I will fully admit than when I saw this headline, I clicked your piece with the gut reaction of being pissed off at it. The more I read and understood the trauma of having overtly feminine characteristics forced upon you, the more I understood where you were coming from. I apologize for assuming your meaning before I read a word you had to say.
My experience of the term “toxic feminism” or femininity came from my abusive ex husband. After six years of his manipulation, feigned (?) incompetence, and subtle but all encompassing control of my life and behavior, I went on antidepressants and within three months I was no longer afraid of making him angry when I asked him to take out the garbage. The bar of my expectations for his partnership was still underground and he insisted that my expectations were unreasonable and my “feminism” was putting undue demands on him. He further tried to isolate me from friends who he believed were “putting ideas in my head” about what my marriage should look like.
So my reaction when someone says “femininity is toxic too!” Is to put them on a mental list of people just like my ex, and that’s not fair at all.
Thank you for sharing your experiences having femininity thrust upon you. I had many of the same experiences you did as a child and adolescent. This piece is relatable and intimate.
A friend of mine has said before that the future is non-binary. Forced gender roles and behavior are part of the patriarchal system’s need to keep people separated and categorized. If we realize our differences don’t matter, we’ll start coming for the system.