How to Deal with ‘Toxic Femininity’

‘The ultimate ruse of toxic femininity is pretending it doesn’t exist.’

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Today is winter solstice, so a let’s take a plunge into the dark…

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‘To me the big unasked question here is this: ‘how can the average 21st Century Western man deal with toxic femininity?’

Not so much in the case of being blown out while trying to seduce a lady. More like being stuck with toxic wives, babymamas, long-term girlfriends, mothers-in-law, co-workers, sisters, neighbours, girlfriend’s girlfriends, and a whole myriad of female life co-habitants that, given the chance, wouldn’t hesitate a second to destroy a man’s life if it serves them in any way.

Funnily enough, in a world where ‘toxic masculinity’ seems debated so thoroughly and intensely, if you search the topic ‘how to deal with toxic femininity’, the results are scarce and of poor quality. This year’s Amber Heard trial may have started some kind of discussion in this matter, but honestly, I think there’s plenty a man in deep need for some kind of guidance regarding this topic… He’s probably much more than in need of this than he is of getting help in taking women to bed.

The way I see it, this is a dynamic that 99% of the (Western European) society I live in is trapped into. People (men and women) behave this way because it’s the way they’re supposed to, and the way they know how. It’s like women are expected to be bitchy, and men are expected to not know how to deal with it.

It seems that even if one knows what to do about it, it still becomes a huge effort that comes at a great cost, or becomes a life mission or challenge… and even though I have tried to make that effort at times, and embarked on this mission, there is a (indeed, childish) part of me that still doesn’t get why life has to be like this.

In general, I see a ton of information trying to help men how to improve their romantic lives, and literally nothing when it comes to dealing with the toxic side of feminine energy, which, in my opinion, is often much more needed.

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Well, well… This is the question of our times.

How to be a breath of fresh air, and create a different relationship to women, in the midst of this madness.

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I have to do the proper thing, and start by defining terms.

What is toxic masculinity? I’d say it stems from unmoving, unhealed pockets of anger, rage, hatred, and fear of women… and manifests as behaviour that is demeaning and detrimental to our relationship with women, and to each other.

In today’s culture we’re talking about the objectivisation and sexualisation of women’s bodies, demeaning humour with an undertone of sexism and power games, trespassing over consensual (or felt) boundaries in sex, fist-bumping with other men about victories you’ve won over women, and cajoling your bros to man up and engage in similarly ‘toxic’ behaviour—especially when you know they don’t want to. To this, we can add the thousands of years of systemic repression of women, and the day-to-day actions (often violent, and always ignorant) that keep such repression in check.

It is precisely these things that have led to the unprocessed rage and hatred and fear in women, which festers within, and leads to behaviours on and under the surface that, today, we might come to call the ‘toxic feminine’. I take the time to make this definition, of course, to start our exploration with the requisite empathy.

So what is ‘toxic femininity’? I am sure you know the bitter taste. It’s the culture of snark, emasculating comments, rolling eyes and sighs of contempt. It’s the self-entitled utilisation of men for her own gains—dating you yesterday, and treating you with disdain tomorrow. It’s manipulation of all forms. It’s, as you say, it’s those cases of overt destruction of a man’s career, home, self-esteem, life. And, often, it stems from from plain self-centered immaturity. I am sure you could write to me, and name more.

And you’re right: there is so much of this attitude latent in our culture that it transmits. A young girl with no personal reason to hate boys might pick up on the vibe of other women, her propaganda cell-phone feed, close herself off, and propagate the meme. Just as toxic masculinity has transmitted itself down the line for millennia—frat-bros become frat-bros independent of personal trauma—this ongoing, low-lying, corrosive attitude of women towards men has become the norm. To the point where if you see the world any other way, you must be naïve.

The simplistic advice on this topic is good: avoid toxic women and toxic behaviour, and move towards the light. There are angels on this earth, women engaged in whatever work it takes to be healing and loving presence to themselves and to men. Change whatever is needed within you so that you seek them out! Society is full of devils: women almost entirely toxic in almost every moment, so easy, so obvious, you can sniff this attitude out within seconds. So simply walk away from darkness and head towards the light. Engagement with toxicity is rarely worth your time.

