Aside: Gender Roles

The terms, ‘male’ and ‘female’, are commonly used to indicate complementary attributes of life forms which enable sexual reproduction.  In the two circuits below, we see that flowering plants and coniferous trees have both sexual functionaries (male/pollen and female/ovum), which diverge from their parent plant (top of circle) and converge to create a new generation (bottom of circle):

 399px-Angiosperm_life_cycle_diagram.svg f-d_72f8cd5229dc9d55c1b253e2f0ee1c57ee2880dd13867f2bbc6cb7f2+IMAGE_THUMB_POSTCARD+IMAGE_THUMB_POSTCARD.1

Male’ and ‘female’ are used suggestively to describe opposite features of even non-living things, such as plugs and outlets in electronics:


The puzzle pieces below connect in a way that might anthropomorphically be described as male and female:

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 2.07.10 PM

Obviously, the terms, ‘female’ and ‘male’, are employed in various contexts; therefore, they do not exclusively indicate the biological reproductive capacities of an individual person or animal.

Throughout this site, when we see the capitalized and color-coded terms, Female and Male, we will recognize that they do not signify a female or male person, per se; rather, the capitalized terms refer to the archetypal qualities reflected universally, whether by forces, mechanisms, principles, or when personified by mythological characters.

From Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Heinrich Zimmer tells us:

It must be understood that in Sanskrit, grammatical gender is not always a sign of physical sex.  Gender infers function, sex infers form; so that an individual may be masculine from one point of view and feminine from another.

Brahman can be regarded as the “womb” of life, and as in Christianity “this man” and “this woman” are equally “feminine to God” [in Hinduism].

Absolutely, Brahman, although grammatically neuter, is the principle of all such differentiation.  Essence and nature are respectively masculine and feminine, logically distinct, but “one in God,” who is neither this nor that [in Hinduism], and therefore “It” rather than “He” or “She” specifically.

From Egalatarian to Hierarchical Rule

The Rig Veda does not discuss the caste system, however, the Bhagavad Gita, which was written between 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E., stresses its importance.  To insure the caste system, women must be secluded and guarded, so as not to be impregnated by a man of a lower caste.  This practice was institutionalized by the highest caste members.

The Brahmanical Patriarchy legally disempowered the female gender, as she was seen as a portal for miscegeny, or intermixing of the caste bloodlines.  Thus, social hierarchy produced gender inequality.

Among those complicit in the conspiracy of insuring patriarchal rule were those who censored and selected books for inclusion in the Bible.  These men saw fit to disregard the Female aspect of ECP and write Her out of the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

Elaine Pagels, in The Gnostic Gospels explains:

Every one of the secret texts which gnostic groups revered was omitted from the canonical collection, and branded as heretical by those who called themselves orthodox Christians.  By the time of the process of sorting the various writings ended — probably as late as the year 200 — virtually all the feminine imagery for God had disappeared from orthodox Christian tradition.  …  [T]he absence of feminine symbolism for God marks Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in striking contrast to the world’s other religious traditions, whether in Egypt, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome, or in Africa, India and North America, which abound in feminine symbolism.  …

The Female was stripped of Her power, which was then re-assigned to the Male, who was thus rebranded.  The Male/Father became supreme and autonomous, with authority unchecked.  Through the lens of Male dominance and exclusivity, metaphysical consciousness (Male product) was exalted and identified as Oneness.  Physical corporeality (Female product) was free to be exploited.  Considered merely begrudged distractions/stimuli, She is acknowledged derogatorily.  The power of the Mother was overtaken in the short-run, though underestimated in the long-run.

Idealist philosophers deny Matter/Mother altogether, though not their ideas of Her.  Materialists, who continue to exploit Mother Nature, use their conscious minds to determine that those minds emerge only when matter has become sufficiently complex.  Neither of these positions will win, for they are both imbalanced, giving all the glory to either the Male or the Female, but not both together.

Dynamical systems are always gender-balanced; although the universal Male and Female may be unbalanced in our concepts, attitudes, personal and professional roles.

The aside, Non-dual Philosophies, was previously offered and the link is again provided here, as it explores why the Divine may divide into the Male-Female duality.

