GIVE US A SMILE, LOVE! WHY TOXIC POSITIVITY IS A FEMINIST ISSUE
The positivity movement sounds good on the outside right? All that positive thinking can only result in you living your best life surely. Surely not, actually. While there is nothing wrong with looking for the bright side or keeping an open mind, this wave of “goodness” is causing more harm than it is good. When you think about it, it’s no surprise that dismissing negative emotions and responding to hardship with false reactions can’t be good for you in the long run, and it’s this “positive wellness” movement that seems to be disproportionately disadvantageous to women rather than men. Why is that? Let’s break that down, shall we?
Humility is at the core of the outdated, cis-gendered perception of womanhood and something that’s drilled into women from a young age. We’re conditioned to be grateful for some of the most basic human needs, such as love or domestic support. Again, there’s nothing wrong with feeling grateful for your life at times, but the notion that you’re lucky to be given the basic scraps of a happy life is not surprisingly, extremely detrimental. Men on the other hand are given words like “killing it”, “dominating”, or “smashing it”, see a pattern here? Remember that while it’s important at times to feel grateful, it’s also important to listen to those feelings when you don’t. Feeling fed-up, over it, and ready to throw in the towel are all very normal, important reactions to the hard situations we all face. Putting on a “brave face” isn’t always the answer.
We’re too emotional.
We’ve all heard this one right? We’re just the most fragile, emotional creatures to ever walk the earth. Never mind that men are allowed to punch a hole in a wall when they’re frustrated and then get called “willful”. Often we feel the need to hide or diminish our negative emotions at the risk of being called “emotional”. Thankfully, feminists have been sick of this for a while now and we’re leading the crusade when it comes to being (rightfully) angry and showing it. Unfortunately, toxic trends like the positive movement negate any progress made here, because it can make us feel like we’re doing ourselves a disservice by feeling our genuine feelings. But fuck that, get angry we say. A lot of us have every right to be.
Give us a smile, love!
Ugh, one of our most hated unsolicited comments. Women are conditioned to be pleasant no matter how uncomfortable or compromised we feel and unfortunately, the positive thinking movement only strengthens this unfair expectation. Reinforcing that you shouldn’t speak up for yourself or make your feelings known in situations where you feel threatened or unsafe is not only bad for your mental health but can threaten your physical well-being too. Although then there’s the flipside of the reaction of challenging unstable, unpredictable men. Oh, what a joy it is to be a woman!
Free time? What is that again?
According to the Office for National Statistics, when it came to unpaid chores at home, women were doing almost 40% more than men on average. This is usually on top of paid employment too. The positivity movement gives us an excuse to hold in negative emotions as it generally results in a quick fix. But unfortunately, avoiding the conflict at the moment and suppressing your true feelings, only leads to a bigger hurdle to jump over down the road.
This is all well and good but what is the answer? In a nutshell, fuck it. Your emotions are valid and you have the right to express them. We’re not advocating to go around and blow your life up, successful relationships are built on the balance of give and take, however, don’t let the positivity movement stop you from processing situations that are negative or stressful, especially if it’s to make someone else feel more comfortable. You have the right to be respected, no matter if you’re happy, sad, stressed or in the middle of a complete breakdown.