And yet… if only life were so simple.

What makes our life with women complex is that the grand ninety percent of women do suffer these enduring pockets of anger about men, and can’t help but spew out the odd toxic moment. And even in contexts with women you love—relationships you’re wholly embedded in and don’t want to leave behind—you will be dealing with moments of this toxicity: flashes of entitlement, contempt, manipulation, judgment: attitudes designed to extract, or control, some or other man.

You see these currents of behaviour all around you. They sting like lashings to the heart.

So let’s talk about dealing with toxic femininity, as you asked, in all those cases where—by virtue of staying in relationship with the real world—we cannot, and do not want to, walk away.

My headline here will be simple: presence is the game-changing force. I have seen women blow kindness and graciousness into me, and then, as soon as my back is turned, they treat the next man in line with the most searing disrespect. I do not condone this behaviour, but it is how it is. My posture itself, my groundedness, my awareness, my heart, come together to embody a certain authority that evokes the beauty from women, that draws out a certain admiration. Does this solve the grand problem of ‘toxic femininity’? Only for me.

There’s much to the topic of presence. If presence is a concept that’s still nebulous to you, I suggest you do everything in your power to understand what it is, because it will resolve almost every aspect of suffering in your life.

Yet we’ll begin with ‘presence’ because we need to. Below are four specific, actionable approaches you can take when you run into ‘toxic femininity’.

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Archetype of the Father

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A client of mine recently found himself speaking to a woman in a way he’d never spoken before in his life. They had a good first date, and she was being a little rude and evasive on the phone as he tried to set up date two. In a moment of mild-but-calm irritation, he turned towards her and said:

‘This is not the level of respect I’m looking for in a woman.’

And he paused. You know what happened next? Silence. And then? She did the rest of the logistical wrangling to set up that second date, and was all over him for the rest of their time together. It is so rare for a woman-on-the-border-of-entitlement to hear a man’s standards, that it flips something for her on a primal level.

It struck me as a beautiful sentence, and it is one you can use too, when dealing with toxic or disrespectful behaviour.

[1] Simply state your higher standard:

‘This is not the level of respect I’m looking for in a woman.’

‘You might get away with that attitude with other men in your life, but with me, I want a higher standard of love and respect between the genders.’

‘I say this because I love you, and I treasure having you in my life, but I see you speaking with a demeaning attitude to men, and I don’t want this in our relationship.’

‘This sort of behaviour will simply not fly around me.’

The important thing, when laying down the word like the father, is to speak your one clear sentence, and then shut your mouth. Linger in the tension it causes. This is the energetic discomfort that will determine what happens next, and you have to not diffuse this tension with over-explanation. I am not saying that every woman will step into line (and follow your higher standard), but a surprising number will. If she spews a toxic attitude over you, as you stand with your available heart and your standard well-stated, you know it’s time to walk away. You know it is less than underwhelming to drag along a woman who cannot align with your standards.

Then, if the moment gives, you can go a step further:

[2] Share a vision for a more powerful relationship.

‘I know there’s hurt in the world between women and men, but in this space, here, with me, I want a more respectful, beautiful connection between the sexes. If we take responsibility for our behaviour toward each other, we can heal, and enjoy life again.’

Drop this clanger and then sit in the pause. This is leading through your vision for a more beautiful world. So rare is a man who will say such a thing—with authority and sincerity—this kind of leadership and vision might take a while for her to compute. Be patient. She might have to go away a few days to let this sink in.

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The Archetype of the Mother

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This is also a beautiful course of action you can take. First, as you witness an attitude that feels toxic to you:

[3] Share with her the emotional impact that her behaviour has:

‘When you talk this way about men, it brings pain to my heart.’

‘You know, it feels hurtful to me when you talk about x in that way.’

‘When you respond that way to my text messages, I lose inspiration to even invite you.’

