by Linda Robertson
You may have noticed we have pre-set topics for each week around here, ones that we decided on long ago. This week’s topic is the Heroines and the Madonna-Whore complex.
I had to look it up.
The all-knowing Wikipedia (sarcasm!) says:
In Freudian psychoanalysis, a Madonna–whore complex is a psychological complex that is said to develop in the human male when he sees all women not as individuals along a continuum, but as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitute-like personalities.
And claims the Freudian Psychology of this to be:
…this complex often develops when the sufferer is raised by a cold and distant mother. Such a man will often court someone with qualities of his mother, hoping to fulfill a need for intimacy unmet in childhood. Often, the wife begins to be seen as mother to the husband—a "Madonna" figure—and thus not a possible object of sexual attraction.
For this reason, in the mind of the sufferer, love and sex cannot be mixed. The man is therefore reluctant to have sexual relations with his wife for, according to his unconscious mind, this would be incest. He will reserve sexuality for "bad" or "dirty" women, and will not develop "normal" feelings of love in these sexual relationships. This introduces a dilemma where a man may feel unable to love any woman who can satisfy him sexually and is unable to be sexually satisfied by any woman whom he can love.
And this is the topic I’m supposed to work with this week? *panic*
This sounds like the basis for episodes on Criminal Minds, CSI, or NCIS, not something I can twist into being about Urban Fantasy heroines…or antagonists for that matter. Not that it can’t be done, it’s just that this is an uncomfortable kind of territory that, as I unwillingly pass through, I intentionally lock my doors and roll my windows up.
Curious. Let the self-examination begin.
Why? Why am I so uncomfortable with this? Because even in story form, this is clearly a male-mindset topic. I have to approach writing stories from a point where my understanding convinces me I can do this story/topic justice. Because I have to create characters, I’d like to think I can understand people. But honestly, while I “get” women and can peg ‘em pretty accurately from the start, the male of our species continues to confuse me—despite the fact that I’m raising four. *panic again…have I loved them well enough that they will never suffer from anything weird like this???? Wait…yeah. I’m not cold and distant. Yeah. I know I have loved them. They’ll be fine.*
And suddenly I realize how this topic is making me examine the fellas in my life. While I don’t like turning our post topics into a format for “me me me” it’s sometimes hard not to, when the only way I can grasp at the topic is through making comparisons and studying personal examples.
I think I understand my boys most of the time. When I clearly don’t, I direct them to their father.
But what about the other men I’ve known? The ones I’ve loved? The ones I left? The ones I lost? None of them had this particular issue. (Whew!) What do I think I knew about them? Where was I wrong? Assuming I’d wanted to, what could I have done to have salvaged those relationships at the time?
Hmmm. Isn’t that “heroine” thinking? Questioning. Wanting to right the wrongs. Okay, there’s a maternal element too, but that just confirms it as a genuinely female trait. Do I think of myself as a heroine? A little.
I aspire to be active about facing and fixing problems when I see them, especially for those I love.
So we started with Madonna-Whore and ended on heroine. Yay! I wrote a post!