Gender differences and shadow

Something I wonder is whether there are (on average) gender differences in the stages in which people carry more shadow. I think that women and girls are far more likely to have shadow in the autonomous stages - beige, red, orange and teal - and men and boys more likely to have shadow in the communal stages - magenta, amber, and green.

I think this would be because girls and women are more likely to be discouraged from being autonomous, and pushed to being more communal, both directly and subtly, and i think the opposite the case for boys and men. E.g. girls and women are often encouraged to express their emotions and even take an interest in the magic of the world (magenta), whereas boys and men are discouraged or even admonished. Boys and men, on the other hand, are more often encouraged to have play fights, while girls are discouraged or admonished, and there are more sports for boys to get involved with. This is changing now, and I think this might be a reason generation Z seem very healthy and aware.

There will of course be large variations, and anyone can have shadow in any of the stages.

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Like you said, there is always going to be a large distribution for either sex that tends to have quite a bit of crossover. With that said though, Heather Heying in a podcast with Rebel Wisdom talks about the infamous Asch conformity experiments that demonstrated women are more susceptible to conformity than men are (though of course 75% of the men conformed too, so again, a lot of crossover). There are of course going to be reasons for why this is the case that are explained by all 4 quadrants.

Point being, I think I agree with you. I’m not well versed enough to say for sure, but it seems clear that if we live in a society that conditions the sexes to act in opposite ways, they would reject the ways that go against that conditioning into the shadow.

However, there would also be “toxic” elements of masculinity and femininity that are exemplified by hyper-agency and hyper-communalism. Are these necessarily shadow elements? Or are they a symptom of the opposite tendency being in the shadow? If your conditioning has you reject agency, you’d become hyper-communal because you had rejected your agency?

Again, I’m just not well versed enough to say.

I don’t think speculation in this area will bear fruit. If there are actual studies, then ok.
Let’s take for example the assumption that

Why would we assume that this does produces more or fewer shadows, or greater or lesser?
Lots of men have very deep shadows around competition and physical violence as a means of solving problems. The idea that it is healthy to push boys into physical confrontation through sport is just wild speculation in my opinion and does not hold truth in my experience.
I also don’t really accept that boys participate in magic of the world less or to a smaller degree than women. Playing in a fantasy world with magic is a large part of many boy’s world. Excalibur, sword and sorcery, Dungeons and Dragons, Elder Scrolls - the list goes on and on where boys and men immerse themselves in magical fantasies almost as a full time hobby.

Then finally, the discussion begs the question of nurture vs nature. Are we talking about only children who are raised in a traditional upbringing where the parents enforce gender roles? What about children who are not victims of being pushed by their parents into these roles?

I guess I don’t think having an expectation that someone has a shadow is healthy at all, either projecting it onto another person or onto oneself. I’m a man, I must have a shadow around expressing my feelings … seems to set a boy up for finding fault within himself (and similar for girls).
It reminds me of when I read how bad Scorpios are when I was a child and accepted part of that projection onto me until I knew better.

I think also it is important to be clear what we mean by toxic masculinity, and not use it as a term without actually describing toxic behavior.
I am not going to defend any pornography - there are a lot of social evils created by the porn industry.
But anger / violence during sex is not only a fantasy of men, and if it is a shared fantasy by both consenting adult participants, I don’t see it as toxic masculinity. There may be shadows there, but not necessarily. Again, I don’t think it’s healthy to project shadows categorically on other people. The rejection of such urges may also be a shadow, as well as the desire to project toxic masculinity upon entire wide sections of society based on certain behavior, but again not necessarily so.

I understand what you mean about being against speculation. However, having done an MSc in psychological research methods, I’m very aware of how limited studies can be - psychologists can often not have a good enough understanding of statistics to set up their studies properly, and also the sample sizes used are often not large enough to create statistical models with enough complexity to take account of all the variables. I am definitely for psychological research, but I also think all quadrants are important for thinking about issues.

