Monday, February 05, 2007

A Brief Note on Sexual Polarity

Yesterday, I posted the Psychology Today article over at Zaadz, in which I mention liking David Deida.

One reader mentioned taking issue with Deida's over-emphasis of polarity in sexuality. I tend to agree that Deida puts too much emphasis on polarity for his to be a truely integral model.

It seems to me, and it is just my opinion, that one of the goals of personal evolution should be to transcend polarity. Rather than an either/or approach, we should be seeking a both/and approach.

In an old post from last year, this is how I stated my views on this topic:
This second-tier conception of gender identity allows either partner to assume the masculine or feminine energy in the relationship. Further, it's not a problem if both partners assume male energy or female energy. At higher experiential states (tantra in the traditional sense), the gender energies become archetypal in nature--as ego recedes--and can result in gender union (a kind of hieros gamos). At the highest levels, gender dissolves completely, along with ego.
With this view in mind, I have also advocated for the abolition of the terms gay and straight, and would rather see sexuality expressed along a spectrum. From this vantage point, we can no longer talk about types of people (gay or straight, masculine or feminine), but forms of expression. This is what I wrote back then:
We need to move the dialogue on this issue into new realms. Gay and straight should be forms of expression, not types of people. I firmly believe that if we could strip away all the cultural bullshit about being homosexual, a lot of people might have a "gay" relationship just as often as a "straight" relationship.

Obviously, the majority of people are going to chose opposite-gender partners for the purposes of raising a family, and this is as it should be (or we'd become extinct). But minus the stigma we have attached to homosexuality, a lot more people would try both types of expression as they form their adult identity.

Some might choose to have both types of relationships as adults. Maybe this is where Joe Perez's ideas on polyamory come into relevance. It is possible to love more than one person at a time, of either gender. This is certainly a post-conventional form or sexual expression.

More to my point, however, is the reality that it is possible to love people of both genders at different times in our lives (including simultaneously). I would argue that not only is it possible, it's healthy. Further, not only is it healthy, it represents an integral-level sexual identity to be able to honor those feelings.

However, I do not mean to imply that someone who does not ever experience that same-gender form of emotional/sexual expression is not integral. I am simply stating that the ability to love a same-sex person and express that love through sexuality is a healthy form of integral relationship.

We need to move beyond straight and gay to realize that people are capable of fluid and flexible expressions of sexuality. We need to stop identifying people as one thing or another. As long as we continue to do so, we perpetuate the self/other dichotomy that is the source of all fear and oppression.
The reality of loving gay relationships undermines some of Deida's position, although he could certainly argue that one partner always assumes the feminine role while the other inhabits the masculine.

I certainly enjoy the polarity of masculine and feminine in relationships, but I also enjoy those times when there is a both/and energy going on. If we can inhabit a space in which we are both/and, we have the possibility of many more levels of interaction.

Traditionally, we have this:
Masculine <--> Feminine
But what if we could have this instead?
Masculine <--> Feminine
Feminine <--> Masculine
Masculine <--> Masculine
Feminine <--> Feminine
Wouldn't that just be a hell of a lot more fun? If we can play with polarity rather than being confined by it, our relationships can be much more open and much more expansive. Isn't that the best of all worlds?


Anonymous said...

I have a different sense of Deida's approach. He's quite clear that his vision of masculine and feminine polarity is for people who have already mastered balanced sexuality. We've transcended polarity so now we get to play with it , just as someone who can transcend her ego can, unbound by it and seeing it as an object, have some more fun playing with identity.
As for successful same-sex relationships, Deida is also clear that in these relationships there is still polarity created for there to be sexual juice. I haven't encountered anything in Deida's work that is undermined by homosexuality, though I admit I've read only a selection of his works.
Deida says that anyone can take on either polarity in their interacting, but having a polarity has always, in my experience, created more energetic situations.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny how an idea that is shared with the intent to liberate can be used to confine? Of course, everything in it's extreme becomes it's opposite, yes? Such are the perils of living in a paradoxical universe.

Whoa, 11pm feels late when you have kids.

Discovering the power and realness of sexual polarity happened to save my life. That doesn't mean it's for everybody at every time. It also doesn't mean it's any one particular thing. I teach polarity principles (somewhat) in the form as taught to me by the name Gender Synergy. I'm extremely passionate about it AND I'm always careful to emphasize: "Please, take what serves you... and discard the rest (or file it for later). You don't have to practice it the way I do. Use this gift in whatever way serves you now. And if there's nothing in it for you at this time, OK. Is there another way I can be of service?"

The last thing we need are polarity police, and I've encountered a few. I've probably made my own transgressions. My radiant goddess herself has made comments like, "well, I know you want me to be more feminine, so that we can have more Gender Synergy..." This makes me cringe. True, I do attempt to invite the femininity of my lover out into the world, but I TRY to do it through my actions, by embodying masculine energies rather than negotiating or discussing it with her too much.

I've personally found Gender Synergy (sexual polarity) to be most useful as:

1. A motivator and map for cultivating and embodying virtuous masculine traits in myself. This has been incredibly powerful.

2. A tool, overlay and additional lens for deepening my understanding of other models of development, change, personality etc. For example, Don Beck's memes can be seen as gravitating between masculine and feminine as they move up the spiral. And Hakomi Character Theory has masculine and feminine correlates, as probably most personality models do.

3. A tool in my work as a relationship coach and mentor. And as powerful as it is, if it was my ONLY tool I'd feel a bit like a broken record.