It Isn’t Raining Men

I have a necklace with the Yin-Yang symbol on it. I am not strictly a Taoist or disciple of any given religion per se, but the concept of balance is one that is deeply rooted in my consciousness. I do believe in moral absolutes, so that is not strictly a Yin-Yang principle, but I for the most part believe in avoiding total immersion in one single concept.

My own introversion for example is tempered at times by extroversion. I am a political progressive with a few view points that are not on that platform. You get the idea.

Then there are the genders. I am of course totally a man. No ambiguity there. But I do believe the most well rounded men and women are those that are exposed, often and at an early age, to the psychology and perceptions of the opposite gender.

To be clear, I believe in gender equality, but not gender congruence, as it were. Men and women are different. Exceptions abound everywhere, but each gender does have a certain hard wiring in the brain, and hence a certain psychological make up that springs forth from same. So seeds of both genders are needed in a well balanced person’s psyche, just as elements from both genders are required physically to bring about a baby.

Female influence I did not and do not lack in my life. My father died when I was seven, and I grew up with my widow mother and kid sister. For years we lived with my oldest sister. She eventually had twin girls, and indeed with one exception all of my siblings had all girls. I have one nephew and ten nieces. So the problem is not with the opposite gender, but with my own gender. As in I wonder sometimes if part of the reason I am Too XYZ is the lack of appropriate male guidance when I was young and sufficient male company now that I am an adult.

I do have a brother, with whom I do not speak any more. He made it clear from very early on that he found little value in me outside of being a sometimes amusing distraction. But he never did make any investment in my well being, and almost never took the time to engage me on my terms. Once during a family emergency he didn’t even bother feeding me when I had to sleep at his house. He and his then wife had all the food because they were the “adults”. Obviously not a male role model there.

Several uncles remained distant once my father died, as well. When they did come around they only ever spoke to the other adults about people that had died 15 years before I was even born. When I was spoken to, it was briefly and for entertainment value. I don’t speak to one of those uncles because of his poor behavior. With another, I simply feel awkward. I don’t know what to say to him as an adult.

As a kid in school I had male friends of course, but I rarely got invited to anything outside of class. One of them even asked at one point, “What kind of person doesn’t have a father?”

I only ever spent any time with one classmate outside of school, and he had a very domineering mother. Both he and his father were quite well whipped by the time I met any of them. Don’t know where he is today. Don’t care.

For a time I was in the “Big Brothers” program. My big brother was a decent man, to be sure. But while my mother was hoping to instill in me some of that male influence, “Joseph” was actually about as timid at 24 as I was at 11.

It wasn’t until high school that I had male friends with whom I would actually do social things outside of school. Wasn’t until college that I started to make the slightest headway into any kind of emotional intimacy with men. (For most of my life, a list of my top ten closest friends has consisted of at least eight women.)

None of this is to say that I don’t consider myself a man. I do, although for a long time I honestly did not. I felt that being surrounded by women at home, at school, and other areas of my life, with little to no male contact meant that I was basically at heart, a woman. A girl who was never permitted to really be a man because he didn’t know any of them. I have moved beyond that fallacy, for the most part. Even though I still don’t have a lot of knowledge about how to do “manly” things such as fix cars and throw a punch.

Yet I still wonder if my overwhelming exposure to female perspectives, thought processes, approaches, brain wiring, speech, and home life has not in some way, when combined with my natural introversion, brought about an adult that is quieter, passive, and more introspective than average. I wonder sometimes if I would not have at least a bit more assertion and presence if I had been exposed to, and mentored by men at some point in my life.

Look, I was never going to be a hunter, mechanic, or brawler. No amount of males in my life would have made me Chuck Norris. But looking back on the memory of my dashing out the front door at age nine, trying without success to flag down the departing car full of the family men as they made their way to the shooting range to which I wasn’t even invited, I can’t help but wonder how things might have been different at key points in my life if the male/female environmental balance had been closer to 50/50.

None of this is to suggest that I inherit my weaknesses because women are weak and I have spent too much time around them. But we go back to balance. Yin and Yang, and to the natural hard wiring. What works in balance for a woman may not for a man.  I am not “effeminate” in the classical and stereotypical sense, but I am skewed towards Yin for certain.

Or maybe I would have been the way I am today if I had been raised entirely by the Brute Squad. I don’t know.

What do you think? Does someone need the influence of both genders growing up to become their optimum self? Or is whatever we end up becoming the result of the seeds planted in us at birth?

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5 Comments

  1. Interesting perspective on this. Yes, I think that some of our habits are based off who we have as role models as well. For both sexes, both parents serve as role models and I'm sure we can be carved into people because of those experiences. But I also think to some degree, who you want to be is of your own making. Who you want to be sometimes becomes something you can control. In the end, part of it is chance (who we become or Yin), and part of it is choice (who we can be or Yang)

  2. Lots of good stuff to think about here! First, I agree with you — I'm all for equality, but I also believe men and women are inherently different, and that's not a bad thing. Second, I am so sorry for your loss at such a young age, and also for the dismisiveness of the other men in your family. The way you seem to be sorting out there mistakes here, though, and what they mean to you, is so good as you move forward.

  3. Krista

    Hey Ty…this was really interesting to me. You could say, I had the reverse. I am the only granddaughter on my mother's side of the family, with 6 grandsons, and I had two big brothers. We played soccer all growing up, and many of their friends are really like extra brothers too me. I definitely felt influenced by all that. I didn't know really good female friends until later in life and the females that were around, were super influential. I always say my signature is super girly because I actively worked to make it that way as a child, having not felt super feminine I wanted lacy writing – it is now unreadable but very lacy handwriting. That changed I think through college and now I chose to be more feminine, as the previous comment mentions, and love that part of me. However, I do agree with what you are saying – I remember a very pivotal fight I had with one of my brothers. He said, “you fight like mom, based on emotion and not logic” I made a choice then and there that no man would be able to disregard my thoughts based on a lack of logic. Moments like that inherently affected me and I think made me have a more male mentality at times. I think we all have to choose to do our best with what we got. Thank you for the thoughtful perspective.

  4. Hmm. This really got me thinking.

    I was adopted at birth. My mom reallllly wanted a baby girl, more than anything else in life. She wanted pink dresses and princess birthday parties.

    As a kid, I was much closer with my mom than I was my dad but as soon as I was old enough to forge my own opinions and personality, I hopped into the “tomboy” category.

    I had siblings that were all 20+ years older than me and a slew of nieces and nephews (5 of each) that were more like siblings than my brother and sisters. There was a lot of balance going on in those days.

    My more masculine qualities (assertiveness, interests in mechanical and technical subject matters, and disdain for all things lacey or frilly) are certainly not inherited from any males in my life – they're all highly intellectual, empathetic, and non-confrontational.

    Nor did they come from the very traditional, housewife women in my life either.

    I'm not sure where I, or the essence of me, really comes from. Could it be inherent at birth? I'm not sure. It doesn't seem that way from the little contact with my biological parents I've had.

    You have me stumped. Truly, stumped.

  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    In the end, I don't think I have an answer to what is I am sure a common question among people. Especially those, like Krista, who found themselves most often in the company of the opposite gender.

    I am sure our own personal choice has much to do with how we turn out, but at the same the nature of our experiences must by definition inform many of our decisions. And the experiences of a person surrounded by the opposite gender are not going to be the same as those with an even mix.

    The more one thinks about it, the less one seems to be able to draw a conclusion. As Megan said, I am sometimes quite stumped.

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