Familiarity and Genderedness

Familiarity refers to how much you have been exposed to females, how much you “get” them, or how commonplace they are for you. This is measured on a scale: exotic/odd (very unfamiliar, positive or negative) to familiar. Ambiguous means confused, uncertain. Heterosexual men would tend to view women as exotic.

Look at the way you described women in your female gender concept column. Do your descriptions indicate that you see women as exotic, odd, or familiar?

Use the familiarity scale from GW Seminar

Genderedness: the natural state of having two sexes that are distinct and different from one another in terms of physiology and character traits. And, awareness of those distinctions and differences. A clear sense of genderedness is typical of heterosexual men

Genderedness can be measured on a scale: distinct (highly gendered) to identified (no genderedness). Ambiguous means doubt, uncertainty, having multiple possibilities, lack of distinction. Heterosexual men would tend to experience distinct genderedness.

Compare your female gender concept with your self-concept in the 7 categories. How gendered is your perception of yourself versus your perception of women?

Genderedness (p. 184)

It’s time for us now to move beyond mere masculine sufficiency and begin exploring the two aspects involved in comprehension of the feminine, beginning with complementarity. We discussed complementarity at length in Chapter Three in the section on “Genderedness and Complementarity,” which is one of the six core needs. Here we’ll briefly review what we’ve already learned, adding a few elaborations.

Genderedness, you may remember, is the natural state of having two sexes that are distinct and different from one another. Genderedness is a given of which we’re all aware on some level. But to fully experience genderedness we have to get it on all levels—consciously and unconsciously—mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Genderedness begins with a clear sense of belonging to the sex dictated by your body—if your body is male, you feel like you are male. You believe that your gender traits match those of your own given sex and are different from the gender traits of the opposite sex. Beyond that, we must also be aware of the factors that distinguish our own sex from the other, including the obvious physical differences as well as the differences in personality traits like interests, motivations, emotionality, and relational tendencies.

This conscious knowledge provides a certain awareness of genderedness—we understand that we are male and that women are very different creatures. But this is just the beginning of experiencing genderedness. There is a far deeper awareness of gender that comes, not from our minds, but from unconscious places within us. To really comprehend genderedness, our bodies have to feel it more than our minds need to understand it. Let’s look at this from an archetypal perspective.

More than any other archetype, genderedness in men seems to derive from a strong connection to Warrior energy. As I said at the beginning of this chapter, I believe this is true because Warrior is the archetype that most differentiates us from the feminine. Consider the following comparisons between feminine energy and the Warrior masculine:

    • The feminine is relational and emotionally aware. Warrior tends to be the opposite—aloof, unrelated, and emotionally distant. He’s the source of boundaries and imposing limits.
    • The feminine is soft and receptive. Warrior is aggressive—the source of power, focused direction, and forward action.
    • The feminine nurtures new life. The Warrior embraces the finality of death. He’s the destroyer of old and corrupt ways of life.
    • The feminine is unconditionally accepting. The Warrior imposes demands and requires discipline and the development of skills.

When men experience within themselves the Warrior traits described above, we tend to feel deeply masculine. We experience gender congruity. When we experience ourselves with these traits in the presence of a woman, we feel gendered. To explain this further, let’s switch tracks and look at it from the perspective of resonance, which we discussed a few pages back as one of the same–sex affiliation needs.

I don’t understand all of the conscious and unconscious processes that create resonance between two males, but those same processes are also at work when men interact with the opposite sex. But in the presence of a woman, men typically feel a very different type of resonance—let’s call it a “harmonic resonance.” When a man is attracted to a woman he definitely is resonating with her, but they aren’t on the same note. They are swirling around each other in harmonious counterpoint. If they were on the same note, the attraction would go flat. And this is why many men with SSA aren’t attracted to women—they are too much on the same frequency with them and they don’t resonate with other men.

Genderedness

The concept of gender distinctions is sometimes a little difficult to understand, so consider the following explanation: Gender distinction is about your sense of your own maleness as being distinct and different from females and femininity. Additionally, gender distinction involves your sensing and understanding masculine roles as being something different from feminine roles. At its most basic level, it’s about the natural biological distinctions that show up as differences in the way men and women think, feel, and behave. Most importantly, gender distinction is about your sense of connection to the male gender.

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