The Meaning of Life, part 2: Masculine and Feminine

Continued from The Meaning of Life, part 1.

A particularly important application of the principle of balance, is the balance between what’s known as masculine and feminine forces. Every healthy individual necessarily has a mix of both, although it’s typically (but not always) the case that masculine forces are stronger in men, and feminine forces are stronger in women. Still, both are important, and they complement each other in interesting ways. If either force is missing or suppressed, then an unhealthy individual, or even an unhealthy civilization, may result.

To illustrate the interaction between the masculine and feminine forces, I’ve made this table. (It’s not meant to be a complete representation of everything traditionally associated with masculine and feminine forces (in cultures that respect both). It’s just meant to try to show how both matter.)

Feminine Masculine
Affinity Spiritual Material (physical)
Constructive aspect Creation Organization
Supportive aspect Healing Protection
Self-serving aspect Pretense Conquest
Reasoning style Intuitive (holistic, big-picture) Deductive (reductionistic, detail-oriented)
Imbalance risk Highly sensitive Autistic

These things seem to be largely true for both individuals and civilizations. For example, much of civilization has been dominated by masculine forces for a few thousand years, which has resulted in a rather materialistic civilization, characterized by wars, exploitation, and narrow-minded politics. (Much of this masculine dominance has been made possible because of certain religions that try to make the impression that God is male, and/or that the first human was male. Neither is necessarily true — in fact, I’d expect both claims to be completely wrong. The power of creation is a feminine force.)

Admittedly, it’s not always obvious why the claims made here should be true. For example, creation is listed as a feminine force, but history’s most celebrated inventors are mostly men. There are two explanations for that: 1) for most of history, women have had lower status. For example, the actress Hedy Lamarr invented several of the principles of modern wireless technology, but she was not taken very seriously at the time. 2) in a competitive world, creativity is not necessarily enough to gain fame. Those inventors who did, have typically combined their creativity with their masculine features in order to make their mark on the world. (And, as I see it, that just shows some of the power of combining the masculine with the feminine.)

(If it’s of interest, there are several reasons why creation is traditionally considered a feminine force. Most obviously, they bear children. Furthermore, in societies with traditional gender roles, women tend to have the more creative jobs, the homemaker role included. Although men might build a house and things like that, it would often befall women to build everything needed inside that house and elsewhere, including clothes, baskets, and so on. While modern industrialized civilization has changed how this works a bit, it still seems to be the case, at least to me, that there’s a slight tendency for women to prefer creative jobs, and for men to prefer technical jobs.)

Anyway, those who would seek the meaning of life should consider this balance a very important building block. In order to find, understand, and fulfill the meaning of life, this balance must be restored and respected, preferably both as individuals and as a civilization. Over the last century, there’s been some good work done on equality and feminism and such, perhaps especially here in the Nordic countries. But there’s clearly still a lot more to be done, even here.

Another way to put it, is this: Discrimination of women has got to stop. And not only for the sake of the women, but for the health and sustainability of civilization itself. A world founded on predominantly masculine values will destroy itself, sooner or later. Perhaps we’re already approaching that point. Unfortunately, some of those who do see it coming, keep blaming the wrong things. These people are mostly men. And that’s just one reason it’s important that women have as much power and influence as men. After all, if we want humanity to survive the challenges of the future, we should focus more of our attention on the right things.