Masculine and Feminine Energy: Am I a Man in a Woman's Body?

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:10 pm

Years ago I was chatting with someone I'd met online who kept demanding to know my real name. When I finally relented, he insisted that I must actually want to be a boy, since "Marty" (not my actual real name, but a nickname) is not a traditional girl's name, and yet that's what I insisted people call me. I blocked him, but that conversation comes to mind whenever I run across dating advice surrounded around "masculine" and "feminine" energy.

http://thiswildwakingjourney.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/the-sexiest-3-words-a-man-can-say-to-a-woman/

This link has been making the rounds on my FB, accompanied by a lot of "YES" and "THIS" and other one-word agreeing declarative. Spoiler alert: the three words are "I got this," the thesis statement of the article being that women being taken care of and protected. Translated, it's:

“I’m going to take on this uncomfortable mission-oriented task because that’s how I can best offer my masculine gift right now while honoring your delicious gift of feminine energy to my life. I will demonstrate my deep commitment to your care by ensuring you can stay warm under the covers and linger in this moment of blissful embodied reverie.”


I've actually run across this a lot.... this idea that women and men have different "energies," and the most attractive women are those who embody their "feminine" energy. This "feminine" energy is nurturing, caring, feeling, all flowing skirts and spiritual moon orgasms. "Masculine" energy, on the other hand, is analytic, logical, "thinking", all hammer-nails and rocket ships. So, so many things I've read attribute unhappiness in dating or relationships to refusal to embrace our "natural" energy, and bring out the gendered energy in our partner. (Places I've read this: "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", "7 Reasons You're Not Married Yet", dating coach Evan Marc Katz, a whole bunch of online articles.)

Every time I run across this attitude, it brings to mind that conversation years ago. I've always felt like a woman-I've always seen myself as a woman and felt I was born in the right body. And yet all this talk of "feminine energy" and "embracing your feminine power" just makes me feel as if.... I'm not really a woman. I feel, and I care, but I've never seen those traits as my strength. I lean more analytic than I do "gut feeling."

And honestly, despite all of the insistence from authors who espouse this that embracing your feminine energy does not mean being a doormat, I can't help but feel that's exactly what "embracing my feminine nature" feels like. It feels like turning off my brain.... it feels like being the little woman who feels strong in her man's arms (uggggggggh.) It feels like becoming a guy's therapist; according to that dating coach I referenced, a woman's smarts, job or accomplishments are worth squat, it's all about "accepting and being a warm, comforting presence" for the man.

Maybe I could "get in touch" with my feminine nature, and that'd make me more attractive and better at relationships, but I'm not sure I want to. Am I just completely misunderstanding this concept that's so eye-opening for other couples? Is my problem my "masculine energy"-am I not doing Woman right, with my tech job and my constricting jeans?
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Post by Enail on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:12 pm

All I can say is the whole concept makes my eyes roll almost right out of my head.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:42 pm

Of all the dudes I've known well enough to know, exactly one favors the type of woman who "turns off her brain".

I also know exactly two women who mostly fit that idea of "feminine energy". One of them is also an aspiring science fiction writer and wins Magic tournaments. The other is a fellow Marvelite and board game collector.

They're cool and I'm happy for them and their fiancees. I also wouldn't personally want to date someone like them, because the spiritual moon orgasms are just a bit too much.
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Post by eselle28 on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:43 pm

I'm responding to the concept more with a turning of the stomach than a rolling of the eyes.

My take is essentially that there's a set of strengths and weaknesses and emotions that society has decided to code as feminine. They're not bad and they're not good. They just are. It's fine if women identify with them, and I'd say it's also fine to reject them. I get a yuck feeling from being told to embrace that particular feminine nature as well, and my gut response is that it's not because women who naturally align with that are somehow lesser, but that I'd be lessening myself if I decided to completely reshape my personality in that way because whatever "energy" I happen to have is fine as is.
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Post by UristMcBunny on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:49 pm

I'm going to be honest, I clicked the link you posted and got about three paragraphs in before I basically transformed into this

Masculine and Feminine Energy: Am I a Man in a Woman's Body?  Tina-feys-real-life-daughter-played-young-liz-lemon-on-this-weeks-30-rock

So... this guy's friend tells him she fell for a guy she was sleeping with after he offered to take on a small morning-time chore for her... and his interpretation of events is 1200+ words of waffle on "primal masculine energies". Nope. Couldn't possibly be that, in a world where women find themselves expected to carry more and more of the burdens of a relationship - working, childcare, chores, budgeting, social management... - that encountering a guy who is not only willing to be an equal and contributing partner - but who does it without needing to be asked first - feels like a catch. Gotta be those magical unique (but always somehow neatly gendered in a tidy little box) energies.

I wouldn't worry, Marty. You're not "a guy in a woman's body". You're a woman who, like 99.9% of all women, doesn't neatly and perfectly fit a narrow and confining "ideal". If you're "not doing woman right", then neither are any of the rest of us.

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Post by The Wisp on Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:52 pm

There seems to be a whole genre of dating advice like the piece you  linked, Marty. It's all bad IMO. Way too constricting and demanding of both genders.
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Post by Wondering on Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:19 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:Couldn't possibly be that, in a world where women find themselves expected to carry more and more of the burdens of a relationship - working, childcare, chores, budgeting, social management... - that encountering a guy who is not only willing to be an equal and contributing partner - but who does it without needing to be asked first - feels like a catch.

