The programming of the patriarchy requires technical support. The keywords and search fields have been compromised by this divide of the sexes (genders).
Femininity and masculinity are the definitive terms that give credence and justification for division of the sexes (and genders).
Venus and Mars have been locked in the ultimate show-down; revolving the Universe in a tension of she and he, female and male, feminine and masculine, vagina and penis. At least that’s what most of us are brought up to believe.
Along such anatomical distinctions, civilization designed for us ways in which we categorize and distinguish ourselves from one another. Ways in which we separate ourselves from one another as autonomous human beings.
And supposedly, along the way, we needed some way to label ourselves in at least one form, between male and female. We needed to clarify the mating system, in all honesty.
From then on, thanks to selfish genes and egos, we established for our societies, divisions and parameters around ourselves as people. In doing so, we moved toward designating humans as property and placing more value on wealth and land than on women and children. It was a flaw in the system, no doubt- and as such, we are learning from it.
But alas, because of the ways in which we established our civilization, and the ways in which we established for ourselves rules and regulations for the people in our lives; we are left with where we are today. We are divided between sexes, genders, roles, and hierarchies.
We fight against the cultural practices and societal expectations that are heaped upon us. Women still, even today, are expected to not only educate themselves to the standards of men, but marry, raise children, stay fit as a fiddle, and be the sex kitten that pornography depicts us as.
Justifying our existence to transcend ourselves, as women, has never been more vital than now.
Existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir knew this all too well. In The Second Sex, she articulates an obvious observation about woman in a man’s world:
What singularly defines the situation of woman is that being, like all humans, an autonomous freedom, she discovers and chooses herself in a world where men force her to assume herself as Other; an attempt is made to freeze her as an object and doom her to immanence, since her transcendence will be forever transcended by another essential and sovereign consciousness. Woman’s drama lies in every conflict between the fundamental claim of every subject, which always posits itself as essential and the demand of a situation that constitutes her as inessential.
Without the essential man, woman is individually inessential. Her biological continuance relies on his biological existence.
The Alterity of Autonomy
Man sees himself not as the Other, but as the condition and consequence of creation. Man sees woman as the other half of man. Man sometimes sees himself as the ruler and the superior, as de Beauvoir pointed out, “the most mediocre of males believes himself a demigod next to women.”
When a woman asserts herself or accomplishes any sort of higher regard, man must re-position his own alterity as supreme. Such a tragic inferiority complex profits men, subtly, as de Beauvoir captioned:
A miraculous liniment; no one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or more disdainful, than a man anxious about his own virility.
Man sees other men as counterparts, teammates, brothers in Christ; whereas women are viewed as the Other, the opponent, the one who may steal the limelight, the votes, or the audience. Even more threatening than that, is a wife who refuses to sever herself from her independence for a man who demands a “biblical marriage.”
For man, woman cannot be defined fully, even in her autonomy, unless she is fully submissive to him, in a pairing and also, procreating.
We must address all of the divisions that have caused harm so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes of our past. We must recognize all of the divides and categories aren’t always beneficial to unity. So much of the feminine/masculine distinction is used as just another opportunity to categorize the Other- to diminish, to subordinate, to denigrate, to segregate.
It’s a system, a construct of society, that requires reprogramming. It requires a blatant, urgent awareness that many aren’t willing to invest time in to.
Trust me, as I write this very blog; I am sitting in the after effects of this programming. Even the husband of a self-aware “feminist” (that would be me) stumbles over the patriarchal patent.
For weeks I have been trying to take a sledgehammer to the tempered glass ceiling hovering over my own life. And yet, as though every dialogue we had engaged in had disappeared from his memory, he put his foot in his mouth.
It confounded me and infuriated me at the same time. Had he heard nothing I said at all? Had I not been railing against the idea that a woman needs a man to accomplish herself? How did he not see that offering to help me finish the project was exactly the opposite of what I want or need?
It’s a program that is deeply embedded behind firewalls and encryption that much of society cannot extract.
The feminine and the masculine are not limited to merely biological distinctions, however. Each respective characteristic is fully accessible within each of us. It is simply that we often aren’t willing to express our natures in full form. We have only been programmed to believe that male = masculine and female= feminine.
As a general rule, even colors and fashion are determined by the distinction of gender/sex. Feminine colors are often light and pale, or iridescent; whereas masculine colors are often bold, dark, and flat.
Everywhere you go, whatever you read, even in the way you shop; your roles, your characteristics, your assumed values; are all packaged distinctly separate from the other, based on one tiny (hopefully not relatively too tiny) difference- your reproductive organs. The penises on the left, the vaginas on the right.
From then on, societal programming has influenced every aspect of our lives based on our sexual organs.
If your organs resemble a zucchini, you are therefore masculine, dominant, number one, head of the household, holder of the keys, sex-master, macho-man- otherwise known as the husband.
If your organs resemble a blossoming bud of a delicate flower; you are feminine, subservient, number two, the keeper of the cleanliness; shackled to the floor as a “modest is hottest” wife and mother.
For those who do not fall into the one or other category…much less attention is granted and much more condemnation is heaped upon them.
