“There is no masculine without feminine, no feminine without masculine.”
We tend to understand the world through stark oppositions. Fire, water. Sun, moon. Right, wrong. Strong, weak. Yin, Yang. Masculine, feminine. Humans operate with a consciousness of polarity, habitually separating information into distinct categories in order to make sense of it. However, in most cases, the separation is illusory. We always need both sides of the story, both sides of the coin, both halves to make a whole. The duality of masculine and feminine energy represents an essential source of harmony and conflict in our society. Melissa Carver, Ph.D. in Philosophy with a specialty in Metaphysics, has indicated how every person expresses aspects of both feminine and masculine energies in their physical and spiritual nature, although the two have been separated historically for thousands of years. Like most other socially constructed subjects, the terms are somewhat pliable and open to interpretation.
Nonetheless, understanding the duality and fundamental configuration of masculine and feminine energy can help us progress towards a deeper understanding of our everyday actions and reactions. By engaging deliberately with these concepts, we may use them to our advantage and cultivate a less divisive, more self-aware world.
Before moving to a description of the inherent differences between energies, try to disengage completely from the idea that masculine and feminine equate to ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Every person, no matter their biological sex and gender identity, expresses elements of both energies. Demonstrations of masculine energy occur frequently among females just as demonstrations of feminine energy occur frequently among males. The misconception that masculine energy corresponds only to males while feminine energy belongs only to females may be attributed to historically gendered power relations and the nature of sexual relationships, among other social factors. Rather than studying the intricacies of sex and past distributions of power and leadership roles among the sexes, this discussion directs attention towards the basic differences and the reciprocal interplay between energies. In a DTPHD Podcast episode from March 2, 2018, David Tian spoke with Henry Chong, the CEO of Fusang Group, about the polarity of the masculine and the feminine. They agreed that passion and enriching energetic exchanges emerge from the perfect complementarity between the two elements. There is no masculine without feminine, no feminine without masculine. Just as the biological bodies need each other to survive, the energies need each other. Like Yin and Yang, they curve into one another, they flow, they perform an elegant act of circular fluidity. Tian and Chong also noted everyone enjoys the ability to move in and out of the masculine and the feminine, since each energy is necessary at different times. However, excessively polarizing the two or forcefully repressing one in favor of the other produces destructive social and spiritual imbalances. As has been the case in many human societies for hundreds of years, we inhabit an environment encouraging ego-driven, masculine energy over intuitive, feminine energy.
Restoring balance between the two may drive collective human consciousness towards an appreciation of unity rather than polarity.
Masculine energy has been associated with the left side of the brain and represents the orderly, controlling, logical, practical, and analytical side. It is often characterized as sun energy. This element is expressed through serving, protecting, and competing. It is an intense, assertive, striving, rushing, and frequently impatient energy. Operating primarily through masculine energy leads to an exaggerated influence of the ego and incites feelings of isolation and lack of intimacy. However, this energy boasts the potential to act as a guiding force and construct as well as complete projects through focused, concrete ‘doing.’ The masculine is the busy, aggressive energy to the calm, collected energy of the feminine.
Feminine energy is associated with the right side of the brain and represents the moving, experiential, creative, passionate, and artful side. It has been characterized as moon energy and is generally expressed through nurturing, receiving, and synthesizing. This energy is soft, healing, unifying, patient, and most importantly: intuitive. Feminine energy is developed by honoring instinct in a society which has trained many of us to use our analytical (masculine) minds over our intuitive (feminine) minds. By nurturing self and nurturing others, the feminine taps into a flowing flexibility and gentle inner strength. It possesses the potential to ignite open-mindedness, personal evolution, and intimacy through its creative, abstract ‘being.’ The feminine can foster wisdom through self-awareness and allow people to act in healthy alignment with emotion (or energy in motion). The synthesizing potential of this element is routinely under-utilized while we confine ourselves to masculine energy.
In the aforementioned podcast episode, Tian and Chong discuss how living in only one energy represents a ‘broken’ state of being and neglects the wholeness of the two elements. They assert that neither energy is better than the other and the key to developing our understanding of them lies in recognizing their complementarity. During their conversation, they repeatedly reference the popular American author, philanthropist, and life coach Tony Robbins, who has argued the key to intimate connection, attraction, and spiritual ecstasy is the close interplay between the two energies. By natural design, magnetism between opposites exists.
But constricting our perspective to polarity also restricts our ability to break out of the deceptive dichotomy between the masculine and the feminine and cultivate authentic and productive balance between the two.
Author and wellness coach Shayna Hiller has offered a helpful visualization of the energetic interaction by describing the feminine as a flowing liquid that must be contained in order not to be lost or dispersed, while the masculine is a perfectly shaped glass container to be filled. In her article for the Elephant Journal, she characterized the connection between the two energies as highly sensual, rooted in the point of contact between the physical and the spiritual. In this sense, the masculine and the feminine represent interdependent mediums through which the force of life moves.
All this talk of abstract energies and harmonious balance may seem esoteric at first.
Upon closer inspection however, it ties in closely to the idea of truly knowing and better understanding ourselves and others.
We misread people’s energies all the time, creating conflict and unnecessary misunderstanding. To move successfully through life and improve communication it is vital to feel and read emotions accurately. In a Ted Talk on emotional intelligence (EQ), Dr. D. Ivan Young mentioned that humans are easily frustrated and angered by what they do not understand. He argued that every moment and every energy in motion may be examined for its purpose and its lesson. As everyone embodies both energies, increased learning and knowledge of the masculine and the feminine raises levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence, restoring harmony among opposites in the process. Crucial for interpersonal communication and empathy but distinct from personality and IQ, emotional intelligence according to Travis Bradberry – co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – is “your ability to recognize and understand emotions, and your skill at using this awareness to manage yourself and your relationships with others.” He explains how emotions are the primary driver of human behavior, occurring before our brains can actually analyze them or think about them rationally – so mastering and managing them trickles into how effectively and quickly we develop fundamental foundational skills, such as focus, mindfulness, or adaptability.
The constant contradiction between the tranquil feminine and excitable masculine energies demands a certain capacity for flexibility of emotion, thought, and action. Although people tend to perceive the world through sharp contrasts, seeing the two energies as separate is dangerously misleading. The supple softness of the feminine and the strong-willed strength of the masculine need each other to survive. By embodying both energies, we can construct a space for more equilibrium, emotional competence, and empathy. The philosophical principle of Yin and Yang describes the world as made up of inseparable, antithetical opposites. As eternal students of life, we benefit immensely from expanding our understanding of the details of energetic composure and complementarity.
The feminine and the masculine permeate every element of human culture, interweaving continuously through the very fabric of life. Sun and moon energies simultaneously exist within us all.
If we can learn to harness both, we can learn to build balance and unity in a chaotic, confused world.
art by: Mafer Martinez