I have reached an important juncture in my life – a juncture being ‘a place where things join’.
As I approach 40 years of age, all of my seemingly disparate life experiences, events, education, hobbies, interests, careers, relationships and challenges, have all converged to provide some rationale to both where I have been and, most importantly, where I am going. It all, finally, makes sense!
One of my primary focuses is (loosely) on the ‘bringing together of the masculine and feminine’. A phrase that is quite flippantly bandied about in seemingly progressive ‘spiritual’ communities. Everyone seems to know that it is important, but do we really know why, or what is to be done about it?
Through my work, I wish to share my stance on the issue and hopefully move it on from simply being a stock phrase that is currently popular, though potentially runs the risk of being relegated and outmoded by the next hot topic or latest fad. This would be a tragic shame, and here’s why:
It is important, it is important to our Communities, our Businesses and to the wellbeing of our Children and Families. It is important to the Economy, to our Psychology and our Health. And it is, indeed, important to the survival of our planet and our species. Put more simply, in our businesses, my partner and I would equate this to ‘People, Profit & Planet’.
Many years ago, I was very privileged to have studied with a great Feminist scholar who is Professor of the Social & Critical Histories of Art at the University of Leeds. Hence, on one side of the equation, my stance on ‘equality and identity’ is backed by a range of Psychological and Sociological theories and Philosophical debate. On the other, it is Experiential and Spiritual. There was a time when I thought these were at odds with each other, ‘never the Twain shall meet’. Now, I recognise that it is part of a needed balance that requires all stances to co-exist and merge, as we accept the beauty and breadth in true diversity.
There is not space here to enter into a discussion about how we label ourselves by sex or gender though I will point out that the terms ‘Masculine and Feminine’ do not necessarily equate to the gender or sex of an individual, we all share masculine and feminine qualities in different proportions and this is somewhat the nub of the debate when we are talking about balance, and levelling out the dominance of one over the other.
In my younger years I took a fairly activist stance, thinking that the several thousands of years of patriarchy and male dominance was due a radical overhaul and, probably if I’m honest, felt that it was high time that women should have a turn at taking over. During my academic studies, I began to understand that it was not nearly this simple and straightforward, and that there was an almost insurmountable task ahead. The conditioning of both men and women to their roles (or subject positions as we call them) is so deeply entrenched in our DNA, that what is required is a much deeper and slower re-education and re-building, and it is an iterative process. It takes, what I have lately termed, ‘Unity, Appreciation and Wisdom’.
Though not as obvious as it was 50 years ago, the ‘gender wars’ still rage, in a slightly more covert operation. However, it is not as one might initially expect. In simplistic terms, gender identity is socially constructed and it is given strength and weight by those who perpetuate its form. Eg, pink for girls and blue for boys – is a social construction. It is not innate, it was learned from those around us. In order to change it, we need to dismantle it and re-build a new model and, I would argue, more importantly, demonstrate its effectiveness.
As women, we often surround ourselves with other women, under the illusion that we will somehow be safe from the clutches of men and the supposed competition, inequality and sexism we are bound to suffer, in a man’s world. Ironically, it was in the workplace, surrounded by women, that I suffered the most at the hands of a masculine woman! Unfortunately, a side effect of our (women’s) obsession with male superiority and supremacy is our tendency to over emphasise our masculinity and deny our femininity altogether, thus becoming totally unbalanced ourselves. We can end up coming across as aggressive. I would argue that what is much more damaging though (especially in business), is our internal incongruence, which then undermines our external projection of authenticity and affects others’ trust in us. ie women’s fear of our own femininity translating into behaving in a pseudo ‘masculine’ way …
My experience of the past couple of years has shifted my perspective on many things. I now believe that the co-joining of the masculine and feminine energies, in the form of men and women working together and forming successful partnerships, is the healthiest way of resolving the imbalance of the masculine and feminine. It is not only in business that people segregate themselves, there is a branch within the field of recovery that advocates that in order to heal from relationship issues or addictions we should abstain from having relationships. I fail to see how we can heal something in its absence.
In our experience, learning how to communicate with each other openly and honestly from the heart, has provided us with great benefits within both our business and personal relationships. In business, we benefit from playing to the strengths of our masculine and feminine attributes. We never fight over who is going to do which bit, we acknowledge where our skills and interests are and then we get on with it. Our differing approaches lead to more innovation and creativity and the relationship is dynamic and fun. When we do disagree, we hold the space for each other and we work through it until we understand each other’s views, learning about the different needs men and women have in each sphere of our lives.
Working with a man has helped me to heal my own wounding in the masculine by experiencing the gentleness and strength of a man who abides in true masculinity rather than the ego driven cowardice of machismo and aggressive behaviour. I have grown to have a very deep respect for the masculine where before I probably felt disdain. I have learned to lower the barriers and to understand that men like to give protection and security and in fact, I like to receive it. I like to provide a nurturing environment for us, and for our clients. Everyone around us can feel the strength of our partnership, which in turn garners confidence in our ability to provide the highest quality service to both men and women alike.
We do a great deal of work in the Community and that is of particular importance to me in relation to this topic. The word ‘Unity’ means oneness and ‘Com’ or ‘Cum’ in the Latin means ‘together’, ‘with’, ‘completely’ – so, Comm-unity – Together, completely, in oneness; we are together as one.
So, back to ‘Unity, Appreciation and Wisdom’ – the tagline I have adopted which is important to me and demonstrates how we achieve balance in the masculine and feminine.
Unity – we have to do it together. Both women and men can let down the barriers and accept our ‘oneness’ in humanity and we can learn to trust completely. Men and women can co-operate and bring the best out in each other. We can act as one, with our complementary attributes which make us whole.
Appreciation – next, we appreciate the masculine as we also learn to appreciate, accept and live in our femininity. In the physical, we can appreciate what the man offers to our experience and what he provides, accept the differences in the ways we each choose to do things, and the ways in which we think differently. In short, we appreciate how we complement each other rather than compete.
Wisdom – and finally, we not only learn to draw on our respective ancient internal feminine and masculine wisdom brought through the generations, we also continue to learn from each other in the present. We respect the wisdom of our partner and we learn how to understand each other by listening and communicating clearly and openly at all times. We are careful not to harbour resentment and to maintain respect and fairness.
We need to move on from the stories of the past. Whilst it is true there is still a lot of damage to be repaired, trust to be rebuilt and equal rights to be honoured, men are expected to walk a tricky line. I would argue we are at risk of reaching an impasse in the current gender climate. When women separate ourselves, men are in a no win situation. Co-joining the masculine and feminine provides the ideal seed bed, and hope, for growth, learning and navigating the choppy waters of gender equality.
It is ultimately the only way we will achieve ‘Perfect Balance’ and ‘Create Equilibrium’.