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The JOY of Being the Man or Woman You Are
by David Truman
What God hath wrought
Personality is an eternal universe value. God has created all these unique personalities, and God loves them all. Therefore, our right orientation as children of God is to celebrate the good and beautiful creation that God has made in all its unique and various forms. And, it is inconsistent with the Divine plan that people hate themselves, and based on that judgment, withhold their unique personality characteristics from the world.
In truly embracing the beauty of what God has created in one another and in ourselves, we find the possibility of unity within diversity—and we also find the possibility of true polarity, and the value of the kind of difference that polarity itself represents. Much of the beauty of man-woman relations comes from polarity—not just from sexual attraction, but from the many complimentary qualities men and women possess, naturally, in different proportions.
Thus, the joyful celebration of God's creative diversity recognizes the value of expressing our own unique personalities and our gender-related gifts. Granted, no man is altogether "male," and no woman is altogether "female"—variations in gender-specific qualities are natural. Nonetheless, many if not most men and women are much better endowed with gender-related gifts than they allow themselves to express.
What is polarity?
Polarity is a universal and eternal form of uniqueness. It is the yin-yang of creation. It is a cosmic battery that has the power to create sparks which are uplifting. And the sparks that are created by the soul's hunger for interaction and for union are in fact the uplifting force of God.
Men and women often react against polarity, because polarity suggests incompleteness. But in God's defense, polarity only demonstrates that He would have us be one. Polarity only motivates people to want one another and to find completeness in that joining.
There is great potential energy between the male and female poles of the polarity battery. If we reduce that polarization by suppressing or denying our gender-related gifts, then we reduce the energy potential of the battery. For example, a slightly foppish man and a slightly masculinized woman are basically at zero potential in relation to each other. This role reversal reduces the battery of their relationship to a dud.
The loss of polarity is a serious problem in life and love. Many of the relationship problems that we face are really due to role reversal. People are aware of that, and that's why they long for the old times when men were men and when women were women.
The denial of polarity
The reduction of polarity comes from our negative judgments upon gender-related gifts. When we judge what God has made in that area afoul, we start suppressing those particular qualities that are gender specific, and end up with the androgynous equalization between man and woman that is so prevalent today.
The ideal of androgyny, which is very chic right now, very "human potential," implies the achievement of wholeness within oneself. But the reality of androgyny, as accepted by this culture, is actually a move from one extreme to another. Men and women do not go to the center; in fact, as if in total revulsion against their gender-based gifts, they go to the other side. Men become recessive, reactive, self-obsessed, narcissistic, unassertive. And women become bossy, controlling, rigid, overly assertive.
The usual man generally does not boldly, creatively, and effectively deal with his world. He does not in general keep his word, and does not in general assert himself as a man. He does not handle things. And, though the women in his life would like to enjoy his confidence, his straightforwardness, his masculinity, he refuses to assert himself in that interplay.
To fill the vacuum left by his failure to take control and be a man, the usual woman becomes proportionately more manly, thinking, "Well, I better wear the pants. I've got to take care of whatever's not being taken care of by him." But she too has her own resistance to the feminine. It is her own problem, not related to the man's default, that she does not want to commit her own emotional-physical feelingness to the relationship. She does not want to commit her heart. She believes that her feelingness is her own undoing, so she resists surrender and retains an overly controlling attitude.
Getting to the bottom of the problem
Why do we hide our gender-related gifts? Self-protectiveness, ethical reservations, and social programming are the predominant causes of gender suppression. Due to fear, or due to ethical shortcomings associated with his past motivations for being assertive, or due to social programming, a man will not assert himself adequately in relationship to a woman. The same inhibitions occur in the woman, relative to her emotional qualities, for example.
The self-protection problem. The usual man is actually trying to protect himself by not being manly. And the usual woman is trying to protect herself by withholding her emotionality. Both are refusing to take the risk of being themselves.
The ethical problem. An example of the ethical problem is a man who has been assertive in ways that are actually cruel, thoughtless, insensitive, or otherwise selfish. Because he has misused assertiveness, he is now afraid of misusing it again. Therefore he stops using assertiveness altogether, even rightly. Another example would be a woman who used nurturing in order to manipulate someone, rather than to simply love and care for them. Because she has misused her nurturing impulses, she now resolves to stop nurturing altogether, even rightly.
The baby goes out with the bath water in cases like those. It is like saying, "I should never wash your dishes since if I do, I'm liable to break them." Who said that just because you wash dishes, you have to break them? Is this implicit? And likewise, is it implicit that if you be manly and assertive you will be immoral? Where is your conscience, oh man? Where is your sensitivity? Can't you be sensitive and at the same time be strong? Of course you can. And can't a woman be feminine and nurturing without being manipulative and people-pleasing? Absolutely!
The social programming problem. Common society has definite expectations—sometimes stated, otherwise only implied—about "appropriate" behavior for people in general. Those cultural values exert considerable influence over our self-expression, and they even limit the extent to which we can be ourselves. In particular, the cultural unisex bias has severely hampered the natural gender expression of men and of women. The unisex concept says that men and women should be and behave more or less the same way. This "same way"—in effect, the standard mold—is based primarily on certain masculine values. For example, it is usually assumed that any good person, regardless of gender, should show limited emotion. It is likewise assumed that every person should aspire to grand personal independence. Those are basically masculine values.
But in fact, cultural ideals express ego values more than specifically masculine values. The ego wants to protect itself; the ego fears the appearance of power in others; and it is afraid to use real power itself—for fear of failure, exposure, vulnerability, and so on. Limited power, limited commitment, and limited devotion all express the egoic desire for self-protection.
