Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Across the Great (gender) Divide

A topic at Nourishing Obscurity blog a few days ago caught my interest. "Can Men & Women Ever Be Just Friends?"
I resisted commenting initially, then later found that a commenter had responded much as I'd have done, i.e. (in a nutshell) that the trick is to look on people as people, not sexes. This is a topic I've argued on many times, blogged about on occasion too. However, I'm guilty of slipping into the gender trap myself at times, we all are. The issue rests upon stereotypical ideas which we are reluctant to relinquish, in some ways akin to the stereotypying that can go on (if the astrologer isn't careful) in Sun sign astrology.

While searching for something else yesterday I came across an old post of mine from March 2008 which touches on a related topic. The post: He & She or We was inspired by a conversation with a relative and friend (husband's son-in-law). Because the topic, in various guises, never seems to lose fascination I've decided to re-air the archived post, not because of anything scintillating I had written on the subject, but for the extract from an excellent article by Steven and Jodie Forrest the post contained.

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; 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. Every one 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."

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


James Higham said...

A very interesting slant indeed - the astrological aspects.

That link goes into today's post now.

Twilight said...

James - thanks!

Gian Paul said...


Gian Paul said...

What about that lion, male suprême, or tiger or jaguar who leaves the hunting to his female, even some domestic cats are like that?

Are modern man soon going to feel the need for similar type of comfort, leaving the "hunting" to their wives?

We all know some former and may present US presidents having done or doing that...

PS. Sorry for the Puperist - that was the visual identity stuff. I am having a new computer after all those sun-flares here and have changed some browsers, but not yet gotten used to it.

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~ Equal opportunity hunting- the new norm?

Gian Paul said...

You've got it, Twilight - will be more fun.

R J Adams said...

I love my feminine side. I'd be lost without it. It's vital to my creativity and spirituality. I feel so sorry for the many men who constantly deny their feminine side. There's lots of them in America, all brought up under the shadow of John Wayne and his ilk. J. C. Eaglesmith wasn't ashamed of his feminine side. Of course, there are many fools who still see their 'God' as all male (complete with long beard!)

Twilight said...

RH Adams ~~~ Good to know, RJ!
Yes there are too many all-male types, not only in the USA, there are tons of 'em in the UK too.

I suppose, to put myself on equal footing I ought to say that I treasure my masculine side. I'd never given it much thought, but yes it's part of me and I'd be lost and a tad more wimpy without it. ;-)