From “Lean In” to Balance – Why our culture is running on half cylinders.

Ying Yang 2

A startling headline grab my attention in the Saturday morning paper over the weekend. The headline read; “Stop women – on women workplace violence. – How competition and sabotage hold back females from improving office culture”. Sure headlines are supposed to be sensational in order to grab our attention, but I was impressed with the columnists courage to broach the subject in the first place. As a matter of fact her opening sentenced acknowledged she will be “crucified” for writing the column.

But we have to have this conversation, and we have to take this conversation beyond the Lean In movement started by Sheryl Sandberg. The Lean In Movement acknowledges a desperate gap of interest and game skills among women in the workplace to play by the existing rules that favor male qualities. Sandberg is brilliant in bringing the issues of  gender socialization, and corporate cultural gaps to light but the solutions offered for women are too ultimately act more like men in order to break through the glass ceiling. That’s just exhausting because it leaves women still playing the game using only half of their natural energies. It also leaves women holding the responsibility bag to fix this, when in fact this is a deeper cultural issue that will only get healed when both men and women stop playing the old game.

Both men and women have been slugging through life for millenniums relegated to using half of the natural energies of a human being. We have then confused this problem even more by aligning our two natural energies  of masculine and feminine as genders. Our natural masculine energy of; activity, competition, power, control, has been labeled and associated with male characteristics while the other half of our natural energy of emotions, feelings, intuition, nurturing and retreat have been labeled and associated with female characteristics. Both energies are actually gender neutral, they are neither male nor female, but rather masculine and feminine and together make up a full and whole human being. But we associate masculine being male and feminine being female which is where we get derailed all over again!  We have split two natural occurring energies of a human being and separated them into genders thereby limiting males and females from expressing, exhibiting or modeling the energies not associated with their gender.

Until girls and boys are socialized and encouraged to grow up nurturing both their masculine and feminine qualities, embracing the full human that we are, we will continue to walk around lop sided in our abilities. (Even when you “lean In” you’re still off balance.)  There are natural patterns and rhythms in everything, hot/cold, inhale/exhale,  expand/constrict/ open/close, summer/winter and yet we fight and resist the natural cycle of masculine and feminine energies within each of us and demand they be separated into gender qualities.

Women have suffered the most under this illusion because cultural norms favor the masculine energies of power, status, competition and doing/ activity. Women for centuries have been relegated to the passive energies of quiet, soft, nurturing, feeling, collaboration so when they need to access and use their natural masculine energies they have not been permitted to overtly do so. So we hide, scheme, and sabotage instead. This behavior is not knew it’s only knew to the workplace culture in the past 50 years when women have moved in mass into the corporate world, and yet we are still playing by masculine only rules. Family was the traditional dominate domain for women and many a daughter in laws have paid a heavy price in culturally specific households who dare challenge the matriarch.

Our whole culture needs a renaissance, a new conversation and understanding that allows children to be socialized using both natural energies. Encouraging our children to nurture the voice within, to listen to their intuition and the wisdom of their bodies gives children full access to the whole of their psyche. Both boys and girls need to cultivate healthy boundaries and skills in being both competitive and collaborative. It’s not an either/ Or  game, but one that needs the benefit of using our full powers and running on all cylinders. Eastern cultures of long ago understood the exact balance in masculine and feminine energies in the yin and yang.

The current workplace needs to shift its emphasis on doing business dominated by masculine energies and both genders need to embrace the strength emotions and intuition can play in our lives. They are barometers and a rich reservoir of information that is being left out of the discussion.

The full article from the Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick can be found her:






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