There’s a lot of talk about toxic masculinity these days, but no mention of toxic femininity.
Women often resort to toxic femininity when they are trying to change men, but, because selfishness is the motivation for changing men, it only makes the problem worse, and leads men into greater weakness.
How does it lead them to weakness? Because women have power. Far more than they realise.
The right use of a woman’s power influences men toward strength, and the wrong use influences men toward weakness.
So, let’s look at the 4 types of toxic femininity women should avoid if they want to influence men toward strength:
Social media is full of women bashing men (figuratively). Anything that puts men down and builds women up is deemed funny, clever, and true.
Men are trash.
Women can do anything men can do.
Girl power – the wrong kind – is taught from a young age.
TV shows depict men as cowering idiots, while the women appear smart, capable, and sarcastic.
Women have bought into the mindset that all men are lazy, sex-consumed, and self-serving.
This attitude toward men, while much more prevalent now, is not entirely new.
The Bible reveals a few women who used their femininity in the wrong way. Michal was one such woman.
The story plays out in 2 Samuel 6 – It’s been a high day for Israel and its king; David has transferred the ark to Jerusalem and he heads home to bless his household.
But Michal meets him with biting sarcasm, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself.” (V20).
Blown away, David says that the handmaids she has spoken of honour him more than she does.
And then comes the gutshot, “Therefore (because of what just transpired) Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.” (V 23).
That’s a polite way of saying that David withdrew from her, their sexual intimacy ceased, and Michal died childless (considered a curse and punishment in those days).
I can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out for Michal if she had tried a different approach and welcomed her husband home with joy instead of sarcasm.
A man’s response to an arrogant woman: David’s response is exhibit A of how men respond to arrogant women – withdrawal.
Proverbs 21:9 states how men feel about nagging women – they’d rather live on the roof top than in a large house with a contentious woman.
For some reason, women think that nagging will change a man, but all it does is drive him further away from her.
Men are much more likely to respond to a positive request than nagging or hinting.
Sometimes tackling the issue directly is best, “Is there a reason why you are not fixing the tap? It’s really becoming a problem for me and I feel like you don’t care about me.”
Or, get the tools and start working on it yourself, not to manipulate, but to genuinely get the job done. I’ve seen that jumpstart my men a number of times. J
A man’s response to a nagging woman: he will most often ignore her, shutting her out to silence the whining.
Women long for men to rise up and be men. But the moment they do, women are threatened and use their feminine power to control and manipulate.
A dominating woman is the kind that needs nothing from men, has life under control and wears the pants in the family.
She gives the message: “You are weak and untrustworthy. I am strong. Let me lead.”
Jezebel was this kind of woman. We find her wielding her feminine power in 1 Kings 21. Ahab comes home and goes to bed, sulking because he can’t get Naboth to sell him his vineyard. Jezebel takes charge and cooks up an evil plot to get rid of Naboth.
Ahab gets his vineyard, but God holds him responsible for Naboth’s death because he allowed himself to be incited by Jezebel (v25).
Jezebel ruled over Ahab, encouraging him to do evil. She used her feminine power and influenced her husband toward weakness instead of strength.
A modern-day Jezebel may say things like, “I don’t want you riding motorbikes anymore; it’s too dangerous,” or, “Get over there and watch the kids,” (and then continually correct him because he’s not doing it the way she would.)
She may control in more subtle ways through silence and emotional retreat or through clearing her throat at just the right moment behind him.
Either way, Jezebel is not the icon of alluring femininity. She is a force to be reckoned with, but not attractive to a real man.
A man’s response to a dominating woman: is often resignation. A man married to a Jezebel once told Richard, “I go out and get my work done, come home, feed the dogs, have my supper and sit down in front of the TV. Then I go to bed. And sometimes I get
Our culture teaches women to be sexually aggressive and seductive. Women are led to believe that this is what true feminine beauty is – using their bodies to influence men.
Pornography is teaching girls, from a very young age, that their bodies are the most important part of them, and unless they dress and act in a certain way, they are not attractive.
But when women show their curves it’s hard for men to see anything else but the curves.
The heart and spirit gets overlooked.
There’s some debate about who was most at fault in the story of David and Bathsheba (Wow, David had lots of experience with women!). The reality is that Bathsheba bathed on her roof – a place very visible from the palace (she must have known that…).
The result of her indiscretion was heartache and sorrow for both her and David. She influenced David toward weakness.
(I’m not making Bathsheba entirely responsible here. David shouldn’t have been home, shouldn’t have continued looking once he saw her, shouldn’t have entertained the thought of sleeping with her, shouldn’t have called her to him, shouldn’t have … The point I’m making is that women are responsible for how much they reveal.)
True beauty is more than breasts and curves. It shines from a heart that is at rest and confident in God’s love.
Covering the curves (attractively, not in frumpy clothes!) allows a man to see the heart of a woman.
A man’s response to a seductive woman: a godly man may be tempted, but he will run (David should have). A man without principles will take what he can get and then run.
Women have embraced a counterfeit femininity that is based on breaking men down.
There’s something fundamentally wrong with that and it can only end badly.
“As women, we are created to build men up, not tear them down. This doesn’t mean we lower our standards and accept mediocrity. Rather, it means that we motivate guys to rise up to the standard of Christ through words and attitudes of encouragement instead of disgust.”[i]
Beautiful and wise (1 Samuel 25:3), but married to a fool.
Nabal, her husband, refuses to give food to David’s men and David plans to kill him. Abigail intercepts him, treats him with respect and reminds him of his true calling – fighting the battles of the Lord, not chasing after fools. (Go read the story!)
She speaks truth to him, fearlessly, but in a way that builds him up. He listens to her, appreciates the fact that she saved him from doing something rash and takes her as his wife once Nabal dies.
She becomes the wife of a future king.
Abigail was not a weak woman. She fearlessly took charge of a dangerous situation, while maintaining her true femininity and without breaking David down. She influenced him toward strength and away from weakness.
A man’s response to this kind of woman: he will listen to her, appreciate her, and treat her like a queen.
Only God can change a man (or woman). Women can help God – not through arrogance, nagging, domination or seduction, but through praying for the men in their lives, treating them with respect, and encouraging them.
Warning! This can’t be feigned. (A man will easily discern false respect.) True respect is an attitude of the heart.
A woman’s heart must be changed in order to treat men well. 1 Peter 3:3,4 speaks of the inward adorning of the heart – a meek and quiet spirit.
“Peter doesn’t mean that beautiful women rarely speak above a whisper, if they speak at all. No. To have a gentle and quiet spirit is to have a heart of faith, a heart that trusts in God, a spirit that has been quieted by his love and filled with his peace. Not a heart that is striving and restless.”[ii]
A heart that is striving and restless will resort to false femininity to have its way, but a heart given to God, resting in Him, will awaken true masculinity.
Which one of these women represents you? Are you a Michal, a Jezebel, a Bathsheba, or an Abigail?
[i] Leslie Ludy, Answering the Guy Questions, 56
[ii] Stasi Eldredge, Captivating, 134