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Integrity and Feminine and Masculine

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this blog post by Kendra Cunov and asked about my thoughts.  In it, Kendra talks about the concept of integrity, and what she perceives as the differing masculine and feminine definitions of it.  
I struggle with some of the same things she seems to be struggling with — the whole concept of masculine and feminine qualities and how those are perceived in different aspects of my life.  Especially in business, where reward seems to go to those things labeled as “masculine,” which are inherently false to my nature.  
For me, though, it is a problem of language and false categories.  We have only these two words to categorize, and they bring with them all the history of politics and inequitable social structures that has nothing to do with our truest humanity.  
My initial reaction to her post, though, was about the word integrity.  And her definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” integrity which follow.  My understanding of the definition of integrity has to do with being true to one’s own internal moral compass, which intersects with, but is different than, “doing what you say you’re going to do.” (Her description of society’s definition of masculine integrity.)   But what she fails to point out is that society has the definition of integrity wrong.  (Yes, I looked it up.)  Here are the official definitions of integrity:
  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.  
  2. the state of being whole and undivided.

If I am understanding her correctly, she almost seems take the first definition of integrity as the masculine and the second as the feminine.  I find this limiting.  
I really connected with her concept of finding one’s range as opposed to finding balance.  To me, the definitions of integrity relate more to her idea about finding the range in our masculine and feminine qualities.  I think she is exactly right when she says that balance doesn’t really exist.  
I feel this in my body as I am exploring different dance forms.  In one form, balance means a strong, wide stance with a strong downward feeling.  In another, it means a lightness and a strong upward feel.  And in a third, it means the moment where you find the just-before-falling place and embrace the awkwardness of that feeling.  So in these dance forms, we aren’t talking about balance so much as we are talking about the set point which suits the dance’s aesthetic.  The photographable moment that would make almost anyone recognize, “Ah, this is a (insert style here) dancer.”  
The blog post has me thinking more about how I talk to my massage clients about balance.  I talk about someone’s muscles feeling balanced, about balancing time for self care with the rest of life, about the way our head balances on the spine.  But am I really talking about balance as a n achievable end point, or am I talking about a way of moving through the world with a strong sense of yourself, physical, emotional and spiritual?  I am thinking that I need to repackage every one of these “balance moments” in the service of what I really want for my clients — for them to take charge of their own wellness in their own way.   
The first thing I want for all of us, or at least one of the first things, is to find a way beyond the limiting idea of masculine and feminine qualities.  I want to lead us all first to an agreement that qualities are just qualities.  They are not commentary on how we inhabit our gender.  Of course I know that masculine and feminine are the constructs and not the gender.  In this country, though, the parallels are so close that it’s hard to separate.  For example, I have a firm handshake.  I also have long hair and I like to wear skirts and jewelry.  So, for some, my firm handshake (masculine) seems incongruous with my appearance (feminine.)  This makes no sense to me.  I’m a massage therapist.  I have strong hands.  I’m not trying to project masculinity, I’m just trying to let someone know I’m glad to meet them.  

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We are still humans, though, and as such we find comfort in categories.  We seek structure as a way to understand our world.  Realistically, I don’t see this masculine/feminine coding of behaviors ending in my lifetime.  But, circling back to Kendra’s post, if we live in integrity, the real, unassigned definition of integrity, I think we can at least start down that road. If we start by being honest, and continue by striving to be whole, what need to we have to categorize the behaviors that are part of our humanity?  





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