May 20, 2012

A Transgender Psychology 4: The Animus and the Anima

In Dante's Divine Comedy, Beatrice,
his anima, guides him through
Purgatory.
One of Carl Jung's most famous concepts is the Anima/Animus duo. The anima is said to be the woman in the man. The animus is said to be the the man in the woman.

It would be tempting to say that the animus is the inner woman of male to female transgender and vise versa. That would be a mistake.

I will not argue that male to female transgender are possessed by their anima, or that female to male crossdreamers have suppressed their true femininity.

In fact, the Jung interpretation you find in this series, is very different from the standard "men are from Mars and women are from Venus narrative" many Jungians love.

The two stories about the anima and animus

It helps to keep in mind that Jung is telling two stories at the same time when presenting the anima and the animus. The first one is partly  misleading, I am afraid. The second one is more useful for exploring the transgender psyche.

The first story says that the anima is the unconscious feminine side of the man, the animus the unconscious masculine side of the female. Given that men and women are forbidden to accept their "opposite side", this unconscious side is underdeveloped.

When the man projects this anima onto women out there in the real world, he therefore reduces them to clichés. He might despise her or he might fall in love with her, but he is not seeing her for who she is. He is, in fact, not falling in love with a real woman out there, but in his own underdeveloped feminine side.



The second story says that the anima is the counterpart to the persona, the mask a man or a woman presents to the world. In the same way the persona is a person's interface to the outer world, the anima is a person's interface to the inner world. The anima/animus may help a person in exploring the hidden side of the psyche.

According to this narrative, the anima/animus does not necessarily have to be of the opposite sex (as compared to the persona or the public mask). The anima/animus will, however, express personality traits that have been excluded from the persona.

In this post I will look into the first narrative. In the next post in this series I will present a more constructive interpretation of the anima/animus concept.

The anima/anima

"Whereas the contents of the personal unconscious are acquired during the individual's lifetime, the contents of the collective unconscious are invariable archetypes that were present from the beginning", Jung writes.

"Here we meet the animus of woman and the anima of man, two corresponding archetypes whose autonomy and unconsciousness explain the stubbornness of their projections. 


"Though the shadow is a motif as well known to mythology as the anima and animus, it represents first and foremost the personal unconscious, and its content can therefore be made conscious without too much difficulty. (....) the anima and animus are much farther away from consciousness and in normal circumstances are seldom if ever realized." 
(Collected Works 9 ii, para 19)
The Hulder, the animalistic woman-like
creature with the cow's tail, is one
Norwegian incarnation of the forbidden
female side of man, the anima.
Image from the movie Thale.

So, according to the traditional Jungian narrative  man has a feminine soul (anima), woman an animus or masculine spirit.

The common traits of men and women

Note that Jung reasoned that the similarities in biology made it unreasonable to think of men and women as belonging to two different species.

Because of this he developed a typology of personality traits that in no way limited some traits to women and others to men.

Men could be introvert. Women cold be extrovert. Men could base their actions on feeling, women on analytical calculations.

But his patients had, of course, grown up in a culture where the division between the gender roles where pretty strict. They were mostly recruited from the upper and middle classes of early 20th century Central Europe.

This meant that his male patients were most likely to suppress any "feminine" side of themselves and vise-versa. This repressed side then resurfaced in their dreams, in projections and untypical "irrational" behavior.

This is why Jung believes that the two stories I presented above are one and the same. Nearly all men will have a feminine anima, expressing personality traits common for women, in his culture. In the same way nearly all women will have a stereotypical masculine animus. Or, at least, so he believed.

(I am using the word "nearly" deliberately. In the next post I will present Jung's discussion of possible exceptions to this rule).

Compensating for the repressed gender

In Jung's writings the anima and the animus of men and women are underdeveloped, for the simple reason that they are unconscious and the person has not had the ability to develop these personality traits by interacting with others.

Since the feminine side of men is  never allowed to develop or "grow up", it remains primitive and banal. Men who fall under the spell of their anima does become emotional (as women were supposed to be in Jung's day and age), but in a sentimental and affected way.

Women who has not been allowed to develop their intellectual and analytical side, often behave as parodies of men, according to Jung, opinionated in an irrational way.

