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Friday: July 22, 2011


The Changing Characteristics of Masculinity and Femininity (Part 2)


In our last Blog, we explored the changing manner in which ideals of femininity have evolved. For this discussion, we will look closer at this

pattern and how it relates to the shifting power between men and women.


It does seem that females are perhaps quicker to take up the change in gender-role definitions

than males. Jung referred to the feminine aspect of men as 'Anima' and the masculine aspect of

women as 'Animus' - and within the context of the Analytical Psychology arising from his work,

one of the goals of becoming a whole and balanced individual is to embrace one’s respective

Animus or Anima. However, studies have revealed that when a woman rates herself to be

balanced she categorises herself as being androgynous, but when a man rates himself as being

balanced he categorises himself as being masculine.






On the right, we show a superb symbolic design depicting an Ouroboros - a Dragon eating

its own tail (an ancient symbol representing the cyclic nature of ongoing creation through

self-reflectivity) - intertwined with Rhine-Maidens (symbolic of the 'Feminine' and

Nibelungen (symbolic of the 'Masculine') by  Arthur Rackham.

Arthur Rackham - Ouroboros


The apparent reticence for males to embrace a more balanced gender identity is understandable - after all, why would men be in a rush

to forgo their supreme status in the hierarchy of human social order? It is still, after all, a “Man’s World”. Ironically, it is the subjugated

status of female which allows them a greater freedom and scope of identity than that of males.


This also demonstrates the dynamic of belonging, a basic innate human drive, whereby to belong to a group one must behave like the

group. As such, male behaviour is far more prescriptive than it is for their female counter-parts – they have so much more to loose.

Likewise, females seeking to belong to her gender group are required to break away from the bonds of traditional feminine behaviour –

the suffragettes, for example, didn’t burn their bras so women could stay at home and bake cakes all day (even though it does sound like

an appealing prospect). 


This pattern of shifting power can be likened to a swinging pendulum: at either extremity of the swing a Master/Slave dynamic is

epitomised, with shifting gradations of negatively-correlating power distribution at every point in between, inherent in the proximity of the

upward or downward swing, which have a momentary mid-point of being balanced between parties wherein no Master/Slave dynamic

exists, followed by a  role-reversal of the previous ruling paradigm whereby the Slave becomes the Master and Master, Slave. 


The Master-Slave dynamic describes an inequitable distribution of power between parties wherein the Master is, paradoxically, as

enslaved by his or her role as the Slave. This is because the Master must take all responsibility for giving instructions to be carried out

by the Slave, must monitor the Slaves progress, reward and punish the Slave accordingly and provide the Slave with food, shelter and

protection. There is no suggestion that females are slaves or vice versa, just that the Master/Slave power dynamic is very real, is inherently

flawed and will right itself as a matter of course. We live in a broad society which, one way or another, acts as a self-managing system

and, like a swinging pendulum, is not a perpetual motion machine: the arc of the swing becomes increasingly less extreme as gravity has

its way until perhaps the pendulum rights itself, steady and vertical, like a carpenter’s plumbline. 


Women’s subjugation has granted her a power which is slowly eroding the status of the masculine ruling class, although the extent of this

power is not yet fully realised, nor will it remain indefinitely when it does come into being. Rather than deny our gender identities, perhaps

we would be better off fostering a Mutual Admiration Society whereby we can learn to love, appreciate and respect our mutual genders

rather than reject, devalue and compete over the apparent merits of ourselves and our counterparts. 


Just now as I sit here and write this in a very busy, very public play centre for children, I see a man walk past and note his t-shirt which reads,

“We men, We gather, It good”. I have a little chuckle and then take in the scene beyond: children are running around energetically and

enthusiastically intent upon their play. Intermingled in this I see nearly just as many fathers as mothers watching over their children, lovingly

and protectively, while smiling at each other and it looks to be the most natural thing in the world.  It is way too noisy in here to hear a ticking

clock but I definitely see a swing…




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Blog Archive


Saturday, 30 July, 2011

A Brief History of the Illustrated Book


Saturday, 16 July, 2011

Masculinity and Femininity (Part 1)


Monday, 27 June, 2011

Heroes (Part 3)


Friday, 20 June, 2011

Heroes (Part 2)


Tuesday, 14 June, 2011

Heroes (Part I)


Friday, 7 June, 2011



Friday, 27 May, 2011

Morality through Narrative


Monday, 16 May, 2011

"The Sea Battle" by Arthur Rackham

and comparisons between Buccheim's

variant and the description of Thor's

battle with the Midgard Serpent in

the original from the "Norse Edda of

Snorri Sturluson"


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