Is there a difference between masculine expression (read, performance) and “true”, inner masculinity? Does the form always correspond to the soul?
Are you concerned over whether to buy a blue shirt over a pink one? To wear pants over a skirt? Is it because you believe that the essence of masculinity is carried within these mere objects?
Need we make reference to the many cultures and time periods were these same tools carried the opposite denotation? Need we refer to the early 1900s when pink was actually ascribed to boys for it was seen as a subtler version of the very intense and alarming red color, and that blue was advertised to you girls because it was seen as calmer and more passive? Need we refer to the ancient Greece, Egypt, Israel where “skirts” were worn by both men and women?
In this article, I would like to have a short conversation of the differences, if any, between masculine expression and the core of masculinity. And to facilitate our discussion, I will be using the terms, yin and yang.
What does it mean to be yang? In the simplest terms, it means to give, but it also means to not depend. Yang is free and not restrictive,
To be yin, among other things, is to be receptive. One receives ideas from the outside world. But, yin also plays restriction to yang’s freedom. Yang liberates but yin imposes. Yang is light and yin is darkness. Yang is the open palm and yin is the tightening fist. Yang reveals but yin hides in shadow. Yang is considered masculine and yin is feminine. Yang is without form as it is pure force, but yin is form that is ever changing in response to the force put upon it.
Yin individuals enjoy receiving from the outside world. They are typical rule followers, trend followers and are ever aware of every little change in their environment so as to respond to it.
Yang can be totally unaware of the outside world, and often even itself, as it simple exists. It does and says whatever it is that it wishes and is indifferent to its environment.
So, let us offer a few examples to better understand yin and yang and its relationship to feminine and masculine performance. Let us say, as a man, you are a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic but you watch a Andrew Tate video about how that makes you less of a man. If you receive the words of Andrew Tate (especially without any contemplation and investigation on your part) does this make you yang? It may in fact make you a “man” in our current framing of the word in the west, but it does not make you yang.
Second example, now let’s make things more complicated. Let us say your school develops a new dress code policy — now no student is allowed to wear sneakers and hoodies. Now let’s say you have never really worn sneakers and hoodies but, inspired by this new policy, decide to rebel without cause. Does this make you yin or yang? If in fact you had always worn hoodies and sneakers and this is simply a reflection of your own “internal light” than defying this new rule would make you yang (perhaps not the healthiest expression of yang, because following rules isn’t always a bad thing, but that is not our present concern).
But, if you decide to rebel for the pure sake of going against the grain… that would probably make you quite yin, because… you are responding to outside forces. Interesting, isn’t it? Whether you respond positively to outside forces, in the sense that you obey them, or negatively to outside forces, in the sense that you outright disobey them, then you are still acting from a place of yin because you have not originated this idea without inspiration, provocation or other manners of outside influence.
It is actually a very common strategy of those very lacking but so desperate to possess yang to act rebellious without cause, if only to give themselves some subconscious sense of control over their own selves and dominance over their environment. The guy who goes out of his way to be a jerk? Well, he may actually be much more yin than he would ever like to admit, for his bad attitude and cruelty may be a way to make himself feel more in charge, of himself and others, than he is.
Let us offer another example in this same vein. Let us say, distressed hoodies, a la Yeezys, are the new thing. If you receive the trend, you are yin. If you are revolted by the trend, specifically because it is a trend and everyone else is following it, but you would have considering participating if it weren’t for the masses, then you are also yin. If you see it, want it, like it and get it regardless of who else does or doesn’t then you are yang, for you are responding only to your own desires, uncorrupted by outside forces.
Let us offer a final example. Introversion vs. Extroversion. How much stimulation do you require? How much television watching, party going, pornography consuming, dug abusing do you enjoy? To be extroverted is to require external sources of light, which necessarily puts you in the passive position of the darkness that consumes these substances. The less external stimulation you need, the more yang you are. Yin individuals are, naturally, very reactive, as they respond to their environment.
To pursue a woman and court her puts one in the yang position because you are pouring your energy towards her void and having her receive you. To watch pornography puts you in a yin position (in a very negative way, yin can be good or bad), because you sit back and allow the false lights (a false and corrupted yang has a corrupted yin as its counterpart) to attack and penetrate you — no wonder we say that pornography has a zombifying effect on people, this zombification is us turning yin and passive and drains us of our own light.
The objective of this article is not to dictate what others should be, as the focus should always be on one’s true, internal self, express in a positive way. But, it is merely to say, many who think themselves feminine or masculine may only be so superficial. The “feminine” and “masculine” person may actually have much more in common with each other than they realize because they always submit to outside mandates. If you are always running around submitting and demanding that others submit to a given framework of being, you are operating as a restrictive yin force, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as all things have their place, but it is what you are. Those obsessed with gender roles, whether man or woman, or deeply yin. A concern over appearance (what others perceive and how others receive you; a concern over the other and outside world) is yin.
Now, realistically speaking, as human beings, we possess both yin and yang influences, as all things in existence possess this inner, ever shifting polarity — except, of course, for the one divine, in whom all contraries are reconciled. It is unreasonable, impossible and unhealthy to even try to be all yang and the time, and instead, cultivating a proper relationship with your inner yin (which will reflect as a good relationship with the external yin, ahem, women) is the only wise decision to make. We all exist in the plane of form or plane of matter, which itself yin and serves as a counterpart to heaven, the plane of force and spirit, which is yang, as therefore, yin, where we exist, is more abundant than yang.
In fact, if as a man, you embody yin and seek to receive from the ultimate yang, which is God (or your own soul) , through sincere spiritual practices, you as God’s moon (read, priest), will reflect this light so brilliantly that you will operate as a dominant, solar, yang force on earth. This is the only way that as a man, or woman, you can be spared of all lower, perverted and false lights or yang of earth, through being rooted in your own soul.
