If you're like me, you grew up in a world of girls and boys, men and women.
You were told through myriad ways about the important distinctions between the two genders. When you were little it was: blue vs. pink, trucks vs. tutus, P's vs. V's. Then, in your first school years, the whole world expanded to include dozens of new personalities, not necessarily fitting into binary categories. There were shy/sensitive boys and girls, loud/tough boys and girls, and a vast variety of physical features that couldn't be categorized. Getting to know just one other kid before the age of 7 was a forever dance: initial impression, assessment of interests, style of play, fight resolves, and just the way you felt around them were more likely what you focused on as important, rather than their facial features or clothes or body type or even gender. Then, institutions and media hammered home these gender stereotypes, and the bullies and victims assumed their positions, and for the rest of your school years, your 20's, and even (for some) your lives you grappled with 'not fitting in', or 'fitting in' not actually being satisfying.
Maybe that wasn't your experience at all, which is awesome. The rest of this blog might still be useful information for you for your relationships with those less gender-specific.
'Masculine' and 'feminine' traits are real. They've been studied by scientists and mystics alike. But, perhaps you've noticed, people don't always fit neatly where they've been designated. The truth is, every one of us possesses masculine and feminine traits, that encompass so much more than the colors we wear or the things we like. Our unique blend of 'yin and yang' affects the way we feel, and solve problems, and love, and express ourselves. Deepening our understanding of our feminine and masculine sides can help us find balance in life, strengthen our relationships, and free us from toxic old beliefs that hold us back from becoming who we're meant to be.
The traits above are potential traits within all of us, affected by our parenting, relationships, teachers, hobbies, jobs, and life experiences. Looking at the chart, pinpointing what things resonate with me and what traits I associate with people I know, I find it interesting that the people who come to mind are vastly different, and not necessarily the gender that corresponds with the predictable side.
I think it's time to release our preconceived notions about 'typical' men and women. Generation Z is already speeding that along, with the notion of non binary gender (contains several sub categories but the common thread is not identifying fully with male or female).
I know the gender debate is scary for some, especially for people over 40, but I promise it's not hurting you or your identity. I love the heart of this movement, because I myself have never truly felt perfectly aligned with femininity or masculinity and celebrating both has made me a much happier and grounded person.
One need only spend a few minutes on a TikTok home page to witness a much wider array of gender identity and gender expression than can be seen on our TV's. The future of gender is a lot freer than it used to be, and I'm OK with that, although I'm still in the habit of using he/she instead of they or just asking what a person's pronouns are. I'm working on it. :)
But this blog isn't a deep dive into the gender conversation. It's an invitation to gently reflect on each of our masculine and feminine traits, and the traits that we lean on in others. Another thing that strikes me is how much my personal traits have evolved, even just over the past few years, as I've focused more on aligning with my more creative, 'right-brained', emotional, and intuitive feminine side, and quieted my bossy, disciplined, control-oriented, hyper analytical masculine side. We're not fixed our whole lives. Yes, we have personality traits that run deep and affect us daily, but we do not have to be bound by our past as much as we might think. We find balance and growth even in little changes. The perfectly coiffed housewife might empower herself with a kickboxing class that makes her feel invincible. The corporate ad guy might decompress from weeks of hyper masculine meetings by cleaning house and hitting the spa.
Be open and do you....
Because when we acknowledge both the masculine and feminine inside ourselves, we stop labelling stereotypes as ideal. We stop creating bullies and victims, and we give ourselves tools for balance, clarity, and free expression.
Notice that the more negative or extreme traits in the chart are titled "Wounded", not 'Toxic' or 'Poorly Developed'. I think that's important too. Our worst actions and reactions come out of trauma. And trauma can be processed and healed. That's why it's also important to acknowledge every phase of growth in the people around us. When they act in shocking or unfair ways, they are letting their un-dealt-with traumas act for them. Perhaps behind their poor judgment and traumatic past is a more loving intention.
If you've been leaning on anger, control, and disciplined analysis up to now, see if you can try a 'feminine' approach and listen to someone's better intentions and open up a little empathy . Or if you're feeling utterly overwhelmed and emotional, ground yourself with something stabilizing like a good workout or some problem solving around the house. Obviously there is SO MUCH more to unpack here than my very basic examples, but I only want to plant the seed and see what comes up for you.