The title could as easily be “Gender for the Relationship-Ambiguous. Gender is a fluid thing to me, but then so are relationships. Within that observation, put the two together and certain curious details emerge.
One specific stereotype of relationships has bothered me from Day 1 of Adult Relations. Before I get to that, let me clarify a few things: I’ve never maintained a long romantic relationship with a woman, as in shared bills and whatnot. My experience from the long haul standpoint has been with men. That said, even with my limited range of biosex longterm relationship, dynamics are dynamics in my experience, and certain archetypal, if not energetic, traits override the bits.
I find this realm’s complementary life force constructs–masculine and feminine–apply regardless of what the biosex or relationship format are. Despite the perceived limitations of gender, orientation, or relationship style (because yes, some people are in triads, quads, of mixed bio/gender queer, etc), the polarities of yin/yang still exist. Thus, the social and behavioural components of those opposites still exist, as well.
In short, yang is the masculine or active principle. It does things, initiates creation. Yin is the feminine principle, which processes things to give them meaning. Yin forms the basis from which we determine how we move forward from old things for Yang to do more new things. Yang plants the seed; Yin fosters it to manifestation. I’m going to assume that I’m preaching to the choir, on that note. There are plenty of places to read about yin and yang.
With that understanding, masculine and feminine are not exclusive from each other, or from the other primordial components of how we form ourselves as humans in this realm. Rather, they are complements existing in all things–we all embody both qualities. Each quality comes forward as its needed through life.
Having established that, the stereotype I’m speaking of is this dynamic in which the feminine often expects the masculine to change. We most encounter this stereotype in common discourse as “women expect men to change.” That phrasing doesn’t really do it justice, though. I’ll get to that bit in a minute. This little gem gets a lot of play from Cosmo and the grist that attempts to inform us of what our bioidentities, and to some degree genders, should expect in relationships, and none of it is flattering for anyone.
This idea serves to create a culture in which women set out to demolish men and men expect constant confrontation. It plants the seed that not only do women expect that men will change once in a relationship, but that men should change, and it is the woman’s role to change them. Thus, the relationship becomes centered around a projected sense of reality rather than the reality that is. That faulty perspective can’t sustain, despite that our society supports it.
What bugs me as much as this stereotype is its bed fellow that no one talks about. I opened dialogue on this some years ago with fairly sexually and gender pioneering peers, thus feel fairly confident in originating it here: the masculine often expects the feminine to stay the same. I see it most often in men’s expectations that women should remain the minxy lasses they were upon meeting their committed mates, ever vivacious, energetic, orgasmic, and… pretty.
An equally problematic expectation as the former, it sets up the projection that how a woman is at the inception of commitment through combined household, children, taxes, aging, should be how she remains. Deeper implications of these are that a woman’s needs should never evolve, her wisdom should never dominate, and her body should not show wear.
In the culturally accepted setup, everyone is hetero and in the officially sanctioned style of union, and the language used to describe these stereotypes reflects that. The reality is, I watch these dynamics at work in almost every relationship at some point–homosexual dyads, bi-poly triads, you name it. When you strip away all of the conventionally applied labels, another pattern regarding change and expectations emerges.
In my more sacred line of work dynamics become visible to me from a higher angle, one in which there are no labels. The most common one that I see in relationships is one partner requests a behavioural change in the other partner, and when that partner demonstrates changed behaviour, the inquiring partner begins acting out the unwanted behaviour.
It’s miraculous that a person honors a request for change from another, let alone actually manifests the change. In cases where this happens, it speaks more about divine gender polarities having a greater influence than we’re consciously aware, more so than bioidentity, gender, or social projections.
Think about it:
yang = action
yin = process
We’re all made up of both yin and yang. Which we choose to act out depends on the needs of our lives at the moment. Sometimes we need to be the initiator of action, sometimes we need to be the process defining the acts’ significance. Factor into relationships the social construct of gender, bio-identity, and the ever-shifting divine polarities we all carry and you’re in for an interesting ride.
I think the moral of the story is that we have to stay in tune with these greater polarities, focusing on them as much or more than our prescribed views of sexuality and relationships. Given that, it’s our job to play out these roles between us–for there to be times when we demand change from lovers (or ourselves) and when we demand consistency. We are supposed to function within that broad range, not just part of it. Falling into the trap of always demanding and unspoken expectations is dwelling on shadow aspects of our own divinity. We are supposed to have this tension between us and within ourselves. That is the creative process at work. It is what motivates us to get off our asses and change things.
My question is, can we do embody this creative process and divine polarities without all the backbiting and criticism of biosex and gender expectations? Can we bless the process and in doing so bless our lovers, friends, and selves? And in blessing the process, can we carry it out with a little less drama?