Men and women: A step back into the future
A look at the confusion around the spiritual concept of femininity and masculinity.
Is a woman automatically more feminine than a man and a man naturally more masculine than a woman? What is really 'feminine' and 'masculine' and sex and gender? The definition is generally culture-based, utterly controversial and "work in progress". So, to gain more clarity, let's add a spiritual dimension to the game. But: what is the concept of divine femininity and divine masculinity? And: how far can it shed light on the controversial #MeToo debate? Or even help us on fulfilling our desire to build a harmonious relationship with the opposite sex or gender, and even more - with ourselves? How far play our negative experiences with men or women and our perception of them a role regarding our capacity to live to the fullest?
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Let’s get directly to the nitty-gritty: It is your birthright to live to the fullest and to be happy. And your ability to fulfil this birthright is connected with the wounds caused by people of the opposite sex (and not only of the opposite sex, of course) and with your way of relating to them. No matter, if you’ve been hurt during your childhood by your mother or father, aunt or uncle for instance, if you’ve been in a relationship with a toxic and abusive partner, or if you feel harassed or marginalised in society, because of your sex and gender: I believe, you’ll never unfold all your potential, unless you learn to be in harmony with the femininity and/or masculinity surrounding yourself or - inside yourself. In this article, I’m trying to explain to you, how and why.
The repercussions of the #MeToo movement that was initiated in 2017 are still felt and alive in people’s minds in many places around the globe. Earlier this year, a good yogi buddy from India, who sees everyone as soul, said he was afraid #MeToo might have thrown oil into the fire and the war between the genders would be just at the beginning. Even though I don’t share this apocalyptic view, it does not mean that a war or clash between the genders does not exist. It does. However, I personally don't feel threatened by it. This has to do with the new way I learned to frame and approach this issue and the spirital concept of the masculine and feminine is key.
Spirituality is the psychology of the whole cosmos
How we address an issue, how we deal with men or women, or how we try to solve a problem, like so many more things in life, depends on our perspective and approach. I believe #MeToo was helpful for female empowerment to some extent, but it may as well have caused damage - as it triggered off insecurities in many men how to behave 'correctly' around women and contributed to creating an atmosphere of shame for being a 'potential rapist' in the mind of many. It’s crucial to speak up and to talk about what we wish and need to change for a life in fulfilment, as individual or in society. I see #MeToo as an attempt to do that. In my view, this movement got stuck on one level, though. It was like a 3D movie, but it needed to be upgraded into a 4D or 5D perspective in order to find lasting and sustainable solutions. That is to say: if we miss out on the spiritual aspect of it all, we may continue spinning around in this (vicious) circle forever. Whereas psychology deals with the behaviour of individuals and sociology with the dynamics in society, spirituality is sort of the psychology of the whole cosmos, considering laws and truths that have an impact on anything existing on this whole planet. That’s why, later on, in this article, I’m going to build a bridge to the spiritual concept of the divine masculine and the divine feminine.
“Y’all dudes go as MEN for Halloween, since y’all been CLOWNS all year long.”
But, first things first.
Every so often I stumble upon statements in the social media – like this one here: “Y’all dudes go as MEN for Halloween, since y’all been CLOWNS all year long.” Women, how do you like this one? Does this resonate with or have an impact on you, and if yes, why? What do you like about such statement and what about it seems true to you? Men, how does this one make you feel?
I used to find quotes like this one funny and, in a way, empowering. And I still have a reflex within me, that makes me feel I gotta laugh about such a slogan. But since a couple of years, I realised these quotes actually hurt a part within myself. They hurt my ‛inner man’, as the shamanic healer Juan Manuel, whose workshop I was lucky to attend in the Netherlands, would call it. The spiritual coach and author, Teal Swan, says in her Youtube video titled What Every Woman Needs to know about Men that statements like the one above or sentences like ‛I am independent, I don’t need a man’, (reminding me of a song by the stripgirl band The Pussycat Dolls), are not 100% true and are actually damaging the collective relationship between women and men (or between the masculine and the feminine). Enthusiastic about Teal Swan’s words on shadow work and divine masculine and feminine energy, I share her video with a beautiful friend who is also on her soul search journey after a breakup. Her reaction was: “I’m not a fan. Seems like a step back.”
Interestingly, Teal Swan explains that many women believe they don't need men. Therefore, they don't like to hear that they hurt themselves with this belief, Teal explains furthermore. The bestseller author is conscious about the fact that her work is not about pleasing people, but about speaking the, at times, uncomfortable truth.
