October 08, 2000
Reading The Androgynous Man by Noel Perrin1 sparked a number of thoughts. Our father’s sperm and our mother’s ovum are both necessary for fertilization and conception. For every human being seen walking the face of this planet, this formula has taken place of necessity. Without both genders, there would be no single gender; everyone is part mom and part dad. Therefore, the hormones that dominate in each gender are present in both genders in varying amounts. And since every individual derives being from both mom and dad, there is a wide range of possibilities in the niche that each person in each gender will be naturally inclined to, regardless of the stereotypical roles. Everyone is distinctive and unique.
When I was in high school, for the first time in my life I developed a group of exceptionally close friends. We referred to ourselves as The Family. We were looking for meaning in life, meaning . . . and acceptance. We were a coed group consisting of about ten people—five girls and five guys—and we learned a lot about ourselves and life. One thing that we learned was the freedom to be who we were. We did all kinds of things together—we laughed, we cried, we talked, we fought, we loved, and we hated; we unselfishly supported one another through the storms of adolescence. In the process, we learned how to become truly whole persons. We were not afraid of our masculine or feminine sides, and self-discovery blossomed with the water of mutual acceptance.
In some ways, I feel as though I have lost a part of what I had then. I have become so logical and analytical in my thinking that at times it seems as though I have no remaining emotional side left. And after all, what is it that matters most in life? Science will never be able to empirically demonstrate the love that bonds people together—logic will never be able to demonstrate the warm feeling you have from sharing yourself with someone else—analysis in itself will never offer up happiness, contentment, worth, and value. Above all, science, logic, and analysis will never be able to grasp the spiritual because they “insist on what is packaged and precise” as Christian singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman so poignantly sings in “Who You Are.” Can one ever package the mysteries of the universe and the awesome Creative force that spawned them? And what matters most in our lives as humans if not life itself—the very essence of “humanhood”—the sacred, and the common acts of loving and sharing? An existence without these elements is a cold existence indeed, and a barren landscape I feel I spend far too much time traversing in my pursuit of pure logic and truth. Sometimes I think the mystics are the wise ones, and I feel as though in high school perhaps I intuitively grasped that concept better than I do now—and yet, with growth, comes expansion, and who knows what my life may yet yield? Perhaps, as the mystics maintain, this is my “dark night of the soul” before the dawning of a new daybreak.
So what does this have to do with androgyny? Life, like so many things, ultimately defies definition and classification. Only by experiencing life with a childlike wonder that asks a thousand questions one moment and the next forgets them all in an unselfconscious frolic of exploring the vast unknown (perhaps the wonder of the greenness of the grass or the wings of a butterfly) will one ever be free. And when one is truly free is when one not merely defies the limitations, but is quite oblivious—through forgetfulness or innocence—to the roles one is supposed to play; indeed, oblivious to oneself altogether. And if one is forced into some predetermined mold—defined as gender difference or other—then one is neither free nor completely whole, i.e. not completely who they really are and therefore not completely who they could be. And who we are is not so much what we are, but what we are becoming.
Every day we are expanding and changing and growing and learning new things. Every day we are a little different from the day before. People change, and rules and classifications, while invaluable in their place, have their place, and if taken out of that place, burden a person down, stunting their ultimate growth and potential as a living, breathing human being—integrated, whole (from moment to moment), and striving for perfection. We should never forget life itself in our quest to scale the heights of knowledge. If we do, we have defeated our purpose in living (and learning).
Assigning expected roles (implied or otherwise) is ultimately self-defeating. That is not to say one should abandon all morals and values, but so many roles are amoral and senseless. So many roles refuse to embrace each person as the unique package of great worth and value that he or she is. Perhaps Perrin had these ideas in mind, perhaps he didn’t. But is not my consensus in the general overall spirit of that which he was intending to convey? Aye, kudos, my good friend. Kudos to you and yours.
1 Perrin, Noel. “The Androgynous Man.” Reading, Thinking, Writing. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000. 346–8. (Custom printed text.)
“The Androgynous Man” is widely available in The Conscious Reader.
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