Have you ever been creepy towards women?

We need to talk about destructive behavior by women

This text is provocative. Perhaps you will find the author's attitude unsympathetic, perhaps even outrageous. Because the author addresses a topic that is actually a taboo: she calls it “toxic femininity”.

A great many have heard of “toxic masculinity”. The term describes a deep-seated understanding of what male behavior is, which has been handed down for generations: the silent guy who thinks rationally and does not talk about his feelings, who appears strong and dominant and sexually conquers women. An important misconception is that "toxic masculinity" means criticism of men. The term does not mean men, but a social norm of masculinity.

The author of this text argues that women can also behave toxic. Because the ideas of femininity that are given to them are also outdated and destructive - just like the normative concept of masculinity is.

The stereotypical image of femininity is more positive than that of masculinity: Women are therefore compassionate, communicative, soft and devoted. That not only sounds good, it even sounds morally superior. But the idea that women are better people is no less patriarchal than that of the tough guy, as Esther Göbel describes in this text.

The following text by Meghan Daum should therefore provide important food for thought. For a discussion that can hopefully move away from anger towards “the men” or “the women” and which breaks up a generally toxic gender mindset.


Sometimes I wish I could gather all the women I have ever known or met and do an informal survey with them:

  • Hands up if you've ever misbehaved and put it off on your period

  • Hands up if you've ever behaved helplessly with an unpleasant, if not physically demanding, task, for example with a spider in the house

  • Hands up if you've ever pushed a man to have sex when he may not really want to

  • Hands up if you thought you could apply that pressure because men "always want it" and should be happy when they get it

  • Hands up if you've ever threatened to harm yourself when a man wanted to break up with you or stop seeing you

  • Hands up if you have been physically violent towards a male partner, knowing that you are unlikely to face legal consequences for doing so

  • Hands up if you've lied about taking the pill or faked pregnancy to see how a man reacts

  • Hands up if you've ever rigged a divorce or custody battle in your favor by suggesting that a man hurt you or your child

At this fantasy gathering of all the women I've ever met or met (I imagine a full football stadium), none of my questions would have their hands down on any of my questions if those present were honest, I'm sure of that . I am guilty of the spider-fighting front myself. And I prefer not to think too long about some of the other questions.

We hear a great deal about toxic masculinity, the amorphous term used to describe characteristics such as aggressiveness and repressed feelings that shape male social norms. The term also appears frequently in online feminism to condense the disapproval of pretty much anything men do. But when are we going to give women equal rights and admit that there is also toxic femininity - and that it can be just as toxic?

Toxic femininity can show itself on a small scale, for example when one later blames irrational outbursts of anger on the hormones or pretending helplessness to get what one wants. The poison is stronger if you use your own weakness as a weapon, so that those you attack can defend themselves poorly without acting as attackers themselves. Women can of course use these tactics on other women, including their significant other. But let's assume for this discussion that we are talking about women and men and sex. We already know that many men are socially conditioned to believe that women owe them sex. But what about those women who think men should be grateful for every sex they get?

Everyone is free to be a manipulative, narcissistic, emotionally destructive asshole

I've heard stories from countless men in my life about having sex when they really didn't want to. Sometimes it happened because they didn't want to hurt a woman's feelings. Sometimes because they were afraid of being perceived as a man with low sex drive.

A remarkable number of men have told me of moments when women would approach them and initiate sexual acts, often without a word. Without the slightest reason and without asking questions - and without the unequivocal consent of the other person. I have heard stories more than once from men who, as boys, were picked up on the school bus without being asked. I was also told about school camping trips or overnight parties where girls they barely knew slipped into their sleeping bags or beds. In some cases the men were happy to comply with the wishes of the women. In other cases, however, they went through the encounters because they did not want to make an unpleasant situation even more unpleasant.

These stories have been conveyed to me in a tone that I can only describe as stunned. The men don't complain, but neither do they brag. If anything, it seems difficult for them to find the words for a not entirely welcome encounter for which they really have nothing but gratitude to feel. It goes without saying that a completely different reading would result if one were to imagine one of these situations with reversed genders.

I realize that the physical differences between most women and most men mean that the above comparison isn't exactly fair. A woman who is sexually aggressive towards a man is unlikely to place him in insurmountable physical danger. I am also aware of the fact that for every lousy behavior that I mentioned in my list of questions at the beginning, there is equally such lousy behavior by men towards women, and that this is more physically threatening.

But that's exactly my point: In a free society, anyone, regardless of gender or other identification, is free to be a manipulative, narcissistic, emotionally destructive asshole. So I'm not sure why men are getting all the credit for this lately.

The # BelieveWomen memes that emerged in the wake of #MeToo in general, and the Brett Kavanaugh affair in particular, follow an impulse of compassion and good intentions. But they also rob us women of our complexity and contradictions and thus our humanity (you can find out more about the Kavanaugh backgrounds and “Believe Women” if you click on the “i”).

