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Sexual polarity

Sexual polarity is a concept of dualism between masculine and feminine.[1] More generally, the term may be used to denote mutual opposition between sexual ideologies.[2]

"the very dichotomy man/woman as an opposition between two rival entities may be understood as belonging to metaphysics"

— Julia Kristeva[1]

Metaphorical symbolism of sexual polarity is deeply intertwined in cultural understandings of nature. Conceptions of male and female poles are developed through history in relation to each other.[1]



Researchers at the University of Connecticut devised a scale of sexual polarity between right-wing and left-wing sexual ideologies. In a study of 140 undergraduates, correlations along this scale were shown between right-wing sexual ideologies and both church attendance and sex-guilt.[2]

Bacterial conjugationEdit

Sexual differentiation may be seen between pairs of bacteria cells engaged in bacterial conjugation. The genetic-element donor may be characterized as having a 'male' sexual polarity and the recipient a 'female' sexual polarity.[3][4]

Feminist literatureEdit

Historical blurring of boundaries between male and female poles has necessitated debates regarding maintenance of social order, particularly during periods of rapid change.[1]

Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex presents a vision of radical feminism calling for division of culture into two modes, Technological and Aesthetic, married by a 'union of opposites'. Chris Middleton argues that this dual organization is intended to reflect and replace the existing sexual polarity of culture.[5]

In Alternative Shakespeare, Cotherine Belsey uses sexual polarity as lens for both interpretation of William Shakespeare's comedies and in critique of second-wave feminism.[6]


Sexual polarity is sometimes presented in New Age spirituality and self-help materials. In The Way of the Superior Man, David Deida discusses challenges related to the ethical expression of masculine polarity.[7] On the Robbins Research International website, life coach Tony Robbins presents an explanation of sexual polarity in relation to intimate relationships and sexual attraction.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Jordanova, Ludmilla (1989). Sexual Visions: Images of Gender and Science in Medicine between the Eighteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 5, 21. ISBN 978-0-299-12290-4. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b Mosher, Donald (2011). Handbook of Sexuality-Related Measures (3rd ed.). New York, New York: Routledge. pp. 446–448. ISBN 978-0-415-80174-4. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ Sermonti, G. (1 November 1963). "Sexual Polarity in Streptomyces coelicolor". Microbiology. 33 (2): 293–301. doi:10.1099/00221287-33-2-293. PMID 14121205.
  4. ^ Šrogl, M. (5 March 1965). "Intraspecific transformation in Bacillus subtilis". Folia Microbiologica. 11 (1): 39–42. doi:10.1007/BF02877153. PMID 4957966.
  5. ^ Parkin, Frank (1974). The Social Analysis of Class Structure. London: Routledge. pp. 192–193. ISBN 978-0-415-26501-0. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  6. ^ Drakakis, John (1985). Alternative Shakespeares. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 192–193. ISBN 978-0-203-42574-9. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  7. ^ Deida, David (2004). The Way of the Superior Man. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc. pp. 23–29. ISBN 978-1-59179-257-4.
  8. ^ Robbins, Tony. "Tony Robbins". Retrieved 6 October 2017.