Human society is governed by diametrically opposing forces, that is, chaos and order, yinyang, masculine and feminine – the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Chaos being that from which new things emerge, and order, that which keeps the chaos at bay: the lions and barbarians beyond the castle walls, and the debt collectors satiated. Both aspects are entirely necessary for human society to function, and you can see this dichotomy reflected in the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Confronting chaos (the unknown), is the function of the right hemisphere; its function is holistic thinking, creativity, symbolism, and is activated when the unknown, that is, when chaos presents itself. This activation is aimed at generating imagistic representations, that is, mental images/fantasies of that might be lurking in the shadows; chaos always casts shadows over what we thought we knew. This serves the function of trying to determine what threats may exist in the places we have yet to explore.
Establishing order is the function of the left hemisphere, utilising function logic, details, and language to create a stable mental and physical environment to inhabit. The left hemisphere activates when we are in explored territory, that is, a place, space, or domain where what we expect to happen, happens.
When our predictions of the effects (results/consequences) of our causes (actions) match, that is, are congruent, we are in explored territory; order has been established.
As long as our predictions are congruent with reality (see: Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development), we will not experience negative emotion, that is, chaos. When we inhabit order, we are within the castle walls, we are safe from the wolves, and protected from the fiery depths of the underworld.
Brain Hemispheres and Traditional Gender Roles
Today, somewhat, and in times past, traditional gender roles reflected almost perfectly each hemispheres’ function of the brain. Masculine – order, operated with a cold rationality, confident in its predictions and biased towards action; concerned with details, logical consistency, linear thinking, and moving towards goals (activation of behaviour). The masculine was external and visual, and women adapted themselves with respect to sexual selection with this; stringent emphasis on beauty, passivity (the opposite of behavioural activation), emotions (holistic, irrational, and symbolic in their physiological expression). The feminine was internal, emotional, holistic, symbolic, intuitive, creative, passive (behavioural inhibition), and generally anxious (this is reflected by studies that show that women, on average, are more anxious than men – personality trait neuroticism).
This polarity, in my view, creates this magnetic sexual attraction (sexual polarity), as each is attracted to its opposite because it does not understand it. The details understand not the big picture, the unsure of the certain, the external of the internal, and the chaos of order. Each person exists on a continuum of yin and yang (masculine and feminine) traits, and in my view these traits are constantly shifting from moment-to-moment, day-to-day, and situation-to-situation. This is not to say that there weren’t and aren’t exceptions – but, historically speaking, traditional gender roles demanded masculinity from men, that is, order, and chaos of women, that is, femininity.
Gender Roles and the 21st Century
As society begins to encourage women to become more independent, and to take more responsibility for their own finances and general life autonomy, the relationship between men and women has been quietly shifting. Men are no longer expected to provide, and women are no longer expected to nurture and care. This changing in gender roles and their accompanying expectations has changed the way we relate to one another with respect to sexual attraction and mating. The media used to portray masculinity as that to which we should aspire, and femininity as undesirable, though nowadays it appears to be, maybe not inverted, but at least femininity is not looked down upon or seen as incorrect. I personally believe this is a valuable evolution in western societal values. These changes have resulted, at least from my perspective in Melbourne, Australia, in men adopting more feminine styles, attitudes, perspectives and the like; women more assertiveness, responsibility, and action, for example.
Personally, I used to embody masculinity to the core, my rigidity with respect to logic, structure, rules, and essentially the dismissal of my emotions (thanks Mum). As a result, I was attracted to extremely feminine, creative, and bubbly women. Since living in Melbourne (I didn’t grow up here), I have healed many of my attachment wounds (see: attachment styles & attachment trauma), got to know my emotions and made peace with them (through meditation, yoga, and writing poetry), and as a result I improved my interpersonal relationships, I feel that I embody a more balanced energy. My intuition is at all time highs, and please keep in mind that I have Autism, so intuition does not come naturally to me, not even a little. Through my acceptance of myself, and stepping into my feelings more – becoming embodied – I have become more peaceful and content with what is, and as result my desire for many things has diminished, or in some cases completely evaporated.
I used to pursue goals with unrelenting ambition and drive, but now I am content with the basics; though I must make it clear that I still do have lofty goals, am financially successful, and extremely fit, I just have identified what is agreeable to the healthy functioning of my psychophysiology, and what can be discarded as it does not serve me.
It is my view that the masculine energy is attracted to the feminine, and the feminine to the masculine. As previously stated, people are not only one or the other, though some are, the vast majority are to varying degrees masculine and feminine, depending on the situation. For example, during a pandemic where anti-vaxxers are spouting dangerous anti-science rhetoric that is harmful to society itself, and thus I naturally embody my masculine to correct dangerous views, and to call people out who have little regard for the safety of others. Though when my friend mentions they are having a difficult time, I begin to embody my feminine energy and my caring and nurturing side becomes activated.
When I am embodying my masculine, for example during an intense workout or during a period of intense and sustained workload, I find myself more attracted to the feminine qualities in others; conversely, when I am embodying my feminine, for example while dancing, listening to music, and/or prolonged periods of creativity and emotional connection with self and other, I find myself more attracted to the masculine qualities of others.
Does this make me non-binary?
I believe this perspective is actually a misnomer. It is my view that non-binary-ism does not exist, for I think it is attempting to describe something that already exists, and is innate in all of us irrespective of our sex. You can be a man and identify as such while expressing yourself in a feminine manner: does this make you any less of a man? Of course not, it merely makes you human. Similarly, does expressing your masculine qualities make you any less of a woman? In my view, no, it simply validates your humanness, that is, your innate capacity for the expression of energetic duality. From my perspective, non-binary-ism is an attempt at trying to describe something that has already been described, that is, that this is a perennial phenomena of the expression of both masculine and feminine qualities in each sex, including those who are intersex. It would be equally valid to identify as a man, while wearing skirts and dresses, as it would be equally legitimate, truthful and congruent to identify as a woman while being an MMA fighter and dressing in a masculine manner.
The Energetic Adaptation to Environmental Variance
In situations that demand compassion and empathy, I too become compassionate and empathetic; when my environment demands aggression, cold rationality, and discipline, I too become aggressive, rational, and disciplined – this is an intelligent response from an intelligent organism in response to its environment. The organisms that adapt the most effectively to its environment increases its likelihood of survival, and thus reproductive success, that is, successful propagation of its genes and furthering the continuation of the species across time.