She’s aware of how much women have suffered and been suppressed by men over centuries and she does NOT mean to say that a woman cannot or should not be financially independent or that women should not have the same rights as men.
Teal speaks about it all on a purely spiritual plane. Do you get where we are getting to? If not, no worries. We’ll get there.
They offend the masculine, like a lioness that is baring her teeth
Let’s take a look at the quote at hand, as an example to show you, why I nowadays agree with Teal and why I find this kind of statement destructive. “Y’all dudes go as MEN for Halloween, since y’all been CLOWNS all year long.” So, what is the literal message and what can we read between the lines?
1. Generalisation: the word “all” dudes signals, not only a few particular men, but half of this planet’s population is addressed, without making any exception. No acknowledgement that each man is an individual, a soul, a person with a unique story and mindset. Therefore, we can see, that such a generalisation in itself is not fair, because it can't be true. We can neither put all men, nor all women into the same box.
2. Accusation: men are accused to fake who they are, to be liars. Furthermore, an indirect, assumption-based accusation is conveyed by claiming that men should change at least for “Halloween”, saying they are neither able, nor willing to change sustainably for the better on the long run. As if everything was a hopeless situation!
3. Expectation: nevertheless, the message conveys the expectation of the author (or women who subscribe to it), that men should actually change, be real and stop lying and faking their identity.
4. Message: if we look beyond the words and read between the lines, we find that something else is revealed: a deep wound and pain of the author and of every woman to whom the statement rings true. And along with the pain of women, we can find the desire of the feminine to be protected from further pain in the future, the desire to be safe (so they better be strong). And, in order to achieve that, they offend the masculine, like a lioness that is baring her teeth.
5. Conclusion: there is pain in women (or shall I better say, in the collective feminine?) and deep wounds caused by men. 'Devil' derives from Sanskrit word 'devi' (goddess) writes author Mithu M. Sanyal in her book "Vulva" about the cultural and anthropological history of the feminine. Throughout thousands and hundreds of years all that feminine that used to be worshipped and sacred in various cultures all over the planet has been twisted, forbidden, shut down - under the influence of the monotheistic religions - such as Christianity for example. Women weren't allowed to lead, to speak up, to experience pleasure. They were shamed for their genitals and being. Within the collective feminine's past there has been created so much suppression and pain - it is a very tangible collective wound - which needs to be heard, seen and healed. A statement like the one just analysed is a step towards healing.
If we keep the generalisation, the judgement and accusation in mind, we could basically translate the message into the following words: “We (women) busted you (men) and your strategy. We know who you are (a fake), how you work and that you actually will never really change sustainably. Know, that you won’t be able to play any tricks on us any longer, so, don’t even dare to think about it”.
We must connect and we must trust
Not really a resolution-oriented approach and not really a good starting point for a dialogue between two people or between the two sexes. Because: this is a part of the healing - the movement from suppression to independency. From thesis to antithesis. If we want to live in balance and in harmony though, the next step needs to be, to move into synthesis and to acknowledge that we are interdependent rather than independent. This means: We must connect and we must trust if we desire healthy relationships in our life, if we desire fulfilment outside a monastery and outside any rebellious push and pull dynamics of rejecting and offending.
I believe, many loving men are treated in an unfair way unintentionally. And this is what creates or enhances the confusion and insecurity for the collective masculine. We must distinguish: in a situation of life threat in the Serengeti, it is a great defence if the lioness bares her teeth. A concrete short-term threat requires an adequate defence – like, for instance, if you tell off a stranger at a disco because he tried to touch your butt without your consent (yes, lionesses bare your teeth!). On the other hand, when the threat is over, the lioness stops her defensive reaction naturally. And my opinion: So should we. Otherwise, our reaction turns into a generalised rejection of men, and instead of preventing us from pain, it will even increase on the long run in a very subtle way. This means: if we get stuck in the defence mode – this often happens subconsciously – we will repel the loving and kind men who we would love to attract deeply within, when they approach us, because we keep baring our teeth (and often enough don't notice this anymore).
“You turn into something that you are not”, is what Teal Swan calls it. Your energy becomes harder in this permanent subtle defence mode. Harder than it naturally is, when you are relaxed. You will be less approachable, less soft, less receiving, is what Teal Swan means.
Furthermore, you take on the role of a victim, even though it may not feel so. Pointing with a finger at men and blaming all of them, is in my eyes, neither a solution, nor an act of empowerment. It may be a natural tendency, an understandable reaction, a movement to the opposite pole.
