Masculine & Feminine
Defining the masculine and feminine in this sense has little to do with the physiology of a person or their gender role in society. It is a way of defining particular opposing character traits within a person that relate to attributes which are generally dominant in genders. These are referred to in Hermeticism as the divine masculine and divine feminine. Carl Jung defined these two forces as the Anima and Animus, referred to as the unconscious masculine or feminine energies that dwell within us. There is an understanding that these two forces make a person ‘whole’, yet this is not necessarily about finding an external soulmate that compliments your energy, but exploring that energy within you, rather than in an external source. We all have these two forces dwelling within us, yet parts are often suppressed due to an incongruity with our physical form or gender role.
We typically associate the masculine with traits such as aggression, strength, competitiveness and independence, whereas the traits of femininity are thought of as nurturing, kind, caring, creative and submissiveness. Some of these traits may spark a negative image in your mind and some a positive image, there is of course two sides to each coin. Jung talks about individuation, which relates to the exploration of the other side of your image. For instance, if you tend to be passive, this could perhaps be an overcompensation for the fear of domination, perhaps due to childhood experiences in which that trait became a negative one. If you then seek out a dominating partner to compensate for this submissiveness, you are relying on this external source to create your balance and do not find this place of individuation. Whereas, if you awaken this repressed dominating force within yourself, you may find that it is not as evil as first thought and can help you better navigate life once integrated. While you fear losing something good like passivity and becoming more dominant which is currently perceived as negative, you will learn to find room for both and when to employ each side of this coin. You cannot hone one without the other.
The creative force of the feminine may seem alien to the macho, alpha, assertive and logical type, yet they too know that something requires integrating because these aggressive tendencies are limiting for their self-development. They must learn to embrace artfulness, creativity, compassion, empathy and to dance in the rain. So too must those that find an imbalance in the passive, creative and empathetic type traits learn to fend for themselves in utilising logic, self-reliance and authoritative qualities.
We tend to look at what we are lacking as weaknesses in others, through narratives as “she is so controlling”, when we are too passive to deal with her, or “he’s a soppy sod”, when he exhibits romantic gestures towards his partner, a creative energy that we are lacking or too fearful to explore in case we become “a soppy sod”.
We know that men can be feminine and creative, just as women can be masculine and aggressive. We only highlight these things because they standout from the typical gender roles.
Man has played a historic role as the protector of women and women have provided the nurturing safe haven for man and the wider family — both providing protection in their own right. These have not necessarily been exclusive roles but up until the last few decades they have been the expectations of western culture.
Yet these roles and identities which have been reinforced through cultural influence and scientific research, neglecting the attributes of the divine feminine and masculine and that we all possess these two forces. On one side of the coin the aggression of masculinity overpowers the passivity of femininity, but on the flip-side the emotional appeal of femininity can bring the masculine to its knees. We see this in society, in conservatism and liberalism, in victims and heroes. We see it in group dynamics, personal relationships and even within ourselves, down to a cellular level. This discord is even alive within our language i.e. passive aggressive.
This, i.e. gender roles in a social setting, has given rise to things like the feminist movement. A force which ironically requires active aggression and logic in order to temper the pre-existing dominant ‘masculinity’ which favoured the men of this world. The rise of this movement was to create political balance, yet in order to find balance, the feminine side of the status quo must be explored. This has led to an increase in creativity, openness and sensitivity, and an enabling of self-expression for men. Of course, there has been a an overexpression in some cases, for instance, the ‘domesticated’ male and the ‘overly aggressive’ female.
The result of these developments, in conjunction with other phenomenon, has resulted in a culture of things like political correctness, victimhood and free distribution of pornography has culminated the repression of this aggression within a different collective — the domesticated male. These social controls have been implemented to prevent the toxic aggressions that a few men have not been tempered enough to control, but are affecting men by suppressing their natural aggression. In many cases this aggression is turned inwards in the most destructive of manners. This is the same reason that the feminist movement is fuelled by aggression, because their masculine aggression has been supressed on a larger scale, partially relieved only by intermittent micro-aggressions, distractive media and anti-depressants.
Exploring our sexuality is nothing new, but technology is evolving in supporting physical change and culture likes to distinguish everything by category. Homosexuality becoming legalised and transgender operations becoming normalised has resulted in a new narrative in which different parts of society are struggling to navigate. Labelling things and surgical procedures have put limitations on fluidity and impermanence. Integrating your masculinity, femininity and sexual proclivities is something personal that requires curiosity, work and support rather than external influence of an energetic movement in modern culture where these matters have become politicised.
Who Are You?
Just like many of us work to maintain a healthy body, for some that are dissatisfied with their incarnation, cosmetic surgery is sought. The question to ask is how has it improved one’s life to take such action? As children we are curious. We meet our compatriots, who have also just been incarnated into their avatars, and so focus on our differences. This is the breeding ground for the insecurity which leads to these changes. Some of us get boob jobs to boost our already high esteem and social standing, whereas some of us get nose jobs to prevent the crippling insecurity we face everyday. But how do we modify our sexuality? It is difficult to express oneself in social environments, particularly at an early age and this can lead to the suppression of your sexual proclivities and identities — much like the battle between the masculine and the feminine.
