There is an article in the August 12th issue of the New York Times Magazine http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/magazine/whats-so-bad-about-a-boy-who-wants-to-wear-a-dress.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
about children who feel comfortable identifying with both sexes at different moments in their lives. In the article, they label this type of behavior “gender-fluid“. I like the word; it seems to evoke all kinds of interesting concepts.
Since I created this blog to explore balance of the masculine and feminine and all that this involves in ourselves, our societies, and our world, I feel this article is noteworthy. I do want to preface my post that it is not my intention to judge or discriminate against anyone’s personal choices – on the contrary. The leit-motif of adamevenevenadam is a place to enjoy the process of thinking and to extend awareness of self and the world we live in as widely as possible. Because definitions tend to restrict the process of creation, I try to be “fluid” in this writing / thinking process. Still, art like life requires some boundaries. I liked the metaphor that the French use that was explored in my book review of Bringing Up Bebe (book by Pamela Druckerman). She explains that the French believe that children need a “cadre” or framework that is stable, clear, and simple, and that within that framework they should be given a lot of liberty. It is a good precept to follow for all people (a social contract of sorts) until we as humans are fully enlightened and aware and able to synchronize our actions and responses to ourselves and one another without doing harm to ourselves or each other. Everything is connected today, but our awareness of simultaneous connection to everyone and everything today is obscured by ideas, definitions, shadows, laws, and other obstacles to light. We are limited by the limitations to our personal awareness. It is a process, like this blog.
Back to gender fluid (in the article, it is written “gender-fluid”). As I read, reflect and ponder the meaning of masculine and feminine, it is interesting to observe the state of the world with regard to these two poles. On the one hand, we see a rise in religious fundamentalism and persecution of the feminine. In these cultures (and there are more than one), fundamentalists seem to perceive the world in only black and white – no subtleties. These worlds are rigid, based on fear of change, fear of life. Since Nature speaks through each of us, we all have access to the wisdom of life. The level of our personal awakening is the determining filter for how much life we are able to let into our lives, how much we can allow life to determine our choices, direction, and purpose. Last year, my son completed a social studies fair project on the Mayan “doomsday” prophecy. Together, we read about the Mayan calendar and culture. In fact, today we know relatively little about this culture, except that they were highly evolved with great knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, accurately predicting cosmological events based on mathematical calculations. People have possibly made an assumption based on this knowledge that the December 21, 2012 date represents the arrival of an event which would end our world. The Mayan calendar indicates the end of an era according to their calendar system, and I agree as I observe current events and social evolution that we are indeed coming to the end of an era. As change brings uneasiness and unrest, we observe much flux. The change that I feel is ready to come to fruition is the re-balancing of masculine and feminine energies. We observe an increasing openness in our society to homosexuality, trans-gender individuals, bi-sexuality, gender fluidity and other phenomena that honor the feminine in the masculine and the masculine in the feminine. Most world cultures share a deep fear of the feminine. An October 7th article in the New York Times recounts the experiences of Malaysian men who are either trans-gender or cross-dressers and the fact that they are now seeking legal help in secular courts to bring attention to their dilemma in a primarily Muslim society whose justice system operates under Sharia as well as a secular court system. These individuals are subjected to arrest, payment of fines, and prison sentences for their innate affinity with the feminine aspects of their owns souls. The article makes note of an important fact: the laws also apply to women who dress in male garb or who impersonate men, but these women are not persecuted or harassed nearly as much or as often as the men. Similarly, in the August 12th NYT Magazine article about boys who sometimes like to wear dresses, kitten tennis shoes, or bling, mention is made of the fact that we now accept without question that little girls play with trucks, wear boy’s clothing, or play boy-dominated games. We are comfortable with all that is masculine, which makes this easier to accept. Yet little boys are bullied and often made to feel ashamed by their peers and by adults who do not feel comfortable with the feminine in the masculine. Parents of the children struggle, trying to help their children to lead happy, balanced lives.
My own son, raised without much company of men, has a highly developed sense of the feminine. When he was younger, he loved to wear fuschia, purple, pink, orange. He still likes orange, and yellow and green are his favorite colors. He often would dress up in my clothes, put on make-up, take photographs and make films of himself as a woman. This role play was just part of his own exploration of himself, and the images were often funny and over the top. He never asked to wear girls clothing outside the home, but I do remember kids teasing him about his pink and purple socks in kindergarten, and I do remember thinking that in France no one would have had a problem with that. One night, some time last year (he was 12), he had a dream that re-defined his sense of self as a male. Since that dream, I have noticed a change in him. He is more confident, more masculine (while still being sensitive and extremely well-spoken, with a great understanding for human feelings). In the dream, he was a woman, part of knitting group. He went downstairs when the doorbell rang, and on the porch was a wild orangutan. The orangutan ripped off his face, his skin – his female persona. He then went to the house next door, where a large African-American woman opened the door. She invited him inside; the house was full of cats. He then returned home…I feel the dream re-balanced my son’s sense of his primary identity as a male, while reinforcing his secondary female identity, represented by the woman with the cats – our instinctive, natural self.
