We live in a time where great changes in how we perceive men and women are taking place. It is an achingly slow progress towards true equality. In the workforce women have been able to rise in terms of participation and filling leadership roles, but we are far from an equal distribution in these areas. This topic will likely be with us for some time to come.
In our personal day to day experience of the dynamics that surround this societal evolution we are also experiencing ourselves and those around us in ways that change over time. We grow up and mature with certain views of what masculine and feminine qualities mean and these views have of course changed along side the battle for equality. Women had to fend for their right to vote, to go to university, to be employees in regular jobs, rise through the ranks into management and leadership positions in the economic, religious, academic and political arenas.
Humans in the Patriarchal Paradigm
We know all this and we know that what women have had to contend with is the existing patriarchal structure. The push forward for women, slowly starting in the 1800s, included remolding themselves and pushing forward those qualities that were and still are rewarded in the patriarchal system. Along with this came the suppressing of qualities that are not respected nor understood in this system. This has been the sacrifice that women have had to make, in order to fit themselves into a new mold within the patriarchal system. In this way feminism turned out to be a ‘masculinization‘ of women, rather than expanding the one sided masculine system to include feminine qualities. Perhaps this was or still is a necessary step, but it comes at a price to both men and women.
An additional aspect to take into consideration here is that our mainly patriarchal societal structure is not only unkind to women, but it also comes at a steep cost to men. The reason being that men and women have both masculine and feminine qualities that emerge naturally and provide a balanced way to view and interact with all that life on this planet has to offer. Our journey through the challenges we face in life in order to become a mature human being, requires both our masculine and our feminine qualities.
The fact that the patriarchal dynamics and programs have suppressed the strengths inherent in feminine qualities throughout ‘his’ and ‘her’-story, has wrought havoc on both men and women in ways that have left both genders bereft of their fullness, strength and beauty. The patriarchal way has cut deep into the psyche of men and women and cut them off from their emotional, intuitive and mental wholeness. Women have been pushed into believing that they need to suppress their feminine qualities in order to fit in and succeed.
The evolving sense of political correctness makes it difficult to express dynamics that are simple and archaic in their nature, because there is a sense of not wanting to generalize too much and avoiding simplifications. An organic empathy for all aspects and sides of different issues would be more helpful here, because it presupposes an inclusive view. It is helpful to investigate within ourselves what the harmonious feminine and masculine qualities are that arise in response to different challenges and opportunities in life. More importantly it is very helpful to notice if we are censoring our own healthy impulses that are really there and may be harmoniously inspired.
Effects In Our Personal Realm
In our day to day living arena the need for balance holds true on a personal level. Both men and women need both of their own inherent masculine and feminine strengths in order to master all the challenges of life.
The question that presents itself once we decide to aim for this balance in ourselves is, do we have an accurate compass of what those qualities even are and whether we are allowing them to freely flourish inside of us? Do we allow these qualities to express themselves within and without?
At this point in time the perceptions of these qualities do not seem weighted in a neutral way, even by the most balanced men or women. And with good reason! By obvious association with the patriarchy masculinity is not the carrier of much sympathy in our society. Throughout history the main atrocities have been committed by this distorted masculine system, which introduced male-favouring religions, dynamics of our economic system and our male dominated cultures themselves.
The mostly male human beings that have risen to the “top” (of the hall of shame) in this system have been extremely brutal. The effects of their actions and influence have created the darkest parts of our collective history on this planet. These men have risen to such powerful positions by allowing large parts of their inner humanity to be weakened and distorted. Many of their natural more feminine impulses had to be suppressed and their harmonious masculine impulses were distorted.
The weight of the collective perception most of us have of the patriarchy is not to be underestimated when it comes to how men perceive their own more masculine impulses. The fact that the patriarchal system is seen as negative weighs in on our perception of masculine qualities in general. It is however a generalization of masculine qualities to do so. The patriarchy is based on a distorted version of the masculine energies. This does not mean that a harmonious version of male energies does not exist.
