Moving Beyond 'Masculine' & 'Feminine'

The terms masculine and feminine have been used to define us before we even came out of the womb. These terms have been connected to whatever gender we are assigned at (or before) birth: girl or boy.

The dictionary defines feminine as

  1. having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.

Syn womanly, ladylike

  2.  of or denoting a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as female.


  3.  the female sex or gender.


The dictionary defines masculine as

  1. having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness.


virile, macho, manly, muscular, strong, rugged, brawny, heavily built, powerful, 

2. of or denoting a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as male.


the male sex or gender.

"the masculine as the norm"


Many of us have tried to reclaim these gendered terms to mean something other than their stereotypical definitions or to reclaim them as characteristics that every human has regardless of gender.


However, these terms have a lot of baggage attached to them that doesn’t allow for true fluidity to exist.


It’s the baggage of essentializing gender, which has taken us further away from ourselves instead of closer to ourselves.


I believe trying to remove the harmful baggage that has been attached to these gendered terms is more work that can never actually succeed because these gender terms and their definitions are too arbitrary. They don’t actually mean anything.


Since “masculinity” is attached to what it means to be a man, we then have to define man. What does it mean to be a man? Can we really define it? And, if we define it, are we perpetuating the gender binary? Many want to define it based on sexual anatomy. But, then how do you account for trans men? The same goes for “femininity” being linked to what it means to be a woman.


Defining what it means to be a man or a woman doesn’t allow us to connect to and embrace the fluidity that we are.


You are so much more than the gender that has been placed upon you. You are more than masculine and feminine. You are more than man or woman.


Let’s move beyond these gender definitions and expectations so that we can be ALL of who we truly are and accept others for ALL of who they are as well.


Instead of defining one another or certain characteristics as feminine or masculine, think about what you REALLY mean by those terms and use those adjectives instead.


If what you mean is a fluid energy, then say fluid energy.

If what you mean is strength and ambition, use strength and ambition.

If what you mean is receptive, say receptive. If what you mean is driven and active, say driven and active.

If what you mean is sensitive and intuitive, then say sensitive and intuitive.


It’s much more powerful to say what you really mean than it is to use arbitrary gendered terms that just reinforce a gender binary that doesn’t actually describe all of who we are or our experience.


The truth is we are fluid and we are not binary even though societal oppression wants us to believe otherwise.


You can move beyond the binary to connect to your own freedom and create more freedom in the world.


You can create more possibilities.


Want to learn about how you can be more gender inclusive, and be a more gender conscious leader? Click below to find out more!