Being Feminine in a Masculine World

Enjoying lifeWhen I began my healing journey in Fall 2013, I struggled with balancing my feminine, which I had been suppressing for nearly 40 years, with my masculine. As a successful academic at the pinnacle of her career and the sole breadwinner in my former marriage, I literally and figuratively wore the pants in the family. And it exhausted me.

So in 2014, I decided I would try to be more in my feminine by wearing more dresses and skirts. That worked great until I went back to work this Fall. Put me back in academia – in a dress – and I still find myself falling back into my masculine. Taking charge, forming committees, getting stuff done. One week back full time in the masculine world of academia, and I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open on a date with my man Friday night.

Then it hit me. Be-ing in my feminine is so much more than wearing flowing skirts and dresses. They are merely symbols of femininity, not the real thing.

Stacey Martino puts it like this:

“Femininity is an energy of openness! It has nothing to do with your hair, your makeup or how you dress. It’s not the “idea” you have in your HEAD. And it’s NOT weakness. Feminine energy is your best and most authentic self stepping forward with courage and vulnerability to BE who you truly are….no matter what the “risk”!”

But put me in an academic world and I close down. I focus. I become goal-driven. There’s nothing “open” about it. It’s an “eat or be eaten” cut-throat type of energy. Although I am certainly capable of do-ing what needs to get done, I’m not sure that’s who I want to Be anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not because while all that do-ing made me successful in academia, it made me miserable in my personal life.

So I find myself in a bit of a quandary. I don’t know how to “do” academia in a feminine way. And while you might think I should just be in my masculine at work and in my feminine at home, it’s hard to turn off do-ing when I get home. So I end up trying to be feminine and open when I get home, while battling my leftover need to “do” from work. It’s like I don’t have an “off” button. Trust me; it’s not a fun place to be – for either me or my man. (Although I am getting a lot of cooking and housework done!)

How can you “be” when the world is telling you to “do”? I have a few ideas I plan to put into place this week. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • Spend some time outside in nature every day – no pulling weeds, just sit and be.
  • Check in periodically throughout the day and ask, “How open do I feel right now?” Alternatively, you could ask, “How closed/tense/tight do I feel right now?”
  • Get up at least once an hour to walk around – no sitting at the desk all day.
  • Spend at least 5 min a day meditating – the more, the better.
  • Pull a card from your favorite deck – I like my Angel Cards and my Goddess Guidance oracle cards – and see what message your Guides have for you today.

Let me know how you stay in your feminine and just be. I’d love to hear your ideas!





  • Robyn says:

    You make an excellent point about how hard it is to step out of doing and into being while at work. Work places are not very conducive to being open, present and potentially vulnerable (since openness means being without the heavy duty armor).

    Your idea of checking in over the course of the day to see what I am FEELING as opposed to what I am thinking is a great exercise for me to adopt as I often live in my head rather than my heart and my gut. Though I must confess, I am probably going to have to put reminders on my calendar until it starts to become habit.

    • Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D. says:

      I lived by my calendar reminders for a long time! I still need them occasionally when I find myself slipping. 🙂

  • Regine says:

    Hello Mary,
    I wonder if you are fighting a meaningful aspect of your Being, namely your masculine energy? I wonder if your experience with your ex is “brought” to you to allow you to lovingly reconsider and then embrace a part of you that you are at the moment in conflict with? Maybe you reject your masculine side because it represents a negative masculine experience, i.e. your ex? How does it go: “What you resist, will persist?” Maybe your real task is to find balance between your two energies, masculine (loving, assertive, action-oriented strength) and feminine (intuitive, flowing, compassionate creativity)? In Process Oriented Psychology (Process Work), we consider the presence of the metacommunicator; that part of you that can observe your process in the moment neutrally, without judgement or bias. So when you are in the office expressing more masculine energy, being goal-driven, it may be useful and necessary, and….you can bring in your feminine energy to balance it. It is a level of attention that goes beyond our normal day-to-day attention or awareness – second attention – and is something we can cultivate. It enables us to look at ourselves neutrally, curiously, with compassion in the moment, and with a smiling wisdom. Then you remain in Being, when you are in wholeness in every moment, which then allows you to BE doing, tapping into both aspects of yourself as the situation requires. Once you love your masculine side, I think your energy will quieten and become peaceful. At the moment it is saying: “I am also part of the whole. Do not reject me!” I wrote more than I intended 😉 Hope it is helpful…

  • Hi Mary!
    I was just looking at the Goddess board I made for the last new moon cycle and on it I had pasted a cut-out of the phrase “I want to relish in my femininity!” Like you, I decided to wear more dresses, perhaps a bit more makeup… I was unprepared for the compliments which I’d try to deflect with a little, “pshaw…this old thing?” But then it hit me…RECEIVING is a feminine quality–and if I want to TRULY relish my femininity, I can open myself to receiving more…compliments, gifts, advice, love, money, etc…so I’m doing that!

  • Teri Woolley says:

    I work in IT and, as you may know, that is still, for the most part, a male dominated environment. I has taken me years to adapt my nature so I can communicate with highly intelligent males who sometimes don’t have adequate communication skills. Sure they can talk code and tech all day but ask how they’re doing and they trip over their tongues. This makes being open and feminine a bit of a challenge. Growing up I was a tomboy and some of that remains. I don’t like wearing dresses or a lot of makeup and I feel doing that compromises who I truly am. So my question as I start to listen to my inner Goddess and embrace my femininity what can I do to remain open and receiving? What is the best way to maintain my integrity at work with my fellow geeks and still feel like a woman?

    • Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D. says:

      Hi Teri!

      Given your situation, you might start with the question, “What can I do to feel less masculine?” Masculinity is a very driven, action-oriented type of energy. When women are fully in their masculine, they often feel tense. So when I’m at work, instead of focusing on being open, sometimes I focus on being less tense. Openness is a calm, relaxing energy. To get there, sometimes I literally have to start with relaxing my muscles and trying to stretch a little or walk around to burn the lingering tension. As I let go of the tension, I feel myself open and relax into my feminine. Make sense?

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