The Example of the Distorted King
An example, that may seem all too familiar, is the man who is constantly making comments or jokes that diminish his partner and sometimes even everyone around them. This can take the form of teasing, jokes or telling someone off. Sometimes this is blatantly obvious, but often it is quite subtle. Like a steady drip of water, slowly making a small hollow in a stone, it starts to really wear the partner down. Where is this coming from?
The distorted version of the masculine energy lacks a sense of power, centeredness and self love. The impulse is to „make the other small“ in order to feel secure in his own strength. This goes for professional interactions as well, of course. Archetypally speaking this is the template of the tyrant. The Tyrant is a distortion of the archetypal king energy, a distortion that develops out of the lack of a loving and secure environment in his childhood and out of never truly growing up and discovering his own strength. A tyrant is a boy pretending to have reached manhood, needing to prove his strength to himself and the world by putting those around him down by either obvious bullying or in a myriad of subtle ways. This is just one example out of eight main archetypal masculine and feminine patterns, that all bear elucidating in a separate blog and online class.
This example, the well known masculine image of the tyrant, is of course something men want to avoid and therefore are trying different approaches to steer clear of any actions that could associate them with this role. The trap here is that men often feel that to redeem themselves and to not be the tyrant they need to add more feminine qualities. The band aid of adding femininity can make an immature man (a boy who has grown older), pop into the opposite shadow side of the tyrant: the weakling, or coward. He may appear to be inactive, or “Yinned out”, not very charismatic, not very shiny in any way, but demanding and needy nonetheless.
This “femininization” of men has left many women unpolarized, not feeling attracted to them. And because the set up of how this occurs isn’t all that obvious, both women and men are left wondering why.
The masculine distortion does not come out of a lack of femininity, but out of a lack of masculine maturity, hanging on to boyhood, not transcending it. This may have many reasons, but at the center of this it could be not experiencing all stages of boyhood fully because of lack of support and love, maybe more specifically a lack of harmonious fatherly love. If we look around, how many positive and harmonious mature fatherly qualities do we really see? There are some, but they seem few and far between. Where do we see men who are in their quiet and secure strength? Men that give by simply being a rock in the towering waves.
True harmonious masculinity is rare and when you find it in someone it is like the strength and dependability of an oak tree that you can lean on anytime, that will give you shade and soulful comfort. Men who have reached a maturity in manhood are men with nothing to prove, because they own their strength so deeply. They can afford to be generous. They can of course easily stand others being strong around them. They are not threatened by a strong woman. They can “afford” to see the different aspects of her strength and simply adore and love her for it.
Men who are in actuality boys that have merely added years and grown older, have these tyrant impulses because they are not in their strength. Yet they may censor and suppress these impulses in order to steer clear of any affiliation with the distorted realities of the patriarchal dynamics in our culture and economic system. For men to receive signals from many different directions that masculinity is something categorically destructive, has a profound effect on what they allow themselves to be. But what happens when you try to suppress an impulse? Of course, it pops up somewhere else in disguise. Hence the more subtle comments and criticisms that rise up from a more subconscious and hidden desire to diminish those around him. At the same time a continuous stifling of impulses, ultimately leaves men in a state of depression.
Harmonizing Distorted Templates
For men, harmonizing distorted templates can mean discovering their harmonious masculine qualities, which are very much lacking in our society and many relationships. There are hardly any valid templates to follow out there, because the masculine has most often shown up as the archetypal tyrant, who isn’t supportive of his surroundings, because he has no sense of his own true strength. There is no blame or judgement here – it is a result of a lack of positive templates.
As with all distorted archetypal qualities, finding one’s own true strength brings one in to harmony and centeredness. In the case of the tyrant it is becoming the one who takes on responsibility for those around him, serving them by being constructive in the true sense of the word: building a home, a company, or co-creating the pillars and infrastructure of society together with the strong feminine quality of the strong woman who builds the home, the house, the country.