I used to find philosophers very annoying for just making wild assertions and backing them up with their own reasoning rather than using evidence. But, I appreciate how actually it can more helpful to reason based on your own intuition - because that will often include everything you’ve read, seen, heard, etc, which is often far vaster than anything you could put in a statistical model. Einstein said “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge".

Also, shadow is a notoriously difficult area to study, simply because people are so often completely unaware of it. This is part of the reason simple therapies such at CBT have so much scientific evidence behind them, whereas psychodynamic therapies have a lot less - the mechanisms through which psychodynamic therapies are just a lot more difficult to break down and quantify.

However, I am speculating, and very aware that I may be wrong about it.

That’s a good point about men developing shadows because of playfights and sports. And also a lot of men do enjoy fantasy. Interestingly, it’s often the men who don’t like playfighting and sports…

As I said in my original post, I by no means think that all men are a certain way or that all women are a certain way, but simply on average. The difference even when there is a statistical difference is often very small (see Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine for a breakdown of this - and this is a fantastic book).

Although parents may be very forward-thinking, there is also the rest of society… so although children may be encouraged to be completely themselves at home, they may then get bullied for this - e.g. boys wearing dresses and playing with dolls.

I agree that it could be unhealthy to assume one has shadow, simply because they fit into a particular category such as man or woman. And it can also be unhealthy to obsess about shadow. However, I think thinking about shadow can also be very helpful, so as to help individuals and society be happier and healthier.

I’m a scorpio too and get what you mean about them often being portrayed as the bad guy in astrology. There are also the three types/stages of evolution for scorpio though and one of them is the phoenix, which isn’t bad at all, and brilliant actually (though I don’t believe in astrology).

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While a lot of women do have that fantasy, I don’t think many would actually want it to happen in real life, and there’ve been studies which have found this. Also, I think when women have that fantasy, or do want it to happen in real life, that’s because of their own shadow issues. It’s like if someone always wanted to lose in fights and wanted people to beat them up - that really doesn’t seem healthy.

I would like to propose an idea of shadows not being something to avoid per se. To me the fastest way to eliminate a shadow is to shine a very bright light on it.
Perhaps specifically in the area of sexual practice. The forbidden topic: what does a healthy sexual practice look like? Is there one preferable archetype, so to speak - the joining of higher consciousness and beingness during the act between two soul mates joined for life?
Or is it healthy to “jazz it up a bit” from time to time with more “red”?
I completely agree that many people have fantasies that would psychologically damage them or another person if they were actually acted out, and that yes there is probably a shadow there much of the time. But what to do about shadows, if they are there?
In the case of the aggressor-victim fantasy, I haven’t read any studies, but I’ve seen men desiring the victim state at least equally as much as women - but also this desire is often buried much deeper even from their own awareness. So when it does come out it’s often overcompensating in the opposite direction. Likewise, it isn’t only men who deep down enjoy the shadow position of power.
Overall, I do agree that such BDSM type interactions are unhealthy if carried to an extreme or indulged irresponsibly, nonconsensually, unconsciously, or obsessively. But often people are able to let go of that shadow by experiencing it once or twice in a safe manner. Kind of like a “been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, but don’t need to do it again.” bucket list item. Sometimes with their partner, but also unfortunately often in secret (which increases the danger) because they are afraid of judgements or lack of desire or “ability” from their partner. Again, not just men - also women.
I’m still on the fence, though if they have any place in a healthy person’s practice beyond just recognizing it is there.
I think what’s important though is to look at it as the complex issue it is and not define it as toxic masculinity.

I agree that shining a light and embracing shadow is the best way react to it, because I guess also in a way we don’t want to eliminate shadows but include them. Because to have compassion for the entire world and universe means to embrace it all, in the absolute sense. I feel like separating out the absolute and the relative is very important in this. In the absolute sense we want to have compassion for and embrace everything, but then in the relative sense it’s about having compassion but also trying to improve, and ensuring people aren’t harming each other. And I think both these things are really important when working with one’s own shadow. Compassion I think is always important, and I will often offer metta, loving-kindness to my shadows. But then in the relative sense we do want them to be more healthy, and I think it’s also important to have compassion for that critical aspect of ourselves that does want them to improve.