There is a dissonance between the ‘conservative’ ideas which seek to maintain a model for which individuals should fit into for the good of the collective, while there is an opposing ‘liberal’ force either displayed as ‘bravery’ or victimhood, which seeks to negate any requirement of ‘fitting in’. This effectively flips the roles of masculinity and femininity. What once was uniqueness through a purely feminine creativity, now demands their uniqueness be normalised in an unwittingly masculine fashion. The fact that it is for a psychiatrist to decide on whether someone should have a sex-change or not is obscene, as they will have failed the client whichever choice they make. Some of them are motivated to maintain the status-quo and some to enable freedom of choice, and so projecting their own ideals onto a patient, yet their only role is to help the client integrate their masculine or feminine traits alongside the deception and vast complexities of the ego. Only then, can the client decide whether their challenge is to live with their god-given sex, or whether they will achieve salvation through transition.
As a result of the role of genders within society, we tend to have less of an awareness of any imbalance of these two forces within ourselves. This goes for something as seemingly innocuous as an ‘Alpha Male’ suffering from depression before exploring their creative and nurturing side, to something as serious as 6-year-old child feeling like the opposite sex, starting a treatment of hormone blockers and planning for a sex-change operation. Would they have been more accepting of their sex without external influence? Does their therapist understand the most basic principles of masculinity and femininity, or are they blinded by the politically directed institution? There is much work for their immediate support system to help them determine if they want to make such a drastic change to their physical form, and this is yet another case of utilising technology before the consequences have been fully understood.
Our cultural narratives make it extremely difficult for someone to properly express their repressed masculine or feminine traits in a healthy way. Some flit back and forth between their identity because of these fluctuating imbalances, and the torment that comes with this must be very difficult to bear, irrespective of any external judgements made on them. These decisions are made all the more difficult due to the lack of nurturing environment in which to explore these ideas.
There are obvious physiological differences between men and women and the aforementioned characteristics are generally reflected within the sexes, and many books have been written about the psychological differences, yet as a culture we have tried to define gender roles based on these generalities, which has led to severe confusion.
This is identifiable in the feminist that holds a strong masculine energy and maintains a stubborn narrative that they are a dominant aggressive person. This is also identifiable in the soft natured male that must maintain the same persona for society’s sake and repress their feminine side, whether this is kindness, creativity or cross dressing.
The masculine approach to achieve something is through aggression and stubbornness, whether you are a hunter gatherer persistently pursuing your next meal or you a ruthless CEO on the verge of a major deal. The feminine is more concerned with exploring the spectrum of emotion through interaction, to provide a nurturing platform for growth. It advises the CEO on how action will affect the company and it cooks the meal with the right seasoning and spices.
The masculine thrives on getting things done — progression. The feminine wants to experience and explore the art and the emotion. The masculine gets angry and brings joy, the feminine becomes sad and soothes the anger. The masculine prefers logic, the feminine prefers instinct.
While some people exhibit certain traits more potently than others, these are not necessarily independent of each other. Many people have both aspects well integrated in certain areas of life and have a more rounded understanding of what is going on around them.
We could say that men have suffered from suppressing women but also from suppressing their feminine energy. Women that have taken a submissive role and resigned themselves to a life of playing house can become anxious and angry because their masculine energy has been oppressed. Men can miss out on raising their kids and having hobbies, because they are too focused on work.
Some women enjoy running a home but can often become unmotivated and not sure where to direct their energy, which can lead down all sorts or paths. It can be a creative energy in which they discover a hobby or start a business, or it can be a destructive energy in which their boredom becomes the fault of their husband or kids etc. and thus a supressed masculine aggression is directed externally or quelled through medication, while they fail to embody this energy and use it to drive the creative force. These forces rely on each other for balance.
Feminists are seeking to assert themselves on a male dominated system by learning the male methodology, thus neglecting their natural attributes of creativity and nurture, because we have not yet ascribed a fiscal or tangible value to these traits within the business world, even though they are underlying attributes of any successful person.
While PC culture is contrived in trying to bring equal pay and equal opportunities into the spotlight, there is an aspect of positive discrimination, masquerading as affirmative action which illustrates the sentiment, only in a misdirected way. My optimism leads me to believe that we will discover metrics to link the value of these traits to the economic system, but trying to have women fit the mould is unlikely to be successful. This is entirely sexist. The problem is that the issue is largely focussed around financial reward, so we must adjust metrics to value traits of femininity as much as the masculine dominated world.
A good example of the intangible value of femininity to the corporate world would be the character Wendy Rhoades in the HBO series billions, in which she is paid substantial sums for counselling the employees of a financial trading company. She provides zero income for the company, yet coaches all the staff to perform at the highest level. This is something corporations are beginning to value as highly as their ‘fee earners’ and so should we.
The more you focus on both these traits within you, the more sensitive you will become to the world around you and the stronger you will become to weather the storm. Both are required to be a fully integrated person, and the stronger you make these through vulnerability and resilience, the deeper you will know yourself. We have a duty not only to the system in which we operate, but to ourselves in each action we take.