Over the last few days, as a part of my research on "higher-octave communication" (more on that, coming soon), I came across a flurry of articles about -- how shall I say -- problematic Masculine communication styles and patterns.
Okay, I'll just drop the p.c. diplomacy and say it -- the articles (and books they were often based on) were focused on men, and male communication 'issues'.
I know, just writing that no doubt raises a few hackles, but stay with me for a minute on this one (and DO take note of those hackle-triggers -- there's gold there!).
A good percentage of the articles centered in on passive-aggressive patterns and how they show up in our relationships, whether at home or at work (or anywhere in between).
As anyone who's been on the receiving-end of it knows, passive-aggression is one of the more crazy-making patterns.
And the crazy-making is pretty much the point of it, on the surface, anyway.
Based on the research...
... you can make a fair leap to tracking the passive-aggressive pattern -- adopted as a survival technique in childhood -- to the toxic or shadow side of 'traditional gender roles', distorted ideas about Masculine and Feminine, and what got/gets suppressed, projected, and acted out along the way.
If your desire is for smoother interactions, more enjoyable relationships, more skillful communication, and deeper, safer-feeling intimacy, it's pretty important to be aware of passive-aggressive patterns and what might transform and evolve either the patterns or your experience with them.
But the passive-aggressive issue wasn't the only thing that came up along this research trail.
... take the recent buzz on the whole topic of "manning up" -- you might have seen the recent Newsweek article on 'reimagining Masculinity' (men taking on more traditionally Feminine roles).
Or you might have seen one of many articles related to Kay Hymowitz's book, "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women has Turned Men Into Boys."
And a flurry of terms like "throwback Masculinity" and "retrosexual" speak to the old-school men who react in backlash to any change in gender roles or to everything perceived as 'Feminism' (which seems to be anything that strays from Leave it to Beaver and assumptions of male supremacy and female inferiority).
What a tangled mess, as so often is the case in the 'in-between' of transformation -- and it doesn't help when things are taken so literally and applied superficially.
No wonder so many of us are confused about Masculine and Feminine, and gender roles.
And it's no wonder that there's a lot of stewing, brewing, hostility, frustration, confusion, aggression, passive-aggression, and just checking-out in reaction (read on for more about this...).
There's no denying at this point that we're in the midst of an immense culture shift and transformation. That's pretty much a no-brainer.
The shift from the Victorian worldview of 'the sexes' or the seemingly kinder-and-gentler Leave it to Beaver 50s-style niced-up version of the Victorian ethos got a huge boost with the 'second wave' Feminism of the 60s and 70s.
Second-wave Feminism was itself an understandable reaction to the shrink-wrap-tight constraints of gender roles and the often-dehumanizing, empathy-lacking biases that bred violence -- whether aggressive or passive-aggressive -- against women, animals, and Nature, and frankly, other men.
With that Feminist wave, a prevailing message, witting or unwitting, was that real modern women could/should 'man up' -- be Masculine -- to succeed and take advantage of the opportunities in a man's world, or more accurately, man's workforce. Equality with men meant being free to do in the world as men did.
Many of us came of age amidst those messages, and we went there, and we did that, fiercely and determinedly.
Transformation and cultural evolution requires a lot of things, including vital catalysts like second-wave Feminism that literally 'shock the system', shake up fossilized norms, and open the way for new growth and exploration. That's indispensable and necessary.
Women 'manning up' -- putting on the metaphorical and literal man-suits (as per traditional assumptions of what that meant) to succeed in the man's world on equal footing -- required the same aversion to and rejection-suppression of the Feminine that has increasingly emerged as a huge problem.
Ultimately, any one-sidedness, gross imbalance, or inauthenticity crashes in on itself, and it's painful, not pretty, when it does.
We see evidence of that 'gross-imbalance crash' all over, from the Middle East, to the Gulf of Mexico, to Wall Street, to many workplaces and inside more than a few homes, psyches, and hearts.
But the "manned-up women" theme isn't the only problem.
In Kay Hymowitz's book, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys, the author talks about a whole new generation of men -- preadults, she calls the young men up to age 35 -- who are completely confused and rudderless about what it even means to be a man, and who, as a result, just sort of deflect adulthood.
