Occasionally, I make comments in this space that an uninformed reader might misinterpret as mildly misogynist. I have a somewhat twisted and dark sense of humor and I frequently make the mistake of assuming that other people will know where I’m coming from and when I’m joking. I have also had no good luck with romantic/sexual relationships, which fact has certainly colored my perception of women. I do frequently find the females in my life to be somewhat frustrating and inexplicable. I am sure that there are inherent differences between males and females. None of which changes the fact that I am a feminist. I absolutely believe in gender equality. The fact that men and women perceive the world differently does not make one way better. Actually, the best course of action is for each gender to learn as much about how the other gender views the world so that each can increase their own awareness and become more whole and integrated.
Feminism isn’t ultimately about making sure that female laborers get paid the same wage as their male counterparts, though that is an obvious and necessary step. The final goal of feminism, the final goal that I’m working toward at least, is for all human beings to recognize how gender divisions create personal divisions, i.e. how each individual is negatively affected, so that everyone can embrace those qualities and aspects of themselves that are associated with the other gender and become a fully functioning, complete human being.
I am physically male. I have all the primary and secondary physical characteristics that are associated with males: penis, testicles, beard, broader shoulders than hips, &c. I am also artistic, intuitive, introverted and somewhat passive, attributes our society views as female. Another way of saying it would be that I am a yin man. My inner processes are more yin than yang.
Yin and yang, of course are the main pair of opposites in Chinese mythology. The black half, yin, is associated with female/wet/dark/passive/&c. The white half, yang, which is red in Chinese tradition, corresponds with male/dry/light/aggressive. All possible attributes align with either yin or yang, though how exactly they align might depend on circumstances. Neither is better than the other. Men and women are generally more yang and yin, respectively, but there are cases in which a male should act more yin or a female act more yang. Both should be options.
I want to point out here that the yin/yang symbol is one symbol. Many, if not most, people see it as two halves: a yin half, with a spot of yang and a yang half with a spot of yin. According to this (mis)interpretation, males should recognize the spot of yin in them and females should recognize their own spot of yang. Feh, says me. Each person contains equal amounts of yin and yang. Each person is the entire circle. The yin and yang portions are shaped as they are, as opposed to half-circles, to represent the constantly circulating interplay of yin and yang. Now one, now the other, as circumstances require.
My daughter fell off of a chair recently. As she fell, I lunged forward, thrusting my right hand forward to grab the back of her head, preventing it from striking the floor. I don’t mind if she falls occasionally, especially if she’s being kinda reckless. Falling down is educational. She certainly wasn’t going to suffer any bodily injury falling off a chair so I wasn’t concerned about her body, but I wasn’t about to let her skull come into contact with the tile floor. My hand provided sufficient protection. She was a little surprised and chagrined by the fall, but not hurt. I suggested she be a little more careful and that was that. I don’t know whether that particular incident, which just happened to pop into my mind at the point when I started writing about it, is an example of yin or yang, nor do I think it matters. I have achieved a degree of integration that I’m comfortable with.
In the past, I struggled with it a lot. I have never felt like I really fit in with the majority of people around me, but I felt more unlike males than females, so I tended to associate with women. I’m heterosexual, but it wasn’t all about macking on chicks. Actually, it wasn’t even mostly about that. I just felt more comfortable around women than around men, who I viewed as mostly misogynists. At a few points in my life, I rode the swinging pendulum to the other extreme and behaved somewhat misogynistically myself. Norse mythology helped me a lot. The Norse gods and goddesses are pretty extreme in their gender roles, which helped me to identify their various characteristics, sort them out in me and figure out how and why those characteristics worked together. It wasn’t a conscious process. I didn’t pick up a book on Norse mythology in order to figure out which parts of me were more Thor and which parts more Freyja. I read Norse myths because I like to read myths and later I realized how I had been affected. Greek mythology might do the same thing: the Greek pantheon is similar to the Norse, but I’ve never really liked the Greek myths that much. I dunno why.
Anyway, I’m more internally yin. Externally, I’m pretty yang. Probably many people who know me in only a superficial way would be surprised to learn that I view myself as yin. It doesn’t matter. Most everybody knows me as a person who opposes inequality whether its gender-, racial-, or any other form of inequality. I’m fairly blunt about it and I take it further than most of the liberals I know who tend to be kinda mealy-mouthed about it. Fuck sexism. Fuck racism. Fuck homophobia. Fuck the oppression of the poor, which doesn’t have a name – poorism? Capitalism? Oh yeah, that’s what it’s called. Fuck capitalism. Fuck all that shit.
The integration thing is something that we have to work on as individuals of course. Myth helped me with it, but I have the advantage of being male. I am absolutely certain that women can benefit from myth just as well as men, but women have to do more work. Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Parcival is a magnificent piece of work. The point of that book, the best version of the Parcival story which is the best part of the Grail cycle, is the importance of having a quest, a goal, a thing to strive for. Parcival commits himself to finding the Holy Grail. He searches without respite, even after he has been told by a divine messenger that he will never succeed. He searches because the searching is what gives his life meaning and in the end, he does succeed. That is exactly how we should live: striving to attain the one true thing, whatever it is, that gives life meaning without being distracted by anything. That’s how Gautama went to the Bo tree. That’s how Jesus went to the cross. It’s a wonderful message and I think about Parcival in the wilderness when I’m struggling to find a way to continue to do the things that I do. Women can find that inspiration in Parcival just as well as men can, but they have to first identify with a male lead character. That may not be a huge step – it certainly isn’t one women haven’t gotten used to – but it is one more step than I had to take. There are myths with female leads, of course, but precious few. The lion’s share of myths are aimed at a male audience and have males in the lead.
I’ve been thinking about this stuff recently because of the Spotted Oppossum. She’s really into princesses these days, which is cute and fun, but I’m trying to raise up a strong, confident, assertive grrrl so I’m a bit concerned about the pink-washing she’s getting from the entertainment industry. We started watching the Disney/Pixar movie Brave t’other night. It has some scary parts that were too much for her so we turned it off. I watched the rest alone and was impressed. It’s not perfect, but it does present a strong, assertive female character, a princess, of course, but a tough one, who refuses to submit to tradition when it comes to her right to live her life her own way. It’s a good message. I talked about it with the grrrl the next day and her curiosity is piqued. She wants to watch the rest of it, if I skip the scary parts. She also wants a bow and arrows.
So. Kind of a meandering, unfocused ramble so far. That’s how it goes, huh? BDSR recordings tend to be that way too, don’t they? That’s yin. Allowing something to progress organically, accepting the various twists and turns and double-backs, going wherever it goes, is a yin style. If you’ve been to college, you’ve been exposed to that scholarly writing style where the first paragraph is the statement of intent or whatever and every paragraph after it has a specific reason and it’s all very formulaic and dry and dull and painful to read. That’s yang taken to the extreme. Making things happen is yang; letting things happen is yin. Again, both have their benefits. It seems pretty unlikely that I’m going to edit long, meandering BDSR jams into a smooth, three-minute, verse/chorus/verse/bridge/solo/chorus, normal, yang song anytime ever, because that ain’t my style. My artistic sense is yin and I’m quite capable of getting all yang up in here about it.
Brown Hat the Espresso Shaman
The pun is always intended.