I agree that sexuality and difficulties in sexuality are complex issues, and in the same way as many things which are not doing harm, I think it’s incredibly important to not be judgemental. However, there is a very harmful side - and I think that’s a separate issue to what you’re talking about - which is a lot of non-consensual or coerced violence against women (including sexually) - it is far rarer that there’s actual non-consensual or coerced violence against men from women - though there is a lot of non-consensual or coerced violence against men, including sexually (during wars it is often the case that men are raped by men as well Non-consensual or coerced violence can happen from women as well, but I think that’s much rarer, partly because a woman is far weaker, partly because sex just works differently for men and women - so a woman cannot actually rape a man unless like in ‘Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’. And I would say that type of violence is one of the defining aspects of toxic masculinity.

However, I kind of wish I hadn’t mentioned it in the thread just because there are a lot of other aspects of toxic masculinity which aren’t as scary, and I don’t want it to scare anyone reading it. That’s another thing with shadow - I think working on areas you’re comfortable with is usually the best way. If you feel fine working with the really scary stuff, then I think that’s doable, but otherwise it can just feel super scary/traumatising. Like I feel I can deal with most subject matters now, but I remember studying The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath during high school and just being sent into a complete depression because that book triggered me so much.

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Late to the discussion but a couple of thoughts. I think hormonal change impact on developmental psychology might be a great starting point. We can then map to pure Integral terminology, but always keeping in mind the basis in physiology. If memory serves, KW was pretty clear that hormones are they greatest impact on human behavior overall.

  1. IT was built on Development Psychology.
  2. Developmental Psychology maps directly to Child, Adolescent, and Adult development
  3. Hormonal changes are the greatest influencer on Human Development

Male adolescents have a roughly 30X increase in Testosterone. Many traditional cultures separated men and women at puberty in order to honor these changes. I think it’s very convenient today to claim that “men wanted to hold back” (toxicity if you will) their female children when they were simply bifurcating the high estrogen subspecies from the high testosterone subspecies since they are so very different, have so very different needs, and communicate in such different of ways. I know in my extended family you won’t find a single woman for at least 3 generations that walked 2 steps behind, spoke only when spoken too, or was mistreated by any of the males. :slight_smile:

You could probably take these psychological changes based on hormonal differences and flip them to account for various shadow developments.

Hi @FermentedAgave. Thanks for the response. There’s been a lot of more recent research done on physiological, including hormonal, differences. I recommend reading Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine who maps out all the research into testosterone and looks at it in terms of all 4 quadrants. This book won the Science Prize 2017.

There are so many factors that influence research - e.g. people often see what they’re looking for, because that’s what they’re searching for and so that’s what they set up their study around; people don’t take into account cultural effects and make the mistake of ‘correlation not causation’ from hormones. When able to break down these nuances, partly because of more advanced statistics, partly because of more advanced perspectives - people are able to look at what’s going on in its greater complexity and work out from which quadrants differences are stemming.

Basically, a lot of last research was just very limited and so giving wrong information, and there’s a far bigger effect from culture and social interaction than people realised.

Even when not taking culture etc into account, when you break down each gender trait and at look at the distribution curves, there’s an incredibly wide overlap between the genders on each trait - there are differences between the genders on each trait but it’s the case that e.g. 60% of males are more ‘masculine’ than the average female on a certain trait and 60% of females are more ‘feminine’ than the average male on a certain trait.

In the past people have both often grouped a bunch of traits and called them ‘feminine’ and grouped a bunch of traits and called them ‘masculine’. But people are so much more complicated than that. It will usually be the case that people are wide mix of both what has been termed masculine and what’s been termed feminine, and we would do all ourselves a disservice by limiting ourselves to simple boxes.