Breaking out of the new mold
But correcting gender suppression is not the same as saying we are supposed to "act like men and women." That would only be meeting another external expectation and conforming to another ideological ideal. Instead, we need to be more like we actually are. We are already conforming to a bunch of ideals that are not who we are. In general, we are already acting less manly than we are, if we are men, and less womanly than we are, if we are women. We must get away from subservience to ideological models, and more authentically live who we actually are.
You want to conform? Fine. Conform to who you are. You want to fit a mold? Great. Fit your own mold, the one that was thrown away after you were made. Then you'll be living up to a real ideal, which is the ideal of being who you are, in strict and authentic conformance with your own uniqueness and personality nature. But do not be one bit less feminine or masculine than you are. And, do not be one bit more either.
The need to resurrect natural gender expression
Without manly men, what is to become of women? Without womanly women, what is to become of men? As long as we limit ourselves to the approved behavior, we find that we cannot express everything that we are. We cannot share with the opposite sex some of our best and brightest qualities.
When people don't bring who they are to the party, we end up with a situation where the man doesn't take control and assert himself, and as a result the woman is more reluctant to trust, more reluctant to feel. And if the woman is reluctant to feel and be what she is, then the man of course is going to be even more reluctant to assert himself. Everywhere—not just in the coupled relationship, but in all of life—a woman will not be feeling if a man is not assertive or strong. And everywhere, a man cannot be assertive or strong if a woman is not feeling. Therefore,
Feeling plus dealing equals healing.
To share who we are, and to receive from one another what we need, we are going to have to place much more value on the special qualities that create the real magic of man-woman polarity. And we are going to have to actively support and praise those qualities. We must validate one another in our uniqueness as men and women.
Right expression of gender-related gifts
We expect some people will object, "What are you trying to do here? Bring us back to the Dark Ages? You want women to be submissive, barefoot and pregnant, and you want men to be cavemen, right? Is that really a forward step for humanity?"
Our answer is, "It is a forward step when these elements are rightly used. But no, we are not recommending that we go back to the Dark Ages. What you're referring to are abuses of gender-specific gifts. You know what they say: 'Abuse it and lose it.' When we abused those qualities, we did lose them. The only way back is right use. Only the right iteration of anything can ever stand over time."
What is "right use"? Right use is sensitive use, balanced use. We're not talking about men being exclusively assertive. And we're not talking about women being exclusively feminine or receptive. What we're really talking about is a form of predominance of character.
Man should feel and be sensitive—but not at the expense of masculinity. He should handle the woman and be assertive, but he should be sensitive and responsive in so doing, because consciousness is also a masculine characteristic.
And similarly, the woman can be assertive. She can be strong. She can take care of business—just not at the expense of womanliness. Women are doers. Women are creators. So we're not trying to suggest that the woman should spend all her time being feeling and emotional, or that she should not be assertive—not at all. But she should not be assertive at the expense of being feeling. She must not become preponderantly stiff, unresponsive, overly controlling, unemotional, and unfeeling.
So the man needs to feel as well as deal. The woman needs to deal as well as feel. But a man makes his most powerful contribution to life if he expresses his assertive character as a predominance, and the woman makes her greatest contribution if she expresses her feelingness predominantly. That's all.
Highest and best use of gender gifts
Now someone out there is probably saying, "What a minute. Why not let the women deal and the men feel? Why not? They've already switched, let's just take advantage of a situation. What's the difference?"
Here's the difference: If that's not the way God made you, then you don't do too good a job on that. Women can potentially do a better job on feeling than can the men, as a matter of their makeup. And the men can potentially do a better job on asserting.
For example, take a light bulb and a heater. A light bulb makes light and some heat; a heater makes heat and some light. But when you plug them both in, the heater is better at making heat than it is at making light. And the light bulb, conversely, is much better at making light than it is at making heat. In that same way, both women and men can assert and they can feel. But if you plug a woman into feeling, you'll get more bang for your buck. And if you plug a man into asserting, his mechanism will translate the juice more efficiently into assertion than he could possibly do into feeling.
So if you consider the right utilization of these resources, you start to realize why you shouldn't just let the women take care of business and let the men feel. If you get the right peg in the right hole, you get much better efficiency!
Each one of us has a unique, irreplaceable contribution to make. Everybody has a chance to be their own inimitable once-in-a-billion-year comet across the sky of life. And it's not just about these gender characteristics; there is a uniqueness about personality as well, and the interesting interaction between the two. All of that is what we have to bring to the party. That's what really excites and enlivens life.
So it's not just that you are a man. It is that you are the man that you are, the individual personality that you are. It is not just that you are a woman. It is that you are the woman that you are, a unique, irreplaceable woman. No one else will ever be that. Either the world gets what you are or the world is deprived, and God has been deprived of the opportunity to display His handiwork called you.
God wants his artwork to be shown. God needs it to be shown. And the world needs to see it. Show the goods, give the goods, be who you are. When you finally grow into your own skin, when you finally own yourself, then you can give the world a message of hope by being you. If you be yourself, that signals the possibility that everything could be what it is.
Exonerating our Maker
Not until every last sentient being has exposed his or her true colors will God be fully vindicated for what He has created. God has been unjustly accused of creating bad beings. When we prove to ourselves that we are not bad, when we prove to each other that we are beautiful, then God at last can go free. God did no wrong. You are not wrong. God made no mistake. And you are no exception—you are no mistake.
For the full text of In God's Defense, click here.
by David Truman
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