I disagree — toxic masculinity isn’t a collection of negative traits coming from men, it’s a series of toxic expectations (from the whole of society; men and women) about what being a man involves, that men then internalise and perpetuate in their behaviour (e.g. ‘don’t be a pussy, it’s weak to show emotions’). So toxic femininity would be toxic expectations society holds about women that women then internalise and perpetuate in their behaviour (e.g. ‘being pretty, thin and desirable are of the upmost importance’). In this case, the toxic expectation is women should be meek and play nice — calling someone a Karen because they are standing up for themselves is actually a way of enforcing toxic feminine norms by shaming a woman who has gone against this gendered expectation. Originally the Karen meme was about the racial and economic privilege of middle class white women and how some were grossly misusing this power to abuse, demean and patronise — while it still has this meaning, it has also been coopted by some to shame any woman who won’t meet toxic expectations that women need to smile and be nice. This in turn dilutes the original meaning, which called out a genuine injustice to poor people and POC.


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