I would view it as an iterative feedback cycle - physiology, individual psychology, societal. I’m not a professional in any of this :slight_smile: but would have a very difficult time discounting physiology’s foundational impact on the genders. Even subtle hormonal changes causing subtle predilections can cause significant influences in behavior, decision making, and flow right into society.
Transgenders seem to think the physiology is a big deal, as is hormone replacement therapy for both men and women.
Now you’ve got me wondering if perhaps it’s a societal construct that that I do all the heavy lifting, most of the dishes, half the cooking, and all the vacuuming around here? I’ll throw the yoke off these social constructs tonight and report back on how it goes :slight_smile:

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@FermentedAgave Absolutely. A complicated feedback loop between individual psychology, biology, and societal and social influences, and one that goes right back to the beginning of mankind. To untangle it and bring in all the different factors requires us to look at all these aspects and how they have interacted and played out throughout history.

A good example of a group of psychology studies is the effect priming has on test scores. If you prime children to think boys are smarter than girls, the boys score higher than the girls on the test; if you prime children to think girls are smarter than boys, the girls score higher than the boys on the test. The same effect is also found if you do the same study but with race. So history is still going to have an influence on us today, because it is priming us to think in certain ways, and it’s primed all the generations before us also, who are also priming us. So e.g. if you look at the fact that there are far more white males succeeding in professional fields, there’s no way you can put that down to physiology. It goes back through those historical feedback loops. However, today we have many, many more role models who are women and people of colour and so this effect should become less and less pronounced as we go forward.

Sounds as simple as just priming everyone to succeed. Isn’t this the rapid progression that the West has been undertaking for many decades/centuries now?
Are some cultures better at this than others? How can we make these success traits readily available to all?

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I did not read the entire text, yet I will abide by what I’ve read from sort of integal theorie.

I notice the same pattern that priming is highly effective including the diversity spectrum. Yet, what I notice again what is missing is the idea of intersectionality. Also often how certain people in the intersectionality spectrum gain more help from others and that treating everyone equally is a prime example of how priming already occures. Via bias and that deleting that bias would be a true no-mind or a state of no thought.

I notice more and more through meditation how every single thought has an impact. Humans are highly sensitive creatures. I would love if someone could include a deeper analysis based on morphic resonance here.

Sexuality issues and consent is extremly difficult I talked to several women in my life and they told me a couple of stories how much attention is also given to their bodies without consent. At the sametime it is male nature to sort of look at women bodies and enjoy them to not see them as an object, yet as a mutal source of pleasure. Where consent is needed and shadows and trauma can occure. This is why and how these complex issues occure.

I can see also how more poverty and opportunity to education, housing in increasing these topics. How much also technology nowadays is needed in order to check what other people are doing/performing. For instance a.i technology and or machine learning technology. How sensetive people react to a camera alone is mind-boggeling.

I can see also how a healthy self-esteem and a good body image sort of the good part of the boomer parents that I had is important here. I feel because of this I am sort of out of the conversation so far, and it is more about how people respect their bodies. Mutal consent, dialog and open conversation, also working with trauma and shadows. Exercise alone is a way to work with that. Also, being able to look inside the Enneagram I can sort of see where these shadows reside in each type.

Talking more openly about the Enneagram could add more to a TOE. I often feel that 1’s and 9’s do have great insight, yet without them healthy developing I find that these rules / consent / tradition that exist. Especailly, also followers and support and a feedback system for them and their ideas could be great. I also notice the hatred against men makes no sense and it is often let out at vulnerable and soft men who have an open heart in a sense. This also can get close to emotional abuse, especially when you are senstive like me as a type 4 enneagram.

