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Toxic Masculinity Compared to Toxic Femininity

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

The word “toxic,” which has been crafted by our generation as a completely profound, overly used and irrelevant word, establishes the meaning of an individual who is blatantly disrespectful, hurtful, “two-faced,” and potentially bullies others and their peers behind their backs. 

It is because of the ‘urban dictionary’ mindset that our generation, peer groups, etc. have adopted this mannerism into their vocabulary on a daily basis. 

Therefore, it intrigued me to question my close peers on what either “toxic masculinity” or “toxic femininity” meant to them. In doing so, the same response correlated to be a look of confusion or having someone state that it was either a male or female acting like “a snake” behind a friend’s back.

These responses, however, were completely wrong. In order to truly understand the core of each concept, we need to refer to the actual definition that stems from the word “toxic” which refers to something harmful, poisonous, dangerous and causes death. 

(This change in mindset allows the formal understanding of delving into the two classifications of gender to understand the toxic concept that pertains to them). 

A clear picture of toxic masculinity: 

Toxic masculinity is the socially constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, and sexually aggressive.

Toxic masculinity is not about vilifying boys, men or any of the particular qualities’ society has deemed to be “masculine.” It instead offers a way to explore the construction of masculinity. 

The Allusion of “Boys will be Boys”: 

In general, it is constructed in Western society that the dominant, white male, continues to be seen in the eyes of society as privileged, respected and wholesome and ideal versions of masculinity. 

Through the construction in western society, toxic masculinity also pertains to the idea that a man, in the circumstance that they fit the norm of a white, middle-upper class, able-bodied individual, will be righteously declared as innocent. This is because any ill intentions, wrong doings or deliberate actions are simple mistakes of their own misconduct. 

This was also echoed through the horrific, degrading and shameful events regarding the “hazing” rituals that were revealed at St. Michael’s College in Hamilton, Ont. and the recent hearings involving the now United States Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. 

“Boys will be boys” is erupting as a profound social norm and label for young males due to such unraveling and dismissive cases that fall beneath the justice system and are overlooked as a whole within the views of western society. 

The false idea of toxic femininity: 

In general, the misconception of this concept is that this is a feminist talking point that is associated with attributing bad behaviours of femininity to that of masculinity. 

The set definition of toxic femininity: 

Namira Keshavejee, a former Carleton undergraduate student and advocator for the LGBTQ2+ community expressed toxic femininity as a stem from toxic masculinity, because the pressures put on women are enforced by patriarchy, and standards that men have for women.

Toxic femininity is the scope of being unnecessarily hostile, aggressive in nature and in a cooperative manner. In most cases, females will use backstabbing to get ahead of others and to maintain their positions of power within a social setting. 

A few examples that compliment this include: 

  • Women insulting men to expensive degrees but crying sexism if men were to criticize them in retaliation 
  • Women demonizing the sexuality of a male
  • Women engaging in domestic abuse and physical assault, in knowing that a man will not do anything in return, as they will receive harsher punishments and face chivalric conditioning from the Criminal Justice System

On a general note, it is fair to say that toxic masculinity and toxic femininity go hand in hand with one-another as a whole. 


Jen(nie) is a second-year Journalism student at Carleton University who is pursuing a combined honours degree in Communication and Media studies. One of her major career goals is to be a part of the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), covering stories in investigative and war journalism. She is also an individual who manages her own blog and various other websites, indulges in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and is a master in procrastination.
Hunza Chaudhary is a fourth year student at Carleton University. Currently she is double majoring in Journalism and Human Rights and Social Justice. You can follow her on Twitter (@Hunzachaudhary)