"The conscious side of woman corresponds to the emotional side of man, not to his 'mind.' Mind makes up the soul, or better, the 'animus' of woman, and just as the anima of a man consists of inferior relatedness, full of affect, so the animus of woman consists of inferior judgments, or better, opinions.(Collected Works 13: Alchemical Studies. P. 60)

When men and women join up, the interplay between their respective feminine and masculine side may have tragic results:

"The persona, the ideal picture of a man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness [in the man], and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, so he becomes inwardly a woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona. 

"But because the inner world is dark and invisible to the extraverted consciousness, and because a man is all the less capable of conceiving his weaknesses the more he is identified with the persona, the persona's counterpart, the anima, remains completely in the dark and is at once projected, so that our hero comes under the heel of his wife's slipper."

The man protects his fragile ego behind a mask of powerful masculinity. The reason for this is that he has never come to terms with the other side of himself, the one that in his cultural context is weak and vulnerable. He is unable  look his inferior self in the eye.

Instead he projects his own anima onto his wife, who then -- in his mind -- appears as weak and inferior. This suits his ego well, because now it becomes easier for him to uphold the charade of being the strong man of the house:

"If this results in a considerable increase of her power, she will acquit herself none too well. She becomes inferior, thus providing her husband with the welcome proof that it is not he, the hero, who is inferior in private, but his wife. In return the wife can cherish the illusion, so attractive to many, that at least she has married a hero, unperturbed by her own uselessness. This little game of illusion is often taken to be the whole meaning of life." 
(Collected Works 7 P.309)

To get out of this crippling hell, both of them have to face the dark side of their soul and come to terms with what is missing in the image they have of themselves.

Jung and the sexist stereotypes

Jung again and again writes in a way that make it seem that all men has a suppressed anima and that all women has a suppressed animus. In other words: It looks like women are supposed to be emotional and men are supposed to be analytical and so on and so forth.

Among the followers of Jung this becomes even more clear cut: The masculine and feminine roles seem to be inborn and given by nature. Some Jungians therefore appear deeply conservative and outright sexist.

One clear example is this is found in a paper written by Emma Jung, Jung's wife in 1934 ("On the nature of the animus", found in Animus and Anima: Two Papers ).

It is amazing to see how she, as an intelligent intellectual woman, can come up with the following description of the "real thinking of women":

"In general, it can be said that feminine mentality manifests an undeveloped, childlike or primitive character; instead of thirst for knowledge, curiosity; instead of judgment, prejudice; instead of thinking, imagination or dreaming; instead of will, wishing.

"When a man takes up objective problems, a woman contents herself with solving riddles; where he battles for knowledge and understanding, she contents herself with faith or superstition, or else makes assumptions. Clearly, these are well-marked pre-stages that can be shown to exist in the minds of children as well as those of primitives."

It is unclear whether this is a description that applies to women in general or the animas of men only, but the underlying view of the female psyche  is disturbing. You can see this in her comparison of the female psyche with the one of "primitives".

Emma Jung's argument is indeed that the masculine side of women, the animus, may express itself as the thinking man, but it is underdeveloped:

"The power and the authority of the animus phenomenon can be partly explained by the primitive mental lack of differentiation and reality."

So it could be that she consider herself a woman with a well developed animus. Still, the whole paper reeks of sexism and even racism.

We now know that the psyche of women (or "primitives"!) cannot be generalized in this way. There are just too many bright women scientists, artists, politicians and business leaders around to make the model work.

I suspect this was the case also in her days, herself being the proof of this.

The anima and the animus are not fixed entities

While Darth Vader is Luke's
shadow, Leia is his mirror sister.
She proves that the
anima does not have to be
childlike, stupid and defenseless.
So you might wonder why I bother with writing about the anima/animus theory in the first place, if this is where we end up.

The reason is the following:  If you study the logic underpinning the theory, it becomes clear that the way the anima and animus play out is determined on the development of that person's persona.

That is: The anima and the animus compensates for what is missing in the persona, the mask he or she presents to the world.

Emma Jung knows this, and even explains this in her paper:

"[Carl Jung] understands these figures to be function complexes behaving in ways compensatory to the outer personality -- behaving as if they were inner personalities and exhibiting the characteristics that are lacking in the outer and manifest conscious personality."

