I have often balked at the notion that a modern liberated man is one who has embraced his feminine side. The feminine side is usually defined as being more in touch with one’s emotional life and a greater empathy towards others. The notion that a man who feels a sense of pride and comfort in his masculinity needs to more like a women creates dissonance with his masculine identity and might stifle his personal growth. Can men learn to acquire a deeper understanding of their emotional lives along with a greater ability to understand the emotions of others – Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? They certainly can, especially if we do not label the higher EQ as being feminine. It is essential to not label the male tendency to quickly fix a problem as a negative trait implying that men lack compassion. Men just need to do a better job of displaying empathy by listening and validating before they seek solutions. Some might wrongly label a man with a high EQ as being more feminine instead of concluding that he has become a more successful person.
On the female side, women are being advised to be more masculine when it comes to assertiveness. The traits and characteristics that we typically associate with effective leadership endorse stereotypically masculine attributes like assertiveness, ambition, and competition. An Amazon search of books on female assertiveness came up with over 20 titles including the controversial “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It appears that the message is that women need to be more like men to achieve their career goals and be proprely compensated. I will assume that most women would be turned off by the idea that they had to behave more like men. Again, the assumption that honing in on a particular characteristic to be a more successful person is linked to a gender stereotype.
Personal growth should have little to do with gender labels. Men as a group would do better if they refined their masculine energy to be more aware of their emotional intelligence. Women as a group would do better if they were more assertive in the workplace and in relationship. Both genders can be more fulfilled in their life’s journey without resorting to the concept that they need to be either more masculine or more feminine.