Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Gender Roles

The resistance to this blog is that at its root it is probably going to advocate a reversion to gender roles. But what people need to understand is that roles themselves are not wrong. It is the KIND of roles that we have occupied as gender specific entities, that has caused all the abuse and the trauma.

One role that women seem to be uncomfortable with these days, and I find it hard to understand actually, is that of the muse. They seem to think that if a man is inspired by their beauty, that if he is enamoured of her, then the love he feels for her is false. But the concept of the muse has been abused itself.

Traditionally, the concept of the muse was simply that of inspiring another. Nothing more and nothing less. The extent to which another human being can inspire you is the extent to which they could be said to be your muse. Like Diane Keaton to Woody Allen, or Camille Claudel to Rodin. Modernity has objectified the muse, and it has to be said, many men, particularly the more narcissistic creative men out there, suck their muses dry before tossing them aside emotionally. But I want to stress to the women who read this blog, that this itself is abusing the role of the muse. It is not intrinsic to that role.

There is nothing wrong with playing a role for the other person or people in your life. What is wrong is when this role itself is abused, when that other person will confine you to this role, and drain you of your energies, rather than rejuvenate you through their love.

I think this is a problem in modern gender politics. Women are very resistant to playing any kind of role for their male lovers. But to refuse to play a role is to refuse to love. We have to understand that we will always be playing roles, but that the ultimate end of this role-playing is not to stay imprisoned in emotional patterns, but to consciously delve into the secrets of the human heart, to explore passions.

The love-relationship is a kind of spiritual metaphor for human existence. We focus our souls into a material expression. And through this relativistic material context, we express the freedom at the heart of spirit. Romantic love, at it's heart, is form of poetry. As Graves says, to be a poet, is to be in love.

But what is important is not to avoid these roles, or these dynamics within a relationship, but to understand their fluidity. That a woman can one day be muse, and the next day be poet.

The same is true for men. Men must not drain their women, by depending on the nurturing feminine energy. And to be fair, I think men are successfully learning this lesson. One of the great triumphs of feminism, is to allow men to understand their own femininity. Most of the men I call my friends, are men who are very giving, very nurturing – who know how to care for their lovers with the patience normally associated with a mother figure. This needs to be said - modern men have learned their lesson, and the new generation of men have become a nurturing and spiritually awakened generation.

What is confusing for this self-same generation, is that while all bets are off for female self-expression, the same is not true of men. Men are simply expected to assume feminine roles AS WELL AS the traditional provider roles or emotionally dependable roles that they have always been expected to play out. What is still lacking is a fluidity.

The weight of expectation on modern man is abusive, simply because it is unrealistic. He is not allowed to even be provider one minute and stay at home husband the next. He is expected to play out all roles AT ONCE.

In this way, modern woman is destined to be forever disappointed in her man, because what modern culture is telling her to expect is manifestly impossible – impossible in the same way that a woman can never be sexy muse AND mother AND independent modern success, all at once.

We have to learn that because of our genders, because of our differences, we will always play the role of other to those we are involved with. But what we should resist is not this role-playing, but the the rigid expectations have come along with a culture that is emotionally adolescent.

For instance, men themselves should be allowed to be muses. Men should be allowed to play the role of inspiration to the female artist. I think the measure of true equality, will be when women artists are seen as just as powerful artists in the mainstream, as men. When their femininity is also allowed to go forth and be heard with a potent masculine energy. And as men, we should be willing to adapt, assume the sacred role of muse, convene with the goddess, and allow the women in our lives to find ultimate freedom and expression through the support, vitality and erotic power that WE TOO possess.

In this way, the worshipful nature of love will no longer threaten to become abusive in a modern context. It simply becomes a two-way dynamic. We will understand that the love we have for each other, the erotic and the romantic draw, is a metaphor for a greater, equalised and democratic spiritual liberation.

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