Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gender & Guilt

by Lawrence H. Staples

Women have an unconscious masculine side and men have an unconscious feminine side. Jungians use the term animus to personify the masculine side of a woman. They use the term anima for the feminine side of the man. Guilt is a formidable obstacle to the development of the contra-sexual sides of our selves. Women who were taught by parents to behave in ways that the parents defined as feminine felt guilty whenever they deviated from such behavior. When they dared to express masculine(1) behaviors, they were made to feel that they were “bad.” Men face a similar problem in developing their feminine(2) side. Fathers can be as appalled by a son’s interest in ballet or art as he can by his tears or his inability to focus and think clearly. To develop our “other” side, we must jump the fence, violate the parental definitions of what is good, enter the shadow, sin, and incur guilt in varying degrees. It is hard and sometimes distasteful work. It’s much easier to manifest contra-sexual qualities today than it was a hundred years ago. But there is still a powerful residual resistance to the development of our contra-sexual selves.

A woman needs access to her inner masculine qualities if she is to protect and defend herself against those masculine qualities that have been turned against her. For a woman the cure for being a victim of those masculine qualities is homeopathic, with respect to the man; that is, she gives him a dose of his own medicine. Actually, if a woman does not actively seek to develop her inner masculine, it turns negative and becomes an inner critic and sabotages much that she does. Sometimes, he behaves on the inside like a terrorist, who appears in her nightmares as a dangerous intruder.