A coun­try boy dis­cov­ers his fem­i­nine side

What are mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity any­way? How do we de­fine th­ese terms be­yond sim­ply our gen­der?

Living Now - - Editorial - by Tom Chris­ten

What are mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity any­way? How do we de­fine th­ese terms be­yond sim­ply our gen­der?

Some­thing I of­ten think about is bal­anc­ing mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine. I’m a cis-gen­dered het­ero­sex­ual white Aussie guy who grew up in a coun­try town so it’s taken me quite a while to wrap my head around this sort of stuff, but I find that the more I learn about it the freer I feel to be my­self. In many ways I am quite mas­cu­line, but there are cer­tainly some ways in which I am more fem­i­nine.

What are mas­culin­ity and fem­i­nin­ity any­way? How do we de­fine th­ese terms be­yond sim­ply our gen­der?

Be­ing friends with some LGBTIQA peo­ple has taught me that gen­der roles, along with sex­u­al­ity, re­ally are more of a so­cial con­struct rather than a fixed bi­o­log­i­cal re­al­ity. As time goes on, it seems to me that our concepts of what is mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine are shift­ing, be­com­ing less fixed and more fluid.


Peo­ple who know more about this than I do tell me that in Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine, yin en­ergy (which is fem­i­nine in na­ture) is con­sid­ered pas­sive, whereas yang is more ac­tive. Yin is also about what is hid­den or con­cealed, whereas yang is what is open or re­vealed. Yin en­ergy, to me, moves in­ward from the out­side; where yang is mov­ing out­ward from within.

Liv­ing a bal­anced life, for me, in­volves bal­anc­ing my yang and yin. It comes up in ev­ery part of my day.

Wak­ing up - do I spring out of bed as soon as I wake up, go for a run and have a cold shower? Or do I hit the snooze but­ton and snug­gle in with a book for a few hours?

When I med­i­tate, do I fo­cus my at­ten­tion in­ward and scan my body for feel­ings, as I learned on Vi­pas­sana re­treats? Or, do I fo­cus out­wards, vi­su­al­is­ing spir­i­tual deities or gu­rus or fo­cus on my goals and what I want to man­i­fest? I do yoga and Qi Gong in the morn­ings. Do I bust out some Hatha or Ash­tanga, do­ing strong dy­namic moves? Or do I re­lax into some Yin Yoga, hold­ing gen­tle stretches for long pe­ri­ods? In a sim­i­lar way, Qi Gong can be done as ex­plo­sive, sud­den move­ments or with soft, flow­ing ges­tures. I lift weights and do body­weight ex­er­cises most days, which is a fairly yang ac­tiv­ity, but even that can be done in a more dy­namic or a more static way. (Of­ten what works for me is to put on some heavy me­tal and pre­tend I’m a weightlift­ing ro­bot. Yeah, I’m fairly in touch with my fem­i­nine side, but at the end of the day I’m still a dude.)

When I look at so­cial me­dia, I can read other peo­ple’s posts or I can write my own con­tent. Both are out­wardly fo­cused, but to me read­ing feels more re­cep­tive, and writ­ing is more ac­tive. Many peo­ple say that re­cep­tiv­ity is a com­po­nent of fem­i­nine and be­ing ac­tive is more mas­cu­line.

I’ve gone through pe­ri­ods of be­ing very lazy, hi­ber­nat­ing and “veg­ging out” most of the day. I find that a day or two of re­lax­ing is okay and can be quite re­ju­ve­nat­ing, es­pe­cially if the rest of my

How about cul­ti­vat­ing our faith in our­selves and in the in­fi­nite wis­dom that lies right here in the body’s nat­u­ral abil­ity to heal it­self?

life is quite busy, but too many days in a row like this and I be­come stag­nant and start feel­ing de­pressed and flat.

On the other hand, I’ve also gone through pe­ri­ods of over­work­ing. Be­ing ad­dicted to work (also known as worka­holism) can be a real prob­lem and can lead to se­ri­ous health is­sues. I found af­ter a few years of work­ing late hours ev­ery day at my job I burned out and went a bit crazy.


In much of so­ci­ety, there’s an ex­pec­ta­tion that men should be mas­cu­line and women should be fem­i­nine. Even in some more ‘spir­i­tual’ cir­cles ( Tantra peo­ple, I’m look­ing at you!), this at­ti­tude is preva­lent. Read­ing a bit too much David Deida can lead to a ter­ri­ble con­di­tion known as Dei­daism that I my­self have suf­fered from at times. This may lead a man to feel like a fail­ure if he isn’t out­come ori­ented, task fo­cused, and 100% dis­ci­plined ev­ery sec­ond of ev­ery day. And a woman may feel that if she isn’t to­tally re­laxed and flow­ing in ev­ery mo­ment, she isn’t ‘be­ing in her fem­i­nine’ enough.

Ob­vi­ously I’m be­ing face­tious, and the Deida per­spec­tive cer­tainly has value for a lot of peo­ple. I feel that what is more im­por­tant is to find our own bal­ance of mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine rather than some dog­matic idea of how we should be, based on our gen­der.

In what ways do you con­sider your­self mas­cu­line? Where do you think that you are fem­i­nine? Are there places in your life that you could use more mas­cu­line en­ergy? And are there ar­eas that you could be more fem­i­nine? ■

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