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The Temptress
When I began studying men, I had no intention of learning anything about women, and I had no interest whatsoever in femininity. Little did I know I was about to be taught by the experts.. men. Men know so much more about femininity than women. Funny, isn't it? Last month I wrote that I began studying men in 1991 with the question, "What if men are responding to women?" Well, they often are, and when we least expect it. Men especially respond to femininity in very powerful, predictable ways.
When we start talking about femininity in Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women, women usually think about one or more of the feminine stereotypes: the Femme Fatale, the Damsel-in-Distress, the Southern Belle, or the Dowdy Grandma. Femininity is so much more than these one-dimensional concepts.
Femininity covers a broad spectrum of extraordinary and delightful qualities. Fortunately for us all, every woman is born with these qualities innate in her being. Like a muscle, though, our femininity may atrophy from disuse. To make femininity more accessible and easier to understand, we group these qualities together in archetypes we call the Temptress, the Mother and the Queen. These archetypes, obviously, do not exist in reality, but they make it easier to see the effects of femininity.
This month I am writing about the Temptress. If you can't wait for three months to learn about each of the archetypes, this information is included in the Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop.
The Temptress includes those qualities of physical energy like playfulness, sensuality and sexuality. But the Temptress is not aggressive, that would be masculine. Her physical energy is more like a tickle, an invitation, a warm fire attracting visitors. The Temptress is tempting, inviting the pursuit of men, not pursuing them. When a woman expresses this special feminine energy, men respond by wanting to participate with her. Men will describe her as "sexy", no matter what she is wearing. These qualities attract attention, physical affection and sexual interest.
When a woman expresses the playful aspect of her femininity (without the sensual or sexual), everyone is invited to participate. This quality is very charming, like a magical spell that makes life more fun for all. All men, and young boys especially, will respond to this playful energy by adoring their mother or any other woman who interacts with them that way.
All women have the ability to express the Temptress energy. It is important to do so consciously. Women who indiscriminately exude their sensuality and sexuality will experience being "hit on" often and think that men are the cause. Actually, men are responding to their communication, conscious or otherwise. The wise woman will direct the Temptress energy in a laser-like fashion at the men of her choice, instead of broadcasting it widely.
Many women, especially as they get deeper into their 30s, stop expressing the Temptress qualities. There are many reasons for this. One, the Temptress is inherently physical, which means she requires energy to be expressed. As our families and careers absorb all our attention, there is often little energy left over for fire of the Temptress. We are too tired to be sensual or sexual or just plain fun.
Another reason we don't see much of the Temptress past 30 is that, whether we become biological mothers or not, we begin mothering the men in our lives. We focus more on support than on play and participation. While this support is essential to men (more about this next month), dropping out our playful, physical energy makes our relationships very dull.
Lastly, many of us suppress the Temptress because she got us into trouble in our teens and 20s. This was not our fault, but a result of too little useful information. Forgive yourself. Forgive men, if you can. By understanding the predictable effects of the Temptress, and by understanding male sexuality, it is possible to "play safe" with this potent feminine energy. Learning to handle your own fire is better than putting it out.
If you have put your Temptress under the bed, and you want to bring her out, here are some things you can do to nurture her.
Work less, and sleep or rest more,
Engage in activities that give you physical pleasure, for example, a massage or bubble bath,
Practice loving your body, regardless of its shape or size,
Climb back in your body instead of dragging it around. Express yourself through your body. Get physical with dancing, yoga, exercise or your favorite sport.
When you have energy, try saving it for play, instead of spending it at work or on the endless projects in your home.
The Mother
Femininity covers a broad spectrum of extraordinary and delightful qualities. Fortunately for us all, every woman is born with these qualities innate in her being. Like a muscle, though, our femininity may atrophy from disuse. To make femininity more accessible and easier to understand, we group these qualities together in archetypes we call the Temptress, the Mother and the Queen. These archetypes, obviously, do not exist in reality, but they make it easier to see the effects of femininity.
This month I am writing about the Mother. If you can’t wait to learn about each of the archetypes, this information is included in the Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop, along with 22 other fascinating topics about men and women. For more information, visit our website.
The Mother includes those qualities that are generally referred to as “nurturing”, such as patience, faith or belief in a person, caring, healing, serving, comforting, consoling and sympathizing. The Mother focuses on individual needs and qualities and makes the object of her attention feel special.
Men are often accused of “looking for a mother.” I say: Wouldn’t you? I haven’t outgrown my need for nurturing and don’t believe I ever will. Women are fortunate to often have many friends with Mother qualities and I believe we take them for granted. We don’t fully appreciate that nurturing is a distinctly feminine capacity and few men can count on receiving it from their male friends.
As with the Temptress, men respond to the Mother in predictable ways. She makes a man feel cared for and cared about. She is a safe haven from the hardships of life and puts him back together for the next adventure or battle. Her belief in him strengthens him. Her attention and ministrations renew him. Her food often warms his belly while her encouragement warms his spirit.
