The belief that there is such a thing as a ‘˜real’ man and a ‘˜real’ woman, implying that perfected versions of each gender exists as absolute opposites who are either entirely masculine or entirely feminine is an obsolete, inaccurate and dangerously stereotypical division of people.
Most people’s range of characteristics, preferences, proclivities and biogenetic variables are far too broad to justify this anachronistically over-simplified view of men and women.
Every man has certain styles; ways of relating or of reasoning that are more traditionally regarded as feminine. Likewise, most women have a range of ways of being that likely include some aspects more stereotypically regarded as masculine. Some women are very strong, determined and forceful while some men cry easily, are gentle and receptive and each may be offended by being presumed into an expectation box that simply does not fit the reality of who they are.
The list of stereotypically masculine and feminine traits would take volumes to itemize. What is important to remember is that there is a kind of continuum ranging from the one-dimensional ‘˜manly man’ to the equally oversimplified ‘˜womanly woman.’ Most human beings, whether men or women, are somewhere along this continuum and are rarely, in any permanent way, at either one extreme of the other.
This ‘˜integration’ of gender qualities in each person can take many forms, including those not conscious. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss Psychoanalyst and contemporary of Sigmund Freud, posited that within each man there is an Anima (a less realized and understood personification of the feminine that because of its unknowness, was regarded often as a part of a man’s shadow.
Conversely, Jung’s theories included the idea of an Animus, or male ‘˜shadow’ element within each woman. Today, in this clearly post-Victorian and presumably more knowledgeable era, the womanly aspects of men and the manly qualities in women are no longer regarded as unconscious ‘˜shadows’ but can be and often are deliberate, accepted and valued elements of the conscious self.
This is not to say that, everything taken into account, that men and women are they same. They are not — either physically or psychologically. But, in some ways, neither are their characteristics mutually exclusive.
Some would disagree. To a man describable as a misogynist, woman are a lesser variety of the species, are weak and necessary but not worthy of real valuing. Misogynists are men who, literally, hate women ‘” often because they feel ashamed of the womanly feelings and thoughts they experience within themselves.
A woman described as a misandrist, is a woman who has those negatively judgmental feelings about men and, in all likelihood, for the same reasons.
A complete person who is, from a clinical point of view, complete and healthy ‘” whether biogenetically male or female, has some qualities of both. Humans are not one-dimensional cartoons. We are complex creatures who are composites of our physical beings, psychological make ups, spiritual beliefs, life experiences and deliberate aspirations. There is not one clear and categorical set of these for men and another for women.
Few of us are truly androgynous (unclearly one gender or the other) or are physically hermaphrodites (people born with physical characteristics of both genders.) Yet even the most stereotypically ‘˜manly man’ and the most seemingly single-dimensioned ‘˜feminine woman’ has some part of the other as part of his/her composition.
Wholeness and awareness involves being aware of and using, to our best advantage, each and every aspect of who we are.
The current lame-duck Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, created quite a stir a couple of years ago by labeling men who were not a ‘˜man’ in the way he sees himself as being one as “Girlie Men.” This created quite a hubbub and is a premium example of how ignorance and prejudice can flow into language in a way that tends to reinforce inane generalizations.
People are simply too complex and multi-faceted to be put in neat little boxes in that way. Real men have, and are comfortable with and even proud of, having some classically feminine traits. Real women accept and often value the traditionally masculine characteristics that they acknowledge as important parts of themselves.