Having committed murder, Heracles, for punishment, was given for a sentencing term to a woman as a slave. She dressed the dim, muscular brute as a woman. Likewise, Thor was dressed as a girl by Loki, the trickster hero. I mention this as my recent post on Family Governance as Home Ec has drawn many emails from very distinguished men, some of the leading lights in the booming Dynastic Family Governance business (or calling), asking if they have to become Big Sissies if they are to be taken seriously in the art of Household Governance, or Home Ec. I am not sure; I do know that wearing a short skirt has not hurt me in my own pursuit of Excellence, in Wealth Bondage, particularly when I was younger and had better legs, but I do think it is a promising sign if the Wise Counselor, who is male, has studied literature, or ballet, or has a degree in divinity, or has a spiritual practice like Buddhism, or is good with children, and enjoys painting faces, making glittery cards, playing hide and seek, reading stories at bedtime, or has nursery rhymes by heart.
By contrast, much of the male-dominated family governance writing, it seems to me, is indebted to Machiaveli and to Leo Strauss, double coded with a wink and nod, about both family governance (for the rubes to read with a sentimental nod) and about governance of the polity by means of the Flourishing Family's Four Clouts: Personal, Financial, Political and Whatever Else Money Buys through Patronage and favor trading. It sometimes seems reading these politic writers that Family is, at least in their fantasy life, the front behind which they imagine themselves running some kind of secret cabal, or shadow cabinet, as wise counselors to the Medicis, Romanovs, Bourbons, or the Corleone Family. Mentoring the idiot princess, serving as the Regent, privy counselor, Moral Role Model, sauve ambassador, Broker of Deals, Protector, Pandar, Guide to Ardent Youth, and even as a Secular Priest in the event that an authentic cleric cannot be found, or is found to be abrasive. Some even like to say they are consiglieres. (Some given the nature of this work may, for all I know, actually be consiglieres, or whatever is the word for that in Russian, Chinese, Thai, or Spanish.)
As a human by birth, gendered male, I am struck in Aristotle by the Manliness of the slave-owning Aristocrat whose best student (Alexander the Great) still holds the world record for world conquest (innovation, disruption, rapine, pillage, plunder, and colonization) in the under 40 category. If we are, though, to heal the world by healing a few flourishing families (which seems in itself a bit of a stretch), we will have to get in touch with our feminine side, so that we really do heal the moral insanity, and so the good spreads from the great families to the lesser families on down to the least among us, until the world is healed, not just subdued. We may not be convincing as females, but cross-dressing as such would make our prose read better, for what it is, a new chapter in the Human Comedy.
In working on giving, in asking questions of successful men, often in their fifties through seventies, I have noticed a moment, when a wealthy and powerful man's mask slips, and in a kind reverie, or moment in and out of time, his manner changes, his voice changes, he cites a text or a story, and then mentions his mother, sometimes sheepishly looking at his hands. That is, I have come to feel, how the world will be healed through flourishing families if it can be healed that way at all, through the presence in the decision makers at the moment of truth of the voice of the divine feminine, as that voice is channeled through the holy spirit, through the muses and graces, and localized in the memory (Mnemosyne, the mother of the muses) of a mother who taught the prayers, read the stories, made the glittery cards with the kid, and may in her own time and place have governed nothing whatsoever (other than the future) as the manly men spoke of plunder, metrics, governance, connections, preferment, wealth, war, and power. We as a species under extreme stress, in an ecosystem struggling, are in the hands of the woman; whether to save or console, whether to witness, lead, or govern; they, now in their turn, as a new generation of leaders, in the house and in the seats of power, have the next leg of the journey. If short skirts are in fashion, we men must do what we can do keep up. Until we listen, we will not learn. (As I have been told by every woman I know, in a voice that becomes louder and louder until I say, What?)