The filmmaker Arthur Moore displays in an authentic and humorous way, how it may feel and what it may look like when a man (he himself) with loving energy and good intentions feels confused about the relationship between men and women, because of #MeToo, due to rejecting comments and to mixed messages given by women. In his quest, he ventures out in Arambol, in Goa, India, and asks several ladies about their opinion on what women need from men. (Link to the video below). To my surprise, it is revealed in Moore's video, that even some of the most 'conscious' women are quite still attached to a deeply ingrained defence mechanism. Well, this is something I call the journey through pain – something I myself know all too well.
We all have an inner man and an inner woman who are dialoguing within
And part of the truth is: everyone has a feminine and a masculine side. We all have an inner man and an inner woman who are dialoguing within. We are alive because of the two sides – man and woman, mother and father. If we want to create new life in the form of children, we do need a partner of the opposite sex. For most other forms of life, like animals and plants, it also works the same way.
This duality of being either one or the other, either only masculine or only feminine, is an illusion. You see, a statement like the one analysed above can not only cause damage to men or to the relationship with them, but it can also hurt a part within the woman. The masculine part within her, an aspect of herself, that she is rejecting, living the illusion that she doesn’t need it.
The same happens to men. Due to education and socialisation processes, they are conditioned and build subconscious habits and attitudes of what is “good” and what is “bad” behaviour in their role as a man. The tantra coach Amanda Biccum writes on her instagram profile “(men) often don’t share all that’s happening in their world. They were trained not to. They were taught it’s weak, that it makes them ‛less of a man’. Although this isn’t true, as a collective we reinforce this patterning, not giving men the space to show up, to be seen, felt and heard. To be vulnerable. Supported by brothers. (...). One thing many men don’t realize is that holding all this in, shutting down their emotions often creates stagnation to their energetic and erotic bodies. (...) It’s not men’s fault they have a hard time accessing and processing their emotions – they were never given the tools. It’s not men’s fault they don’t know how to touch a woman the way SHE wants – they were never taught.” I would like to add that unfortunately many women simply don't know what they like, as many of us have been brought up without any clear concept about the female genitals and pleasure, not being able to see the beauty and to know the power of the vulva - something that should change as Mithu M. Sanyal claims in her book with the same name "Vulva". So, before a woman can teach a man, she must learn more about herself and appreciate her vulva and her pleasure.
Acknowledging that we need men or masculine energy does not mean that we have to get married or to reproduce ourselves, or to get attached to a man
Do you see the difference in the perspective? Not only the women have a collective wound, the masculine is wounded as well. Masculine and feminine are intertwined and it opens up a lot more opportunities, if we, women, speak and act not only from a place of fear and think not only about our safety and independence, but if we try to broaden our perspective and feel more empathy for the masculine and his conditioning.
Acknowledging that we need men or masculine energy, this does not mean that we have to get married or to reproduce ourselves, or to get attached to a man, in order to be fulfilled. In many places in this world, we are lucky enough to get the opportunity to live a free life, if we are courageous enough to take this chance. What I am trying to say though, is, that we will hardly live to the fullest and feel fulfilled, as long as we keep rejecting a part – be it the masculine or the feminine – within ourselves.
I have been unaware of this fact almost all of my life. Unaware of the spiritual dimension of my being and of the deeper meaning of polarity. I used to think: the fact that I didn’t like shopping for clothes or shoes or that I don’t enjoy make up and high heels were my masculine parts. And the fact that I like cooking and yoga, are feminine sides. But this is looking at masculinity and femininity through the 3D prism only.
Most of us get lost by trying to fit in, between barbies and tomboys, pimps and pussies
All concepts of the feminine and masculine on that shallow level are culture-based, society-dependent and changeable throughout time. That’s why, on the surface, men and women are treated differently and have varying roles in different eras and cultures. In this particular conceptual dimension of man and woman, there are boxes and labels. These default modes and roles have been created to provide the members of a culture or society with certainty when it comes to having expectations and to reduce the fear of abandonment and rejection. In this modern, globalised world, however, most of us get lost by trying to fit in, between barbies and tomboys, pimps and pussies. The boxes may continue to exist, but they don’t necessarily always serve us. Being aware of this and being able to handle the concept of man or woman in a more flexible way, brings us closer to who we truly are or want to be within. And here is where the spiritual concept enters the game.
In the spiritual dimension we look beyond these superficial, fluctuating culture-based concepts of men and women and distinguish the masculine and feminine energy and qualities by acknowledging a clear, timeless polarity that pervades the whole cosmos. Polarity is a scientific existential truth.