While I do feel for the parents whose male children are openly demonstrating feminine behavior while still clearly desiring to remain identified as boys, I would like to remind these parents that they have been given an important task as our society evolves. These children are fore-runners, and the nature of their souls has been imprinted in this specific manner to help us all grow and move to the next level in our human evolution. Our political lives, societies, and our religions have been impregnated by male-dominated, patriarchal values for the last several thousand years. This unbalanced vision of the world has allowed us to progress in logical reasoning, technology, travel, and many other areas. But it also has hurt our women, our planet, our creative lives, our inner feminine – whether we are male or female. All of life is based, as noted C.G. Jung, on a tension between opposites. The masculine and feminine is one of the major poles on which our identities are life forces are based. Technology has made it possible to reproduce without sex. We have stretched the limits on the ideas of parenthood and reproduction. All of this technology may serve a future purpose with which we are not yet familiar. As we develop and rediscover, one step at at time, our feminine energies and talents as men and as women, we rediscover many creative possibilities in life.
In the interim, great change brings great chaos. We need to simplify our lives, but first they will become more complex, more confusing. Relationships, family, work, parenthood, childhood…nothing will be as it once was. We cannot close our eyes and attempt to preserve what once was workable. Cookie cutter roles are no longer valid. A man can no longer be only a man and project his feminine shadow onto woman. A woman can no longer depend on a man to fulfill her own masculine obligations to herself. Human beings are remarkably fluid creatures. We can invent and reinvent ourselves at will, but most of the time, we don’t. It takes courage to listen to one’s own nature – to the voice of Nature inside oneself, and to heed its call. Our generation and the next few generations will probably not enjoy easy relationships with the “opposite” sex, because all of the notions of sexual identity are now in flux. We have no idea how to relate to ourselves and each other. It is a great period of self exploration, new cultural discovery and invention that is making its debut steps. The counter-balance to this creative period is the heavy shadow of fear, demonstrated by the previously mentioned rise of fundamentalism. This is part of the natural process of change – remember the tension of the opposites. While I wish we could learn to respect the feminine once again and joyfully welcome new images and manifestations of the feminine throughout our world, please remember how long our cultures (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, in particular) have repressed, hated, and feared the feminine. There are aspects of each of these religions and cultures that have openly celebrated the feminine, but for the most part, these aspects have been marginalized and are little known. Still, they do exist and should be recognized. Pagan societies including the ancient Greeks revered an array of widely differentiated male and female gods and goddesses. By accepting a single male God as our only divinity, mono-theistic cultures gave up consciousness of the feminine, pushing her down into the basement of cultural awareness. Even Persephone was allowed out of Hades half of the year! I read that the reason for a single god was to eliminate idol worship. Idols being “dead” symbols, and not symbols of the living God. Yet a single god is an undifferentiated God. We cannot define Nature or divine forces, but to have living symbols identify each part of our higher selves helps us to better navigate our inner and outer worlds. It helps us to better know ourselves and each other. This does not change the nature of God itself. In Rabbi Harold Kushner’s book Overcoming Disappointment, he talks about the struggle of Moses as he tried to lead the former slaves out of Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land. He was never able to see that Promised Land himself, not because they needed 40 years to cross that desert, but because the former slaves still had a victim / slave mentality. They were not ready for a new life, for a new paradigm. And so Moses had to be patient with them. He tried to teach them and to help them grow, but he was often frustrated. As we are all ourselves living a period of great transition, some of us will never have the elasticity of spirit to cross over and welcome the change. That is why social change takes so long. Some people cannot wrap their minds around it, and as each successive generation is born, Nature installs new ideas, new tendencies, new convictions into the incoming souls. Each generation of parents is slightly more flexible, more prepared to welcome, and nurture the changes by nurturing the children embodying those new aspects that Nature is ready for us to incorporate and manifest in the world.
I personally believe that Nature speaks through all of us. Our survival as a species depends on our ability to listen and the welcome the lessons and wisdom that speaks through us and our fellow humans. And so with this post, I ask fellow readers to welcome these new, courageous, and heroic souls who are embodying the feminine in various manners into our societies. They are all here to teach us how to grow and evolve, and we should respect and revere their bravery. Parents of these children, take heart. You have been chosen for your qualities of spirit and wisdom, and you have a special and important task in raising these children. For they are bringing into the world the changes we all need to bring our world back into balance.