In the original English version of this article, there are two more paragraphs on Brett Kavanaugh that we have shortened. For the following reason: The Kavanaugh scandal was on all the news when this text first appeared, October 2018. Not all of our readers will remember this in detail today. Here is the background:

US President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh as a judge for the Supreme Court in the summer of 2018. During the nomination process, several women made grave allegations of sexual abuse to Kavanaugh, most notably Christine Blasey Ford. She accused Kavanaugh of massively sexually assaulting her in 1982. More than 1,000 law professors called on the US Senate not to confirm Kavanaugh as a new judge for the US Supreme Court. There was limited FBI investigation. Nevertheless, the Senate finally confirmed Kavanaugh with 50 to 48 in office. "Believe Women" is a political slogan that became popular in the wake of the Kavanaugh Affair. It means that women who make allegations of sexual violence should be believed in principle.

Meghan Daum wrote to Kavanaugh:

I believed Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about what happened between her and Kavanaugh in high school. It's my personal belief, based on nothing but gut feeling, that things happened more or less the way Ford described them, and that Kavanaugh was too drunk to remember at the time. I believe that Kavanaugh actually lied under oath about the extent of his drunkenness, and that alone should have disqualified him from getting a seat on the Supreme Court.

But there is a difference between believing and knowing. Even if the Justice Committee had done the right thing and summoned Mark Judge, the witness to the Ford and Kavanaugh encounter, and forced him to testify under oath, no one would have definitely known what happened that evening. Even the most sincere search for the truth will not change the fact that all kinds of people, for all sorts of reasons, misrepresent things, misjudge, misinterpret, and intentionally or unintentionally make misleading statements.

#BelieveWomen picks up on its assertion that women are a unitary bloc who is inherently more moral, innocent, or trustworthy than men, not just shorthand, but insulting. Women are not simple, innocent creatures to whom only the most innocent motives should be ascribed. Both sexes are more complex. Or, as the comedian and social critic George Carlin put it: “Men are of the earth, women are of the earth. Can handle it. "

#MeToo is important, #BelieveWomen is an empty slogan

My list at the beginning of this text with the “hand up” questions has surely made some of you grind your teeth. For example, it's difficult to talk about women who trick men into getting pregnant. Not least because it sounds like part of the men's rights movement - a loose and often self-destructive movement that undermines the credibility of legitimate complaints such as the family court system with misogyny and conspiracy theories.

But as you get older, you will meet more and more people over the years and see the different types of havoc they can wreak. I know men who have been absurdly accused of abuse of partners and children in the midst of heated divorce proceedings. I know women who are so adept at the dark art of manipulation that the victims of their mind games, be they partners or friends, have no chance. I once overheard some high school students make jokes. About the fact that they wanted to go out that night and “turn on older boys who don't know we're minors. And later say: Dude, you are a pedophile. "

I trusted that the girls were just joking around and expressing their disdain for misogynistic stereotypes about young women by ironically adopting them. I tried to think like a good feminist and that patriarchal societies encourage or even enforce this type of manipulative female behavior because it is often the only power available to women.

But that's an excuse and a bad one at that. Some women behave miserably because some people behave miserably.

The famous line “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human” has appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts since the 1980s. However, many feminists still seem to cling to the idea that women act according to different norms and practices than men and are perhaps not just "people" after all. You say it is because women are still often treated like second-class citizens; underpaid in the world of work, underrepresented in politics. Also undermined and ignored when talking about their experiences.

But can we please put that into perspective? There is now a whole literary genre - as well as large parts of the mainstream media - dedicated to women reporting on their experiences. The stories are rolling through my news feeds faster than I can read them, and their headlines are the perfect clickbait. “Thank you for not raping us, you good men. But that's not enough, ”was the title of a guest column in the Washington Post.

Again, when men talk about what it's like to be accused of sexual misconduct - or just what it is like to move around the sexual arena in general - the only culturally accepted response to them is to treat them as privileged whiners at best and at worst portray them as narcissistic and naturally toxic sociopaths.

#MeToo is important. #BelieveWomen is an empty slogan that will ultimately set us back rather than move us forward.

Like all movements, #MeToo will also revive or wither to the extent that the activists, who feel they belong to the movement, are ready to integrate people. Unless the debate makes room for it to look at toxic femininity alongside toxic masculinity - or better yet, get rid of these meaningless terms completely - it will continue to cover only half the story. As long as the movement doesn't admit that women can be just as manipulative and creepy and generally horrific as men, it will continue to send out the message that we women are not really whole people. And why should anyone believe such a thing?


This article was published by Medium in October 2018.


Translation: Sophie Barkey, editing: Theresa Bäuerlein, final editing: Belinda Grasnick, photo editing: Verena Meyer.