I like the following quote taken from Yogananda, Paramhansa: Autobiography of a Yogi, page 284:
“Electricity, for example, is a phenomenon of repulsion and attraction; its electrons and protons are electrical opposites. Another example: the atom or final particle of matter is, like the earth itself, a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles.”
Or look at our cortex: the left side is dominant in regard to words, numbers, lines, logic, analysis – the right side is stronger when it comes to dealing with colours, rhythm, imagery, daydreaming. To unfold our full potential and achieve high levels of creativity, both sides of the cortex - must be in harmony.
I may not have a penis as a woman, but I have the ability to give AND receive, to be emotional AND rational...
The inner or divine feminine and masculine can be seen as main categories or polar opposites with which we may associate many different contrasting qualities and manifestations. Like:
Vagina – Penis, Yoni – Lingam, Receiving – Giving, Yin – Yang, Passivity – Activity, Moon – Sun, Shakti – Shiva, Energy – Consciousness, Emotionality – Rationality, Flow – Steadiness, Seeking love – Seeking freedom, Surrender – Persecution of goals,
And as mentioned above, both men and women have both masculine and feminine energy. I may not have a penis as a woman, but as a soul in a female body, I have the ability to give AND receive, to be emotional AND rational, to flow AND be steady and so on. But to live your life to the fullest, both your inner masculine and inner feminine want to be honoured and embraced, your heart and mind need to be aligned.
How can you figure out which part of yourself, the feminine or the masculine, needs healing?
David Deida suggests finding out whether you are among the 90 percent (this number is taken from Deida’s book, I can’t tell you how far the statistics is evidence-based and reliable) of men or women who have one core energy, the dominant masculine or dominant inner feminine side. Or whether you belong to the 10 percent with an equal level of both. And he recommends: “Regardless of gender or sexual orientation, if you want to experience deep spiritual and sexual fulfilment, you must know your natural sexual essence – masculine, feminine, or balanced – and live true to it.” (Deida, David: The Way of the Superior Man: page 6-7)
“Which would turn you on more, to pin your partner on the bed below you or to be pinned below your partner?”
According to Deida, there are two main areas in which you can find out easily whether you feel dominantly masculine or dominantly feminine or balanced: in the regularly chosen entertainments, and in sexual play. The following questions taken from his book The Way of the Superior Man may help you to check in with yourself:
“Would you rather prefer that your sexual partner was physically stronger than you, or would you prefer to feel your lover’s physical vulnerability? Which would turn you on more, to pin your partner on the bed below you or to be pinned below your partner? To be swept off your feet by a sensitive and strong lover or to feel your lover surrender, swooning in your arms? You may want both at different times, but most often which turns you on more?” (Deida, David: The Way of the Superior Man: page 6-7)
Or: Do you prefer watching a romantic love movie, soap operas or talking with friends over watching an action movie, a football or a boxing match?
The feminine craves, at its core, to be filled with love (remember: the yoni receiving love through the lingam) and unless this need is fulfilled in the relationship(s), the feminine may look for this fulfilment more frequently by watching love stories, talking about relationships or eating chocolate or something alike. Whereas for the masculine, “mission, competition, and putting it all on the line (indeed, facing death), are all forms of ecstasy.” (Deida, David: The Way of the Superior Man: page 6).
Have fun figuring this out for yourself. I guess, I myself am more of a balanced type, perhaps with a little more feminine energy - at least in this period of my life. I know it has been different in the past when my masculine energy increased a lot, because I had attracted toxic, not very supportive partners. And: I didn’t know myself well, yet, back then. My ex-partners were as much out of balance and as wounded as I was. My emotions were not allowed in the relationship, my problems were perceived as ridiculous in comparison with my partners' problems, I was expected to provide rationally, emotionally and physically, to help out, and to do more than I would ever get in return. I had to be tough and strong, drive the car, remind my last partner of his appointments, hold our projects together - I mobilised all the energy that he did not bring into our relationship. I was not allowed to be vulnerable and emotional, not only because my ex-partners were not open to be with the whole emotional spectrum of me, but because I actually did not allow myself to be taken seriously, to be heard and felt in all my ways. Naturally, over time, I would turn into somebody tough, less receiving, more bitter than sweet and kept manoeuvring through the continuous dramas that my ex-partners and I co-created. After the breakup, frustration and anger on how little I had gotten in return, propelled me into the energy field of rejecting all that had caused pain: men. At least temporarily. And it took some good time for me to re-discover the beauty of feminine energy, allowing myself to be helped out or even to ask for something that I desired and to show my emotions.
