Part One – Understanding Recent History and Biology including “Male” and “Female” (See below.) The nuance and complexity of “male” and “female” is explained. Cindy also shares her personal story as a feminist and a woman and how that relates to the context we are in today in the US. She concludes by explaining her “androgyny” comment from the video clip filmed at ILiA 2012.
Part Two – Power and Leadership
Our understandings of “Power” and “Leadership” are set inside a Spiral Dynamics context. Healthy and unhealthy expressions of each stage are teased apart. And “typical” assignments of “masculine” vs. “feminine” are shown.
Part Three – Understanding the Longer History and Cultural View of “Masculine” and “Feminine”
Stereotypes, archetypes and the useful times and not-so-useful times for using the terms “masculine” and “feminine” – and a suggested more skillful framing for the polarities we are interested in when we are specifically exploring leader-development and what makes for appropriate leadership in a given context.
Part Four – Lines, Types, and Leadership
Their relationship to male and female (biology) and “masculine” and “feminine” archetypes and stereotypes and to the stages of development and our present-moment challenges will be explored. Women have some statistical strengths – as do men. How do we tap these? AND, Will the world be saved by the “Western Woman” as the Dalai Lama is supposed to have said? Or will the world be saved by an integrated kick-ass / kiss-the-boo-boo combo?
Part Five – Integral Androgyny and Pulling it All Together
The new Mythic Story for our time. Playing to your natural strengths – communal or agentic, thinking or feeling, and knowing how to pool strengths for maximal impact. And the need for Integralists to lead, follow or get out of the way.
General Disclaimer for all Parts:
I am assuming a foundation in Integral Theory – or you probably would not be here. But if you are reading this without knowing much about Ken Wilber’s work – I apologize for some of the Integral terms and shorthand, which I don’t have time to define in this article. I hope you’ll get value regardless. For the 4 quadrants of Integral Theory I will use abbreviations UL, UR, LL, LR for upper left, upper right, lower left and lower right. And I will use the colors of the Spiral Dynamics model when I talk about stages because at this level we need the nuance and strength of a theory (vs. Integral Colors which represent meta-theory).
Understanding Recent History and Biology including “Male” and “Female”
Full disclosure: Let me disclose that I have my own set of perceptual filters, which affect how I see this topic. First you should know that I am a woman, an American and a feminist. Although I never actually burned a bra, my self-sense (my story) has been significantly impacted by the women’s movement. I have been ticked off about systemic discrimination against women (found in LL cultural norms and LR systems) since my teens when we were living in Australia and learned that my mother could not cash a check because under Aussie law at the time she needed her husband’s permission to take money out of their joint checking account. (Can you believe it – the bank manager called Dad at work to ask if it was okay to give Mom money?).
I am now approaching 56 years of age. The coffee mug I had on my desk for the first 10+ years of my career at Exxon had a cartoon of woman with a big smile saying something like this: “This mug contains very hot coffee. If you make a sexist remark I will spill it on your lap. Have a nice day.” I worked in Human Resources and women’s issues and the rights of non-Caucasians were a hot topic. New hires in my group got sent to look at my mug as a friendly part of their “affirmative action training.”
Let me also disclose that I am an INTJ on the Myers Briggs (T = Thinking style preference for decision making), a “5” on the Enneagram, and “warm color dominant” on the Spiral (i.e. highly “agentic” in Integral terms). Most women (about 75%) are Myers Briggs Feeling style in their preferences. So I am one of the 25% of women who felt like “maybe something is wrong with me” relative to my female peers. FYI men are about 75% thinking style; 25% feeling style. Feeling style men often feel something is “wrong” with them too. So perhaps I came into the world “better equipped” to cope with corporate America. Or perhaps I became agentic to succeed in an Orange/Strive-Drive world. Who knows? My gut tells me I would have been agentic anyway. I succeeded for twenty years at Exxon, and then left to run my own business in 2000. Most people who knew me at Exxon or in my current role would say I demonstrate “leadership skills”. So what does that mean for Integral and women in leadership?