There are of course all the other archetypal masculine and feminine qualities that each have their own journey from their distorted states to their harmonious expression. This is a whole area in and of itself – what are the archetypal human powers or qualities and distortions? What lessons do they each need to learn in order to find their harmonious expression.? This fascinating subject will fill later blogs and a series of classes for both men and women (see links at the bottom).
Giving Space to Our Own Impulses
It can be useful to deeply investigate our own views on the masculine and feminine qualities that arise within ourselves. They are so basic that they form a foundation of how we experience the world around us and interact with the people in our lives. For instance we could say that in the most general way of thinking, giving and receiving could be seen as very basic, archetypal masculine and feminine impulses.
For instance having the impulse to create a big new project can be seen as a healthy masculine energy giving expression to its creative energy. Wanting to give something, wanting to emerge, plant a flag, set a corner stone, build a company can all be seen as impulses that have the generalized direction of going out from the person doing it, emanating from, giving to the outside world.
Having the impulse to receive this idea, to validate and support it, to improve it, change it for the better by giving it energy and life can be energetically seen as a feminine impulse.
These masculine and feminine impulses, of course, exist in men and women alike.
Philosophically speaking, in Kashmir Shivaism for example, the feminine aspect of divinity is associated with energy, with matter, with life-force. The masculine aspect is associated with ideas, thoughts, consciousness with theory. Ideas are “dry” without energy to manifest them. In fact nothing manifests without the feminine principle in the universe. As human beings we hold both realities within ourselves and live by them, even while we are polarized more into one of the two directions in the way we think, feel and act.
In his book Our Universal Journey George Kavassilas speaks of the divine feminine manifesting as our milky way galaxy and the divine masculine as our neighbor galaxy Andromeda. The masculine and feminine aspects of divinity are also physically manifest as our earth mother and our solar logos, divine father the sun of our solar system. I find it beautiful and feelable that the earth and the sun are beings that are giving us life and divine templates for divine feminine and divine masculine impulses, energies and qualities in manifest form. Just imagine, we are living on the physical manifestation of the divine mother, generously giving us food, shelter, landscapes to live our lives in, water to drink and air to breathe, while the light of the divine masculine is shining on us and nature around us providing the warmth and direct solar energy that we need to survive.
All of this doesn’t mean that only men give and only women receive. A question we can ask ourselves though is whether we allow both of these impulses to reach full expression when they arise, or do we have a filter that we have accepted along with our upbringing, cultural background and of course the current views of male or female qualities that we absorb through entertainment and opinion shaping media outlets?
The Practice of Owning Our Impulses
We can embark on an inner, private intuitive journey into our investigation of our impulses with a specific tool in hand: observing how we feel when these impulses arise. There may be an inner censorship that occurs for men around topics like taking the initiative on a project at work. For women inner censorship might pop up around topics involving the desire to be a stay at home mother. We can feel into our body and notice if we feel expansive and free flowing or contracted and stifled. This is in general, as many already know, a great tool for intuitively affirming or negating something we are investigating an answer on.
When we feel uncomfortable with a certain impulse that is arising, we can make the intention to know what that feeling of contraction is based on and ask ourselves: Do we have a societal opinion about this impulse? Is it parental? Is it based on something we have heard or seen over and over again in films or magazines? If so, a new evaluation of this is definitely in order, so as to ensure that this “opinion” is not just accepted by us without reflection.
Distinguishing harmonious feminine and masculine qualities seems to be a prerequisite for creating a new lens for oneself. A lens with which to look at ones own impulses and maybe decide to give them more room. This goes for all types of archetypal human qualities within both women and men. Learning to trust that these impulses may have their own natural beauty which can lead to a more fulfilled experience of ourselves and those around us is a beautiful, gentle journey that we can all take, without too much trouble and without having to look further than within ourselves whenever an impulse arises that we may feel programmed to suppress.
