emotions and thus masks them with anger, lashing out because their emotions are bottled up and creating a toxic atmosphere of emotional denial, repression, and ultimately, dysfunction. Often, if a guy doesn’t get what he wants from a girl (usually a sexual favor), he can get petty very quickly, with his knee-jerk reaction being to call her a “bitch” or “slut,” shoving her gender in her face.

Q: Is there a female equivalent—toxic femininity?

That’s more difficult to pinpoint, because society glorifies “masculine”characteristics, so there are more signs of girls displaying behavior that is toxic in that they are trying to behave more like males, than toxic behavior in which they are trying to behave stereotypically female.

Ex. Girls who display more aggressive/combative tendencies, shut down their emotions and claim to be “strong” and “not like other girls,” or reject the notion of starting a family in favor of a career—not because they find the rejected ideas inherently repulsive, but because they’ve been taught by society that they are of more inherent worth if they play into a more masculine role.

In high school I displayed a lot of these characteristics, partially because I already didn’t really fit into an idea of what it means to be “feminine,” and it was exacerbated by the societal idea that being feminine is somehow wrong or bad. When I began studying full-time in Israel at an education program in 2019, I was placed into an all-female environment that was accepting, open, and non-judgemental. It gave me space to open myself up more emotionally, and to…

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Brooke Schwartz

Professional writer, editor, and tutor; social justice advocate; Orthodox Jew; dedicated Grammar Auror