Nate’s post this week refers to balancing masculine/feminine dualities, and it got me thinking about a book my sister-in-law had me read last year. I don’t know if you’ve heard about “energy profiling,” apparently it’s a thing in Utah because Carol Tuttle, a Mormon woman, has developed her own business with an online class that helps people discover their type of energy and empowers them to live true to their natures and quit trying to be something they are not. I believe energy profiling is based on the eastern thought of the four elements and balancing the yin and yang. Everyone has the four energies in them but we all lead with only one of them. You can find a large infographic that has more info on how the yin and yang are mixed among the different types HERE.
It looks like a lot of the other personality profiling systems with four types out there but I found this to be more helpful and accurate. It is also not without it’s critics. What I wanted to focus on is this quote from one of her books describing growing up Mormon:
“When I was growing up, the culture I was raised in depicted feminine nature as soft, gentle, and sensitive. Not only were women soft and gentle, they were also more subdued, cute and perky. Men, on the other hand, in their masculine nature, were more aggressive and bold. We have been depicting women and men with these stereotypical qualities for centuries. The subtle, soft feminine alone can no longer be culturally acceptable or supportive to the different types of women in the world….[if you don’t live true to your nature] your needs never get met, because you continue to hide your true nature.” (Discover your Type of Beauty, Carol Tuttle, p. 41-2; emphasis added)
Carol Tuttle, as a type three, describes the feelings of inadequacy she experienced growing up as her type two mother constantly told her to settle down, be quiet, and to act like a girl. She found acceptance and authenticity when she came to embrace who she was and her type of intense, dynamic femininity. It can be an empty, soul draining experience to deny your true nature and try to live as another. Each type has different strengths and weaknesses, needs and motivations. In the book she recognizes it can be especially difficult for type three women and type two men to be themselves and maintain their self worth in highly gender-roled environments because their gifts (on the yin/yang spectrum) have been classified as opposite in masculine/feminine spectrum, whereas type ones and fours have an more balanced yin and yang. More detail on the yin/yang HERE.
Growing up Mormon has not always been easy for me. I’m an epic failure at so many stereotypical Relief Society skills. I hate crafting, cooking, baking, homemaking, home decorating, makeup, fashion, etc. I really couldn’t care less about what I look like or what people think of me; in other words I’d rather be known as brilliant than beautiful. I love to do lists and accomplishing things; growing up this manifested in sports and academics. I love reading, writing, economics, politics, and deep discussions about complex topics. I enjoy children, but believe that’s more my action/reaction nature that I can be silly and get kids to laugh and follow me (to get my child to do chores I pretended I was a cat) than the fact that I’m super gentle and nurturing. I grew up with the paradigm woman = mother and men = priesthood. In my FamHist class at Ricks my teacher said a man’s eternal purpose is to govern and a woman’s eternal purpose is to nurture. That’s why men get more wives, it’s just more to govern; a woman can’t have two husbands because she’d then have two governors. (sigh) The genders were so distinct in purpose and role that when motherhood wasn’t in my cards, it messed with my head when the path God gave me didn’t match my supposed “purpose” in life.
My journey with personal revelation, infertility, feminism, and even energy profiling has enabled me to accept myself over the last few years in a way that the gendered teachings at church had never allowed me to. I now define my womanhood and embrace my femininity on my own terms. My femininity isn’t found in my motherhood, my dismal homemaking skills, in gentility and nurturing, or in skirts and high heels. My femininity is my own unique mix of traits, talents, characteristics, and even my unique yin/yang.
This past weekend the Oscars were held on Sunday night and there was a movement to #AskHerMore (asking actresses about more than just their clothes). BuzzFeed participated by asking a number of women about what piece of advice they would give young women, the video can be found here. One of my favorite pieces of advice was “How To Get Away With Murder” star Viola Davis’ comment:
There are many reasons I push back at stereotypical gendered teachings in and out of the church. This is one of the many reasons, it causes feelings of inadequacy and failure in ways that can damage your mental health. It took a blessed answer to prayer for Heavenly Father to teach me He does not want me to fill a role. He made me with my unique talents and skills to build the kingdom. So, you be you. You are a unique mix of yin and yang, embrace it and use it.
Have your heard of this profiling system? It’s pretty popular in Rexburg. I was just at a birthday party last night and about 1/3 of the women have read and used it. Have you found any other type of personality system that you prefer? Do you think that men and women have different purposes in this life and the eternities, or is it more individual? Can a yin/yang duality exist without assigning the traits by gender? Discuss.