Masculine Agency and the Feminine Ache. How gender theory sent me on the hunt for who I am.

I was about twenty or twenty one when I was first introduced to the theory of masculine/feminine, sexual yoga and the work of David Deida. It was shortly after a somewhat awkward conversation with a man I was dating who had asked me about my relationship to vulnerability. If it weren’t for the fact that this is as funny as it is, I’d be humiliated to tell you that I actually had no idea what he was talking about.  Vulnerability? Like…what do you mean? No, I don’t feel vulnerable. I’ve got my shit together, can’t you tell? I can still recall how guarded I felt, like there was something to protect, though I didn’t know what. I was closed. He was looking for something, a way in perhaps, some softness, some chink in the armor. I gave him nothing but a bunch of intellectual run around. He was frustrated, I was offended. Neither of us got laid that night.

Then I started to dive into Deida’s work, reading about the divine masculine and feminine. I tried to read Blue Truth (which I think was supposed to be for women, like The Way of the Superior Man is for men) and I was all, what is this shit? It’s all flowing and poetic and confusing. Lay it out for me champ, what the heck are you trying to say? Intimate Communion was one I could understand. Theory. Linear. A little bit of A to B action, if you know what I’m sayin’. I started getting a bit skeptical, started watching myself as I got into this material- The masculine made sense- agency, purpose, drive…yeah, I get that. But the feminine- surrender, vulnerability, full hearted-opening-past-every-conrtaction-to-be-penetrated-by-consciousness-and-what-is-this-guy-actually-talking-about!? This feminine stuff, while I could feel a stirring desire to allow myself to be touched by what was being communicated, there was something about it all that felt fluffy and weird and, frankly, dramatically frightening.

I started to tune in to what it felt like to be energetically me and apparently ‘masculine’ really ruled how I was showing up in my life. I owned a company, led staff and was a fast-paced, A-type. Every minute was Go Time. I had targets and goals and purpose, deadlines and objectives and measurable results. I ate vulnerability for breakfast and kept it where it belonged, behind the steal trap door of my fearless cognitive strategizing and fantasizing. Don’t get me wrong, I was plenty open and connected in certain ways, but not the ways that really let you into the mess of things, not in the ways that could possibly make me relinquish control and knock me off my five year plan or allow me take direction from anyone else, let alone a man. That’s when I was all….

Shit… I’m a dude!

Theoretically, most women’s sexual essence is feminine even if they have a strong developed masculine and I could feel that deep beneath the pace and direction and texture of my life. I had a lot of close relationships with women and my company was a hair salon, so you know, lots of ra-ra-woman power around. I had never identified as being masculine before and the pain of this realization cannot be understated. I was devastated when I found out that I was a man…ahem…masculine. Sure didn’t help that I’d date men who would tell me that I needed to be more feminine or that my masculine energy put them in their feminine. It was at once offensive and heart shattering. What’s the ultimate gender insult for a man? That he throws like a girl? Is in some way female or at least missing his testicles? Well telling a woman she’s too masculine is kind of like telling her that she’s ugly and stale and undesirable. And stinky.

While I was none of those things, I could certainly feel the ways in which I was inaccessible, the ways in which my energy moved outward. I started to notice how I’d have a problem solved and a direction chosen before you even had a thought about it. But I didn’t know how else to be. I was of the competence school, you know, don’t wait for a man to bring you flowers, plant your own? My striving way, what I see now with fresh tenderness as my beautifully capable and deeply protective manner, were all strategies I’d developed to do well in this world, to step up and take care of myself and not wait for someone to handle it for me. What I thought was leading me towards being a confident, successful strong female had landed me right smack in the midst of being an inadequate woman. Fuck.

So, like any masculine chick would, I took this beast on. I was going to become feminine dammit and I was apparently going to do that in the most masculine way possible. I would study. I would understand more and engage in practice with focused determination and eventually I would be girl enough! So of course I hopped the first plane to a David Deida Intensive which, as a woman, no matter how masculine you try to be in there, you do get some damn good practice. Over the next several years, I practiced in whatever way seemed like it would make me more ‘feminine’, going to women’s retreats and workshops, doing Yin yoga and partner dancing where I successfully learned not to ‘back lead’. I did deep belly breathing with pelvic movements with…wait for it…an imaginary paint brush held by my lady parts, painting circles on Mother Earth. I went to a secluded spot on a lush island during my ‘moon cycle’ and lay naked in the penetrating sun, menstruating on a massive phallic rock. No, I’m not kidding. I actively and rigorously and agentically tried to overcome my active, rigorous agency. All the while, feeling a bottomless and excruciating desire to simply relax into who I was and who I was not. But my strong masculine energy felt unacceptable and as though I was failing at being a woman, while emulating the qualities of femininity in a contracted and pressured way felt forced and awkward.

Then a funny thing happened. Maybe funny isn’t really the right word. In a rather compressed period of time, I became a mother and went through a divorce and if you put both of those together and still insist on trying you have your shit together, you’re a masochist. It just takes far too much effort and everyone can see through it anyway and what’s the point? Why should I muscle down and push through? Why should I be unflinching and impenetrable? That kind of life transition aims to destroy a person, or at least the parts of a person that wants to hold onto any illusions that they’re in control of anything or that surrender is just a frivolous concept. If those two things won’t beat you up and crack you open and rip apart every plan and goal and future trajectory you’ve created in your mind that you’re following with steadfast masculine rigor, well, you might actually be made of stone.

