Polarity is a hot topic in relationships. It’s been described as “the magnetic attraction between a man and a woman. It’s the fiery passion or “spark” that happens when a woman assumes her femininity in a relationship and a man assumes his masculinity” – Kim Petersen. Any yet, while polarity poses as an imploration for women to embrace their feminine, and men to embrace their masculine, in the long run it may actually be a recipe for disaster, a perpetuation of generational trauma on both ends.
Let’s first address the idea that a man is supposed to be the dominant, alpha, controlling, defined partner – and a woman is supposed to be the submissive, beta, receptive, dissolved partner and how this speaks directly to a patriarchal paradigm that is far outdated.
The Origins of Patriarchy
This paradigm may have worked long ago when women weren’t allowed to vote, get an education or work. When men were the only viable options for the work force – praised as the breadwinners, the heroes, the protectors. When women were only valuable and resourceful in the home as mothers, caretakers, homemakers. And although there are incredible depths to the origins of the patriarch, I do feel that ultimately, the structure did not work.
I truly believe that not all men knew exactly what they were agreeing to in terms of meeting society’s standards. I believe that men and women both took on these roles because it is how they knew how to love. To challenge authority and explore our genetic and cosmological selves would have been unsafe – and it was best for our ancestors to comply than to go against the grain.
Innocent at best, during those times of strong gender roles our cosmological and biological make up were literally restricted from expanding. However, over time as we’ve made great leaps in revolutionizing the rights of women, our gender identities and our roles in society at large – our identities and opportunities in the world have expanded exponentially.
The inherent polarization within each of us has always been there, yet now we are safe to explore it. So, where do we start? By balancing the polarities within.
Balancing the Polarities
Men are more likely to lash out domestically because they have been long disconnected from their rightful emotional expression. Vice versa, women tend to lash out emotionally, because they have been long disconnected from their physical acuity. Men were told to be strong and emotionless. Women were told to be soft and well, practically disembodied. The men over-activated and therefore hyper-aroused his physicality trying to make up for the absence of his emotional presence. The women over-activated and therefore hyper-aroused her vulnerability making up for the absence of her physical embodiment.
And yet, we need both. In both genders. We need safe spaces for both genders to safely explore these polarities within themselves.
We need safe spaces for men to practice being emotionally present. We need safe spaces where men are allowed to cry, voice their inner needs, their hearts desires, to let loose from the buildup of emotional tension of holding back because the world has told them to be strong for so long. Where men are allowed to set down their financial and worldly responsibilities without feeling like a failure. Where men are allowed to explore their vulnerabilities without being shamed for being feminine.
And we need safe spaces for women to practice being physically present. We need safe spaces where women are allowed to step out of their motherly roles and into their worldly figures. Where they can make space to aspire, achieve, create and make themselves known in ways that are outside of the home. We need safe spaces for women to explore their more defined characteristics without being shamed for being masculine.
Because I find that when we tell women to be submissive, soft, receptive – this stirs more of her generational trauma. This inherently inflicts levels of predatory behavior, domestic abuse, codependency, trauma bonds, a lack of boundaries and the like because she is only activating and integrating one part of her energetic make-up. Women who are not allowed to be strong-boundaried are suspect to these dangers. She does not feel secure/safe/resourced in herself.
When women try to uphold this feminine only polarity, I see them instantly up against boredom, depression, the anxious feeling that they ought to be doing something more productive/conducive/enlivening with their lives. Women who are told to lay back and receive are disempowered and hardly ever get to achieve. They watch their own dreams wither into nothing because they are told it is ‘too masculine’ to “do.”
And I find that when we tell men to be in control, have it all together as the providers, protectors, breadwinners – we set them up for more generational trauma, too. We put false and impossible expectations on them that ultimately restricts them from their fluidity, expanding and deepening their emotional maturity, and moving into their receptive state. Men who are not allowed to be emotionally or intuitively led risk physical burnout, disembodiment, emotional stunting, and avoidance of intimacy.
When men try to uphold this impossible polarity, they are in turn dissatisfied in all areas: career, home, work, partnership – because they aren’t able to relax and receive. Men who are told to step up and be in control are in a disconnect form their emotional bodies and hardly ever get to release/receive. He doesn’t get to relax into his pleasure, because it is ‘too feminine’ to be in that state.
And yet, we need both. In both genders.
Honoring the Masculine and Feminine
We are creating a world in which the power and strength that women bring forth will be a force of its own, incomparable to that of men’s. And in this world, we are unveiling a vulnerability and expression from men that will be an honorable acknowledgement of their feminine embodiment and nowhere in comparison to how women process emotions.
It’s time to honor the individual feminine and masculine traits within both (and all) genders. I feel that the ability to ignite and uphold the energetic balance within ourselves, is the very medicine towards approaching our relationships at large with a broader, healthier scope.
What if we approached relationships not as what the other person can fill for us, but as an opportunity to meet with another whole, embodied, balanced and sovereign human being? What if we could show up and learn from one another where we’ve lost our inner masculine/feminine by observing our partner’s bravery and sovereignty to do so?
What if we were able to retrieve those lost aspects not by pulling at our partners with expectation to fill our empty spaces – but by holding safe spaces and encouraging one another to integrate our own balanced energetic make-up?
I truly feel that relationships work best when a woman is able to tell her man she wants to make love and take the lead. When a man can prepare dinner and read to the children. When a woman is able to go out into the world and exercise her art, her work, her voice and bring it back to her family.
When a man has the capacity to openly share how he feels without regret. When she can lead. When he can receive. Both. When we both can DO/BE BOTH.
Being in Touch with Your Emotions
I don’t know about you, but as a woman I’m not here to be with a man who isn’t in touch with his emotions. Who doesn’t have receptiveness to his intuition, his spiritual nature, his nurturance. I need a man who knows and sees beauty, art, creation, movement, healing, care-taking, sensitivity, gentleness and softness just as much as he does structure, boldness, definition, control.
I’m especially not here to watch my man be emasculated in false control and become out of touch with his wholeness. Especially when he is about to break because he NEEDS to go there.
And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not partner with a man who requires me to be less than I am. I need the space to have definition, clarity, strength, assertiveness, confidence in my voice, my body, my exertions, my boundaries.
I’m especially not here to be with a man who gets off on encouraging me to play small and not have my hands dirty in the world, making change.
I’m in it for the opportunity to reclaim both my inner masculine and feminine in such a way that keeps me safe, able, embodied, emotionally stable, intuitively guided, receptive, harmoniously sovereign and wholly and fully all of it. All of me. My relationships are here to bring me closer into my own liberation, redemption, power, independency, mastery.
Why are we minimizing the containers for our global expansion? Why wouldn’t we want the full opportunity for embodying our wholeness? I honestly see it as a liberation for my SOUL and not another restriction on my humanity. Men can be feminine. And women can be masculine.
And we both are. All of it. Inevitably and inherently.
This article first appeared in Elephant Journal and is reprinted with permission of the author.
Taylor Rose is a mother first, a lover, an alchemist of words. She is a Shamanic Energy Medicine Woman, body-breath-spirit worker as a Yoga Instructor, and a Holistic Doula working in the realms of birth, death, and the unseen.