It Doesn’t Work
This program does not work for many reasons. I will only touch on a couple.One, we recognize that femininity and masculinity operate on a spectrum, not a binary scale. Which means that this programming doesn’t fit the fecundity of our expansiveness as individually unique human beings. It’s a status quo programming that manipulates and controls without regard for self-expression.
Secondly, and importantly, this programming was created by man without much allowance for woman to adjust any glitches in the system. Even the very idea that woman’s competition is woman is a generated virus that has corrupted the programming. Simone de Beauvoir observed;
“It is the male who opens up the future toward which she also transcends; in reality, women have never pitted female values against male ones; it is men wanting to maintain masculine prerogatives who invented this division; they wanted to create a feminine domain- a rule of life, of immanence- only to lock woman in it.”
The program aims to maintain masculine mutuality, excluding the alterity that man constructed.
Our aim should be to reform the generalized attachments we have toward the constructs of what is feminine and what is masculine, and why they aren’t mutually exclusive.
We should aim to endorse a more synergistic application for optimal balance of the feminine and masculine essence within the relationship.
In Love, there is No Male or Female
Are we not all children of God? Are we not all in Christ? Is was Paul who articulated so succinctly the most obvious message that is most often dismissed. In Galatians 3:28, Paul reassures:
…There is neither Jew or Gentile…nor male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Yet the need to distinguish and place in a hierarchy still remains. Even the sense of how we love is binary. Men love this way; women love that way. But that’s not really how it works.
Societal standards are like scripts for the female and male roles. Each person plays a part, only changing acts when society loosens the rope on the curtains to end the scene and set the stage for the next. It is by our scripts that we maintain the character portrayals of how a man loves and how a woman loves.
Feminist theorist Nancy J. Chodorow went beyond Freud (and beyond the construction of what is what) when she observed that:
That men and women love in as many ways as there are men and women…it is difficult and problematic to generalize about how women and men love.
Chodorow’s observations exemplify a deeply rooted issue – that of distinct difference leading to division and oppression, as history has unfolded. The assumed roles that man and woman is to act out creates conflict and perpetuates the division of the sexes.
We bring these distinctions into our relationships. These are our cultural norms redirected as set expectations for our marriage. The reputation precedes the experience. So, when we enter into an intimate, long-term, sexual relationship; we have only allowed enough space for the standards of society.
Move, Shake, then Take a Break?
In America, we have movements. Movements set the stage and open up a new way to the staging of the next scenes.
We had the Women’s Suffrage roll out on the tides of the first wave of feminism. The Roaring Twenties introduced us to sexual expression thanks to the fabulous Harlem Renaissance and the cohorts of jazz dancers known as “Flappers”.
Not long after the right to vote, women had to fill the factories while the men went off to war.
The Great Depression was the gloomiest of times for both the women and men. As the economy strengthened, as man prepared to return to work, woman did not comply with the idea that she should be sent back to the kitchen. And as technology made it easier for the average homemaker to get more work done in shorter spans of time, more and more women sought work outside the home by choice.
Fast forward to today, and we still face gendered roles, positions, and expectations. Despite the second wave of feminism, and the progression and advancements our society has seen; we still remain focused on the sexual organ between our legs.
We saw a progression of moving and shaking and suddenly, it feels like we are taking a break.
Updating the Program
If we are to do our progressive titles any justice, we cannot find time for rest. Nor does this mean we need a new scapegoat to point our finger at. Men can no longer be the problem, but the solution.
If we are truly to embrace the fullness of the Oneness that we seek; we must update the program to include more defined instructions and FAQ installations that helps us truly harmonize our differences. We to need tech experts, and ladies, that’s us.
Which means, this woman has to swallow her pride and explain to her husband why what he said infuriated and confounded her. We women cannot sit around and expect that men know how the program is to operate if we have never bothered to provide any instructions. It’s us that demanded the program be updated in the first place. Women, when we start something, we have to finish it, you know that!
These instructions must be contextualized with the utmost compassion and consideration or we will accomplish nothing at all and only set ourselves back. We must take accountability for the way in which we confront inequity and inadequacy. It requires work and patience, and sometimes forgiveness.
Even if that means writing a 2,700- word email to explain your history, your story, your experience to a business partner. Even if it means being vulnerable and revealing something about yourself that you wouldn’t normally share. If we want vulnerability, we have to demonstrate what that looks like.
But compassionate instructions and delicately articulated emails won’t always provide positive results, let me tell you. That 2,700-word email can be rejected as quickly as Ben Shapiro trying to speak at a Liberal-leaning University.
You can pull all the stops, even spray a letter in perfume and send gifts of beef jerky, but if that man isn’t willing to reflect and really listen to you; he will dismiss you and the entire project because his ego was bruised.
Some men, despite how progressive they claim to be, just cannot handle the confrontation of a woman, in any circumstance.
It Takes Time
That does not mean we should give up hope. For some are transformed by love, others by misfortune, and others yet loss. We are creatures of habit, male and female; so not everyone will present accordingly and others will not receive as expected. Deprogramming is not an easy task for any of us.
But don’t give up! Just keep swimming.