Sounds pretty dramatic, yes? Maybe not dramatic enough. The idea of a man feeling castrated is pretty common in contemporary society. It can be a bit cartoonish: the idea of a man whose balls have been put in a metaphorical vice by work or women or life, someone who has been domesticated and who doesn’t feel he can properly express his masculinity (or, more accurately, that he has been cut off from experiencing his masculinity). I am saying this about men but it could be applied to anyone who leans toward the masculine and who believes they are unable to—or prevented from—experiencing their masculinity in full swing.
I like to feel my femininity in full swing. I mean that in a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual sense. Note the last two, as they are the major taboos. My femininity in full swing means that I feel comfortable, and even encouraged, to be wise, intuitive, imaginative, creative, sensual, loyal, profound, and receptive. I can be soft, and not have that softness seen as weakness. I can be wise, creative, imaginative, and profound, and not be viewed as an anomaly or a spectacle (“a dog playing the piano,” as someone on Mad Men called a woman being creative). I can give to others the totality of myself, without being seen as a sucker or a sap. Basically, I can just be the fullest expression of myself in a space and among people who will accept this fully—and who will cherish it, and me.
You want to know when I feel safe to feel and express my femininity? Basically never. Hardly ever. People openly and with much hostility critique masculine behavior overall, often with the popular refrain of “toxic masculinity.” I think masculine behavior is rarely given the benefit of the doubt. The core insight I have about masculine men is that, often, they are often just trying to be helpful—helpfulness and succeeding at helping people seems to me to be a very important masculine trait that is often misunderstood and denigrated (I denigrated it before I really looked at my biases toward masculinity, and tried to understand the behavior I attribute to masculinity from a more wholesome and aligned perspective). However, those who exhibit all types of masculine behavior, both negative and positive, still feel (or seem to feel) on some level that they can act in a masculine way full time and be respected and taken seriously.
I do not feel that way AT ALL with regard to my femininity. Why? Because there are many aspects of femininity—or, to be more accurate and more politically correct, I will say my femininity—that are simply unacceptable. I am emotional, and emotionally expressive. I feel shy and nervous at times, and exhibit shyness and nervousness. Never, not one time, has that behavior been received positively, or even neutrally. And you can say: “Well, that makes sense. Shyness and nervousness are negative traits.” OK. I can agree they are not optimal traits. But they relate to something I love about myself: my authenticity. I don’t walk into the room, put on a mask of confidence, and perform the Aimee show, while the real Aimee hides in her dressing room. I walk into a room as myself. If I feel nervous, I feel nervous. You will see it. I spent most of my life wanting to hide it, because it was considered so unacceptable. Now I like it. I’m not a trained seal. I’m a human being connected to her emotions. I want everyone to see that, at all times.
Here’s another real doozy. My sexuality. I am attracted to one person (to this point it has always been a male and I suspect it will continue in this vein) at a time. When I feel a strong attraction, I consider it extremely valid and important. It usually doesn’t go away for quite some time. And while I am in that state, the idea of being physical with someone other than that person repulses me. Which makes my focus on my object of desire intense, one could say. Should I apologize for this? Should I get over it, and be more “free” sexually? Should I be more of an independent woman? More Sex and the City? I’ve tried that. I’ve tried everything, trust me. This is me, and it (sexual fidelity) is 100% what I believe to be a feminine characteristic (at least in my world). Being this way is no picnic in a world that makes a mockery of true desire and emotion in sex and love relationships. I’ve felt unending shame regarding how I conduct my sexuality. But apparently no more! I don’t care what this seems like to other people: pathetic, desperate, clingy, etc. I’m, with regard to sexuality and many, many other topics, the most open-minded, non-judgmental person I have ever met. As long as it is consensual and does not involve children or animals, it’s all beautiful to me, even the situations I wouldn’t want to experience myself. I love it all. I just don’t feel any way other than how I feel. And how I feel is DEFINITELY NOT what people find appropriate, by any means. People hate this. It is seen as the biggest weakness in contemporary culture. But guess what that means? It’s also the biggest strength.
Here’s another one: spirituality. That was a dirty word even for intellectual, pre-spirituality me, so I understand how people who consider themselves intellectual just can’t understand spirituality. I had a spiritual awakening, which TRUST ME you will not understand if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I don’t even understand it. I feel like it gave me life and also, in a very real way, ruined my life. But my spiritual awakening was the thing that brought me in line with my femininity. It was the thing that said to me: If this is your true self, why are you hiding it? Why are you so ashamed of it? Why are you aping other peoples’ thoughts and opinions regarding femininity, feminism, etc.? Why not come to your own truth about this stuff? People say that spiritual awakenings are like opening Pandora’s Box, and trust me they are not kidding. It’s also like looking in a mirror and seeing your true self for the first time. A part of you wants to die, truly, and a part of you, the curious part, just wants to keep looking. I found my core identity through my spirituality, and I would say that I value it much more than I value my intellect. They are not separate, but my pre-spiritual-awakening accumulation of “knowledge” now seems like a dusty stack of Encyclopedia Britannicas from the 1960s—fun to look through, but out-of-date and ultimately useless. It’s like I upgraded to a new operating system, though I never consented to this. It’s weird.
What is has given me is a perspective on my feminine identity that I find invaluable. I will pursue this course of identity to the bitter end (and it’s been pretty bitter thus far!), because—now that I’ve released the shame attached to it—I understand how vital and necessary the reclamation of the feminine is to the overall benefit of society. And I’m strong enough to deal with the overarching hatred expressed toward the feminine in society. I may feel that my femininity was castrated by society, but it is potent within me, and I am strong enough to unleash it whenever I want.