This week on The Living Experiment, in what Dallas calls our “most terrifying episode” to date, we’re talking about the qualities of masculinity and femininity. What does it mean to be masculine or feminine, and how do these traits both limit and empower us?
We wade into this delicate topic in an effort to explore the rich territory of gender-associated characteristics and the complex relationships between them. We share our own experiences with masculine/feminine dynamics and we offer you some trait-related experiments to help you explore them in your own life.
“Masculine and Feminine” Episode Highlights
- The nature of feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) traits, and how we experience them in ourselves and others
- How entrenched chauvinism has caused us to undervalue the feminine, and contributed to patriarchal societal imbalances that don’t really serve any of us
- The complex spectrum of masculinity and femininity, and how to best honor the full range of these traits in ourselves and each other
- Our culture’s approved gender-expressed roles — the competitive, conquering, producer-protector and the nurturing, sensitive, relational peacemaker — how we learn them, and how adhering to them too rigidly can limit our full expression
- One fun way that masculine and feminine energies can serve and balance each other — the honest expression and mutually satisfying fulfillment of feminine desire
- How stress interacts with masculine and feminine traits, and the health implications of that difference
- The value of exploring our assumptions and perceptions around gender-nuanced traits, and of perceiving our own preferred expressions of them
This Week’s Experiments
Find someone you trust and who knows you well, and offer them the opportunity to comment constructively on how you express both your masculine and feminine traits.
Focus on two accomplishments in your life, and reflect on both the masculine and feminine characteristics that helped you achieve both goals.
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- Our Mansplaining episode.
- Fascinating courses on human experience, man/woman relating and communication offered by Lafayette Morehouse.
- The Mask You Live In, an award-winning documentary film that follows boys and men as they attempt to navigate our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity.
- Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia’s book Shakti Leadership, about the widespread problems resulting from our society’s emphasis on male-dominated leadership, and the opportunity presented by bringing feminine values and sensibilities back into business.
- Betty Friedan’s classic feminist exploration of the “problem that has no name”: The Feminine Mystique.
- Two excellent books by Susan Faludi exploring the social constraints experienced by women and men, respectively: Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women; and Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man.
- Dar Williams’ song “When I Was a Boy”, about how gender roles limit us as children and adults.