Men and Women Being Men and Women


“I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”

(-Charles Cooley)

I am… in relation to you. I am…. in completion with you. (-me)

The Tao describes good and bad, light and dark, heavy and light as dependent on each for meaning: We must know darkness to fully understand light. We can “know” a “textbook” definition of one; however, without experiencing its opposite, we cannot appreciate the one. Men and women were created with opposing characteristics for a reason…. so that we may appreciate ourselves fully and completely! Once we know ourselves, we can know ourselves as a part of One unit. The circular symbol of Tao has white with a black spot and black with a white spot because although yin and yang are opposites, when interacting with each other, they demonstrate qualities of their opposite. The best example is the metaphor of the mountain: One side is mainly sunny with a few shadows; the other is darker with speckles of sunlight. However, as the sun shifts and our lives fall out of balance, the sunny side can become dark and vice versa.

Throughout my childhood, I had felt more masculine than feminine. I was jealous of the girls who easily portrayed themselves as “girly” and feminine. I longed to be a part of a “girl group” as I tended toward having male friends. As an adult I have embraced my masculinity and have continually sought my inner femininity. During a creative arts course in college, I discovered that my goddess within comes in three stages: The sex vixen, the nurturing mother, the wise crone. However, I cannot fully appreciate these aspects of myself without my counterbalance, my opposites. I developed my inner femininity and now feel as though I am feminine with a touch of masculinity (rather than the other way around).

During my “the mother” stage- my husband was my counterbalance. We complimented each other because he could be described as masculine with a pinch of femininity. [I know, I know, most men want to be told they are “all man” or “not a bit feminine.” Come on, what does it say about women for a man to “diss” feminine qualities with such comments. Can you imagine the yin yang symbol as simply a half black, half white circle?]. We balanced each other and kept each other “in check” with our masculine and feminine qualities. I felt more feminine when he acted with more masculinity. I tried my best to empower him in being a man: I trusted him to keep our family safe (physically and financially). I gave him opportunities to practice chivalry and teach our son “how to be a man.” I upheld traditional roles concerning work: I didn’t want to work outside the home because I believed my gifts and knowledge were better suited for raising the kids while he was happier being the “bread winner.” I made minor decisions and collaborated on big ones; however, ultimately, he was entrusted with the final decision. I was a wife in joyful submission to my husband. I was the ruler of our home: Cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating, gardening, religion*, rearing and educating the children were my domain. I did not feel like I was in an inferior role; quite the contrary, the work done in the home left a great impact on the world’s future. I was a worrier and more serious- often contemplating life’s meaning. He was carefree and “the fun one.” I could play the “social game” but chose not to. He enjoyed being around people, but sometimes “what others think” would get in his way. I was the dreamer and list-maker. He was the builder and action-taker.

We were different in so many ways, yet complimented each other; just as do the yin and yang. Our oneness worked because we knew our individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, and peeves: I loved myself with greater depth because I “experienced my opposite:” The yang to my yin. I was free to be a woman because he was free to be a man.

*Traditionally the man should be the “head” in this area; however, it was more fitting- for us- that I took on the role of spiritual leader for our family.

Question: Does this viewpoint mean that if one doesn’t find another person with whom to be in a relationship, he or she may never fully understand themselves? What are your thoughts? Check back for my answer to this question.


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