Monday, February 6, 2012

2/7/12—Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes

Today's Draw: The Empress from the Tarot of Fire. What are your masculine and feminine qualities? What makes a masculine quality masculine and a feminine quality feminine? What really draws the line between male and female?

The Empress is the embodiment of the feminine in the tarot. She is usually depicted pregnant or with children—the mother, the nurturer, soft, loving, abundant. Her power comes from her emotional breadth, her thoughtfulness, her ability to nurture and her physical ability to create and carry life. 

But that's not how today's Empress is depicted. Today's Empress is a muscular, menacing, badass mofo with toxic green smoke flowing from her perfectly manicured fingertips. She seems to have some sort of facial piercing, her eyes are set on "Destruct" and my guess is that this isn't the best time to ask her to make you a sandwich.

This deck has non-traditional images.
We have these gender roles we play and have always played. Because women are, on average, smaller and physically weaker than men, we play a softer role. And when our masculine, more forceful sides come roaring out there can only be one explanation—we're "on the rag". We're socialized to downplay any physical strength or threat and up-play our emotional strengths and subservience. But I'm thinking that any woman, during "her time" or not, knows she's capable of what this Empress embodies. And our true strength is in being kind enough to refrain ourselves from unleashing it on the world.

Each card is based on a fire myth.
I feel like I'm someone who could be considered well balanced between what we call "masculine" and "feminine". I'm all Enjoli and shite. But I wonder why, when there are so many of what we call "butch" women and "effeminate" men out there...when there is so much crossover between traditional gender roles...such a spectrum...why we still attribute certain qualities to men and certain ones to women? If I said that I was feminine because I'm nurturing, is that fair to all the men out there? And if a man said he was masculine because he was a "leader" would that be fair to me? 

Really, who owns gentleness, strength, aggression, sensitivity, vulnerability or bravery? When "they" say you should balance your masculine and feminine sides, don't they really mean you should just be balanced? Is an effeminate man any less of a man...a butch woman any less of a woman? In a world where even chromosomes can no longer tell a person who they are, why are we clinging to all these labels? And if we continue to buy into these roles where feminine qualities are softer, weaker and more subservient, can the two sexes ever really be equal? When do we just become....people?

Pips are fully illustrated.
If we believe in equality, then a black person is simply a person. A homosexual couple is just a couple. And a woman is simply a human being. Sure, for most of us, there will always be the chromosomal and biological differences. For most of us. But when we start drawing a line between male and female based on gender roles and characteristics, we diminish the power of one over the other, we cause confusion for those who don't adhere to recipe and we muffle the full expression of the person each of us came here to be.

I'm not a big woman's libber, because I've always believed that someone who moves through this world like an equal—not with arrogance or a chip on their shoulder, but truly believing they're an equal—will be treated like one. If I'm considered less worthy or if I earn less based on the fact I have breasts, I'm not aware of it. I don't look for evidence of inequity, I assume equality. But I think it's time for us to take the next big step and  become conscious of how we sort and label others. Most of us attach masculine and feminine qualities to people and label them as such. It's just something to consider, because there can only be a "stronger" or "weaker" sex if we allow there to be.

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