You’ve probably heard about the term ‘toxic masculinity’ in recent years, and it’s defined as “a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole.”
The stereotypes often include the notion that men withhold their emotions, and that crying or being in distress is ‘designated’ for women. Additionally, toxic masculinity means that men are encouraged to maintain that ‘macho’ role at all times to be accepted by society.
However, even though toxic masculinity is still a hot topic, there’s a new heated discussion on the horizon: toxic femininity. The discussion started following the alleged acts by Amber Heard and The Kardashians, but what is really toxic femininity?
According to VeryWellMind, toxic femininity is “any thoughts, actions, or behaviors by women that benefit or defer to others, usually males, at the expense of a woman’s independence, agency, full range of emotions, and emotional and mental well-being.”
The outlet also wrote that toxic femininity suggests that women who are guilty of it are potentially looking out for themselves over other women.
“It is where a woman’s response to a long-standing threat of failure, underappreciation, or a need to prove herself over her male peers reacts by resenting the women around her who are fighting the same battles,” – the outlet notes.
The discussion was brought to light again following Johnny Depp’s trial following the divorce with Amber Heard. Namely, Amber filed for divorce back in 2016 following 15 months of marriage, and she also filed a restraining order against her ex. After that, Johnny filed a $50 million lawsuit against his ex-wife in which he made allegations of Amber being the aggressor in the relationship, and spoke out of her alleged misdemeanor in his April 2022 court testimony. During the trial, evidence supporting his claims circulated online, and many social media users blamed Amber for using her feminine qualities and involvement in the #MeToo movement to gain sympathy from the public.
To add to that, some people have blamed the Kardashians and their approach to their body image and cultural appropriation for being another example of toxic femininity. Namely, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Khloe Kardashian have been accused of promoting hyper-femininity and an unrealistic body image after their show Keeping Up With the Kardashians made them global superstars.
Writer Robic Abcarian mentioned in an op-ed to The Los Angeles Times “the evolution of Kim’s impossibly tiny waist and ample posterior” and their facial changes throughout their career, while scholars have accused the family of culturally appropriating Black women’s fashion to earn financial gain from Black people and Black culture.