Warning: Naughty language ahead.
What would our world look like if we had a Disney fairy-tale reversal?
What if Cinderella rode in on a horse, dirty, sweaty, and ambitious, searching for a prince who would fit into the perfect-fitting glass loafers?
What if Snow White, in all her red-lipped, porcelain-skinned glory, spent her whole life waiting to resurrect her mystery man with a heroic, gentle kiss?
What if Belle was the beast, and the “hot, masculine, eye candy,” saw through the surface of her “visual grotesqueness” to the soul he fell in love with because of endearing kindness, intelligence, and wit?
Sounds a little off-putting and ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Yes, because it is in our current paradigm, which celebrates our collective masculinity over our femininity.
As a female black belt in self-defense, a competitor in martial arts, and a “General” in the Warrior Woman army, I have developed, integrated, and learned to own my masculinity. A younger, overly sensitive version of myself did not speak up. I apologized my existence away, with a sweet smile plastered across a cocked, question-marked head.
I was terrified of being seen and exposed.
With a lot of therapy, and an aggressive pursuit of healing, risk-taking, face planting, getting back up, and physical fighting, my “discomfort giggles” morphed into resting bitch face, chiseled muscles, and impeccable discipline. No pain meant no gain. I stared down any challenge with “I wish a motherfucker would” eyes, slicing perpetrators with my energetic knives and watching—unaffected—as they bled a slow, deserving death for centuries of historical oppression.
I found my voice and spoke loud enough for haters to say, “Shut up.”
The women’s liberation movement gutted out a path for little girls to see themselves as powerful, fierce, and independent. Women can now vote, fight in the UFC, run for president, and play the heroine in Disney movies. We still have many ceilings to shatter: equal pay, abortion rights, misogyny, and more. Fighting requires us to flex our masculine muscles, which are action and result-oriented—these are important and valuable muscles, regardless of gender.
They are responsible for getting shit done.
They roll eyes at the word “no,” and build brilliant bridges to the moon.
But how does our society value our feminine side? Our desire to experience life for its simple beauty—no goal to achieve?
Playing, dancing, singing, storytelling, spontaneity, and painting creative circles. Believing in magic, interconnectedness, and mystery. Fragile bones filled with chaotic freedom, belly cackling, weeping bitterly, and feeling the pain of ourselves and the world deeply.
Our feminine side sees “control” as a foreign word. Paradox is the natural order. Life and death snuggle up together because they are best friends. Darkness is the other side of light. Black bleeds into white to make fifty shades of gray. The process of foreplay is required for the orgasm.
In her Ted Talk, writer and producer Michelle Miller presents this theory:
“When we use the word femininity, what we’re actually talking about is experience orientation. All the words we associate with femininity—sensitivity, sensuality, beauty, curiosity, creativity, compassion, connectivity, in-the-moment-ness—are traits that enhance the experience of a situation. Masculinity, on the other hand, is results-oriented. Traits associated with masculinity—ambition, competition, focus, binary-logic, strength, measurability, and goal-orientation—are muscles evolved to guide or control the result of a situation.”
Women’s liberation unleashed the masculine beast for women, but what about our men? Since we do not accept the feminine as “strong” and “manly,” it is still considered unacceptable for hairy-chest expression.
Pulling ourselves up by our boot straps can be a strategy, especially if you have massive biceps, but what happens when life takes control—through a car accident, job loss, breakup, aging, or death? We have masculine men, silently suffering from depression and anxiety, as society tells them to “man up” and swallow their feelings because they don’t matter in this grownup conversation.
We are also seeing more suicides, because that massive burden eventually implodes and explodes. Our society is in desperate need of a Texas-size dose of collaboration, compassion, connectivity, and fierce femininity.
We need to marry our masculine and feminine forces, regardless of gender, to move forward.
The late author, teacher, and cultural anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, suggested these four universal healing salves as a pathway back to our collective soul. I offer them here as a map for reclaiming the fierce feminine—for ourselves, our men, and our brokenhearted world.
“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.
When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?
Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.”
~ The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Healer, Teacher and Visionary