The concepts of Toxic Masculinity and Toxic Feminity are the stereotypical gendered norms, such as “boys will be boys,” “real men don’t cry,” “men don’t discuss their feelings,” “women should be polite and passive,” or “a women’s desirability is based on youth and external appearance.” These norms damage everyone involved and society as a whole. We have all been constrained by these notions that many of us haven’t been able to develop holistic and balanced traits of both feminine and masculine.
Toxic Masculinity and Toxic Feminity are woundings and would be more reflective to refer these concepts as the “Wounded Masculine” and the “Wounded Feminine”. These wounds although generally referred to a specific gender, should not be confused with sex, but rather the feminine and masculine traits or energies within each of us.
“Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding."
I love this joke, not only since it’s paradoxically true, but if the underlying message of “grow some balls” is to “Be a Man” or “Man Up” what does that mean? to be strong and emotionally resilient? No, many of the times it means… pretend to be strong and suppress our emotions. What it negates to indicate is true emotional strength lies in vulnerability and resiliency.
Masculine and feminine energies within their true form are inherently balanced. Masculine energy is the external doer, embodying qualities such as analytical, leadership, assertiveness, strength, discipline, protection, objectivity, logic, resiliency, and independence.
Feminine energy is an internal feeler, embodying qualities such as receptivity, vulnerability, supportiveness, compassion, collaboration, intuition, creativity, adaptability, inspiration, and empathy.
If we are to be whole, we need both energies within us.
The Wounded Masculine are masculine characteristics that are hyper-inflated to the point where they become damaging. Leadership turns into dominance, assertiveness turns into aggression, protection into control, and independence into emotional immaturity. As a result, we are unable to empathize with others, we are emotionally avoidant and physically aggressive. Our focus is on self-preservation, and our worth is based on career achievements and/or sexual conquests.
The Wounded Feminine follows the same notion, where receptivity turns into manipulation, vulnerability turns into insecurity, supportiveness into victimhood and compassion into codependence. The results become we are unable to speak to our truth, easily confused and prone to rumination, manipulate to obtain, and find our worth in people-pleasing and the dependence by others.
Regardless of our physical gender, we can have a mixture of both masculine and feminine woundings within each of us.
The cultural society we live in has a history of honouring Wounded Masculine energy while disregarding the importance of feminine energy to create a balance.
As women and other historically oppressed and marginalized groups become more liberated — this allows the feminine energy to arise. However, within this space, another imbalance can also ensue. Our society can collectively embody the wounded feminine — while still retaining qualities of the wounded masculine. While empathy and supportiveness emerge, we can get stuck in blaming and victimhood, and still retain emotional avoidance and self-preservation.
We require aid from balanced masculine and feminine energies, to create an equitable environment. We all need to be seen, heard, and understood to heal and progress. For that to occur, we have to harness the masculine energy of authority — to create the space, protection — to feel safe, and feminine energy of compassion and receptivity.
How do we unify Feminine and Masculine?
Understanding that our gendered bodies we have been born into should not solely define us, what we want to do, who we love, and who we choose to be. We all have both masculine and feminine energies within us. We all have feelings, we all have flaws, feel inadequate, hurt at times, we all need to cry, we all need to heal, and we all need love. We are all human.
Let’s be aware of the imbalances within ourselves and bring it back to the centre, through our own healing practices. Let’s question the origin of our beliefs. Let’s stop denying parts of ourselves in order to be accepted. Let’s allow ourselves and each other to value and express the best traits of both the feminine and the masculine. We need to encourage everyone to be their authentic selves and relieve everyone from the burden of acting out socially constructed harmful gender norms.
Anger is a potent emotion and does have the possibility to be very destructive. It needs to be honoured and acknowledged in a manner that promotes growth, productivity and healing, and when it’s time to let go.
We have responded to othering through assimilation. This attempts to erase the differences, such as where governments eliminate a language, convert a group to a specific dogma, outlaw or tax the practice of particular ceremonies.