Written May 2004
Known only to those already on the spiritual path, there is a major shift happening in both men and women. This shift began several decades ago and has of late, been increasing rapidly in its strength and in its effects on both the genders. We are returning to the beginning, completing a cycle that began millennia ago, to a world in the guardianship of the feminine principle. Beyond this is the balance of the feminine and masculine in each and every one of us and a marvellous opportunity to be ourselves together with every other human being. We are becoming androgynous, genderless.
Women are maturing much earlier with breast development in some 8 year olds necessitating in the wearing of bras. Men on the other hand, are gradually becoming sterile with the sperm count falling with every passing generation. Effects such as these are most likely due to the abnormally high levels of unnatural oestrogen’s in the ecosystem resulting from overuse of contraceptive pills and other sources such as those from the production of chemicals and plastics that mimic natural oestrogen’s. None of these mimics break down easily in the environment and are simply fed back into the food chain only to be absorbed by the animal kingdom including us. Some fish and some water borne male animals are showing signs of changing sex.
From a more spiritual perspective, women are in the process of reclaiming their power, wresting it from the patriarchal society in which we live. They are finding their feet more and more, juggling motherhood with their chosen career and taking the opportunities that these choices give them. They are ‘finding’ their masculine side and integrating it carefully with their feminine side. They are much closer to becoming balanced than are most men. On the spiritual workshops I attend, men are conspicuous by their absence.
Men on the other hand, are wondering what their role is to be in the ‘new’ matriarchal society that is nearly upon us. As we move towards this new world, men are unearthing their feminine side and with it discovering that they have emotions and feelings that ‘men’ are not supposed to have or express. Most men are using every distraction in the book in order not to look at these emotions and feelings fearing that other men will think the less of them, think of them as not being macho enough. Fast cars and motorbikes, computer games and ultra-masculine sports are just some of these distractions. Men do not wish to see or experience this side of themselves as they find it very difficult to deal with.
Men have been taught not to express themselves and their emotions due to the effects of the patriarchal straightjacket placed upon them by a rigid society bent on defining roles, appearance and behaviour for both men and women to follow. These rules are so rigid that not one person can truly meet these requirements even though Hollywood would have you think different. Men try and women try, but as a result their true nature and individuality is hidden, subjugated and submerged until all women are the same and all men are the same. Those who choose to be different are pushed to the fringes of society, ridiculed and vilified just because they do not adhere to the defined role assigned to the them.
These rules are arbitrary and very much defined by the locality or country we find ourselves. They are always in a state of flux and subject to change as and when new fashions come into and out of vogue. It was only a few decades past that women were expected to remain at home to look after the children and forgo any career while men were regarded as the one and only breadwinner.
All humans beings, by their very nature, have qualities that would be considered masculine and feminine. We all express these in various amounts all the time. Women can, upon waking in the morning, decide to express their masculine side by wearing a trouser suit. The next day she can just as easily step into a dress to express her femininity. Men have very little choice as to what they can wear. Just trousers and a shirt and all in very drab colours. Pinks are certainly not allowed, or skirts for that matter.
Why is it that a shirt is called a blouse just because of the side the buttons are? Due to ages past, while rich men dressed themselves, their wives were dressed by their servants, hence the need for the buttons to be sown on the other side of the garment. This historical aberration has continued as fashion.
In our society, we are all driven by the need to become our true selves, to find that which is our inner self, our true Self. We desire to experience that inner truth where we can be at one with others, not fearing their judgement or their condemnation. For most of us, the task of bring this inner person to the surface is a difficult one as we must challenge the views and beliefs we have acquired in our lives from the moment of our birth. The programming we are subjected to is insidious and most of the time, we are unaware of the fact that this is taking place at all.
We go on to develop inner phobias about subjects and think these ideas are ours but in reality are those passed to us by others. Some beliefs are so deeply entrenched that it is almost impossible to relinquish them without serious effort and a willingness to look inward at ourselves.
Most of us are trapped in roles that others requires us, want us, force us to play. When we occasionally step out of those roles in order to catch a glimpse of our true Self, those around us are provoked into reacting negatively towards us because they will have to admit that they too are just playing roles. Fear rises in them forcing them to coerce you back into the role they want you to play in an attempt at lessening their own fear. Such is the insidious nature of the programming.
We all have many roles to play and many things to be for many people. It becomes even more challenging when in the company of six people who all require you to play a specific role for them and all six roles are incompatible. I have tried this many times and failed on each occasion ending up taking antidepressants to help me cope with the dichotomy of the situation. You cannot be everything for everyone all the time, only yourself. If those around you do not like the ‘real’ you then it is surely time to move on to those who are ready to accept the ‘real’ you.
Now for the topic that prompted the writing of this article. As I said earlier, for all of us there is the challenge of finding and expressing our true selves. In general there are few barriers to this process if we are willing to look deeply within to bring out our true nature. For some though, this process takes on a much more arduous and gruelling test.
