793px-Limestone_seated_man_and_woman_CACOne of the themes on my blog is my ‘Thinking About’ series of articles. These little verbal mind-maps give me an opportunity to mull over aspects of my spiritual path and to re-question their validity for me. To see if these old ideas still hold water. So far I’ve looked at Magic, Pagan spiritual groups, and what we can do if www lose our connection to our path.

One of the topics that is coming up more and more is the concept of inner duality. The idea that aspects, personality traits, habits, ways of being can be assigned either to the masculine or the feminine. This goes even as far as assigning gender aspects to the Four Elements – Earth and Water being feminine, Fire and Air being masculine. Earth = nurturing, secure, homely; Water = emotional, flowing, soft. And Air =  thought, free flowing, intellectual; Fire = passionate, direct, focussed, taking action. So one of the quests of Inner Alchemy is to bring into balance the masculine and feminine aspects within us.

Let’s assign a few more concepts to gender.

Poetry – feminine, unless it’s angry, then it’s a masculine expression of a feminine quality.

Focus – masculine.

Dreaming – feminine.

As the years have passed this idea of inner polarity has bugged me more and more until now I think it could even be a damaging way of looking at the world.

Here’s why.

If a man is sensitive, emotional, a poet, a sensitive father or partner, he is said to be that way because he is in touch with his feminine side. If a woman is career driven, motivated, assertive she is said to be in touch with her masculine side. I find each of these utterly disempowering and insulting. It suggests that a man cannot be simply be a sensitive man, or a woman an assertive, strong woman, without somehow being in touch with their opposite nature. That somehow these attributes are exclusive to each gender.

I disagree.

You see, when I’m overwhelmed with emotion, it’s not my feminine side expressing itself, it’s the sensitive aspect of my masculine nature. And I would suggest that a driven assertive business woman is not going outside of her feminine nature by being that way, but instead she is opening to a very natural aspect of what it is to be a woman, a strong focussed woman in her own right, not a woman who is in touch with her masculine side. These concepts are degrading to each sex, and I no longer use that terminology.

Let women be focussed, driven, assertive women, who also can be emotional, sensitive and creative. Complete women.

Let men be sensitive, emotional, creative men, who can also be driven and assertive and focussed. Complete Men.

The associations of duality are not exclusive, and using them only confuses what it is to be a man or a woman.

We are multifaceted, complicated, emotional beings whether man or woman. For me these duality boxes and concepts are no longer helpful ways to understand my place in the world. I no longer feel any need to access a non-existent female part of my nature. No, when it comes to my emotions, my nurturing and creative nature, I’ll be at one with those, as a man, fully and completely.

What do you think? Are these concepts still useful for you? Have you, like me, discarded these dualistic way of looking at ourselves?