While there are plenty of spiritual traditions that talk about oneness and unity, I believe that the realm we are born into is one of polarities. One of the polarities I have witnessed and worked with is the polarity of the masculine and the feminine. I have found it personally valuable, and I see my clients find value in distinguishing between the masculine and the feminine qualities inherent in every human being and also in the universe. If we don’t acknowledge they exist at all, they get tangled together like a ball of yarn, and when we tease apart the different strands we can consciously weave them together in a beautiful way.
Let me start by saying that masculine doesn’t mean man, and feminine doesn’t mean woman. It’s challenging for most people to find nuance in this conversation and to get away from that collapse, but that is exactly what I am attempting to do because I believe it’s deeply important for all of us, and for the world.
One of the reasons I’m so passionate about this is that most of the work out there for women is feminine practice, and I believe strongly that all human beings benefit from both feminine practice and from masculine practice. It is through strengthening and growing both these parts of ourselves that truly become whole (small caveat: I don’t believe ‘whole’ means ‘balanced’.)
So here goes:
I saw a woman recently post something that said “ambition is feminine,” and I believe this is an example of how people are currently repurposing the masculine as feminine. Can women have ambition? Yes! Can ambition be sexy? Absolutely. Can a woman be ambitious and also feminine? Of course! But I believe ambition is masculine.
There’s a positive intention behind repurposing and repacking the masculine as feminine. I think it’s because there’s a resurgence of the feminine and also calling for more women in more areas of life that have been traditionally held by men. Simultaneously, there’s also been a call for more feminine expression in both women & men in more areas of life. These are two different things: We not only want more women’s voices but also more of the feminine, represented in all areas of life.
And that’s great!
But instead of saying it’s OK for women to embody masculine traits, we say ‘let’s just call this feminine,’ and this is where I believe systemic, insidious sexism comes in. It sneaks into a woman, who probably calls herself a feminist, saying ‘ambition is feminine,’ because that makes it OK for a woman to be ambitious. It’s a subtle way of saying the same thing sexism has said for centuries—that women should always be feminine.
One element of the Feminist movement was that it highlighted how people in male bodies had most of the power, and then demanded people in female bodies have access as well – which is progress. However, it didn’t always call for more of the feminine in the process and it didn’t include more of the feminine for men. This is the challenge we face as modern-day feminists (of which I absolutely call myself).
What I believe is called for now is to truly honor both the masculine & the feminine in both men & women – and we can’t do that unless we are willing to tease them apart.
This is a huge, nuanced, emotional conversation, but it’s one I believe we need to have. If you’re interested in having this conversation, watch the full video. I’d love to hear all your questions, comments and shares below:
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I love what you’re saying and completely agree. Who is a leading modern-day feminist who has written about what feminism is now who you would recommend reading?
I think your point is correct that the yin/yang in all of us needs to be teased apart and reunited in a conscious way. Yet, I notice this huge tightness in my belly as I read this. In asking what that is, I see that you finished saying that there are two meanings to masculine and feminine. Then, you speak as though there is only one type of masculine and feminine. I think it is hard to take a fast firm line on what is masculine and what is feminine without first recognizing the context of a true statement.
The attribution of someone stating that “ambition is feminine” to mean that it is the yin force operating in woman is in itself sexist as the ambition of the attribution is to correct rather than to understand. It has been way too long of a battle for woman to gain our right to equality for us to backslide into a demeaning position of censuring content without recognizing context.
The point made in the statement, “ambition is feminine,” clearly answers the restriction that woman cannot be ambitious and feminine at the same time. Woman have a lot of restrictions such as no anger, no career, no ambition, etc. and there is huge danger in not recognizing context.
First, we have to speak to people in their language, then we can introduce our languaging. Making the mistake of not recognizing context and blanketing a statement as sexist or not sexist without implanting awareness of context sets us at odds instead of unifying. And women need to unify around purpose. One purpose to unify around is giving ownership of the truth of a statement without demeaning its content out of context.