When references are made to gender, they usually involve two concepts – biological sex and gender identity. The first is the bits you are born with, and the second is what you see yourself as. When we speak of getting greater diversity in our parliament and board rooms, we seem to assume we are all speaking about gender identity. However, an important element of gender is missing in this two-sided view. It is the much deeper and more subtle layer of gender energy. I believe that current ignorance of gender energy creates divides in business, politics and personal lives. But acknowledging and understanding gender energy can bring us together for the greater good.
When I developed the sexuality circle (still looking for a better name), I felt that it explained so much of my experience of sexuality, but something was missing. It was when I read The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida[i] The lightning flashed, sparks flew, and the darkness was illuminated. What was missing from my understanding of sexuality was gender energy – or what Deida calls sexual essence. I loathe creating more terms for the hell of it because I understand the danger of creating more confusion along with them. However, I feel that using the term sexual to define the energy limits the pervasive nature of this energy and can distort people’s view of its purpose and power. While it is an energy that attracts and engages intimate connections, it is much more than that. It is a total way of being in the world.
The Three Elements of Gender
So, here are the three elements of gender as I see them. Please note I am not presenting these as an expert in human sexuality or gender studies. I am not even an academic or recognised expert in the field. All of my models are based on a combination of reading the wisdom of others and my lived experience. I am heartened to hear that the latter is given held in high regard by some very inspirational people, such as Julia Banks[ii]Who has had gut-wrenching experiences in the world of commerce and politics.
Biological sex comprises all of the bits that you were born with. They are the set of chromosomes and genitalia you came into the world with. Some people know biological sex as gender, or just sex (e.g. male or female). While biological sex sounds simple and binary, and it is for many people, there are many grey areas for many others. These complexities can be both physical and psychological. For example, sex tests may reveal that a person who has always lived as a woman has a Y chromosome and internal testes (see the case of Maria Patino in Sexing the Body[iii]). Or alternatively, a child who has all the biological markers of being male does not feel comfortable being a boy, and in fact, thrives when able to live life as a woman. It is because the real world is complex and individuals are complicated that we need the idea of gender identity.
Gender identity can be the same or different as your biological sex. It is independent of your bits and is your personal sense of self as a man or woman, both or neither. Options include cisgender (has a gender identity the same as your biological sex), transgender (identifies as a gender different to biological sex) and gender non-binary (does not identify as either male or female). The majority of our populations are cisgender, meaning that they were born as a man or woman, and identify as the same. However, in our previous examples, both people would be termed, transgender. Both have the biological sexes of a man but identify as women.
These two elements – biological sex and gender identity reveal more subtle layers of understanding about how gender reveals itself in the world. The next element goes even deeper and looks into our beliefs, motivations, and behaviours.
What is Gender Energy?
Deida describes gender energy as an inner, psychological quality or character essence. While there are a small proportion of balanced people, most people tend towards masculine or feminine energy. Ultimately all people are searching for fulfilment and happiness, but the gender energies have different methods of achieving it. Here’s how the gender energies differ[iv]:
|Searching For||Deep love||Freedom|
|Find it in||Relationships||Challenges|
|Moved by||Connection||A mission or direction|
|Life feels like||A flow of emotion||A problem to be solved or art to be mastered|
|Thrives in||Giving and receiving love||Competition|
|Wants to||Flow with the energies of life||Transcend life and be free|
|Is lessened by||Hoping or searching for love||Struggling for freedom|
|Grows through||Learning to live as love||Learning to live as freedom|
There are two important things to note about gender energy:
- Gender energy has nothing to do with whether you identify as a woman or man. Let’s work through some examples, a prime one shown by some women in politics. They have the biological sex and gender identity of a woman; however, their behaviour is incredibly masculine. They play power games to get free of others influence. They are mission-driven and enjoy the competition of the question time arena. In contrast, let’s look at some male nurses. They have the bits of a boy and have no doubt they are all man. Yet, they spend his days building relationships, caring for others and bringing love to their patients.
- Gender energy is changeable. While a person may operate predominantly from one energy, we fluctuate every day. A woman’s masculine energy displayed on the sport’s field can be followed by a profound love for her baby. A man’s masculine energy directing troops on the field can be followed by a heartfelt conversation with his teenager. It is this flow of energy that makes us human, and not robots. We all have the capacity to act from a different energy. The question is whether we have the awareness and desire to know what energy is best in any specific situation.
The Real Key To Diversity
Each energy is valuable. We have come to believe that masculine energy is “the best” and that the characteristics of feminine energy are optional. In the places where decisions are made – cabinet meetings and board rooms, it is a problem orientation and challenge perspective that is always viewed as proper. God forbid if you dare mention how options enable love and relationships or how you feel about the dilemma. The feminine energy is seen as inferior in the halls of power and ridiculed as an input to good decisions.
Yes, as the need for increasing diversity is being recognised, more women are being invited to where the decisions are being made. But here’s the thing. Are they being invited in for their gender identity or their gender energy? For the sake of true diversity, one would hope it was the latter, but the cynic in me thinks it is purely for the former. The processes, procedures and content of conversations remain the same – with glaring absences of those elements of feminine energy that can make the discussions whole and meaningful. Love, emotion and connection are lost in the world of deadlines, targets and winning. This is why I believe gender quotas are only half of the answer.
So, I am left wondering. Do the discussions around diversity need to shift from gender identity to gender energy?
And I end this article by imagining – what would that look like?
[i] D. (2022). The Way of the Superior Man [Paperback] [Jan 01, 2017] David Deida. Simon & Schuster.
[ii] Banks, J. (2021). Power Play: Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys’ Clubs (Paperback ed.). Hardie Grant Books.
[iii] Fausto-Sterling, A. (2020). Sexing the Body (Revised ed.). Basic Books.
[iv] Based on the descriptions found in D. (2022). The Way of the Superior Man [Paperback] [Jan 01, 2017] David Deida. Simon & Schuster.
[v] I found myself putting the masculine first out of habit – how ingrained is the belief that the feminine is merely secondary to masculine?