Creating a life long habit of this can lead to a beautiful, simple and honest journey of self-discovery, that naturally leads to the discovery of the true nature of others around us. This can polarize and up the charge of attraction in our romantic relationship, build our compassion for our friends and our loved ones, maybe inspiring them to also look deeper and allow more of who they truly are to emerge naturally.
Reflection and practice may include the investigation of the source of dominant social opinions and whether we trust this source. Also, we can decide that at this time we claim the right to form a new feeling about this impulse and experimentally repeat this new claim over and over for a period of time, until we feel our stance on this has been re-written and we now feel internally free to privately “allow” space for this impulse. We are ultimately the authors and re-writers of our own inner guidelines on life and it is of course our birthright to claim conscious reign over all of them, one area at a time. Re-writing them takes time and contemplation, but most of all it sometimes takes real courage, when our new decision on an issue differs from the status quo we have accepted up until that point.
I usually include a practice point that I have discovered into my daily meditation. I have personally found that a daily practice of a few minutes is more effective than a long session only once or twice, without any follow up. I use my meditative state to tune into the topic and the decision I have made and affirm my new stance on it quite clearly, with authority and emotion. It often includes giving some self love energy and light to a specific part of myself in order for it to heal, grow or mature. It usually only takes a week or two to be able to feel a difference. Then, after a success validating break, it might be time for new reflection and a new practice point.
For women, disallowing their feminine impulses may make them appear cold, not very open or somehow too dominating for open and compassionate interaction, when maybe their natural impulses would include empathy, understanding and supportiveness, without giving up any of their true power as an equal member in a relationship, friendship, at work or in society in general.
Maybe a matriarchy would be just as brutal, by having the pendulum swing so far in the direction of feminine qualities that equal amounts of distortion and eventually damage could be done. In a purely matriarchal system we might have the same unbalanced dynamics in reverse.
A true balance on a societal level will likely only come when we re-invent distribution of power, leadership style and ways of organizing ourselves and our collective tasks in new ways that include both feminine and masculine strengths. The difference and polarity between the way women and men see the world and want to tackle the tasks at hand isn’t so much an inherent problem, but actually a balanced path with brilliant solutions for multilayered challenges. Neither side is always right or always wrong. The respectful dialogue between the two and the welcoming of sometimes opposing view points yields ever new and fruitful ways of looking at complex problems.
Tantra Yoga and Polarity
In Tantra Yoga there is a lot of emphasis on the need for polarity in the dynamics of a couple in order for both parties to feel magnetized and fulfilled by the other. The example of a battery is often brought up in which the energy of the battery is only present to the degree that the negative and positive poles show up in their most polar charge. Translated to humans this could be seen as a woman being attracted to a man who exhibits a healthy amount of active energy in the form of impulses, ideas, skills and activities. Conversely it can mean that a man is attracted by a woman who is generally speaking very receptive in the sense of going along with activities, lending a compassionate ear to new ideas and being impressed by skills and talents.
This, of course does not mean that women aren’t equally involved in developing their skills, new ideas or are not involved in pursuing their own activities. This is a dynamic to be experienced between people, in a couple setting, in a community or at work, who exhibit qualities that complement each other on different levels. There are techniques that come from the Tantra Yoga lineage that can help bring men or women into their balanced polarity, helping them to feel good in their own energy. These techniques warrant being the subject of a separate blog and separate classes also.
The Great Balance
The great changes we are experiencing in our society can ultimately only be helped by us showing up as who we truly are as women and men, because it will naturally include the much needed feminine impulses once we reflect and give them their direct expression. Both women and men need the full scope of their impulses, in order to be able to transform our changing culture toward the balance of the harmonious feminine and the harmonious masculine.
With the healing of our distortions and more balance our thoughts and empathy will likely gravitate towards a more holistic approach to economics, our own health and the nurture of our earth mother within whom we have our being. Organic distribution of power and the re-invention of management structures and leadership styles will likely be at the centre of the aspects which will naturally evolve, when both women and men collectively reach critical mass in bringing these qualities into balance through available techniques and original new intentions.