Friday, May 25, 2007

Man & Woman: who needs' em?

I've been reading some blogs written by Catholic moms, and this reflection was particularly inspired by a podcast at (link from KM). Their blogs revolve much around family life: kids and marriage. If anyone's reading my blog long enough, you know family life has never been much of particular interest to me, not until recently.

"Family life" has recently entered (re-entered!) my life since my sister joined me in Singapore. It started out practically: household responsibilities division. Since then I've been reading and contemplating a little more, and discovering family, its meaning and its value, through the Theology of the Body. Perhaps it's for a selfish reason too: family life is so important in the formation of one's identity.

Since the TwoEdge podcast was about the increasingly emasculated identity of man and defective fatherhood, I'd start off by considering my own identity-forming years. A recent research about family life brought me to this article, in which I recognize the malaise of our age—of de-sexualization or unisexualization—in my own growing up years. All the symptoms are present: lack of feminine role model, tendency to assert ourselves outside, tendency to neutralize differences between male & female, tendency to compete—to out-smart, out-strength, out-do everyone, male & female notwithstanding.

On top of that, belatedly, actually just after a conversation with AE, I'm beginning to question the forces that form one's identity. Is it possible to be aware of all of them? Can we control/influence the contribution of each factor? Are they what determines who we are today? If yes, are we thus a product of those factors or are we able to determine for ourselves who we become, outside our conscious decisions?

So it was with this newfound awareness of these patterns in my adolescence and these possibly unknown forces forming my identity, that I am taking stock of my life: where am I going? Both personally and professionally.

In the little startup, my partner & I started out being "equal", but later I realized there are differences that are due to our sexual identity and cultural upbringing. For instance, I don't find myself drawn to compete in power struggles that my partner often experienced. Also, I find that being feminine in business doesn't mean using sex appeal to close deals, but rather, assessing the prospect and augmenting their requirements with insights from intuition, on top of the due diligence that we carry out professionally.

Perhaps circumstances might have played a role; despite the positive examples cited above, I find myself in situations where more often than not, I'm rewarded more when the 'masculine' traits are asserted: such as knowing how household things work, how to solve mechanical problems, how to read & write computer programmes, how to deal with people in a way that will bring business deals... On the other hand, the 'feminine' traits are hardly "useful" because their benefits are not perceived, and even if they are, not immediately. Therefore I find myself increasingly pushed to hone up these skills, to behave, and consequently, to adopt a more 'masculine' identity than what is good for me. In the meanwhile, interpersonal relationships suffer because of this desexualization of my personality.

But hey! I don't have to take this lying down! The point is now, being aware of these influences, I can ask myself: what do these skills prepare me for? Do they help me fine-tune my "compass" to find a suitable partner for a Christian marriage? Do they make me a better Catholic, a better woman, a better child of God? Do they prepare me to be a Christian wife & mother, or a consecrated woman who knows how to live her gifts?

So I guess the question now is what's the plan? Coming up soon...

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