Gender is complicated.
We all have a little bit of male energy and a little bit of female energy inside of us, regardless of our biological sex. It is the union of the masculine and the feminine within ourselves that makes us into fully realized human beings.
We don’t want to be too masculine or too feminine. Instead, we should acknowledge both the masculine and the feminine elements within our own hearts and empower both of these forces to the best of our ability.
This reminds me of something Virginia Woolf said in A Room of One’s Own, about having an “androgynous mind.”
“If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have an effect; and a woman also must have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said the great mind is androgynous. It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilized and uses all of its faculties. Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create any more than a mind that is purely feminine…
Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided…”
There is strength in both the masculine and the feminine. Masculine strength looks like willpower, conviction, and persistence. Feminine strength looks like sensitivity, inner awareness, and empathy.
I have been thinking a lot about how these different strengths relate to becoming our best selves. In my experience, masculine strength is better at dealing with physical pain and external obstacles, while feminine strength is better at dealing with emotional pain and internal obstacles.
In the course of my chronic illness, I have used both forms of strength to survive. I have needed the masculine energy to deal with my symptoms and to strive toward recovery. I have needed the feminine energy to deal with the emotional pain that has come along with my condition and to care for my inner self.
Certain challenges call upon the masculine within us, and others call upon the feminine within us. Getting out in the world and starting a career might fall in the masculine category, and being more aware of the relationships in our lives would probably fall in the feminine category. If someone is constantly bullying us, then the masculine traits may be useful in dealing with that situation. If we are feeling overwhelmed with stress in our daily lives, perhaps tapping into our feminine side through yoga or meditation would be a helpful way to deal with that obstacle.
In terms of knowing “how to be,” I’d suggest that we keep an eye on ourselves. We don’t want to think too much about the masculine and the feminine energies within us, but we should engage in practices that cultivate both. Martial Arts can be a great tool for expanding upon our masculine energy, specifically Jiu-Jitsu and boxing. Reading and journaling are great for empowering the feminine energy within us. However, there are many things we can do. Find out what works for you.
To sum things up:
1. We are all both masculine and feminine.
2. We should try to embody both.
4. Different situations call upon one or the other.
5. Cultivate both the masculine and the feminine through activities that correspond to each.
This is how we live a balanced life.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Flickr/Emilio Labrador
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Travis May