I’m seeing a theme lately in women coming to me and sharing that men are giving them the feedback that they are too “masculine.”
Not only are they giving women this feedback, they are insulting women with it, and using it as a reason to leave the relationship.
I was so impacted this year by the look on a woman’s face as she told me that her husband of over twenty years was leaving her because she was “too masculine.” It was the look of a woman who knew how to be stoic and save face, but had no idea how to handle this information. The look of a woman who had done her best, and from the suit jacket she was wearing and the leather bag she was carrying, I’d say she had been a powerful and influential woman in her career. And now he was leaving her, and she wasn’t showing any emotion about it. She looked like she was just going to “handle it.”
I’m not placing women as the victims, here, don’t misread me. These nuances of realizing where we went wrong with feminine and masculine, and how to culturally and spiritually redefine these concepts and learn to apply them to our lives – it’s huge work that we are in as a collective right now.
But what a double bind for a woman who received cultural messages that to be a strong woman meant she had to be equal and climb the career ladders just like men. Women have learned to do this because it was necessary for survival, actually, and it also feels good to many to climb those ranks.
Until women themselves are beginning to realize more and more that that was never a game we would have designed on our own. It was a game we inherited. The rules of the game sounded like, “If you want an equal shot at salary and resources, if you want independence and if you want to earn your own resources, you’re going to have to compete with men in the workplace.”
One woman I recently heard from was a lawyer. Her boyfriend had just broken up with her using the reason, “You’re too masculine.”
So I want to take this article in a direction you may not expect.
“You’re too masculine” is not very evolved feedback.
Women, I know it hurts, but this wouldn’t be thrown at you by a man who is actually aware of healthy feminine and masculine, rather, this is likely coming from his subconscious desires about the feminine. (I’m not saying this as an insult, I’m saying this based in psychology and observation.) I would recommend taking the feedback as information for self reflection, but not necessarily as an insult, if you can help it.
And men, we actually know we’re overworked and taking care of things we would rather a man take care of. It would be better to stop insulting her and start asking how you are contributing toward it. How can you help her to feel more embodied, safe, and comfortable in her feminine archetype, if that is what you want more of?
Isn’t it just like dominator culture to give punitive and identity-forming feedback to a woman? Isn’t it just like dominator culture to shape a woman one way such that she learns to survive with certain tactics, and then shame her for it?
What is dominator culture? A culture built on some having power and some not having power.
The feedback that “you’re too masculine” is shaming, and here’s the thing – this is something that can actually be worked with. Feminine and masculine polarity can always be re-balanced, or re-assigned between two people. This can be exciting work with a coach or through your own research and implementation. And a man who is accusing a woman of being too masculine is also a man who has embodied a feminine polarity that he is no longer happy with. Don’t shame her for it – learn about how to embody a masculine energetic, embody it, and ask her if she wants to practice embodying more of the feminine polarity. I promise you, she probably does. She’s probably tired of holding the world up all the time and would love to experience letting go of the masculine tendencies she’s learned. Try her!
I couldn’t look at this woman and tell her to shrug off her husband using this as an excuse to divorce her, and I would never want to.
But my general feeling is that women, if this has happened to you, it’s okay. Here are some suggestions on how to move forward.
- See it for what it is. There is some truth to it – you have masculine tendencies and they probably serve you at work. It’s okay to ask yourself what of this “masculine” energy you also may want to let go of in certain situations or love relationships. Sometimes for women, what looks like “masculine” energy is actually a self-protective energy.
2. Everyone has masculine and feminine inside of us, so there’s no need to abandon the masculine within you altogether. The masculine is needed for things like structure, earning an income, keeping a schedule. I’m not saying these are “man” things, but they are aspects of masculine energy. When said like that, it’s easy to see that we all have both.
3. Begin to ask yourself, “What are healthy qualities of feminine and masculine, and what are unhealthy qualities?” For example, domination is an unhealthy masculine energy, but leadership is a healthy quality. Try to consciously choose what feels healthy, more and more.
4. Decide if you want to hold the feminine or the masculine pole in relationships. Regardless of the gender of two people, one person (in any given situation, or generally) holds the masculine pole and one holds the feminine pole. Of course, two people can also create amazing, conscious balance within themselves, but honestly, feminine and masculine polarity is part of what makes a relationship fun and juicy. So if you are masculine at work in a leadership role, how do you shift into a feminine role with your male partner if your choice truly is to hold the feminine polarity? I can certainly help couples shift this dynamic in their lives, and another resource to look into may be Dr. Patricia Allen’s work.
5. Welcome any feedback or realization you may be receiving about being “overly masculine” as an invitation to get to know the feminine. A few friends of mine with excellent resources for coming to know the feminine are Liz Kelly, the author of Home to Her and the creator of the Home to Her podcast. Liz is always researching and sharing the “Her-storical perspective,” as she calls it. Also, Sarah Grady has developed a body of work called Homecoming which is an excellent path for women to re-embody their feminine nature. And, of course, I created over 144 episodes of the Sacred Remembering Podcast, which encourages women to trust their direct knowing and path of reawakening not only to the feminine, but to what healthy union of feminine and masculine actually looks like.
I could tell you more from a psychological perspective what is really going on in a man’s own feminine / masculine dynamics both internally and with his residual mother wounding, but sometimes I feel like I’ve already analyzed men enough. So for today, I’ll end here and I’ll say that no one is “too” anything.
We are humans who inherited life in a patriarchal system, and this is an exciting time for us to come to consciousness about how to utilize feminine and masculine as paths of personal and collective awakening.
If we don’t like it, we don’t need to insult others. We need to start getting curious about what we truly desire our relationship with these archetypes and energies to be moving forward.
If you are looking for support in re-balancing, re-harmonizing, or re-defining feminine and masculine in your life and relationships, schedule a consultation at www.sarahpoet.com/book today. I’d love to support you and help us all to move past our hurtful misunderstandings.