"It's Subtle But Basically Everywhere": People Are Sharing Common Examples Of "Toxic Femininity" In Everyday Life

As women, we're often faced with people telling us what they believe we should do with our bodies or how we should show up in the world. And while some loved ones might have "good intentions" behind these ideals, some of these expectations or pieces of unsolicited advice put upon women can be known as "toxic femininity."

a woman touching their daughters hair outside
Rbkomar / Via Getty Images

If you're unfamiliar with what toxic femininity is, it's when women are expected to align with certain "traditional" stereotypes or feminine traits, such as being submissive, being a mother, and so on. It's known to be rooted in internalized misogynistic values that are often held in patriarchal societies. According to Vice, this term was most likely coined in a 2018 Medium post titled "Toxic Femininity Holds All of Us Back" by social psychologist and author Dr. Devon Price.

However, this terminology can be viewed through an anti-feminist lens since it can also be used to discuss harmful stereotypes of femininity.

And according to Psychology Today, if "toxic femininity" does exist, then these "tactics" or "behaviors" were used to survive oppressive misogyny.

But while there is absolutely nothing wrong with being these things in your own life, it's a problem when a person is pressured or suggested to do these "feminine" things when, in fact, it does not align with their values or needs.

So, when u/flawedforte asked: "What are examples of toxic femininity?" people left over 5,000 comments, so we gathered a few of their answers for you to read below:

1."My wife could not produce enough milk for our children. When our first was born, she tried and tried. I woke up in the middle of the night to her crying. She felt like she was a horrible mom to even bring up the formula. There is so much pressure on moms, and it is incredibly stupid. Our kids are very well adjusted and were on formula the entire time. I tell anyone who is expecting their first that the only 'right' way is the 'right way for that child.' Damn everyone else’s opinions; do what is best for your family, not the mommy bloggers."

a woman feeding her baby with the bottle

u/Lokitusaborg

"My sister bled her nipples dry trying to produce milk. She had all this internalized guilt that if she couldn't breastfeed, then she wouldn't be a proper mother and it would be her fault that the baby was malnourished."

u/joyfall

Peopleimages / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

2."Women who only support other women when it’s convenient for their image."

u/flowerchild_3

3."Moms bullying other moms."

a mom giving a disapproving look

u/LollipopDreamscape

"A friend of mine had her daughter 10 weeks early. It was very traumatic, but they are both fine now. Last week, there was something along the lines of 'pre-mature birth awareness day' at the hospital where she had her daughter, and she was invited to meet up with other pre-mature birth moms to bond, network, and share their experiences.

At the meeting, she was shamed by the group because her daughter was 'ONLY' 10 weeks early. Her experience was ignored because 'that could’ve not been that hard, my son was born 12 weeks early!,' 'mine was 15!!!' The most traumatic experience of her life was ridiculed because her daughter was not pre-mature enough. Cliques exist EVERYWHERE, and it sucks."

u/filipbergendahl

Fg Trade / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

4."Women who throw other women under the bus for a man, or the attention of a man, etc."

u/KekeSmall

"This. This has been a reoccurring theme throughout my life. I even had to go to therapy because it was happening so much that I started to think that I was the problem.

I had a friend who was in love with this one guy, I got to meet him finally, and we were all hanging out, and everyone went to sleep, and he wanted to show me his Pirates of the Caribbean collection in his room. As soon as I turned around, he pulled down his pants and was there just completely naked from the waist down. I told her, and she blamed me for leading him on???"

u/Accomplished_Hyena_6

5."A teacher who tells you to 'act like a lady' when you show assertiveness. An acquaintance who says you haven’t found love because men find your confidence 'intimidating.' A social media influencer who says 'real women have curves.' A newspaper article criticizing a female celebrity for having hair on their legs and underarms. A manager or colleague who not-so-subtly suggests you wear more makeup to the office."

woman with underarm hair
Koldunova / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

6."Putting other women down for their interests."

u/Mimikikik

"Putting other women down period."

u/_Tauta_

7."Mothers shaming C-Section moms saying they didn’t give birth because the child was surgically removed."

a woman with a c-section scar

u/Sufficient-Voice-210

"It’s funny. I had a C-section with one child and a natural birth with the other. I breastfed one and bottle-fed the other. If I asked someone to point out the ‘natural’ born, breastfed child, they would have to make a guess because there is nothing to differentiate them. Both kids are super tall. Both get sick. Both eat like wild animals. Both drive me up the wall. Birth is birth. Fed is fed."

