At this point, individual human behavior requires attention because of the danger of sexual stereotyping, and because we need to consider the issue of leadership. What kind of visionary leadership is essential to shape a positive human destiny? Sexual behavioral dimorphism that affects group behavior is a reality for some personality traits. It’s the reason why so many cultures recognize a yin and yang, a sun and moon, a “vive la difference.” (see the essay "Sexual Dimorphism")
Individual human beings, however, should be judged and treated individually. Except for identical twins, no two humans inherit identical DNA, nor are they raised in identical environments or experience the same social interactions. Thus the wonderful reality for individuals is psychological uniqueness.
Words Commonly Used to Words Commonly Used to Describe Femininity Describe Masculinity Table 1 - Stereotypical Male/Female Traits (US) Dependent Independent Emotional Non-Emotional/Stoic Passive/Non-assertive Aggressive/Assertive Sensitive Tough-Skinned Quiet Competitive Graceful Clumsy Innocent Experienced Weak/Risk-Avoidant/Cautious Strong/Risk-Taking/Bold Flirtatious Active Nurturing/Other Oriented Self-confident/Self-Oriented Self-Critical/Self-Reflective Non-Self-critical/Self-Oriented Soft Hard Sexually Submissive Sexually Aggressive Accepting/Empathetic Rebellious
The Table lists personality traits in the United States commonly thought of by many as female and male. In actuality, every person is a complex combination of what their society considers to be male and female traits. (Denworth 2017, Joel et al. 2015, Olson 2017) In everyday terms, in differing degrees we all have a female side and a male side.
But consider that some of us are way more in touch with our female side: say a person—boy or girl, man or woman—who is very emotional, non-assertive, sensitive, a bit too self-critical, and also sweetly nurturing and empathetic.
And some of us are way more in touch with our male side: someone—boy or girl, man or woman—who is aggressive, competitive, very self confident/self-oriented, non-self-critical, in fact rebellious and risk-taking.
And some of us display a mixture of traits that can be described as being in touch more equally with both male and female sides. A man who is not only aggressive, self-confident, competitive, and bold, but also self-reflective and empathetic. A woman who is not only nurturing and empathetic, but also independent, competitive, and bold.
Human embryonic development is so complex that someone can be born having physical sex characteristics of one sex but feeling the biological urges and preferences that are characteristic of the other sex. Essentially, all societies have available to them, if they choose to take advantage of it, a rich variety of individuals. (Schmitt et al. 2008) This is a massive, arguably splendid, diversity that can either be embraced or molded into rigid stereotypes.
So to start a social revolution headed toward a positive “better” destiny, what kind of leaders should we follow? Who should we elect to lead the change?
Obviously, a leader cannot be shy. He or she must be in touch with aspects thought to characterize their male side like being assertive, independent, and bold. But wisdom demands that she or he is also able to be self-critical and reflective, able to change their mind when needed; stubbornly holding to an unworkable, unfavorable position is fatal to good leadership. And to lead well, rather than be a bully or tyrant, he or she needs to be in touch with traits thought to characterize a female side, like being accepting and empathetic with regard to the people they lead. Our very worst choice for leaders would be anyone, man or woman, having traits guaranteed to foster continuation of the world’s dominator, warring, patriarchal cultures. Someone who is highly aggressive, competitive, non-self-critical, strongly self-oriented and woefully lacking in being accepting or empathetic. They should not be elevated to leadership. They should not be tolerated as leaders. Not if we want to “try something different” that might bring about a lasting, less destructive and vastly more nurturing future.
Denworth, L. 2017. "Is there a 'female' brain?, Scientific American, 317 (3), 38-43. Joel, D., Z. Berman, I. Tavor, N. Wexler, O. Gaber, Y. Stein, N. Shefi, J. Pool, S. Urchs, D. S. Margulies, F. Liem, J. Hänggi, L. Jäncke & Y. Assaf. 2015. "Sex beyond the genitalia: the human brain mosaic," Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, 112 (50), 468-473. Olson, K. R. 2017. "When sex and gender collide," Scientific American, 317 (3), 44-51. Schmitt, D. P., A. Realo, M. Voracek, & J. Allik. 2008. "Why can’t a man be more like a woman? Sex differences in Big Five personality traits across 55 cultures.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94 (1), 168-182.