Sunday, January 11, 2009


The whole male/female energy thing alienates me faster than the Pope at a Grateful Dead concert.

Let’s say you’re a black girl talking with another black woman. And she’s explaining how Michelle is great because she retains some of her “black” energy when she’s up there.
And you’re like, “uh, what?”
And the older woman says, “You know, sweetie, your black and white energy. Everyone has some of both, and you need to keep them balanced. In this country, black people suffer because we have too much white energy. We need to balance that out with more strong black energy.”
And you’re like “uh….what? black and white energy, uh, what?”
So she says,
“Well, black energy is like….it’s umm…nature, and being passive- sort of being one with Mother Earth, and being ok with that, you know? And white energy is more….active, it’s like….doing….and…energy, you know?
And it’s ok to be a black person with lots of white energy, or a white person with lots of black energy. I'm a black person with lots of white energy, and I'm happy about that. My friend over there is a white guy with lots of black energy, that's why we make a great pair".

Doesn't that sound a bit... off-putting, maybe?

Humans do use a lot of arbitrary labels. There is nothing especially tall about “high” notes in music, or commanding about a “major” chord. The Greeks called our deep, brassy notes “high” and squeaky, chirpy noises “low”. Then again, you rarely hear about “high and low” energy as two separate but equal personality traits, or “tall and short” personas.

Somehow, I feel that it’s not pleasant to be told its ‘ok’ to be black person with ‘a lot of white energy’. It’s just not particularly comforting.

At yoga, they are always talking about being “active” and “passive”. The key is, in fact, balance. I like how you can always relax- relax your jaw, relax your brow line. The best is how there is always something to activate- focus on the breath, stretch your toes if you have to.
But they don't tell you to “female” your toes out or “male” up your core muscles. Imagine that:
“Ok, everybody, male up your arms up towards the sky, and let your shoulders be female down your back”.

They could totally get away with that. Most people have the cultural capital to make sense of instructions like “female your shoulders down your back”. They could use male and female. It's just more precise to say “active” and “passive”. Or “relax” and “firm up”. I guess those prosaic types don't get the same kicks playing with colossal, inflated metaphor all of the time.

For example, I could never believe there's anything male about an overblown ego.

1 comment:

bleedingcherub said...

I would describe the types as differently active... maybe holistically and singularly, or something, based on reproductive method and historical ways of pursuing knowledge. (In the case of women's intuitive psychological knowledge, I say that the complexity of the knowledge both speaks to the merit of the knowers and the necessity of an initially intuitive approach. PS it's late so excuse any syntactical clumsiness.)