Now, am I saying that we should do away with dress codes and ascribed colors and activities? No, and even if I wanted to, which I don’t, it would be impossible.
Why do we have these cultural demarcations anyway? One can quickly conceive of two reasons.
1.The body must serve the soul, the form must serve the force. The true utility of these cultural tools, whether dress or activities, is their ability to express the individual’s nature within the context of that society.
For example, your average male is more physically aggressive than your average female, and there must be proper social and cultural tools that allows for its expression. Sports are one of them not to say girls do not benefit from this same tool, but arguably boys are more dependent on them, lest their wildness is left without a proper channel.
But, there are many ways of expressing this physical aggression, and over the tens of thousands of years of human history, men and women have often exchange the same cultural tools to express their collectively contrary natures. One can even return to the early example of pink and blue. Pink is more expressive than blue, and there is a way in which each polarity is more expressive than the other. Again, boys on average being more physical expressive and girls more emotionally. Then we have thongs, which at one point were used by men to facilitate wrestling and other modes of combat, and now are used by women for… why do women wear thongs? I don’t actually know. Again and again we are seeing that the same tools that men made use to express their aggression, women inverted to express their collective nurturing natures (I know there is many a woman or man that does not correspond to the above general descriptions, these are… general descriptions).
Again and again, we obsess over the tools, the superficial matters, and ignore the core. These conversations are useful when we think of our modern day struggles like who should cook. Preparing food is not a fundamentally female thing to do. For a long time is has been a tool used by women, but this can (and actually must, for the progress of our society) be changed.
Who knows? With a little media propaganda, we can sell cooking as a very masculine, dangerous, strategic practice and do away just a little with the maternal associations. Someone call Gordon Ramsay.
2. Then we have the utility of visual communication. It’s not everyday that one wrestles with lions to save an innocent child from being it’s breakfast, and have that serve as proof of our masculinity and yet, we need that others quickly perceive us as being masculine so we can benefit from the potential partners, social positions and other unique benefits that come from the perception of our masculinity.
It is the same as with anything else. Most of us are not neurosurgeons and have not the tools to discover who is putting on a show, a la Catch Me if You Can, or who is actually knowledgeable and skilled. So, as the common person, we depend on these quick ways that others indirectly communicate their experience, for example, by making reference to their having graduated from this or that prestigious university or having been published by this or that respected science magazine.
Let us consider the practice of hand-holding for men. Presently, in western societies, this is considered a no-no for men to do with other men, but it is not so in many other cultures, such as some of those of rural suburban Africa. Even the practice of men hugging, and even kissing each other, is quite common in smaller towns around the world. Perhaps one explanation for why this is no longer a practice is homosexuality.
Since one of the values of these practices is the quick communication of one’s masculinity, in a society where homosexuality is more accepted, the practice of hand holding, hugging and kissing now takes new meaning. Now it becomes harder to distinguish two heterosexual men simply expressing physical affection from two homosexual partners. It is for this reason, surely among others, that heterosexual men have cut this practice, to facilitate the communication of their heterosexuality. Again, physical affection among men has nothing to do with “true” masculinity, but in western culture, this has now become an unspoken rule to express masculinity, for obvious purposes (chiefly, the acquisition of potential partners and other social privileges).
We do not all have eyes that can see nor do we always have opportunities that expose others for who they really are, and so we depend on these tools of communication, even if they are often deceptive, and this is why there will always be such a thing as the “masculine” thing to do or wear or say, even if it is disconnected from the core of masculinity — which it often is.
Now, let us speak of a matter that has been grinding my gears since its very inception. The whole dichotomy of Alpha males and Beta males. What is an Alpha? I take my concept from the National Geographic.
Alphas are at the top and hoisted by the Betas who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alphas command, Betas follow etc.
One can see how the Betas can be yin, as they receive. But, often, even the Alphas themselves are quite yin, for they are not only sustained by the Betas (as, there is no leader without followers, so an Alpha can only exist in a context where there are Betas, so the Alpha is just as dependent on them as Betas are on the Alpha) but those who aspire to be Alphas, aspire to restrict and dim the light of others and have them follow their own arbitrary rules. Both the imposer of the rule and the follower of the rule are yin (Saturn), though within this dynamic, the followers are even more yin and the leader is yang. But, those who are outside these structures all together, without the need to follow nor the need for the validation of being followed, these are yang (Sun).
Furthermore, human relationships are too dynamic for there to be a designated Alpha or Beta. Take one man. He may be the Alpha of one friend group, but then the Beta of another. He is Alpha with his girlfriend but Beta with his Sister. He is Alpha to his father but Beta to his mother. He is Alpha in the football field but Beta in intellectual fields.
What do you make of a soldier? Is a soldier Alpha or Beta? Yes, they are strong, muscular, confident, brave and disciplined but… they take orders from the general, so ultimately they are the Betas in the dynamic, despite their prowess. What about a mother? Is she Alpha or Beta? Very often she is Alpha, because she rules the household and controls not only her children but her husband. She orders everybody about, and even when she is a housewife and benefitting from the financial support of her partner, she commonly rules with an iron fist. Again, to be Alpha or Beta has nothing to do with muscle, aggression, confidence and not much to do with personality. There are those who may embody the ideal of masculinity in many ways yet they are forever in the Beta end of the dynamic.
Such terms are ultimately not vey useful and may even cause needless insecurity in men who may, in all respects, embody what society deems as masculine, yet for whatever reason, finds himself in fields where he is the Beta.