The recent wave of personal development influencers telling women to tap into their “Divine Feminine” is giving boss babe energy. And it’s strangely disempowering.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully behind the idea that each concentric circle of the universe strives for balance. Whether you call it masculine and feminine, yin and yang, active and passive, left and right brain—the list goes on. It’s clear that the natural world is constantly seeking a dynamic equilibrium.
But sadly, so many of the viral videos and articles discussing this concept have reduced it to a strategy for cis, hetero women to manifest the perfect guy. Not only that, but they frame “masculinity” in women as a deficiency that needs to be corrected in order for them to be desirable, healed, and evolved.
Haven’t women been sold enough magic pills promising to make us more worthy and appealing to men? Sure, this isn’t as ostensibly misogynistic as 50s era coffee commercials, but what many are selling is still just traditional gender roles repackaged as a way “conscious” women can finally find happiness. And becoming the ultimate feminine woman isn’t cheap. Some of these courses and coaches come with hefty price tags upwards of hundreds and thousands of dollars.
At this point in history, as women and femme people, we don’t need more divine feminine energy, we need to do and be whatever the f*ck we want.
Now, I personally know many people who have benefited from learning to embrace their feminine energy. Living in a Western, capitalistic, patriarchal culture means that everyone could probably find more space for the feminine. But I’m concerned that the way this work is being represented and oversimplified as it hits mainstream self-improvement culture is counterproductive at best and insidiously damaging at worst.
It reinforces binaries, gender norms, and stereotypes.
Everyone (no matter what gender identity or sexual orientation) has their own balance of masculine and feminine energy that feels right for them, and this can fluctuate over time and in different circumstances. This is a personal journey, and there are no wrong answers.
What I see being marketed more and more are strategies for heterosexual women to become more feminine, typically in service of achieving a goal like finding a masculine partner.
It is not so subtly implied that women who lead with masculine energy (goal-oriented, industrious, predictable, organized, and so on) need to fix or change this by stepping into a more feminine space (spontaneous, receptive, nurturing, creative, and so on).
Not only does this often play like a subtle criticism of masculine women (remember when we called them “bossy”?), but it reinforces binary thinking around gender and gender expression, ignoring critical components of the conversation, such as:
>>Women and femme people embracing their masculine energy
>>Non-binary or gender fluid people and a-sexual or non-heterosexual women
>>Triads and non-monogamous individuals finding energy balance outside the traditional “couple” dynamic
>>And masculine people embracing their feminine energy too. It ignores the issue of the wounded masculine.
When any aspect of our personality or psyche is overactive, it was likely conditioned that way to help us to survive. Many of us in Western society have overactive masculine energies that serve us by helping us set and achieve goals, create structure, and maintain focus in our current environment.
However, psychological frameworks like Internal Family Systems point out that when there is a part of our system that is overworked or trying to protect us, it needs to be acknowledged and appreciated before we can find balance. Repressing that part or judging it as undesirable can further wound or intensify it.
If you’re a woman or femme person who wants more flow and balance in their life, the masculine part of you is something you should be caring for—not rejecting. The whole point of feminine energy is that it isn’t something that can be forced. It arrives naturally when there is a strong and healthy masculine container to hold it (for example, when you carefully plan out your vacation and can finally relax and be spontaneous on the trip because you’ve proactively created a structure in which to do so). Making “feminine essence” the next personal development milestone to achieve defeats the entire purpose.
It creates unrealistic relationship expectations.
Much of the messaging about masculine and feminine energy revolves around romantic relationships and how heterosexual men and women can find “polarity,” or a magnetic attraction between them and their mate.
I often see this advice given by young women and single people—not those who have been in a consistent long-term relationship. This is because while polarity can create a lot of initial attraction and sexual chemistry between two people, it doesn’t always contribute to the success of a long-term relationship, which requires an entirely different toolset. Yes, plenty of long-term relationships include an element of polarity, but this is as likely to result in fundamental disagreements and conflict as it is to result in passionate sex.
In addition, a couple’s polarity might not look traditional (i.e. the woman holding the feminine pole and man holding the masculine), and their roles may change over time with big life changes such as a new job, an illness, or becoming parents. The variety of forms a relationship can take should be celebrated, not treated as something inferior that needs to be fixed.
I’ll end with the words of Jonathan Van Ness who recently spoke to this issue in response to a TikTok influencer’s claim that “taking your woman out of her masculine era and into her soft feminine era is a flex.”
“All humans need to be able to be in all of the masculine and feminine energy spectrum and be respected, loved and honored in all of them daily, ya dig?”