If one keeps giving and the other insists on taking only – this is co-dependency, not a partnership.
Don’t get me wrong: giving and caring are, in general, wonderful motherly (and hence also feminine) qualities. All depends on the context. A mother provides her child with all that they need. She gives love to them, without expecting it back. However, let’s not mix up a mother-child relationship with a romantic relationship between a man and a woman (for instance), which ideally consists of unconditional love as well and is free from expectations. This would be a “partner”ship, and based on polarity.
And this polarity requires a certain ‛dance’, continuous acts of balancing things out. It is amazing if men and women (a person with a masculine core or a person with a feminine one) can give and provide lovingly in a relationship, but if one of both keeps giving and the other insists on taking only – this is more co-dependency than a partnership. In such a case of imbalance or co-dependency it can easily happen the man is emasculated (rendered less masculine) and the woman overloaded with masculine energy. In such case both have definitely propelled themselves away from their own center or core energy.
And maybe that is exactly what we need at some point in our life, in order to balance out the other extreme pole where we were coming from. For instance, if you’ve received a lot during your childhood or adolescence, if people used to do things for you more than you would get to do things, maybe at a later point in your life, you develop the need to get things done just by yourself, because you feel that is something which has been missing in your own development. To compensate for what you’ve been missing, you propel yourself subconsciously into the extreme opposite and only want to do things by yourself (masculine energy), prove yourself you can be strong and independent, until, eventually, the moment comes in which you realise that you did go from one extreme to the other and that now the ability to receive (feminine energy) has been missing. I guess it is a continuous dance between the two poles, between the two energies, between the masculine and the feminine.
I think again about my friend's reaction to Teal Swan's video. "It seems like a step back". And I remember another friend's words: "A step back does not necessarily always have to be considered a bad thing. It can be exactly the right thing, a step into the center, into balance, into the future. Particularly if we’ve overdone something and went too many steps ahead". This is valid for any kind of balance that we wish to establish. When humans realised that they’ve been polluting the environment for way too long and have put the survival of our future generations at risk, conscious people decided to go one step back, to live a more minimalistic lifestyle, for example.
It is not really possible to force and push anyone in their experience and perspective
I don’t feel entitled to try to change my friend’s or anyone else’s opinion. Even if I wanted to – I think it is not really possible to force and push anyone in their experience and perspective which are all valid. I felt encouraged and inspired, however, to share my own experience and learning, my vertical truth, in this article. Because if I feel more joy and balance and have invited more love and magic into my life, since I claimed my feminine essence back, learned to joyfully receive again and to be strong, soft and emotional at the same time, it can’t be too much of a bad thing to share.
It can take a few years to be ready to realise we have wounds, and to be ready to face the traumas and to open up to release the pain and to search for answers beyond the blame game. But taking on that path, to claim back your inner man or your inner woman, to allow yourself to receive, if you tend to be an overgiver, or to allow yourself to provide more and be strong if you are used to be more in a passive position, to embrace all your different parts, to heal your wounds and to allow yourself to get your soul’s needs met, is a rewarding journey. You may want to see a therapist or a coach if you feel you need some professional assistance during that journey. Or if you are emotionally steady and trusting your path and curiosity, you may want to try yoga or meditation practices, to read books with useful self-love advice, to start journaling, embodiment practices, become aware of how to establish healthy boundaries or how to stretch them gently, and become your best conscious observer and best friend during your process. Or all these things together. Once you feel steady and safe enough, you may want to face your fears and mindfully connect with conscious men (or if you are a man, you may want to connect with conscious women) or find a trustworthy tantric healer or any kind of healing group that creates a safe space for you to be open and to show up with your wounds. Wherever you are at: I am sure, in your very own pace you will find your very own way to your own balance, to your own fulfilment - to yourself. And to the realisation that you are perfect just the way you are, that all you need and all you desire, the beauty of the whole cosmos, the divine feminine and the divine masculine, are already within you.
Links and sources:
Arthur Moore (video): Asking Women: Why Do You Need Men? ft. Teal Swan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msUCyAVeXUU
Amanda Biccum: www.instituteofintegratedintimacy.com
David Deida: The Way Of The Superior Man - A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work and Sexual Desire, Sounds True, Boulder
Juan Manuel: http://livetothefullest.org/
Mithu M. Sanyal: Vulva - Die Enthüllung des unsichtbaren Geschlechts (Vulva - unveiling the invisible sex), Wagenbach, Berlin
Teal Swan (video): What Every Women Should Know About Men:
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