You don’t say these things to make her wrong, or to manipulate her into backtracking and correcting her behaviour. You just share the impact her attitude has on you. This gives her a mirror, and an opportunity to explore the effects her ‘toxicity’ has. If your presence is trustable and true, she will likely halt in this moment and take account. Again, hold the tension.

You can then take another step, and

[4] Inquire more deeply into her:

‘It sounds like your attitude to men comes from a place of anger. I wonder what happened to you that you speak in this way.’

‘I’m curious, what was happening for you when you acted like that?’

‘I want to know: what have men done to you that makes you assume such a thing.’

Again, you speak with true empathy. Turning the focus onto why she acts as she does, you guide her towards the root cause of her behaviour. From here you might enter into a heart-to-heart, where she tells you the reasons why she’s inwardly angry and unforgiving to men. Or why she was so wrapped up in herself that she couldn’t pay good attention to you. Simply listen, and thank her every time she becomes more vulnerable, more self-revealing, and less reactive and ‘toxic’.

This might be the conversation where she lets go of a lot of unexpressed backstory and emotion—and you will have served as healer.

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Why Presence Works

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For any of the above suggestions to work, you need to speak with calmness, with no sense of reactivity in your system. If you’re trying to change her in any way, if you’re subtly dismissing or attacking how she presents herself, you’ll spiral towards a fight. Some conflicts can be good and healing; but others will fly out of control, only reinforcing the very prejudices that caused the fight in the first place.

Here’s the hardest piece of my whole outlook, but the key to unlocking presence: in some strange way, you need to be ok with toxic feminine behaviour. You need to come to a place where you understand and accept it. I mean, not that you’ll tolerate it close to your life, or that you’ll allow it to run riot, or that you’ll fail to set a boundary. But as a general thing, in the state of the world we live in—and given, as an Amorati, that you’ve pledged to love women, which is an active challenge as much as it’s a natural force—you have to have curiosity and empathy for it.

If you want toxic energy to just go away, and if the intention you bring to my words above is actually controlling and non-accepting, she will feel this, and the dance of anger and non-acceptance will continue. Yes, it is possible to find acceptance for global toxic behaviour, and understanding of its roots, while not tolerating it to continue in your space.

Once you can get this, you’ll notice that presence and acceptance is the actually the balm. It scares the childish, toxic outcries away, and heals the wound right down to its core.

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On ‘Like Attracts Like’ (in the midst of all this)

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Now there are two specific aspects of your question that I am yet to address: when women are set on ‘destroying a man’s life’, and ‘the childish part of you that wonders ‘why does it have to be this way?’’

To keep this email to a reasonable length, I’ll tackle these at a later point. I’ll also discuss working with some deeper, archetypal aspects of feminine nature, as well as why your grief is the most powerful agent in healing this bitter gender-war fued of our current milieu.

What’s more, there are actually masculine and feminine behaviours that seem toxic to our small psyches and to the cultural judgment of our times… but are actually enlivening and developmental for us, if we’re brave enough to take them on. In many ways, we have toxic masculine and feminine behaviours because we’re afraid—and our society is afraid—of us embodying our true power. Your true masculine edge is one such fearsome power that not many people know how to take.

In the meantime…

If you have questions or experiences related to today’s topic, feel free to hit reply and send them in.

But I will finish by addressing one commonly-held bit of advice. Some will say that you attract what you are, so you need to ‘increase your vibration’ if you want to call in less toxicity, and a higher standard of female behaviour.

That is partially true: simply choose something different, and renounce the kind of encounters that drain your energy and spirit.

Yet the world is murkier than this. On the way to Grace and harmony you will be shunted around in toxic moments all over the place; moments divinely designed to test your level of progres on the topic. Sometimes a man has to hack his way to that higher vibration, one loving knife-fight at a time.

I wish you good practice!

~ Jordan

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Want presence? LOTM is where I give the best of my meditation and embodiment practices that will give you this natural calm and authority, in all areas of your life.

Want insight? 1:1 Coaching with me is available again. Simply sign up on my calendar for a private session. You can pick my brain on any topic close to your heart, or let me help you through a tricky situation you’re facing with the women of your life.

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