In this age of the #MeToo movement and a burgeoning, collective understanding of the deeply problematic nature of a patriarchal society, women now, more than ever, need to start leading men.
In the corporate world, yes, but also in their inner worlds.
The time has come for the collective feminine to call out the collective masculine. Here, I refer to archetypal energies, not genders.
All humans are gifted with varying amounts of both masculine and feminine energies.
Qualities typically attributed to the feminine (again, as an archetypal energy that exists in all of life, not a gender) are energies associated with intuition, free flow, emotionality, creativity, inclusivity, receptivity, community, introspection, connectedness, vulnerability, care, and concern.
In complement, masculine energies are associated with steadfastness, directionality, single-pointed focus, independence, self-sufficiency, strength, extrospection, and preparedness. Both are necessary to achieve balance; however, they will always vary in degree, as they should according to what serves the highest and best purpose of each individual.
Men suffer greatly at the hands of our Western society. They are taught that masculinity means the absence of femininity. They are taught that manhood is hard won and easily lost and they must fight to keep it. Men are often taught that their partners, families, and social spheres will think less of them if they are not “masculine enough” and that they might even go through life alone.
So they shove down their innate feminine, thereby denying an intrinsic and necessary part of themselves.
For the first time, toxic masculinity—the imbalance created when the feminine is forcibly repressed—is being addressed. And thank goodness! For wherever there is an imbalance between masculine and feminine energies, there is disarray.
However, many men are feeling increased shame, confusion, guilt, and fear of their own masculinity.
While women are questioning their historical subjugation, more men than ever are beginning to question themselves, question their pasts, and question their ability to trust themselves, their desires, and their instincts.
They are fearing their own masculinity, while still coping with the judgements that have been thrust upon them about their own femininity.
They are between a rock and a hard place. And because women are finally feeling free to express anger about the injustice we have suffered for centuries, men don’t feel like they have many spaces to go to safely process and express.
Luckily, we exist in a time when women are being encouraged to tell the truths they have long silenced, embody more masculine energy, step more into the public sphere, strengthen their leadership, speak their minds, demand more for themselves, and live more progress and purpose-driven lives than we have previously been given permission to lead.
Meanwhile, men are being asked to step more into their feminine, begin to share themselves more vulnerably, ask for more help, engage in more collaboration, and express themselves more creatively.
Yet men’s foray into the feminine is being forwarded by fear. And much less space is held and permission given for men to integrate these changes and vet their feelings.
Men are being taught to mistrust their masculine energy rather than to respect it and lovingly bring it into balance with their feminine.
Men are craving to embrace all parts of themselves. They are struggling with the ability to accept their emotionality, their intuition, and their inherent desire to connect with others and express themselves. They are struggling to understand the difference between toxic and healthy masculinity.
They are craving to feel safe within themselves, with their own feminine, and with women. And I believe that it is women who have the greatest ability to help them in this.
The gender disparity has made it such that men in our culture have been largely deprived of the ability to be led by women. This has been a huge disservice to them because women have historically had so much more permission to hone and refine our ability to express ourselves vulnerably and emotionally, collaborate, nurture ourselves and others, and flow with life.
We have so much to teach and offer men.
But because of the rise of feminism, much of the leadership that men have been getting from women pertains to problematizing the masculine, rather than actually helping men bring it into balance within themselves.
Men have been led by men for centuries. Now, it’s time that we give them the opportunity to be led by women, especially in inner work.
It is so important for men to have access to feminine-led spaces that have nothing to do with sex or money or criticism.
With this massive change happening in the collective, men can see what they are losing, but they might be having a hard time seeing how incredibly much they have to gain by reclaiming their feminine energies.
I believe that if we women give them permission, and guidance, they will move even faster toward being their whole selves. Then, we can all live with a greater sense of harmony, safety, and togetherness.
We have the potential to show men that they need not lose love or respect as we all bring the feminine into balance, outside and within ourselves. It is up to us to teach men that they can be at peace with who they really are, that it is safe to express both their feminine and masculine aspects. And that we will be right there with them as they do.
The Men’s Retreat we host at The Shift is just one of thousands of programs that need to be created by women, for men. To transformational female leaders everywhere: we are asking you to join us.
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