There are those, like myself, who are challenged by the very body they inhabit. First there is the dichotomy of a physical form that does not correspond to the internal image or perception we have of ourselves. And secondly, there is society’s rejection of the very essence of our nature. I speak here of transsexuals and those who consider themselves to be transgenderists. And let us not forget those who cross dress. Of course, women cross dress all the time by wearing trousers but somehow society says it is all right for them to do so.
For nearly 40 years, I have been challenged by both my own inner phobias and society’s rules on what I should and should not be. The challenge I face is that the feminine component of my nature is far greater than my masculine. That aspect needs to be expressed and it cannot do so because of the rules others have set.
Every morning I spend time forcing substantial portions of myself, my personality, into a box under the bed, hiding those parts of myself from others who subscribe to society’s rules and who would be only too willing to ridicule something they know little or nothing about or have personal experience of. Some may have sympathy but are unwilling to express it as they are fearful that they too may become targets for those who are reluctant to see past the limited frame of reference painted by society.
The name for this dichotomy is called Gender Identity Disorder. It can be described as a discordance or an imbalance between the physical body and the mental view or perception one has about oneself. Transsexuals may physically be male (or female) but see themselves as female (or male).
Just the name itself paints a negative picture describing a divergence from a line called ‘normal’. This line is drawn in part by doctors and by society. Those drawn by doctors, in order to describe common symptoms, in order to understand, only serve to create boxes and pigeon holes into which no one really fits. And to those drawn by a society which decrees that if we deviate from this line, even by the smallest of amounts, we are called perverts or sexual deviants. Thus we fall into the category of people to be vilified and ridiculed, and to be marginalised from mainstream society.
I am only now, having been on the spiritual path for several years, learning to see this imbalance as an asset rather than a hindrance. I understand women a lot more than a ‘normal’ man and can communicate with women like a woman. I also have a logical mind that is usually associated with men. I can read maps and do the ironing, although not at the same time.
Part of me, the largest part of me, desires the freedom of expression women have in our society. The sad part of me, also the largest part, desires to fit in to what society requires of me so I am not singled out for derision. Do I choose to dress as a woman some or all of the time whilst attracting considerable negative comment and ridicule or do I choose to fit in and watch as my spirit gradually crumbles and shrivels, shrinking bit by bit until nothing of the real me is left behind. This alas, is the dichotomy. Even now, at the age of 50, I am still no nearer to answering this question than when I realised I was different from other boys.
Since searching within to find the words to describe my inner feelings and thoughts, I have discovered that we tend to turn away from the things that give us the most fear. These are those issues that we would rather not look at, willingly or otherwise. We prefer instead to look toward being somewhere else, or being something else, or being someone else, and away from the fear, looking to the furthest point from where we are because that imagined place is a place of no fear, no ridicule and no derision.
For me, I wanted to be a woman rather than a man. I chose a woman because there can be no further point away from being a man. I looked towards being a woman because I saw women as having the freedom I so desired. Most of the time, these choices are so subconscious that we are not even remotely aware we have made them.
I have never been able to match the male role as painted by today’s society. I simply cannot fit in because I do not have the attributes required to fill that particular function. As males, it is to our detriment, our loss and our damage, that we are forced into straightjackets against our will. Most of today’s society is completely unaware of how much it looses by imposing these ridiculous limitations.
The typical macho man, boy racer, computer game playing type of male, simply does not have the right communication skills to connect with women on their level. Communication is a feminine trait, and as such, most women prefer relationships with men that possess this ability. The macho man cannot communicate with anyone but themselves. This maybe somewhat harsh, but as I said earlier, the programming is very insidious and will affect us all on many different levels.
When dressed as my persona of Caren, I like to look feminine. This usually includes a skirt and blouse, painted nails and a dash of lipstick to complete the image. There is however, something still missing. I decided that the missing part is the real me. I can travel towards the real me by dressing as Caren, but I cannot quite reach that point. There is a fluidity and freedom I feel when dressed as Caren. I do not feel the same when presenting as male.
I feel the reason for this is that I am so deeply programmed with the perfect image of femininity that it is unattainable. I am still hooked into the matrix of society, still aiming to be included within their rules. This added ingredient intensifies the dichotomy I am already feeling. I cannot be the man society requires of me so I look towards becoming a woman. However, I now realise I unable to achieve that either.
Those of us who are experiencing the dichotomy of gender imbalance, are playing a very important but immensely difficult role for humanity – to show that it is perfectly possible, in fact necessary, to exhibit qualities of both genders. We act as a mirror to those people unwilling to look at their own phobias and fears and this is why some react in the way they do.
Since discovering the focus of my attention has been in the wrong direction, I can make efforts to reduce my symptoms by looking in the right direction. I feel that this is towards my masculinity. As human beings, we cannot be totally one or the other. Our nature must be brought into balance, an equilibrium between male and female, masculine and feminine. Each aspect drawn together makes us greater than the sum of the individual parts.
The only direction left for me now is to begin an inner journey, a vision quest to discover who the real me is.