Temperance, despite the word’s association with the prohibitionist movement, has nothing to do with giving things up. Think of an alloy – two substances blended to get some of the best qualities of both. Temperance is about taking two opposites and creating a stronger third option.
Thinking of this concept in terms of gender equality actually got me to thinking about the way we have historically treated gender as a binary. Two opposites, meant to complement and contrast and never blend. But let’s face it, that’s the entire problem with gender inequality, isn’t it? If feminine and masculine are to be opposites, how can equality ever be achieved? How are we ever to combat the negatives engendered by such a system if we don’t challenge the system itself?
We’re increasingly seeing acknowledgement of the idea that gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum, not as a binary. If we view feminism through the lens of temperance, I think it becomes clear that the way forward may be found not in belittling traditional femininity or in elevating it above traditional masculinity, but in seeking to simply find a unified humanity by celebrating the full spectrum which lies between. Temperance means redefining how we place value on expression and presentation. It means no longer placing importance on “male” and “female” and shifting all that importance and energy to creating and developing what lies between.