26 Jul

Nick Clements

We are born of the union of man and woman, as a consequence, every man has within him a woman, every woman has an inner man. Each human being is a mix of femininity and masculinity, their body and minds are a cauldron of constantly changing emotions, feelings and assumptions. Despite our outward solid appearance, there is an inner turmoil and uncertainty.

Our culture teaches us that there are only two genders, and there is a constant ‘battle’ between them. I believe this to be unhelpful, and by adhering to this myth we perpetuate a huge amount of suffering and injustice in the world.

Each one of us has an outer and inner gender and they are opposite and yet connected. A man may behave in a macho manner, outwardly strong, unemotional and intransigent. By doing so, he can feel he is upholding a male tradition, he is perpetuating something of value. But, this assumption is a cultural one, it doesn’t actually relate to his sensibility as a human being. Such a man will have within him the opposite, the capacity to be emotional, to be lost and vulnerable. He has been taught not to accept these inner qualities, and so they may shrivel and become difficult to find, but they still exist.

It is a huge jump for this man to transition from being macho to then including and becoming conscious of his emotional side. Despite his outward appearance the contacting of his emotional intelligence will serve him well, it is a desirable outcome. In order to facilitate such change, I work with the concept of four genders, not just two. Between the opposite poles of the male and female sit the halfway houses of male/female and female/male. They enable us to move easily between the genders, they facilitate change, they allow flow to occur. So, for me, each of us has four genders within and without us, and we are each able to make the journey to all of them, not just staying with one.

Over the past two years I have started using the four gender concept both in my therapeutic practice for individuals and in my group work with men and/or women. The concept gives us the capacity to step beyond the boundaries of our given identity, and explore the wider context of who we really are, how we relate to others, and how we are seen in the world. There are a lot of very confused people who feel restricted by their maleness or femaleness. They don’t need to be gay, transsexual or have undergone surgery to feel misunderstood in their sexuality or gender identity.

Every one of us has struggled at some time with our understanding of what it is to be a man or a woman. If we accept we have four genders then this confusion melts away, and we are left as travellers on a wide-ranging scale of being. A man can be as feminine as he likes, without losing his masculinity. A woman can be masculine but will be able to return to her feminine aspect without shame, anger or misunderstanding. We, as individuals, can be any one of the four genders despite our given sex. This liberates our mindset and can radically alter the way in which we develop the future of humanity.

The four gender concept


Male/Female Female/Male


Within each of us lies the four genders wheel and each gender is represented by a quarter of the circle. As a woman you may mostly inhabit the female/female aspect of yourself, and the female half of your circle, you will not often inhabit the male half, but it exists within you, and is available.

We inhabit any one of these genders at any given moment. We can travel across the spectrum in a moment and throughout our lifetime. Men can inhabit the female aspect and get there through their Male/Female or Female/Male aspect. Women don’t have to always remain in the Female aspect, they can travel and experience their maleness.

When we are men who inhabit the four genders the saying ‘boys don’t cry’ doesn’t apply. Such men can be as vulnerable and emotional as they need to be. When we are women in the four genders the saying ‘girls don’t play rough’ doesn’t apply. Such women can be as adventurous and as much into their leadership role as they need to be.

One of the key factors in the creation of a holistic and collaborative future society will be our ability to accommodate and encourage such an exploration of gender. The breaking down of the gender stereotypes will be crucial in the development of collaboration, empathy and compassion. Already, when I work with groups, I have witnessed many instances of people being able to express themselves fully and without prejudice, just by understanding the four genders.

Nick Clements is an author and workshop leader. He has facilitated change for individuals and communities for over 30 years. As an internationally recognised expert in male spirituality and rites of passage he talks at conferences and gives lectures all over the world.
Has recently had a novel ‘The Alpha Wolf’ published by Roundfire Books.
His blog on masculinity can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nick-clements/ More details on his work can be found at http://www.nick-clements.com

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