So, let’s get to those archetypes that we love so much. Whether they are from Jung or the Tarot, people love to refer to people as “the Warrior” or “the Thinker” or what have you. Let’s remove gender altogether from them, instead of looking only at the adjectives and verbs.
If someone says, “summon your inner warrior” they don’t mean to throw on a loin-cloth and sharpen your spear, right? The men are courageous, come up with a plan, know what you’re fighting for. That is a methodical and reasonable approach to facing a challenge. It’s not gendered and it’s not a prelude to a pub-fight. It’s not “act like you’re Mel Gibson in Braveheart,” it’s “get serious and solve this.”
I have no idea what someone means when they say summon your “inner goddess.” Fifty Shades of Grey forever ruined that phrase, though it was always an eye-roller for me. Make people worship you? Believe you are better than others?
Maybe it means being open and receptive to the pleasure that you deserve. Surrender to feelings that come from some “divine” origin that defies logical explanation? I can get behind that. But let’s say that. You do not have an inner god or goddess. I promise. Even as a metaphor, it serves to separate us from our humanity, and that is counterproductive at best.
Think of the archetypes as a collection of attributes that might be useful to hone and harness in order to get to the next stage of the rather long role-laying game that is life. A way to figure out how to get through a tough spot. A way to think about your behavior.
There was a time when I would have told you that I like a “manly man.” But as time passed, I was forced to look at what that meant, because going after the men who I thought were “my type” was leading to exactly the same unpleasant end, time after time. I eventually made a list, but it was simply a list of attributes: kind, funny, honest, fit, smart, brave, generous, nurturing and strong; both emotionally and physically.
The funny thing is, those are the same qualities I look for in friends. In business partners. In both men and women. They have nothing to do with gender, or even whether I am looking for friends or lovers. These are simply the qualities I look for in people because my life is better – more fun, less dramatic, safer – when the people in my life possess these qualities.
Turns out the “sexy” thing is something different altogether. We’ll call it “chemistry” and leave it for a different article.
Look. I am okay with the existence of gender. I really am. What I am not okay with is our obsessive need to genderize things that have no gender. Especially attributes of our humanity that get used against us.
It is that need to genderize human attributes that have led to women being largely shut out of engineering and politics until recently. Men being marginalized for pursuing the arts rather than sports or business. Men and women alike being beaten or denied an opportunity for being too…. Your thoughts, your emotions, your energy do not have a gender. How you use them to express yourself is your choice.
Anyone who tells you to “man up” is not interested in empowering you, they are interested in helping – or coercing – you into conforming to societies expectations. Same goes if they tell you to “summon up your sacred masculine energy.”
What we need to start doing is looking for the adjectives and attributes that describe what we are feeling right now, and what we want to be feeling. Getting real and owning our behavior as a series of choices we make, not a divine dictate. A buffet, not a prison. Being liberated and enlightened isn’t about better performing that act that is expected of you, it’s about figuring out who you really are. What you really want from yourself and others.