Integral Chicks is a term that implies the group is for women. So let’s start with “male and female”. We like to think this part is clear. But it’s not always so. Some humans are born with both sets of genitalia – with doctors (at least in the past) often recommending amputation of the penis if there is a vagina and telling the parents to raise the child as a girl and to never reveal what happened. You can imagine the potential psychological issues that can arise from this. Many adults report feeling like they have a “female brain inside a male body” or vice-versa – with some going through full transgendering to make the outer match the inner. Humans are normally born with XX or XY chromosomes. XX = female. XY = male. Yet some are born XXY (externally male) XYY (male) or XXX (female) – i.e. with a third sex chromosome. Even male/female is complicated.
Besides the shape of our reproductive organs, there is the implication of hormones. I can tell you from working on my own hormone balance with my doctor that when I tried a new testosterone cream I got really irritable and prone to anger for a while. My blood chemistry showed I was in need of supplementation. Without enough testosterone I am exhausted – my “agency” evaporates. But with too much or a sudden uptick – I felt a bit like punching someone. This gives me a lot of compassion for what a high testosterone level in young men must feel like. (And I bet you are feeling a bit sorry for my husband about now!)
Without enough estrogen I notice that I walk around in a “brain-fog,” which might look like I don’t care about you because I am not listening well or remembering what you said. And low progesterone tends to create sleeplessness and anxiety. I might look confused, worried or tired when my progesterone is too low. Hormones matter and they matter a lot. I have been humbled. I have given up believing that how I feel and behave is exclusively a matter of my own will power. I am a biological being. I need to be ok with this. This is a really big deal for me to say – as my feminist self from my 20’s hates this. She feels like that’s a bunch of male propaganda. So you can imagine some of the voice dialogue I get to have with her! The point is – biology matters. AND biology is complex. Even the terms “male” and “female” are deeply loaded and should be used with sensitivity for context and nuance. And as a female – my blood chemistry is not a constant through my life. It changes monthly when younger, and wanders all over the place in perimenopause.
So when I offer tips in the video interview with Nicole about how women and men can raise their testosterone (based on a PopTech 2011 talk by Dr. Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School) by changing their body posture, I am not trying to make a woman into a man. The same technique works for men as well. I am pointing to a biological connection between testosterone level and how we manifest as enthusiastic and self-confident in Dr. Cuddy’s research. Based on her research 2 minutes of holding a “power posture” increased testosterone, decreased cortisol (a stress hormone) and increased the chance of successfully getting a job offer in a controlled process…regardless of whether the candidate was male or female. It is great to know that you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to increase your testosterone temporarily and to get the rush of self-confidence it brings with it.
The presence or absence of a uterus and ovaries is also a big deal. Monthly cycles of hormone fluctuations make little difference to some women, and make enormous difference to others. To deny that seems silly now – although denying it was required of most of us feminists in the 70’s and 80’s! And it is hard for young women today to appreciate the joy many of us felt when the birth control pill became readily available and women could choose when to have a baby. The social ramifications and leadership ramifications of this are huge. Unexpected and/or repeated pregnancies could slow you down or cause you to “give up” on climbing the ladder. So now with the pill we could be a mother if and when we wanted to be one. This was and is a big step forward for those of us with female bodies.
Which brings us to biological and historical role differences. Thank God/Evolution that almost all our role differences are much more flexible now than they used to be. Most modern jobs do not require the size and strength of a male. This has allowed women to have equal access and opportunity (once legal and cultural barriers drop) to most parts of the workplace.
Family roles are a bit different. Growing babies inside your body and feeding them from your breasts is a very different role than the father has biologically. Modern baby formula meant I didn’t have to breast feed any longer than I chose to. Yet breast milk is healthier – so I chose to do that for a full two months, which means I stayed home 8 weeks after the birth of my daughter. AND I worked from my house. I had to leave work 6 weeks before my due date for bed rest. I was on maternity leave for 2 months. I was darned sure not going to let go of a job I loved because I couldn’t make the key supervisory decisions during this time. I was a woman in a management role. I wasn’t going to let “all women” down. And I didn’t want to leave my team in a bad way. There was very minimal email capability back then – so a friend brought me the paperwork from the office every few days and took back the paper work I had completed. I proved I could triumph over cultural expectations. I was being the “superwoman” I was expected to be in the 80s. And I decided quickly one child was all I could manage with this set of expectations.