That was exactly my reaction, too. A guy who does a task, so the woman has one fewer to manage, without being prompted? Awesome.

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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:35 pm

"She said these words slid from his masculine mouth smooth as a river stone and strong as steel"

If anything smooth as a river stone and strong as steel slides from my mouth, don't lie there in feminine bliss. Call 911!

Now let me be clear, here. If I accidentally locked the roomate's cat in my room (she likes to hide under the bed) and she wakes me and my overnight date up meowing to get out and my date says "I got this", my first thought is not going to be "what a manly example of female masculinity I have in this woman!" Its going to be "well that's mighty thoughtful of her."

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 05, 2014 6:12 am

enail, I think I sprained my superior rectus extraocular muscle reading that.

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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:36 pm

Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh. I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Research kleenestar also wants to point out that there is no inverse relationship between conventional masculine and feminine traits. Someone can be highly masculine and also highly feminine, or low on both scales. The idea that we have to be either-or is both toxic and inaccurate. What does tend to be either-or is attachment to the idea of masculinity or femininity; if you are highly attached to the existence of conventional gender roles, you will have a hard time identifying as both, and will suppress or reframe traits you have that belong to the undesired gender.
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Post by reboot on Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:02 pm

Yeah this is a crock. Even the nurturing earth mother sorts that I know have an equal amount of "masculine" energy. You sure as hell do not manage a family on moonbeams and caring. At some point you need to do the practical logistics of trying to figure out how to breastfeed while making lunch for the toddler while simultaneously keeping them from jumping off the table and figuring out the most efficient way to get everything done that needs to be done in the day to day. It takes mad problem solving skills.

And how sad is it that a man doing a minor household task once is presented as this huge deal?
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Post by Kaz on Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:17 pm

Just from the quotes people have shared, I think I have better things to do with my life than read that article. Watching paint dry seems like a candidate - at least that doesn't come with the danger of loss of eyeballs through excessive rolling...

Marty, I'm not sure how serious you are about "am I really a woman", but if you want, I can tell you some of the signs that I wasn't one (AFAB nonbinary trans* person here). I assure you that none of them were "I am not made of nurturing caring rainbow sparkles! I can plan! I can math!", and were far more along the lines of vague feelings of alienation from women, not being able to call myself a woman for the life of me, mild dysphoria I didn't recognise as such (e.g. persistent feelings of "where did these breasts come from they are not meant to be here the mental blueprint for my body I have in my head does not have breasts on it"), and other such fun stuff. Gender roles really have a negative amount to do with it (the times when people start evoking gender roles and stereotypes are actually when I feel *most* "like a woman", whether or not I fit them).

Actually, this might be something for you to take on board? It sounds like you're worried you're Failing At Womanhood somehow. But there is no such thing as Failing At Womanhood. Even if you were some form of trans* (which does not sound likely from what you say about yourself here) you would not have Failed At Womanhood, you would simply be someone who found themself happier and more comfortable thinking of themself as and being treated as a different gender (slightly simplified). And if you consider yourself a woman, nobody but nobody gets to try to shove you out of that category going "but real women do..."

(On that final note: I have met so many women who go by gender-neutral nicks. Hell, I think I have met trans women who go by gender-neutral nicks. Sure, they *can* be a sign of someone who isn't that attached to being female - were and are for me - but they absolutely 100% don't have to be. In fact, saying that women have to advertise their gender or else they must secretly want to be men is hella sexist/binarist/male-as-default in and of itself. Side-eying your friend HARDCORE, Marty.)

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Post by caliseivy on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:31 pm

reboot wrote:
And how sad is it that a man doing a minor household task once is presented as this huge deal?

I have people on FB who post things like that and everyone goes "Oh YES! This so many times!" And I just say to myself, "That's a low-ass standard you've got there..."
I do understand how nice it feels when a guy you're involved with finally voluntarily does something that needs to be done without you constantly having to remind/ask him, but I can't imagine a scenario where hearing "I got this" would make me fall in love with someone.

I don't get "feminine" vs. "masculine" energy. To me, there's only energy
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:36 pm

Oh, don't get me into Facebook. So much gushing when a guy "babysits" his own children.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:48 pm

I forgot to mention, I have a great-aunt who's gone by "Marty" since the '70s. It's not that weird.

And yeah, I totally skipped the article and just looked at what you wrote about it, 'cause it sounded really gross.

I don't know what you're supposed to do to make yourself more attractive to the people you're interested in, but I'm pretty sure this idea that you need to be more stereotypically "feminine" is bullshit.
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Post by caliseivy on Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:51 pm

When I think about feminine energy and making yourself more attractive (by exuding more feminine energy?) I imagine a woman in a leotard doing a cross between interpretive dance and tai chi to draw in the energy.
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Post by ChrissyOrig on Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:50 am

I didn't read through the whole article, but it reminds me of the book http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Languages-Secret-Lasts/dp/0802473156. The author says that people tend to have different ways of experiencing love or affection: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. So it seems like "I got this" might be great for people who need Acts of Service. No idea if those people would be mainly women or men.

I think a big problem with these pop psychology articles is that they over-generalize and tout that one particular method works for everyone, which is almost never true. We're more complicated than that.

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