Saturday 8 July 2017

Thoughts on masculinity and femininity

My former wife Cora (a radical, man-loving feminist) recently shared with me a thought provoking piece on gender by people in the Deep Green Resistance movement: It defines femininity as "a set of behaviors that are, in essence, ritualized submission," and masculinity as a set of unhealthy, dominating behaviors. It therefore sees gender roles as a caste system that keeps women oppressed, and should be done away with completely. This all makes sense to me.

Yet I also resonate with the more positive concept of "deep" or "sacred" femininity and masculinity as different, but equally beautiful and important ways of operating in the world. Maybe masculinity and femininity are positive and healthy when they work together within a person, relationship, or community, and negative when they are out of balance and torn too far apart.

Here's what I'm thinking now.

In the "sacred" or "deep" view, masculinity is about doing. It includes stuff like assertiveness, fierceness, stamina, logic, structure, physical energy, and the ability to temporarily turn off pain, fear, and compassion. These are all qualities that aid in getting stuff done in a bold way.

Femininity is about feeling the wants and needs of the self, other, relationship, family, group, community, society, and world. It includes listening, love, compassion, flow, and vision. Together, these qualities make femininity the best source of wisdom and guidance.

For a long time, men have been raised to be more masculine, and women more feminine. But that is changing, and we're now seeing that these qualities are at least somewhat independent of biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. So you can have, for example, a masculine straight woman, a masculine gay man; or a masculine trans woman. You can also have a man who's masculine in the world, yet feminine in the bedroom, or vice versa. 

I personally think that the varied distribution of masculinity and femininity in different people, and in different areas of our personalities, makes life more interesting and sexy. But I'm open to the possibility that everyone could and should develop both qualities to be equally strong. 

The healthy way for these two aspects to work together is for the masculine to serve the feminine. That means for the masculine elements of a person, relationship, or group to fulfill the visions, wants and needs felt and seen by the feminine elements of the person, relationship, or group. When that happens, the feminine elements feel the goodness of what the masculine elements have done, and respond with acknowledgement. All needs get met, everyone's happy, and the world is healthy.

But when masculinity in a person or group isn't guided by the feminine wisdom in that person or group, it becomes brutal, dominating, and deadly. And when femininity in a person or group isn't served by the masculinity in that person or group, it becomes submissive, unfocused, and ineffective, and its wisdom goes to waste. The result is patriarchy – the situation we've had for centuries, and today it threatens to destroy all life on the planet.

That makes it urgent to put masculinity in service of the feminine as soon as possible. For this to happen, the people who have a lot of femininity must embrace it and trust their feelings about the needs of self, community, and planet. Then they must recruit masculine people to put this wisdom into practice, or develop enough masculinity of their own to do it themselves. 

And the people with a lot of masculinity must let themselves be guided by feminine people, or develop enough femininity to guide themselves, so what they do is actually in service of life.  They must also embrace their masculinity, so their actions in service of community and planet are brave and strong. 

Because masculinity and femininity are, at least for now, developed quite unequally within many of us, what this all means on a practical level is that more women should take the lead in personal and political life, and men should act boldly in accordance with those women's guidance. It means that women should develop the masculinity needed to actualize (and recruit men into) their visions. And it means that men should develop the femininity needed to recognize and follow the female wisdom within themselves and others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Paypal or credit cards