Having a child changes who you are – male or female. In a beautiful way you start to care deeply and with sometimes-scary intensity, about the well being of another. AND having a child immediately brings up archetypal / stereotypical roles in the marriage. Whose “job” is it to do what? In the 1980s men and women were fighting the women’s liberation war in the nursery, the kitchen, and the bedroom as well as in the boardroom. My own marriage was no exception. Women challenged every “role” we were assigned. Why do I have to be the one doing “X” all the time? I now understand with more compassion how hard this was on the men of that era. They felt they were “made wrong” at every turn. One man told me “if I open a door for a woman I get yelled at. And if I don’t open it I get ‘the stare’. How am I supposed to know which woman wants what?” As Forrest Gump would say – “it was a very confusing time.”
Fast forward to 2012. Thirty-some years later, much has changed in the lower quadrants. Our cultural norms are hugely different from what my own mother grew up with. It is a good thing to take that wider view and to appreciate how far we have come on diversity issues. It keeps us in love with evolution and having faith in the larger impulse of Eros. This is a good balance to our natural tendency to focus on what still needs to improve!
My daughter, Jess, as she went through high school (she is now 24), would hear my feminist stories and tell me to “chill.” “Mom, that’s all over now,” she would tell me. Jess is blessed to not have felt much (at least overt) pressure to defer to boys, to get married young and fit into the traditionalist roles my mother and wife. Important note: those roles and stereotypes are not gone – and they don’t need to totally disappear. Those traditionalist roles may always suit some people perfectly. As Clare Graves said, “Let people be where they are, dammit!” Blue on the Spiral (Amber in Integral language) can be as beautiful and noble as any other color. AND it cannot be the top of our evolutionary pathway anymore – as life conditions are now too complex for that stage to cope with (more on that in a future post). It may take several more generations for the modern and post-modern (Orange+) view of women and their freedom to select their roles to really move into a new collective consciousness – the LL Cultural space. And it will take even longer to penetrate our unconscious and our archetypes. And we can always regress as a society. But with the laws passed in the 1960’s and 70’s a lot has changed. And that has been a good thing for women in leadership.
Jess has, in her life so far, had equal access to sports, equal access to college, and equal access to jobs. And she like many of us has recently been watching with concern the regression in our legal system in the US. Traditionalist perspective legislators have been very busy trying to (and in too many cases succeeding) in limiting women’s access to birth control. I know the Europeans reading this will think we are totally insane over here. From a Spiral standpoint we are seeing a “pull back” to earlier stages on the Spiral. The most conservative voices in our society are working hard to take the role of decision-maker away from the woman and her doctor and to regulate and restrict her options on many fronts including birth control and pregnancy terminations. But enough on that – I could rant for hours on that one.
The leadership point is that we have come a long way in the US – AND WE ARE NOT DONE. In Europe with high levels of immigration from countries where the center of gravity is Blue or below there is risk that some of the gains taken for granted there may be challenged as well. In the LL Culture quadrant we still do have collective stereotypes to deal with. And in the LR Systems quadrant we do have practices and laws that were changed in the direction I would call positive (modern to post-modern) which can and may be reversed. We cannot lose our vigilance. Jess and I have talked a good bit about this. I have also talked with other young women.
As my generation (the boomers) ages it is time for the Gen X-ers and Millenials to be prepared to take up the cause. Apathy these days is as good as voting with the traditionalist view. And this is not just a woman’s issue. These issues are for everyone. When women cannot control their reproduction all of society is affected. My father’s Roman Catholic mother had 8 children. She managed to teach math at the local Catholic school in spite of that load. But she could not have had my career at Exxon and juggled what she had to do at home. Her choices were limited. There were not enough hours in a day.