u/Medical-Stable-5959

Thanongsak Sukjai / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

8."'You look like a boy with your short hair.' 'Don't go to the gym. You'll look like a man when your muscles get too big.' 'Act dumb because men don't like smart women.' 'Women don't need an education.' 'Marry a guy with solid income.' 'You have to shave your armpits and legs to be feminine.'"

u/MatureHotwife

9."Mothers telling women without kids that their life is meaningless and they can’t understand true love."

a kid swinging on the swings

u/DontShowMomMemes

"I had a friend who got married and had babies young. Totally her choice, all good, whatever makes her happy. But she'd phone me in the evening, and I'd be heading out with friends or going to the bar or a party, and she'd say, 'Oh, must be nice to be able to do whatever you want, any time you want!'

Or, I'd show up wearing new clothes or something, and she'd say, 'Oh, must be nice to have so much disposable income, buy new clothes whenever you want.' But then, she'd tell me I needed to find the right person and settle down, didn't I want kids? So...am I lucky to be single and childless or not?"

u/sadnessreignssupreme

Images By Tang Ming Tung / Via Getty Images

10."Women being required to have a spotless house and look 10/10 all the time."

u/FriendlyPanda2k

11."That single women should be sad."

A woman sitting on the ground

u/hallelujasuzanne

"I get this a lot. I've been single for a few years after being in relationships for the past 35+ years. Completely my choice to be single. And I have been the HAPPIEST I have ever been in my whole entire life! Yet, I have people constantly asking if I'm lonely, telling me I should get out there and date someone, or the best yet, when I tell them I'm not interested in dating: 'Who hurt you??' Like, WHAT?!? LOL. They cannot fathom how I can be happier single. Yet, they're stuck in their humdrum lives complaining about their wives."

u/LucysFiesole

Hiraman / Via Getty Images

12."Assuming that a woman is on her period if she is upset about something."

u/Elaine_Benes_Lovr

13."Women putting other women down for their choices in both clothing and lifestyle. To bring up an example here: My mom was a stay-at-home mother, and I had to see her get humiliated by working moms my whole life. There is nothing wrong with leading a life the way you deem it best, and I know my mom worked hard to make sure I never missed out on anything. It's so hurtful to see women with other priorities call her lazy just because they put more 'work' into something else. Or, people assume she is not educated because of her choice of career. The woman has a PhD, and she never bragged about it once."

a rack of purple clothes

"Toxic femininity is subtle but basically everywhere. I get put down for not wearing makeup as a teen but doing it now or for suddenly wanting to work out to feel better in my body.

A lot of women somehow seem to feel that the way they were taught is the best/only way to lead life and that any woman that makes different decisions is automatically worth less than they are. You get pushed into a certain category in people's heads, and unless you perfectly fit into one, you get looked down upon, and that is not okay."

u/Girlygabenpepe

Anastasiia Vyshnevska / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."Plus-size women have to be hyper-feminine to be taken seriously."

u/its1995

"It is so weird that that is a thing. I’m plus size, and every store with plus-size clothes is so feminine. Super low-cut shirts, too. And I am just not like that. Sometimes, it’s fun…but also, where are the T-shirts, comfy hoodies, etc.?"

u/HAgaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy

15."Making assumptions that other women have the same physical/body insecurities and ideals as they do (e.g. flat stomach, butts and boobs, facial features, etc.). The pressure to be an unattainable, nebulous kind of 'perfect,' or at least the assumption that all women want to strive for that or feel this way."

a woman standing in a bathing suit
Maria Korneeva / Via Getty Images

16."Shaming stay-at-home wives. Shaming women for choosing family over career."

u/aboodobaid20200

17."Mothers bragging about not getting an epidural for delivering a baby. I watched while they all acted like they were so great for not getting one. It totally got to my wife who refused it for too long out of feeling weak or less than, and she had absolutely torturous labor. It made me furious."

a doctor putting an epidural in
Chanawit / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

18."Middle-aged women slut shaming, body shaming younger women for showing off their bodies."

u/Immediate-Pool-4391

"I would say this is an ‘all ages’ thing. I never got picked on more for what I wore/my body than in middle school, and again as a young mom. Both of those times were from peers around my age."

u/mrskontz14

19."My stepmother insists women make bad leaders because 'they' aren’t as intelligent or rational. She makes every decision in their house, overtly, and if need be, covertly."

a woman sitting at a table with two other people
Violetastoimenova / Via Getty Images

Do you have an example of what "toxic femininity" is? If so, tell us below.

This post has been updated.