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The Gender War: No Integral End in Sight

gender war no integral end in sight

This past Monday I hosted another Integral Meetup. Our local hero Gilles Herrada presented a preview of his (then) upcoming presentation at the Integral Theory Conference. If you don’t know Gilles, aside from being a former leader of the Meetup with me, he is the recently published author of The Missing Myth: A New Vision on Same Sex Love, a book that asks questions such as: “If homosexual behavior is an aberration from the standpoint of reproduction, why is it widespread among humans, primates, and a myriad of other animal species, and why has it been favored by evolution?” Gilles is a brilliant thinker and researcher, so I was excited to get his take on gender and how it relates to Integral Philosophy and how all of this influences our minds creation of the experience that we call reality.

Gilles presentation went deep into the history of humanity, even looking at our closest primate relatives for clues about what traits, characteristics and behaviors we may have inherited vs. what is more likely to be a development that arose with culture. Gilles, as always, has done his research and he shared some interesting insights into the roots of our relationship with sex and gender. The really interesting points, that I wish we had a bit more time to discuss, came out at the end. Here Gilles brought into question humanities attachment to polarity as a concept and began to explore how this limits our ability to conceptualize gender, which is usually not so simple. Gilles showed us a brilliant slide challenging how we often think of polarity as a simple case of two opposites. He used the example of “light” and “dark”. Obviously opposites right? Darkness is the absence of light we tend to say. Well, what if you then take a look at what light is. It is a vast spectrum, only a small portion of which is visible to the human eye. What does the rest of it look like? Darkness. Might a similar spectrum of complexity underly many other concepts that we tend to discuss as a polarity? (such as gender)

visible light spectrum

This is an especially potent concept in the land of Integral Philosophy, where “types” is one of the 5 pillars of AQAL theory. When attempting to understand and then growing and transforming the self we quite often talk about how masculine and feminine interact. Rarely do I hear people talking about the vast spectrum that lies between. If they do, there isn’t a whole lot of elegant terminology to use. On a subtler level, one is compelled to consider how such widely accepted concepts impact our subconscious filters that limit what we sensory input we do and do not acknowledge as real. That comment hits at a rabbit hole I don’t have the space to get into here , but it is a topic that comes up often for me. Bit of a sneak peek into one area; a good friend an colleague is working on a book on just this topic. I’m not going to give away the working title or the concept just yet, but expect more from this space in the coming year. This is an area ripe for exploration.

In case you missed it. Here’s the writeup that went out for this Meetup. Stay tuned for an announcement about next months Meetup (Monday August 19th) where we will be gathering to discuss the reality of trying to maintain a regular meditation practice. Anyone who has tried knows that the benefits are HUGE….but so are the hurdles. Should be a great night. Here’s the writeup from Gilles presentation:


What is gender? Does an integral worldview offer an increased understanding of gender and sexual roles?

Does it help us to answer questions such as

Is gender binary or a spectrum?

How tied to gender are our sexual roles?

Where do our ideas about gender come from?

Has integral theory added anything to our understanding of gender at all? If not, why not?

Join us July 15th at 7pm at One Spirit Learning Alliance as our very own Gilles Herrada gives us a preview of his upcoming Integral Theory Conference presentation on this topic. From Gilles:

Why has integral failed to offer a compelling solution to the gender issue? I believe the problem resides in the fact that the integral worldview remains tethered to the symbolic/mythic framework of the Axial Age and its so-called perennial philosophies. Despite their great wisdom, Axial/perennial philosophies are the primary cause of our confusion regarding gender and sexual roles. And it is only when axial philosophies and their genderized vision of the Kosmos are put into a historical perspective that a truly integral approach to gender and sexual roles becomes possible.

Head on over to to RSVP and for details on this and future events: