It’s called an essentialist view when we define women or men based on their biology.  While it is part of the mix of who we are and how we perceive things, if it is seen to determine how we will think or act, if it’s seen as the be all and end all of who and what we are, then it’s essentialist.  Like all women are nurturing and all men tend towards acts of strength and destruction.  The minute you say ‘all’ you are automatically in trouble because there is an exception to most if not all rules and even if there isn’t some fool is going to spend their life trying to find one.  But there are many essentialist definitions of men and women floating around that we have accepted as truth.  And in honoring the divine masculine those are being challenged now on both sides of that fence.

Take for example the notion that men think and act linearly and women spherically.  Which is why we can sometimes have difficulty talking to each other.  Because for women it seems that all the relevant facts and pieces to the puzzle are necessary to reach the end point, which might be just to have someone listen to your reasoning or thoughts.  While for men each conversation is a mission with a beginning, middle, and end.  Therefore if someone is speaking to them it must mean that something needs to be done.  Thus conversation can many times be at cross purposes without either party realizing it.  But is this true, is it essential to our makeups, or is it something we are taught as part of our roles in the old social structure.  Or is it a bit of both and/or neither.

What I find interesting is this nature of linear and spheres or spirals.  People who seek to achieve balance between the sexes, equality and harmony as it were, have sometimes suggested that having each act and try to think like the other would help us gain perspective and the ability to meet in the middle.  But I think this is still very much essentialist.  It seems to presuppose that being male is about being linear and if a woman acts and thinks linearly then she will learn the male perspective and therefore come to an epiphany and live happier ever after.  And vice versa for the man.  It’s too simple a model to actually define or even describe male and female and how we work and interrelate, to my mind.  And I don’t believe that these traits are essential to us.  What’s more, I don’t think we truly know what is essential to us as we haven’t actually explored the options due to the roles and strictures we have lived in for so very long.

So let’s step back from the concepts of linear and spiral and peer into the meaning underneath them.  Being linear is a symbol for being worldly focused.  Doing vs being, and individual actor in the world interacting with other actors in order to create and change on a macro scale.  While being spiral is about bringing things in, creating systems and connectivity, going inward, understanding essence, being welcoming and receptive.  It is about the inward journey vs the outward.  So if we strip the concepts of linear and spiral off these meanings, then hand them back, giving inward to men and outward to women, what symbols emerge?  What concepts are developed?  What is inward when applied to male and what essential aspects will they bring to light?

Part of what I have seen in working with men in this way is that the inward journey isn’t about spirals and about finding the cave, but in structure.  It’s about squares and triangles and creating safe space for all their loved ones to thrive in. And in that way it is about connection, about relationship.  Because the structure isn’t about going out, making a buck, creating status, then coming home to rest up for doing it again, but about creating the place where the family and the community can thrive.  It means building home out of love and sweat and presence and listening.  About men truly seeing the people they love, warts and all, and doing the best they can to support them.  And to support themselves.  Which can be  an even bigger challenge.  Because, just as for women, if there is a problem with cabin pressure while in flight, the air bag will drop and you must first put on YOURS, before helping anyone else.  Because if you’re dead, you’re not much help.

Honoring the divine masculine is about going within and finding out who each man truly is and bringing that forth with courage and honor and vulnerability and excitement.  It means not forcing men to become ‘the wife’ in order to support women’s sovereignty so that they become ‘the husband’.  These roles aren’t necessary, aren’t natural or automatic.  They aren’t genetic and we don’t need to trade genders and keep the bad models of behavior.  Men can soften while we become active and that doesn’t make them less manlike, it makes them more.