Monday, March 10, 2008

He & She or We

A brief e-mail exchange at the weekend brought me back to a subject I've argued on more than a few times. Male and female - are they really so different? I've never subscribed to that old "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" rubbish.

My e-mail correspondent (the husband's son-in-law)wrote:
"I do believe, however, that female and male priorities and methods differ, and that the difference is based on physiological and psychological factors that are innate."

That was in reply to my:

"Maybe I'm a feminist with a small F, though I prefer to think there's little difference between male and female when you get past the obvious dangly bits and wobbly bits. We're all just humans, fighting to be thought of as such, irrespective of gender, orientation, nationality, race, colour, ethnicity."

Trying to sort out a reply which covered my own view but didn't entirely disagree with his, I floundered around the internet for clues and happened upon this excellent article by highly respected astrologers Steven and Jodie Forrest.
"Border Wars: Male - Female".

I'll take the liberty of copying a few paragraphs from the long article, but reading it in full is highly recommended.

"Many years ago we met a man who impressed us greatly. His name was J. C. Eaglesmith. He was Native American, a holder of the Sacred Pipe, a veteran of the ordeal known as the Sun Dance. A former marine who served in combat in Vietnam, he weighed maybe 250 pounds and most of it looked like muscle. In short, when it came to masculinity, he made the average tough guy look like your grandmother's knitting.

He stood before us at a conference, talking about "male" and "female" and what those words really mean. His eyes steady, his face impassive, he addressed us in his deep baritone. "I am half woman." A moment's pause, a hint of a smile, then: "My mother was one."

We all laughed. So did J. C. But what he said was true. Physically he is a man. But that just diagrams his plumbing. Once we recognize that a human being is far more than a mass of cells and bones, we enter the realm of mystery. And in that realm no one is as simple as a beard or a breast.

Humanity is realizing this, and it's knocking the stilts out from under a picture of the world that's held us in thrall for ten thousand years. "I am half woman." "I am half man." Those words represent a revolution just as profound as the discovery that the Earth is a sphere floating in the void.

Male and female. What do the terms really signify? Apart from anatomy, perhaps no one really knows. Women cry more than men, but why? Are women inherently more emotional or have they been trained that way? Men are more aggressive. Again, why? Testosterone -- or training? No one knows. Nature and nurture are inseparable. What we intrinsically are blends seamlessly with what we have been taught to imagine we are."

Astrology is referenced in this context mainly by the Sun and Moon, signifying "the masculine" and "the feminine" respectively. The Sun and Moon form a very important part of every astrological natal chart, equally important whether the chart belongs to a man or a woman.

The authors go on to say:

"Does astrology, arguably the truest mirror in humanity's possession, suggest that there are no psychic or spiritual differences between men and women? The truth is, astrology's rather mum on the subject. But it certainly implies that, whatever those differences might be, we've spent a lot of years and a lot of lives overestimating, exaggerating, and misdefining them. Every man has a Moon. Every woman has a Sun. One of the darkest skeletons in astrology's closet is the fact that astrologers were not the first to point out that awkward fact.

Still, we have that cryptic clue in the sky: the Sun and the Moon shine down on all of us, whether we start the morning with shaving cream or a choice of skirts. And if there's anything to astrology, then the Sun and the Moon resonate somehow in every one of us, unless we collude in the ancient deception.

How did this whole mess start? Let's go way, way back, long before cities, before agriculture, before the peaceful years of the Neolithic; back into the first ninety-nine percent of our species' history."

The authors go on to explain that back in the mists of time male and female were forced by circumstance to deny or, we could say delegate, their "other" side. Males because of their superior strength had to kill to eat and to survive. In the act of killing they needed to supress their compassionate feminine side, which the male, through necessity, thrust on the female. Similarly the female, hamstrung by bearing children and nurturing them, often watching them die in harsh circumstances, had to supress her anger and frustration or all humanity might have died. She thrust the responsibilty for anger and violence upon the male... "let him be the one to have enough pride and illusions of glory to rage against nature's heavy hand".

So, both son-in-law and I may be partially correct. Everyone of us is cut from the same cloth, but through evolution and force of circumstance we've been bent out of shape.

A couple more paragraphs:

"Today, many women are rediscovering the Sun. It heals them, makes them whole. They are finding their solar power: their self-reliance, their voice, their creativity, their ability to shape the myths, symbols, and future of society.
Meanwhile, men are beginning to rediscover the Moon. They too are healed and made whole as they reabsorb their own lost lunar capacity to love, to ask for help, to cry, to feel, to nurture.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that both women and men are terribly out of practice with their Suns and Moons. They don't know quite what to do with them yet. As this epochal reintegration takes place, there is a period of awkwardness. Like a blind man whose vision has been restored, the acquisition of these "new" solar and lunar functions causes both genders to spend a while bumping into things."

I'd best be polishing up my Sun then!

(Steven and Jodie Forrest's website can be found HERE)


Wisewebwoman said...

I needed to read this today, T. We need to embrace all aspects of ourselves, the masculine and the feminine. I've been ignoring my masculine in the last while, the competent take charge part that sorts me out and my feminine has been far too active and irresponsible. When this happens, I know I'm out of alignment completely and it can so easily lead to depression and despair.
I reflect on the male friends in my life who embraced their feminine without fear AND DISCUSS THEIR FEELINGS and also on my female friends who embrace their masculine and GET THINGS DONE.
Very timely - thank you!

Twilight said...

Glad you found it interesting, WWW.

The article had me at the first few lines - the wisdom of Native Americans is always a fascination to me. :-)

Michelle said...

Aquarius the androgynous cup-bearer to the gods... no wonder you don't enjoy gender stereotypes? ;-)

To be honest, I never bought into the gender thing either. Even at school at the age of seven I remember being annoyed at not being allowed to do "boys" classes/activities.

My husband is convinced that the dawning of the Aquarian Age will bring about less gender issues and more balance. More sanity too. THe whole labelling certain talents and emotions "female/male" is just silly, in my opinion.

Twilight said...

Agreed, Michelle!

Erm.... Aquarius -Cup Bearer to the Gods?

This Aquarius says - let'em get their own tipple. Equality for all - gods included. LOL! ;-)