Can We Stop With This “Divine Feminine” Stuff Now?
With any luck – and a whole lot of blood, sweat, tears and tequila – in 2 days, the US will dodge the terror of Fruity Pebble Fascism and elect our FIRST Female President. I’ll be nervous until it happens, terrified actually, but in the depths of that terror, I’m contemplating how it has brought out some of the more hidden detritus of toxic masculinity in our country.
No, not the fact that we call Hillary’s suits “pantsuits” instead of just suits. I mean, men wear the same fucking thing, but on lady-legs we have to give it a different name? (If Trump loses, do pants become “split-leg skirts?”) (By the way, when men wear their hair in a bun, it’s just a bun, not a “man bun.” Samesies.)
If Hillary wins (please god, please, I will do anything) do we finally get to stop assuming things like “women are more compassionate and nurturing and caring by nature?” Cuz, as much as I want her to win, she’ll blow shit up just as much as any Manly war-hawk ever. And the good feminist in me HATES it when people say she got ahead because she’s so much like a man. No, she got ahead because she’s fucking brilliant, cunning, strategic, tough as shit and doesn’t cry in the sandbox that is Twitter when someone says something mean about her. She got ahead because she’s who she is. She’s a powerful-as-fuck human.
People who assume that by virtue of being a woman, she’ll be gentler, kinder, and more compassionate are buying into the toxic patriarchy that has pigeon-holed us all for generations. Yes, she’s far more concerned about equality and justice and the welfare of everyone than Darth Cheeto. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s smart. (People who are stuck living in a constant state of fear and oppression tend to live on the “fight” end of the “fight or flight” spectrum. That leads to massive instability on every level.) And because she’s capable of caring about other people, which is a basic human thing. Or at least it should be.
Saying it’s because she’s a woman is also saying that men can’t, or at least don’t, behave that way because they’re too manly. Real men don’t care? Really? No.
So let’s back that shit up, shall we?
Every time I hear someone talk about “feminine energy” as if it is kind and nurturing and gentle and soothing, I want to scream. You know that the patriarchy made that up, right? Ancient cultures didn’t buy that nonsense. (Kali for President!) The whole image of the Virgin Birth gave us this idea that women were pure of motive and body, that we were caring and compassionate, that we were…… kept in our place as placid, docile little creatures here to meet your needs and kiss your boo-boos. (“Boo-boo” being a term that can mean either “owie” or “penis” depending on the needs of the kissee.) Women, in this model, are not vengeful and conniving, we are not wrathful and dangerous. We are a soft place to land. We are non-threatening.
But, in order for us not to feel slighted by having half of our emotional spectrum robbed us by virtue of our gender, the patriarchy elevated our “feminine energy” to saint-like status. “We’re not oppressing you, we’re worshiping you” and all that nonsense. “You ladies stay right here on that pedestal, and we’ll take care of you.”(Ladies, don’t be fooled, there is no freedom of movement, or of any kind, on a pedestal.)
“We’ll earn the living wage. We’ll take out the loans. We’ll provide you sustenance so you don’t have to.”
Y’all can see how we got the short end of that emotional stick right? We earn less, we’re taken less seriously, when we’re strong we’re told we’re not lady-like. Hell, when we get muscles we’re told we’re not “hot” anymore. Because what real man would want to fuck a woman who could, what, defend themselves? Fight back? (You might have to get consent if you were to touch one of those Nasty Women!)
THAT is the result of believing that women are some special receptacle for all that is kind and gentle in the world. (And also, penises.)
Now, let’s look at what that does to men. Men, therefore, aren’t allowed to be caring, compassionate, gentle emotional creatures. Because in a culture that celebrates masculinity as tough, to express those calmer, gentler emotions is to be what I think followers of that Mango Mussolini would call “losers.” It is less than. It is giving up your status, giving up your freedom, giving up all the privilege that patriarchy provides for the masculine of the world.
That hurts men, because they aren’t allowed to have needs, fears, emotions. But they do, because they’re human, so they get bottled up and….. Well, repressed emotions never go well, but that’s a different blog post.