It is important to distinguish between these wonderful feminine qualities we group together as the Mother, and “mothering”. Mothering is a sneaky way to force one’s advice, food and affection on other people and it makes them feel about five years old and stupid. Men find it emasculating and a huge turn off. The major difference between mothering and the Mother is control. The Mother offers her qualities as gifts and the receiver remains in control, choosing to accept what he will. The person who is mothering takes control and dominates the moment.
The nurturing qualities of the Mother most men consider a requirement in a wife. In the stage we call Prince, when many men begin searching in earnest for their wives, they naturally start looking for women with these qualities. Whereas before this stage, they probably dated much more exciting women. This is because men know that the better they are cared for, the more successful they will be. The adoration the Temptress inspires and the admiration the Queen evokes are no substitute for the care and comfort the Mother provides.
Something important to note. The Mother occurs to men as the place from which he will get what he needs. Kind of like Wal-Mart or Target. Have you ever thought, “Gee, Wal-Mart does so much for me. What could I do for Wal-Mart?” This is how the Mother is for men. All that she provides inspires appreciation but not reciprocation. The desire to provide for a woman is inspired by the Queen, the subject of next month’s article.
Beware: one of the qualities of the Mother is self-sacrifice. Thank goodness for this or none of us would have survived infancy. But without the boundaries the Queen maintains, the Mother will sacrifice for anyone. In other words, she’ll always put other people’s needs first and anyone who crosses her path will get nurtured. This can leave her exhausted.
To nurture the nurturer in you, there are two different directions to go:
If you already nurture others, take time for yourself. To renew your ability to nurture, you may need to rest, get more sleep (starting to see a trend here?) and/or spend more time alone
If you don’t think you are nurturing, then practice. Spend time caring for children or animals or the elderly. Consciously, for a little while, make someone else more important than yourself. There is a reason the Mother has a national holiday in her honor. It is not just everything she does. The qualities she embodies make the world a better place.
The Queen
The Queen includes the qualities of vision and purpose for her life. She is generous and serene. She is concerned with empowerment, the ability to give power while losing none. She has a unique ability to understand other people. Perhaps most importantly, she has an enormous capacity to receive. She is influential and powerful in a uniquely feminine way.
While the Mother focuses on an individual, the Queen focuses on everyone in a group. We call the group her Realm. It is very important for a woman to define her Realm. If she doesn't, she will attempt to give her greatness to everyone in her path and become exhausted.
In contrast to the Mother, who focuses on what people need, the Queen is paying attention to the future or quality of life for her Realm. You could call this her "vision." We call it the Queen's Noble Purpose. To discover your Noble Purpose, think of the qualities about which you are most passionate. What is it that you passionately want people to have in their lives? Is it freedom? Self-expression? Vitality? Integrity? The possibilities are too numerous to list. Your Noble Purpose may be made up of several excellent qualities.
As you can see already, the Queen's existence is far above the normal, everyday scratching out of survival. Her life serves a loftier purpose, which is why others serve her. Both men and women will naturally find themselves trying to serve a woman with Queenly qualities. The Queen also inspires respect and admiration. Hers are those feminine qualities that make a man strive to be the best man he can be (think of Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets"). The Queen's recognition empowers him, giving him the energy and daring to attempt ever-larger feats.
The best way to think about how men respond to the Queen is with the word "provide." She inspires men to provide for her. Men are natural providers and many are looking for someone worthy and able to receive their gifts. There are many things men seek to provide for the Queen. If able, they will provide whatever they perceive she needs. They will do what they think will make her happy. They will support her purpose and, if an opportunity arises, help her realize her vision.
Beware: Because the Queen inspires men to provide, many women strive to be her all the time. If you do this, your results will disappoint you. Men need all aspects of femininity. They provide for the Queen, but they participate with the Temptress, and get the nurturing they need from the Mother. While the Queen embodies the greatness of women, we are all more complex and delightful than she. It is our ability to be the Temptress, the Mother and the Queen that continues to mystify men!
To nurture the Queen you were born to be:
Define your Realm. We do this in the Celebrating Women workshop, but to get you started, think about who is nearest and dearest to you. Then think about the people you want to influence or to whom you want to contribute. These two groups would make up your Realm.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to be feminine and exhausted at the same time. Work less and rest more (where have you read that before?).
Develop your ability to receive. Start with the two most important aspects: Breathing and Noticing. Breathing is a physical act of receiving. When presented with a gift or contribution, consciously take a deep breath and accept the gift within yourself. Noticing is the heart of receiving. Notice the details of the gift, whether it is a compliment, an object, or a meal. Notice the spirit of the gift; the feeling and caring with which it is given. Notice the contribution of the gift to your life; how it changes that moment or day or particular experience. Then speak what you notice.
Consider some different kinds of New Year's resolutions. Instead of losing weight or making more money, resolve to take better care of yourself, or to be the kind of person you admire, or to give your Realm the best of you, instead of what is left over.
By Alison Armstrong
Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women Workshop

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