So regardless of your gender, please vote and be a leader in women’s rights and family planning if you want to ensure a future where women (biological females) can have a chance to acquire and use power and effectively lead in organizations outside the home. In other words, don’t forget the historical context and don’t take previous advances as forgone conclusions. And remember that freedom from role constraints is freeing for men as well as women. Men need to be free to be stay-at-home Dads if they so choose…just as women should be able to stay at home, or not.
And on the biology frontier we need to be brutally honest. We cannot effectively ignore (as I tried to) our hormonal levels. What we see clearly, we can deal with. If you have wild hormone swings I would suggest you find a way to moderate the impact on others. That is what leaders do. And yes – the world needs to understand women are different. And no – I don’t think it’s ok to have a crying jag in a meeting or to rip someone up because you are experiencing PMS. In the leadership training world – where we teach EQ (emotional intelligence) as key for leadership and professional success – we don’t say temper tantrums from male leaders are ok because they have a lot of testosterone. It’s not ok from women either. Self-regulation is crucial for all of us.
Finally – concluding Part One – when I say we need an “inner androgyny” in the video I do not mean we need to wash out the poles and all move to some boring “middle place” of neither-male-nor-female. Rather we need – by the time we move to Yellow on the Spiral – to start finding true flexibility beyond old terminologies and cultural expectations of role. When I need to stand in whatever we might call the “masculine” – say express my testosterone tendencies – I will do it. Whenever I need to stand in my Spiral Red expression of power and strength I will do it. When my “no” needs to mean “hell no!” I can say it and you will feel the force of it. I will embody Orange Strive-Drive without embarrassment or apology when it suits the context. And I can embody softness, radiance, accommodation to the other, and focus on the “we space” whenever that is context-appropriate. This is what Spiral Yellow Flex-Flow means to me. It means being at either pole (of any given polarity) or anywhere in the middle between the poles, depending on what is the compassionate and wise thing to do in that moment for that context. A dynamic flow of breathing in and breathing out is what is called for. In this moment I am at Pole A (say “agency”), and at the next moment at Pole B (say “communion”). I may still prefer one Pole over the other – but I am comfortable and capable expressing its opposite.
As for fun in romance and in the bedroom…if you are game, play out your polarities there in all their glory. Being androgynous in my use of that term means full Integral flexibility. Want to play a Spiral Red submissive/dominant game? Go for it. Want to be the seducer today instead of being “the one seduced.” Fine. Want to dress up like a Puritan woman or man of a repressed Blue stage (traditionalist) who meets and falls for a wild man or woman of the woods (embodying Spiral Purple) and make love under the stars? Sounds fun! Want to be tender, wild, whatever? My feeling is that as long as it’s all consensual and non-harming – enjoy it. And I would suggest you try on both sides of each polarity and notice where you feel discomfort. In our discomfort is information. It might mean we need to say “hey, no more! Stop this game!” or “Cool! Here is an opportunity for self-awareness and growth!”
What do you think? Let’s discuss. And remember please – 4 more segments are coming!
Cindy Wigglesworth is President of Deep Change. She has a BA and MA from Duke University and has 20 years of experience in human resources management with ExxonMobil. She founded her business, now called Deep Change, in 2000. Cindy is certified in Emotional Intelligence and has created, validated and researched the first skills-based Spiritual Intelligence Assessment instrument for business and personal use.
Nicole Fegley, MA is the Co-Founder of Integral Chicks. She is a Certified Integral Coach through Integral Coaching Canada, and has coached with Integral Life and the Integral Incubator. Nicole is the Co-founder, with her partner Clint Fuhs, of Core Integral Inc. A former restaurant owner, she worked for Integral Institute and Integral Life from 2005-2012, and has produced over 40 personal, professional, and spiritual events for the Integral community. Nicole is a senior student of Ken Wilber, studies Indo-Tibetan Buddhism with Daniel Brown and Hatha Yoga and Feminine Embodiment with Sofia Diaz.