Strength in Softness, Softness in Strength

by Jacqueline Hellyer

I had an interesting few days recently, running a workshop for women, followed two days later with a seminar for men.

For me it was truly wonderful to work with a group of 16 women over two days and feel and see them come more fully into the strength and softness of their femininity, and become more sexually confident and expressive. Such gorgeous strong feminine women! 

And then two days later to work with a group of 15 men for an evening of coming into the strength and softness of their masculinity, becoming more sexually confident and (according to feedback from participants and/or their partners) more sexually expressive. Such gorgeous strong masculine men!
It really brought home to me how equal men and women are in their innate sexual energy, but how differently that energy is expressed.

Vive la difference!

We are all equal, and thank god for social changes that have given reasonable social, political, economic, etc equality between the sexes. God forbid that we should ever go back to a time when women were considered inferior to men in so many ways or that that inferiority be entrenched in society.

But equal does not mean same. Women have proven that they can be as tough as men and can change tires and lead boardroom meetings; and men have proven they can be as tender as women and can change nappies and bake muffins. And that’s great. But please women, don’t lose what is so intrinsically and wonderfully feminine about you as a woman when you do; and please men, don’t lose what is so intrinsically and wonderfully masculine about you as a man when you do.

I’ll say it again: vive la difference!

One of my recent blog posts describes the energetics of the feminine and the masculine in more detail. The essence of it is that for the majority of the population, a balanced women has her softness, her yin, on the outside and her strength, or yang, on the inside and a balanced man has his yang strength on the outside and his yin softness on the inside. It’s this opposition and complementarity that in large part maintains the sexual tension, the ‘oomph’ factor. (In same sex relationships a different but similar dynamic is working.)

If this is lost because the man is a WIMP (weak inept mopey purposeless person) – all softness and no strength, or a SHIT (selfish hard insensitive tosser) – all hard on the outside and no entry to his internal softness; and/or if the woman is a DRIP (docile rueful ineffective person) – all softness with no inner strength, or a SHREW (stressed hard resentful emasculating woman) – with hard barriers on the outside, not allowing access to her softness or her true inner strength, then you’re not going to have the kind of connection that allows for good sex, if any sex at all.

I’m not implying here that to be masculine means macho and aggressive, nor that feminine means pathetic and weak. Far from it. One of the reasons I’ve developed the concept of the Seven Elements of Sexuality (see my book Seven Sex Goddesses) is to show the breadth of ways to express oneself sexually, for both sexes.

I see it over and over again in my clinic and when talking and working with people all over the place – men are not being true and real as men in the bedroom, and their women want them to be; and women are not being true and real as women in the bedroom, and their men want them to be.

And everyone is so confused about this!

Because it’s been drilled into us, for example, that it’s bad for women to be submissive and for men to be dominant. But it’s not! Submission does not mean weak and dominance does not mean domineering. (Nor am I even implying that women should be submissive and men dominant.)

So we hide from what might be real and do and act the way we feel we should. But over time that acting becomes just that, and we either can’t be bothered or else get frustrated because it isn’t real, it’s an act.

It’s actually hard to find the right words to describe what I’m talking about, because these words have become so loaded with meaning. Even the word ‘feminine’ has come to imply something weak and dependant, rather than strong and gorgeous. Which is one of the reasons why I encourage people to come to my workshops and retreats to start to feel what it’s like to be real.

I met up with one couple during the week who had done my men’s and women’s workshops over the previous week and they were beaming! He said that in observing how my partner and I interacted, he actually ‘got’ what it meant to allow his masculine energy to come out in a powerful yet softly respectful way. Already he’d found that this enabled his wife’s feminine energy to emerge without her needing to control so she could let go – and both have truly awesome sex!

Another client who had attended the Luscious Woman workshop walked into my office so transformed from her hard-edged resentment into glowing gentleness that it was all I could do not to hug her – and her husband was finding it so much easier to come into his masculine fullness because she wasn’t terrifying him! Again, great sex resulted!

This is powerful stuff. I really admire you for coming on this journey of self-discovery, particularly in a part of life that is so very screwed up in our society. It can be hard and confusing, but this is fantastic work that can effect deep realisation and true expression of self, without all the barriers that constrain us in expressing who we really are, particularly in relation to our intrinsic masculinity or femininity (and we all have both).


Sex advice, sex tips and relationship advice – everything you need to know about making deeper connections and the most of your LOVE LIFE. By leading sex expert Jacqueline Hellyer.

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