Also, sort of this “maga” stage orange fad and scientific materialism is especially dangerous. A lot more people in Germany and the Americans that come here identify with their possesions. Usually people are more relaxed and accept and tolerate each other. Yet, corona certainly did change this a bit. Yet, having americans here in Germany makes me feel more save. Simply, because of the strong achievement and exellence drive that is present in Germany and a lot a lot of antagonism currently. People generally are very green and tolerant of each other and their differences. Yet, tolerating differences already add up to the priming effect, since you accept the maps that people run through their skull …

This is exactly what I see when I notice this “holonic asymmtrie” on each scale of the spectrum and that harmony and having an interconnected relationship with others is highly important. Sharing experiences heartache, pain, dreams, goals, success. Without glee I often feel this glee is what drives this priming effect of others, that having … the advantage is key. Yet, I feel that more and more support is coming as long as people are working together to solve problems together. This is also from a book called Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. Where they made a study of a homogenic group and saw that even under them antagonism occured because they were primed to fight against each other and earn prices etc.

When they were able to work together they were able to resolve their issues, and that fighting for the greater good is of importance. All of them gave had purpose and were included. What I presume with that is that priming occures on every level on the spectrum and quadrants. Then again how complicated this issue is is again insane. For a personal example my intersectional identity is I am half american / half german / half white / half black / bi-racial etc. etc. I can see that this is simply an intersectional identity and talking about each part of mini-holon is … IS not as easy as I would love it to be. For instance Germans often think that Americans are dumb because of their entertainment industry imo. This left a pretty big mark on me and having conscious opinions and well-informed opinions is a truely difficult issue today. With so much nitch/alcove thinking. Where a healthy pluralism is of utterly importance I feel here. Even having the AFD here at the Bundestag should be illegal. IMO we already have a strong conserative party I don’t feel like we need any radicals who are misusing science for their own benefit constantly. OH look we have scientist XYZ let’s vote for the antagonistic, anti-feministic, mysogonistic, racist, homophobic party. This is also what I sort of mean by “morhpic field / ressonance” or a de novum effect occuring.

That I can see how important it is again to prime ourselves to help prime others more consciously and positively and without distorting back to fear-mongering tactics and constantly churning each other up for no greater benefit.


@FermentedAgave, well that depends on how you define success. How it’s defined in this context, and how it’s usually defined, in our competitive cultures, is how well one does in comparison to others, and success for everyone in that context isn’t possible.

If you were to define it in another way, such as how well people get along, how happy and fulfilled they are etc, then everyone could be successful in that sense.

@Julia248 It’s the comparison to others that people for millennia have been trying to overcome. Sometimes to dominate others (external, dominance), but most importantly for each of us to overcome within ourselves (internal quadrants).

One thought I have is that since humans are the apex creatures that we know of, is it humanly possible to not be somewhat competitive with each other?
Can we look at our “competitiveness” not so much as “dominance”, but a strive to learn from and innovative/execute more quickly than others? At least at the higher development levels. Hmm…

I didn’t say we should get rid of competition. Both of the above can exist at once.

To the limited binary of win-lose competition no one (thanks @Julia248) succeeds all the time.

A question for you and @FermentedAgave … what success metrics or ideal formula could we define that would encourage an optimal community dynamic?

You can win and lose to greater and lesser extents. When you have competition, you have winners and losers.

If you mean, ‘no one succeeds all the time’ - agreed…

On this topic string we suggested some other success models as follows: Curious what do you think of these?

"By consciously restructuring the existing profit models toward greater shared benefits and better service toward others we all win. The best of the best will compete for bigger and better ideas at helping others.

Financial success will be less attractive than the social capital and influence earned by the super-stars of Conscious Cooperative Capitalism. They will have the credibility and co-operation of others to serve as Conscious leaders in our new economy.

The existing power centers built on Raw Competitive Capitalism alone will break apart, requiring that they too restructure to this new Conscious Cooperative effort if they want to remain viable in the marketplace."

Curious what do you think @Julia248 of these?
Perhaps you have some additional metrics in mind to add to the definition?