Saying ‘inner feminine’ for gentler, intuitive qualities and ‘inner masculine’ for active, logical ones is stereotypical and counterproductive on the way to self-actualisation, feels the author.
I don’t know how many of those who read this will agree with me on this one, but I personally don’t find the ‘inner masculine’ and ‘inner feminine’ archetype-based discourse very useful for either my personal inner work or understanding humanity in general. I see both the parts of me which are considered ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ as just me. I don’t get any felt sense that the parts of me which are, say, fierce, or active, or logical, to be particularly ‘masculine’, or the parts that are tender, or receptive, or intuitive to be particularly ‘feminine’.
I do identify as FEMALE though. I feel female inside out, I know that every cell in my body contains two X chromosomes. I don’t see any of the qualities mentioned above as not in alignment with my femaleness, and I feel that people who identify as male, non-binary, trans, gender fluid or whatever else, can have all the same qualities and still be exactly the gender they are.
In fact, I wonder if it is a coincidence that the qualities attributed to the ‘inner masculine’ and ‘inner feminine’ coincide perfectly with the patriarchal gender stereotypes. I wonder if these archetypes are not some irrefutable truth but just someone’s direct projections of that same old patriarchal world view.
And in case of my inner work of understanding myself and becoming a better, more sorted person, I find that the ‘inner masculine’ or ‘inner feminine’ discourse just muddies up my connection with what is going on within and makes it vague. It feels way simpler, direct and effective to just see parts of me exactly as they present themselves, and engage with them without bothering to categorize them as feminine or masculine. And then of course there are parts of me that don’t fit into either category, and what to do with those?
If anything, I have seen this idea misused as a spiritual bypass tool.
I have met lots of women who blame themselves for being ‘too masculine’ and so reject parts of themselves, or hide behind the logic of ‘being in their feminine energy’ to evade taking up responsibility for their life and well being.
On the flip side, I have also met a bunch of ‘woke’ men who say they have ‘a lot of feminine energy’, but have toxic attitudes towards actual living breathing females. In fact, with several men who I was able to observe closely, this ‘inner feminine’ was a convenient place to hide from their own toxic masculinity that they don’t know what to do with. Many times I have seen men trying to sabotage women’s conversations on gender justice by pleading that because everyone has an ‘inner feminine’, women’s experiences are no different from men’s and so gender injustice does not exist. Which is so so untrue in the real world.
To sum up, I would much rather say ‘men need to connect with their feelings (or their pain, or wounds) rather than say that ‘they need to connect with their inner feminine’. If I see a woman who is very logical and matter-of-fact, or a man who is intuitive or connected with his feelings I would rather say exactly that instead of saying the woman has a lot of masculine energy or the man is very feminine.
Because that languaging never helped me. I had been told very often that I have a lot of ‘masculine energy’ and that I need to ‘channel’ my feminine more, and it never made sense. What helped was being told that I was disconnected from my feelings and needed to connect more.
I also don’t want to reinforce gender stereotypes by say, calling an angry woman masculine or a man who cries feminine. Women have every right to be angry and men to cry, and it does not make them any less feminine/ masculine.
If there is one thing I have learnt in my years of inner work to be at peace with myself, it is that the closer my use of language is to the actual felt experience, the deeper and more real my connect with the experience is likely to be. The ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ archetypes, for me, just add a layer of fluff between me and my experience, and I am better off without them.
And as for the men who wish to come explaining to me that the body does not matter and that we are all part women, I would like to ask them what a Buddhist nun at a gender equality meet asked a monk who tried to feed her that logic –‘And how many of you women use the women’s restroom?’
Image source: a still from the film Ki and Ka
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Aparna Pallavi's current callings are as a therapist, contemplative writer and researcher of indigenous
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