It also puts all the load of upholding family and society on men. And although in most ways that manifests as “privilege,” it’s also a pretty unfair burden.
But hey, what if we share the load? What if men get access to all the emotions we label as “feminine” and women get access to all the tools we label as “work” and “strength.” Men get to cry, women get an equal wage? I’m down with that. (Though it’s still a double-edged sword for men when their female partners earn as much, or more, than they do. Because that’s not manly, if the man is not the main provider.)
We cannot, REALLY CANNOT, keep picking and choosing emotional attributes and then doling them out to people based on how we perceive their gender. It is killing us.
Every single human being on this planet is capable of the same emotional spectrum, and has the same emotional needs. Sure, they manifest differently, and that’s great, but barring a true sociopath, we all need (amongst other things) comfort, security, love, validation, sensual pleasure, joy, freedom and encouragement. We are all capable of wrath, violence, fear, love, compassion, nurturing, heart break, elation and I’ll just throw violence in again because it is in all of us.
Emotions don’t need genders. (Neither do plants or people, for that matter.) Behaviors don’t need genders. We need to look at emotions as essential things we all have. They cause us to look at the impact of our environments and the behaviors of those around us. We need to be able to look at human behavior and judge it for how it impacts the world around us, not how it adheres to cultural mythology around gender.
If you are opposed to hearing “boys will be boys” when boys assault drunk girls behind dumpsters or candidates talk about “grabbing her by the pussy” then you also have to oppose the idea that gender brings with it any sort of emotional essentialism. People will be people. They will do things that impact other people. We judge those people and those things based on the behaviors that they choose and the impact of those behaviors on the world around them. That’s it.
In our every single relationship of every single sort with any person of any gender, we have to remember that ALL OF US CAN FEEL ALL THE THINGS. We can also all do all the things.
Not in exactly the same way, of course. Because we are all different. But we are all fully human, and when we interlock our strengths and weaknesses together in a way that shares the burden, guess what, WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER.
Great relationships are great when people who treat each other with respect have complementary strengths and weaknesses and support each other. Same is true of teams. (A whole team of quarterbacks would lose every game!) Same is true of societies. (We need doctors and bus-drivers and teachers and grocers…..)
Let women off the pedestal, and men out of the box. All of us.
Back in the days of dating, I had a date with this geeky scientist who was exactly my kind of hot. We were having a great conversation about many things, and then we started talking about plant biology. And, you got it, the nurturing nature of the feminine. “Even in plant biology” he reported to me “you see the female of the species doing the nurturing.” “You do realize,” I retorted, “that’s only because we decided to label it as such, right? We could just of easily gendered things the other way and your sentence would be false.”
That date ended quickly.
But that’s how ingrained it is. That’s how desperate we are to assume women are gentle and men, therefore, are not. Because we are addicted to this false gender binary that continues to divide us. We’ve written it into science!
Some people are much more nurturing and gentle and compassionate than others. (My husband is MUCH more all of those things than I am.) Some people are much more fighty and combative and dismissive. (That would be me.)
When we assign gender to emotional attributes, in a society that is still addicted to the binary, we ask people to choose either their gender identity OR their emotional truth. And it feeds into the myth that women are inherently X and men are inherently Y. That creates a coercive society in which one has to fight for the freedom to break the rules. A freedom that not everyone has. (Talk about privilege!)
The attributes that we need in humans – and in relationships of all sorts – are not gender specific, rather the highest calling of our truest humanity. And they exist in all of us. I think any language that genders emotions is a hallmark of a restrictive binary – patriarchal binary – and is part of the problem.
Actually, it is the problem. Everything else is born from there.
And if the patriarchy can give birth, then anything is possible.
Including getting rid of gender assumptions everywhere they hide.
And electing a woman as president in a country that was built on a toxic binary.
And holding her responsible for all of her actions, because she’s a human, not because she’s a woman.
And calling a pantsuit a suit, because that’s what it is, no matter who’s wearing it.
(Also, I think men with buns are super sexy.)