Deida’s New-Age Misogyny

Here is a post from a fb friend, quoting David Deida. My response follows. It’s not just about David Deida, though, it’s all the talk about “the masculine” and “the feminine.” He just happens to the be one of the primary proponents of this way of thinking. There were a number of other comments, but I just included my own.

“You have probably met a woman who seemed fantastic, only to discover she has some emotional weirdness that you don’t really want to deal with. She seemed incredibly sexy, but also a bit “bonkers”, saying one thing one moment and another the next. You have probably also met some very reasonable and trustworthy women who don’t seem to constantly change their mind and, in fact, with whom you could have good conversations that don’t end up frustrating you. Although you may love these women and enjoy spending time with them, they don’t arouse your passion as much as the women whose words you wouldn’t trust to remain true for an afternoon, but who move their body in a way that drives you wild.

“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” many men have wondered. But, of course, it is precisely those ways in which a woman is least like a man that most attract you sexually, if you have a masculine sexual essence. A woman’s feminine shine, the energy that moves her body, her utterly refreshing spontaneity and mystery, not to mention her delightful smile, are what attract you. And the more feminine a woman is at her core, the less she is likely to evidence strong masculine traits, such as speaking clearly and unequivocally about thoughts and desires, rather than primarily expressing her feelings of the moment.

A woman with a more feminine sexual essence will say she loves you one moment, and then, when you have done something you are not even aware of, she will say she hates you. This is the beauty of the feminine; to her, the masculine grid of words and events is less relevant than the fluidity of relationship and feeling. Thank God for such women, who make no apologies for their oceanic depth and riptides of emotion.

When a woman is encouraged to be at home with her feminine essence she is at home with energy, be it sexual or spiritual. For such a woman, there is no disconnection between sex and spirit. Her sexual surrender, if she is with a worthy man, is the same as her devotional or spiritual surrender. She opens from head to toe, receiving divine love-force deep throughout her body, so that she is rippled, arched, and undulated by its boundless flow.

You will only be happy in intimacy if you choose a woman who is your sexual reciprocal as a partner (if you have a masculine sexual essence that would be a woman with a deep feminine essence). And, you will only be able to survive such an intimacy if her dark and light sides are equally embraceable to you. It takes time to develop such skill and strength, but in doing so you learn to provide your woman, as well as the world, with a man whose gifts are uncompromised by fear of feminine power and chaos.”

— David Deida
The Way of the Superior Man

Well, I did read Way of the Superior Man. Or, at least 3/4 of it, before I chucked it across the room. This quote is a good representation of what is contained in the book. As [a previous post] has already pointed out, Deida blithely conflates gender-irrelevant character traits and behaviors with abstract concepts of masculine and feminine. According to Deida “Speaking clearly about thoughts and desires” is a “masculine” trait — apparently one we should not expect to find in a woman, especially not an “incredibly sexy” one. To me that seems blazingly misogynistic.

“A woman with a more feminine sexual essence will say she loves you one moment, and then, when you have done something you are not even aware of, she will say she hates you. This is the beauty of the feminine…” Sorry, no. That is not the beauty of the “feminine.” That is simply childish, immature behavior from a woman with no self-awareness.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’re not insulted by the quote above, you really haven’t understood what Deida is saying. It’s patronizing. And the problem permeates all of Deida’s work, not just this quote.

Yet, he is inexplicably popular in certain circles. What to make of that?
There is much work to be done for all of us in being more compassionate people and better communicators, that’s for sure. That work is hard work, because it challenges us to grow, which entails some growing pains. It forces us to look at ourselves, to deal with ambiguity. If we want more peace, love and understanding between the sexes then that’s what we need to do.

Deida wraps his essentially reactionary message in new-age jargon and appropriated tantrik language, allowing his followers to sink back into the comforting familiarity of the dysfunctional status quo.
If temper tantrums and fickleness are passed off as simply “being in your feminine energy” then that lets you off the hook in terms of examining your behavior and how it affects those around you. That’s the appeal — you don’t have to do the hard work of personal growth, you can continue with your “emotional weirdness” (his term) and feel perfectly self-righteous about your deplorable behavior. The message for men is no better. The net effect is not a brave step into enlightenment, but a cowardly slide back to 50’s-era sex roles, albeit with a glitzy new-age-tantrik facade.

Thankfully, Deida is simply wrong. There exist women who are reasonable and trustworthy — and also drop dead sexy. In fact, those are exactly the kind I personally find sexy. There are also men who are sensitive, vulnerable and who like to “ripple, arch and undulate.” LOL
It’s not because the women have masculine traits, or the men have feminine traits. It’s just because those are human traits that are available to anyone, regardless of their sex. It is in all of our best interests to de-sexualize these traits — and Deida, in reinforcing and validating the idea that there are masculine and feminine traits, is doing exactly the opposite. I think Deida’s philosophy is actively harmful to relations between the sexes.

I’m pretty sure he denies that this is what he’s doing, but after reading some of his work and seeing him in person, that’s my opinion.

2 thoughts on “Deida’s New-Age Misogyny

  1. Thank you so much for reading the book (or 3/4 of it hehe) and taking the time to write such a great reflection on it. I’ve been aware of the book for awhile and it’s obvious problems, but just recently a yoga studio (called ‘liberation yoga’ and I am not making that up) where I live in Nashville TN had a series of yoga for men that included a reading group of it. I was astonished to see this work still being promoted with such a lack of awareness. You’re a fabulous writer. Thank you again!

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