There is currently a lot of confusion in our culture about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. Are there things that only men do? Are there things that only women do? Who is the stay-at-home parent? Is there a stay-at-home parent? Is there a joint bank account? Who makes the money? Who initiates sex? Who initiates the big, emotional conversations? Should there be certain roles for men and women?
There’s also a lot of confusion about what it means to be masculine and feminine. Are you masculine if you watch sport and have a lot of ambition? Are you masculine if you are assertive and hard-working? Are you feminine if you just want to wear pretty clothes and make-up? Are you feminine if you are warm and intuitive?
I wrote an e-book last year called The New Masculine & Feminine. In that book, I introduced the idea that all men and all women have both masculine and feminine sides that need to be acknowledged and expressed. Feminism was the movement that called for women to express their masculine sides. To balance out feminism, we now need a movement that calls for men to express their feminine sides. We need to call men into the feminine, because otherwise the only model men have for success and fulfilment is the masculine stereotype of dominance and rationality.
THE SHALLOW (SHADOW) MASCULINE
It is interesting to think about the light and dark sides of the masculine, which I call the deep masculine and the shallow masculine.
The shallow masculine is aggressive, careless, egotistical, seeking fame and power, destructive, brutal, abusive, never enough, doesn’t know when to stop, afraid to be wrong, burns bridges, dogmatic, ruthless, opinionated, inflexible, unemotional, removed from feeling and nature. Interestingly, the traits of the shallow masculine seem to be prerequisites for high success in the worlds of business and politics. People who embody the shallow masculine in the extreme are (male or female) destructive political leaders and ruthless business-people, like the Wolf of Wall Street.
I think that most of the world’s current problems stem from a glorification of the shallow masculine, which uses domination as its primary way of relating. In a world like this, relationships, bodies, families, communities and nature all suffer.
THE DEEP MASCULINE
The deep masculine is courageous, bold, strong, heroic, honourable, adventurous, charismatic, assertive, confident, extroverted, growth-oriented, concerned with the outside world, an empire builder, big picture, visionary, energetic, resilient, robust, leads by example, inspiring, in control rather than controlling, committed, focused, driven, goal and achievement oriented, dedicated to an ideal, and uncompromising when necessary.
The deep masculine and appears in popular shows & films like Bear Grylls, Star Wars & the Lord of the Rings. Tom Hanks often plays film characters that embody the deep masculine. Art forms like film, stories and poetry often speak the language of consciousness, because they use metaphors and archetypes. This symbolic language by-passes the rational mind and appeals directly to our higher awareness.
THE SHALLOW (SHADOW) FEMININE
We can also look at the two sides of the feminine. The shallow feminine is coy, game-playing, dishonest, deceptive, passive-aggressive, too emotional, irrational, irritable, moody, uncertain, vague, indecisive, insecure, engages in talk for talk’s sake, resentful, passive, incapable of forgiving and moving on, neglectful of personal development, lost in fantasies and illusions, and manipulative.
Marilyn Monroe often played characters that delved into the shallow feminine. The Kardashians are popularising the shallow feminine in their work.
THE DEEP FEMININE
The deep feminine embraces solitude, and blossoms in relationship with others. It values feeling, expression, connectedness, peace, harmony and caring for others. It is holistic, nurturing, earthy, peaceful, settled, gentle, intuitive, sensitive, aesthetic-minded, and graceful. It encompasses the heart and soul, and lives in tune with the cycles of the days and seasons. The deep feminine trusts the process of life.
Think Meryl Streep in the film Out of Africa. She begins the film in the shallow feminine, unsure of herself and marrying for convenience. She transforms during the film into the deep feminine, learning to trust in solitude and the vicissitudes of love.
There is a long line of wisdom from Taoism and tantra to Jung that calls for all of us to cultivate the deep masculine and the deep feminine in our lives. What do you think? Do you think we all have masculine and feminine sides, or do you think men and women are different? I’d love to hear your thoughts x