Letting go of the masculine and the feminine.

Letting go of the masculine and the feminine. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Letting go of the masculine and the feminine. Drawing Luke Hockley.

Dear Self,

I’ve got a problem with things being described as masculine and feminine.

That’s a pretty big problem…because almost all of us (including me) is likely to describe the world in these two binaries.

Some people use this as a way of describing what is appropriate male (masculine) behaviour and what is appropriate female (female) behaviour.

Most of us just do it because that’s what everyone does, we don’t even think of it, we don’t see it, it just is.

And some people make a very important, but confusing distinction, when they use these the terms masculine and feminine.

They separate the masculine and feminine from male and female. They say we all have masculine and feminine traits…and it is just more likely that women have been encouraged to express/connect with their feminine traits and men have been encouraged to do the same with their masculine traits.

I don’t feel comfortable with any of these uses of masculine and feminine.

The first two are obvious. I don't think we should police each other’s behaviour based on these unhelpful stereotypes…consciously or not.

It’s the third example that is a bit more problematic.

I understand the theory. I get the idea of it. In essence that a man can be feminine and a woman can be masculine and we should just celebrate that.

The problem I have with this is that when most people hear the sentence…

“To be kind and gentle is a feminine trait and to be strong and bold is a masculine trait”

They hear…

“Women are kind and gentle and men are strong and bold”

And so, in my opinion, this approach is confusing and reinforces the very stereotypes that it is trying to reject.

And it isn’t that hard to fix.

Why can’t we just describe all the different traits that people have as traits that people have? I think giving it a category of masculine or feminine is an extra barrier that is slowing us down. People who identify as male can be kind rather than needing to embrace the feminine quality of kindness. People who identify as female can be bold rather than needing to embrace the masculine quality of boldness.

This reflects my experience of the world. I don’t feel more feminine when I am deeply listening to someone’s experience of the world. I just feel more human.

The same when I am sewing, or speaking up in a meeting, or lifting weights at the gym, or knitting on a tram, or solving a problem, or being assertive, or…whatever.

I just feel like a human. Isn’t that enough?

I think it is time to let go of the masculine vs feminine paradigm.

I just don’t think it is helping.



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Day 955