From Elaine Pagels we get the following insight:

Jewish, Christian, and Islamic theologians today are quick to point out that God is not to be considered in sexual terms at all.  Yet the actual language they use daily in worship and prayer conveys a different message: who, growing up with Jewish or Christian tradition, has escaped the distinct impression that God is masculine?  And while Catholics revere Mary as the mother of Jesus, they never identify her as divine in her own right: if she is “mother of God,” she is not “God the Mother” on an equal footing with God the Father.

So, was the Heaven and Earth actually created by a Male, or is a Female at the root of Heaven and Earth?  Could both be responsible together?  Or, perhaps, the Creator is neither Male nor Female?  Referring to the gnostics, Pagels continues:

Some insisted that the divine [ECP] is to be considered masculo-feminine — the “great male-female power.”   Others claimed that the terms were meant only as metaphors, since, in reality, the divine is neither male nor female.  A third group suggested that one can describe the primal Source in either masculine or feminine terms, depending on which aspect one intends to stress.  Proponents of these diverse views agreed that the divine is to be understood in terms of a harmonious, dynamic relationship of opposites — a concept that may be akin to the Eastern view of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’, but remains alien to orthodox Judaism and Christianity.  

The earliest reference to Yin and Yang is in the I Ching (Book of Changes), which was written in China around 700 BCE.  In this Chinese concept, it is thought that any phenomenon can be reduced to either yin or yang, according to its predominate proportion of various polarized characteristics.  A few are listed here:

yin yang.001Since it is said, “a picture is worth a thousand words” the images below should well explain how gender inequality, which afflicts our politics, religion, and science, became so thoroughly embedded in our subconsciousness.

Open Version 44.001

Quadernity demonstrably agrees that “the divine is to be understood in terms of a harmonious, dynamic relationship of opposites”, and it reveals the equal necessity of Male and Female, each to the other, and both to the dual realms in which they make their marks: the Father‘s records are in the metaphysical Heaven/sky (above, expansive, rarified), and the Mother leaves her evidence in physical matter/Earth (below, contracted, dense).

From Polarity to Prejudice

Besides gender inequality, another polarizing social issue can be traced back to the definitions of yin and yang.  That light is associated with the Heavens/divinity and darkness is associated with the Earthly underground/dirty remains an unconscious impulse underlying racist attitudes worldwide.

Dark (below) and light (above) were another pair of characteristics that acquired negative and positive connotations.  For those of us who grew up watching westerns, we knew without even being told that generally the cowboys in black hats were the bad guys and those wearing white hats were the good guys.  This cultural meme has been updated, as we now live in a technological Age of Information.  Computer hackers are now classified in terms of ‘black hats’ or ‘white hats’.

The sociological impact of associating females and people with dark skin with such qualities as denseness and inferiority is perverse.  Most of us have no idea where our prejudices originated, and because they are subconsciously expressed, we are generally oblivious of our complicity in perpetuating racism and gender inequities.

Without meaning to, many of us still end up touting these travesties ourselves.  Unwittingly attributing Yin characteristics (profane/dirty/deficient/exploited) with females and dark-skinned people, and Yang characteristics (powerful/divine/proficient/exhalted) with males and light-skinned people, causes profound, if sometimes unintentional, consequences.

Here we are, nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, and women earn two-thirds what their male colleagues earn for equal work, and police are considered “justified” when they shoot unarmed black boys and men, simply because they “fear for their lives” when in the proximity of people unfortunate enough to display darkly pigmented skin.

For links to a few current events (as of 2016) which illustrate sociological issues created by imbalanced polarities, a short aside is offered here: Current Event Links.

Degrading women and imprisoning/enslaving blacks are most certainly unacceptable and immoral behaviors; however, they have become institutionalized cultural norms.  As our laws continue to allow these practices, they will remain rampant. 

As long as we pervert the equity of natural balanced polarities, penalties will pile upon us.

Universal polarities were thrown into imbalance when the power of the Female was overtaken, though underestimated.  The Male was left alone, unchecked though overwhelmed.  We must understand how this imbalance caused the severe repercussions from which we suffer still.

May we disavow our pernicious patterns.

May we overcome the inertia of our self-pacifying habits.

May we restore the harmonious balance of powers between Male and Female forces in governmental and social practices.

May we shift our paradigm to one of altruism and justice for all.