It was in giving up trying to be more feminine, and showing up for the events of my life with fullness, awareness and heart that I finally started to feel this sense of leaning back and opening up and gushing with feminine vulnerability. I can sense a different quality of radiance that comes from someone who’s allowed them self to break open. You’re totally welcome into the messes now, there are plenty to choose from and if feels good to share in a new kind of intimate exploration of our humanity with so many in my life.

Using theoretical models for our development can be really helpful. But it can also be a way to categorize, drive, criticize and chastise ourselves and others. It took almost a decade for me to accept how I am and in doing so; relax my habitual way quite a bit.

Am I finally feminine? Probably. I do know that my massive bleeding heart wants to embrace every suffering soul that’s ever lived, that’s supposed to be feminine right? I still haven’t a clue what being penetrated by consciousness is supposed to mean, but I’m pretty sure that happened like 20 minutes ago when I was lying naked in the sun. I still get a ton done and make decisions quickly. I have focused vision, my life purpose is still the most interesting thing to me and since it’s about helping others express their life’s purpose, maybe that makes me a feminine midwife. Or maybe just masculine. Or maybe a midwife of the masculine. I don’t know. I get a rush out of doing pushups with a steady gaze and love to dance with abandon to songs with heart drenching lyrics. I open to my sorrow and the chaos of my interior with curious trust and totally dig fire gazing with a group of men. I can let others lead just fine, especially my son and while I have a strong sense of direction when it comes to my work, if you drop me in the wilderness, I’m a damsel in distress forgetting which way is left. I honestly don’t know what energy is leading me moment to moment and my interest in analyzing it has waned. What I do feel, is deeply loving and committed and a lot less interested in how I fit into the map. I’ll step up to handle things and take care of others with the same kind of decisiveness that’s always been there, but with a little more sweetness and a ton of room to ask for help or support or holding in return. I’ll compete with the boys as long as we’re having fun and trade foot rubs with the girls if it deepens the intimacy. Do I feel masculine? Sometimes. Do I feel feminine? Sometimes. Does it matter? Not really. [icon name=”twitter” class=””] And the next guy to tell me I’m too masculine will get a great view of my ‘masculine’ ass as I’m walking away.

I’m an Integral Master Coach™, Master Certified Coach, writer, mother & people lover. My gifts are centered around helping others to meet their calling and unleash their genius, on behalf of our shared world. Get to know me...


  1. Tieara says:

    This is the firsf thing i read this morning. It resonates deeply. I am totally like this too! I am a leader by nature but looking to soften up this year and explore more of my feminine side. Years ago, I did a lot of work here that transformed my life. I want to go deeper into my feminine. Like you said, nothing wrong wrong with where i am, i just want to experience more. Thanks for sharing. It was a pleasure reading another women going/gone through a similar journey.

  2. JJ says:

    Hello Chela,

    Thank you for bringing this post back. I loved it!

    I have been noticing a lot of shifts and changes myself… blame it on the planets, turning 30, a month in Costa Rica doing yoga…At times it is visceral and scary and I can feel myself pushing through my chrysalis. Other times it is light and overflowing with joy and liberating energy.

    The point is, I couldn’t agree more about the lack of need to define it, change it analyze it. Back in January I spent some time doing what I call “negative soul-searching”. Looking at fear, at my habits that aren’t serving me, looking for the why’s and how’s of it all. Seeking an answer or solution . I think that can cause more harm than good and on a fundamental Law of Attraction level, only lead to more of the yuckiness.

    So, I have let go. I’ve let myself be masculine, be feminine, be sad, be happy, and most of all, be patient and grateful. I’m trying to sit on the rock and know that when there is time to take action, I will be guided to do so.

    Thank you for all that you do and share!!!

    Be well,

    – JJ

  3. Sofia says:


    This is like the most brilliant post ever!
    I see so much of myself in this post and I ache for how much I tried to “get, make and do” things the masculine way when all I really had to do was relax into it a bit more and not try so hard. I’m a professional organizer so getting shit done is like my M.O. but it’s the being in control part that has had to come down piece by piece via a very lovely dark night of the soul. Only that has made me truly crack open and surrender the need for productivity and control. I still get things done but in a more gentle fashion. I still have focus but I manage it differently. I see in our coaching world, a lot of women who try to be a woman and get things done the way a man would and so it’s interesting to see the contrast now. I see more of the divine feminine than I could ever see before.

    thanks for illustrating this so brilliantly 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    I just love this story of discovering this concept and how you’ve made it your own.’y own story parallels it in many ways. In the end, it sounds like you finally allowed yourself to embrace your feminine in whatever way that was right for you. When I discovered this it was later in life. It was a relief. I embraced my feminine immediately and it was such a load off to be able to do that!

  5. So delighted this appeared in my sight today, especially this line, “I was plenty open and connected in certain ways, but not the ways that really let you into the mess of things, not in the ways that could possibly make me relinquish control……”. Please never stop writing, you made my day today.

  6. Jacki says:

    Thank you. I can’t believe how much your words feel pulled straight from my head. I’m often told by male friends that I am more masculine then they, and have been nicknamed “Spock” on more than one occasion. I always felt more comfortable in a group of men, and pretty much never wanted to be a girl, although I didn’t want to be a boy either.
    I just figured this was my version of feminine. Until I had my son 13 years ago, and ever since, I’ve tried studying my way to feminine like you. Your right though, it’s in the relaxing into life that my feminine appears.
    So instead of worrying so much if I am being too masculine or too feminine, I’ll try relaxing into life more and just being me.

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