Women and men each have unique and defining gifts of femininity and masculinity. Although different cultures and races have different views of these gifts, there are certain noticeable universal patterns that are made up of both socially defined and biological factors. These qualities are different from the simple definitions of male or female sexes since women, men, and transgender people can all exhibit such traits.
As a man I have mostly paid attention to femininity in the opposite sex and have been blessed by experiencing the gifts in women. Gentleness, empathy, sensitivity, caring, compassion, tolerance, nurturance, altruism, and helpfulness of women have always been sources of soothing and healing for my emotional wounds. I have experienced femininity in my wife’s continuous affection and support; my sisters’ sensitivity and empathy; my aunts’ compassion and helpfulness, and my mother’s endless sacrifices, tolerance and NURTURANCE. In all my connections to the feminine attributes of those women around me it is NURTURANCE that stands out as the most basic element of my GROWTH. After all, it is the physical and emotional care and nourishment of a caregiver that supports a healthy development and it is the nature’s nurturing quality that provides an innate ability to grow.
As I have been paying more attention to the nurturing quality of women and grown in my personal and professional understandings, I have realized that the most universally talked about virtue of femininity which is acknowledged by both genders is Motherhood. Regardless of a person’s ethnicity, religion, culture, age, sexuality or political associations the role that a MOTHER plays in someone’s life cannot not be disputed or replaced by any other force in nature. Any inconsistency in a person’s earlier experiences with a mother or a mother-figure allows us to notice some breakdowns in the emotional or mental health of that person. On the other hand, we can observe the most self-confident and assertive people have enjoyed a higher sense of security by having a nurturing care-giver. I have repeatedly observed how the broken or confident responses of most people rely on the degree or level of SECURITY provided by appropriate expression of MOTHERHOOD.
As we often refer to our natural habitat as MOTHER EARTH, we continuously compare our existence and our survival on this planet with the loving arms of a mother that rocks the cradle and brings us what we NEED. From the moment of birth to the last breath of air we depend on the nurturance provided by earth and our sense of SECURITY can be easily threatened by any lack or overflow of its different natural elements. It is the mothering nurture of nature that is balanced as without water we will perish and with too much water we can be drowned. Without oxygen within a few minutes we will have severe brain damage and with too much oxygen we will be poisoned. Then our physical security depends on the appropriate support of its needs and it is a mothering arm that provides safety and sustenance.
But, what happens to emotional security? Is that also balanced by the well-measured expressions of motherhood? Based on psychoanalyst John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory infants form an affectionate bond or tie with a mother-figure starting very early on. Such bonds are based on the child’s need for safety, security and protection that is paramount in infancy and childhood. The consistency of a caregiver who is usually a biological mother needs sensitivity and responsiveness to create a secure attachment. Of course the role of a father cannot be ignored as men have traditionally provided physical strength and shelter primarily for the mother of their children and after birth for their children. By understanding such mindset of men, it is even more evident that men are needed to assist in providing a safe environment and allowing a woman to provide proper EMOTIONAL & PHYSICAL SECURITY for her offspring. Yes, it is a mammoth of a job.
When our families face so many elements of stress, our societies impose devaluing values, and merchandisers display degrading objectification of women, we can understand how much harder it is to be a woman and a mother at the same time. By looking around our world we can easily see huge numbers of women who are emotionally and physically abused. How could their children feel secure if these women are not treated with respect and support? Suffering from symptoms of INSECURITY such as depression, anxiety, obsession, frustration, and anger have become such normal aspects of living since insecure children become insecure adults and reproduce more insecure children. By witnessing the great number of divorces, broken families, lack of social support, abusive environments, traumatic events, and overall increase in the mothers’ emotional isolation, our future will be in danger unless we pay more attention to the values and security of MOTHERHOOD. A healthy life starts with a healthy mother and that is how every man and woman can thrive with security.
We recently celebrated Earth Day and we will be celebrating Mothers’ Day soon. This is an appropriate time to set intention for supporting MOTHERHOOD. There is a mother-figure in every one of us. The valuable femininity that is inherited in most men is the values that a mother has installed in them. As we appreciate what a mother does and we become agents of support for all mothers to be, we are helping the CONTINUATION of our own HEALTHY GROWTH and HEAL THE WORLD.
Dr. Sadigh’s is a Clinical Psychologist and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with 34 years of education and experience in integrating the fields of Medical Sciences, Accounting & Finance, Business & Production, Writing & Film-making, Somatic Psychotherapy, Guided Imagery, Electro-Magnetic Field Balancing, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). He practices in Westwood and Encino by appointments only. Initial phone interview is required.