In their confused rudderless state, these 'child-men' just continue to hang out in their batch-pads, drink beers, and play digital games with their child-man buds, eschewing adult personal-growth or relationship responsibilities, well into their 20s and 30s.
In contrast, Hymowitz emphasizes that the 'preadult' women in that same age group are, like the generation or two of women before them, assuming what might be seen as the more conventional male roles and Masculine approach to life.
Hymowitz points out that this group of young women have higher rates of education; higher salaries (for young, educated, urban single-women); a supposed aversion to 'trading down' (looking for a relationship with a young man who isn't as accomplished or ambitious), and an assumption that they can pretty much do everything they want or need by themselves, including setting up house and having children via donated sperm if not an actual relationship.
An important thing to factor in is that this latest generation grew up and came of age amidst the 90s boom-time and greater overall affluence -- and expectations for or a sense of entitlement to affluence, opportunity, quick advancement, and ease -- generally speaking, than previous generations.
So while -- against this cultural backdrop -- young men are 'boying down', another generation of women have 'manned up', according to Hymowitz.
Unfortunately, this is all still happening through the lens of an old worldview about gender roles, the Masculine, and the Feminine.
As the sacred text says, "you can't put new wine into an old wine skin".
When you do, the old stuff infects the new and turns it sour. Same old, same old. It just looks new, for awhile anyway, because the names and faces have changed. Underneath, though, nothing's changed.
The result or effect is gender and archetype confusion -- the old stereotypes or hard-and-fast roles of men and women have been seriously rocked, if not shattered, while a new clarity and understanding of the value of men and women, Masculine and Feminine, is still very much in the making.
As I said, it's messy in the middle -- that 'in-between' of transformation.
Surfing and navigating that takes awareness, flexibility, the willingness to dive in and snorkle through the mess, and a sense of calling or vision that makes all of that purposeful and worthwhile.
That requires a particular skillfulness that we can cultivate and grow, though it's not for the always-on-the-run (and in the rut) insta-gratification set. It requires actual work, mindfulness, and care.
Knee-jerk reactions, blaming, hostility, and finger-pointing don't help -- they neither restore the "good old times" nor allow the evolution of something new. Those habitual, patterned reactions just keep things stirred up, toxic, and stuck. As ever.
What's more, entire gender groups aren't just made up of a bunch of clones, either.
There is an immense diversity with the gender-groups of women and men (and girls and boys).
While we may share physiological traits and cultural programming, we each have our own blueprint, soul-urges, and 'wiring', even as we might share generational traits and callings. These can be indicated in an astrological natal chart for example.
In the end -- right now -- answers to this muddled mess won't come through cultural stereotypes or the ego-mind, which only knows what's already known and what's already been done, and either agrees with it or reacts against it.
Truly helpful answers won't come through old patterns of reaction-behavior or problem-solving.
Turning inward, reflecting, doing the 'inner work', seeking the Wisdom, is a pathway through.
We've all been so conditioned to focus outward, to seek answers 'out there' (rather than gathering inspiration from 'out there' that we then reflect upon and discern).
We've been conditioned to habitual action and conditioned away from wise-heart reflection, intuition, and higher inspiration that guides wise, inspired action.
The invitation is to reclaim the inner-pathways, the inner Wisdom, intuition, vision, and heart-sparked insight.
The inner-wealth that surfaces will allow each person to gain a sense of who he or she truly is and what he or she is here to contribute to in these times; and in doing so, find his or her tribe-mates and negotiate, consciously, respectful relationship within and between genders, based on an emerging awareness of and respect for the higher-octave Feminine and Masculine.
We are, indeed, living in interesting times. With amazing possibilities before us. This is our mission, should we choose to accept it.
For more about skillful communication and the Feminine, wander over to Ivy Sea Online.
Image Credits: 1. From about.com; 2. Passive-Aggressive Man, from wn.com; 3. Man Up cover, Newsweek (9/20/2010); 4. Victorian couple; 5. from Feministe; 6. book image, Amazon.com; 7. from Spygun.com; 8. Liberation poster image (source-tracking in progress).