In hindsight it is easy to see where the Jungs go wrong. They try to force the anima and the animus into fulfilling two roles at the same time.

On the one hand, the anima is, in the words of Emma "the collective image of woman carried in the psyche of the individual man". On the other hand it is a part of the psyche that expresses personality traits that have been expelled from the persona.

This model would work well if all male bodied people lived up to the masculine stereotypes, and all female bodied persons had a "feminine" persona. But the very existence of trangender people proves that this is not so. So does the fact that the expected gender roles change over time.

It is as if Emma Jung forgets Jung's basic concept -- i.e. that archetypes do not contain symbolic content in themselves: they only trigger the production of such symbols. In the first "story" presented above we see that the anima and the animus are given symbolic content (the woman as the childlike primitive and so on).

In an age of Hilary Clintons, Gro Harlem Brundtlands, Indirah Gardhis and Condoleezza Rices it is very hard to uphold the idea of the childlike and primitive woman.

The transgender dilemma

If you try to understand the anima and the animus -- as they normally are presented -- as transgender, you are in for a lot of pain.

Does a male to female transgender have an anima (if he is understood as a man) or an animus (if she is understood as a woman)? Is the the sex of the archetype determined by the biological sex or the psychological sex? And what if the concepts like sex and gender are ambiguous?

The truth is that the traditional interpretation of the anima and animus complexes is of little use to transgender persons. They become new strait jackets used to force them into the pigeon holes of a suppressive society.

The idea of the animus and the anima as repositories of repressed traits belonging to the other physical sex makes perfect sense, however. The way transgender people try to express "their other side" through dreams, fantasies, role playing and cross dressing points to the very existence of such an archetype.

This will be the topic of the next post in this series.

A dangerous method

If you find Jung interesting, you might also want to take a look at the David Cronenberg movie, A Dangerous Method, which covers Jung's conflict with Freud and the influence of Sabina Spielrein. Sabina, a very intelligent woman and researcher, played an important part in the development of the thinking of both Jung and Freud. But again we see how the presence of intellectual women fail to change the overall perception of women as emotional beings, and men as analytical. Neither Freud nor Jung gave her the credit she deserved. This says a  lot of the power of stereotypes in any culture.



More posts in the transgender psychology series.

28 comments:

Masculine said...

The stereotype of women being emotional and men being analytical is a product of culture. There is no reason why we have to assume men are not emotional.
The west is the first and foremost in propagating that men cannot be emotional. All traditional cultures have celebrated masculine emotions. Poets, singers and lyricists across all cultures have been mostly men and not women and third-genders and gays.
If men did not have emotions and were not creative,renowned singers like Rafi,Kishore Kumar and Kumar Sanu are not really men but gays. Maybe it is also true that many in the west might even call these singers as gays without scruples,just like they call men holding hands as gays.Infact, that is the extent to which the west can go to deny men emotions, while neglecting the fact that men are deliberately made emotionless money-making machines by an anti-man culture that wants to make them the breadwinner and a 24-hour exclusive heterosexual.Because,it wouldn't have been possible to make men heterosexualized 24 hours without creating these stereotypes of the real man through media and movies.
But then, who really cares about men? They have been made puppets of a culture where they have lost all voice to protest and resent against the stereotypes they are put up right since birth.

Masculine said...

If the west makes an attempt to separate gender from gender-roles and recognizes transgenderism in humans as a real phenomenon, instead of simply lumping it with animus and the anima,men will no longer be afraid of being emotional and creative as they then wouldnt be ridiculed as sissy or effeminate or gay. The real gays and effeminates (third-genders) would then get recognized for their real female inside and not in terms of anima or animus. But this is something the west cannot let happen, because then, men will no longer be bound to chains of heteronormativity.
And that is the sole reason why the west wants identities like "sexual-orientation", or "sensitive/non-sensitive" or "metrosexual/macho" or "real-man/lesser-man" etc to thrive but does not want to acknowledge the real human genders. All non-westernized societies on the other hand,recognize more than two human genders and they never divide humans on basis of sexuality or animus/anima or metrosexual/macho etc.
Men are men regardless of whether they are sensitive or not. Third-genders are third-genders regardless of whether they are aggressive or not. Women are women regardless of whether they are analytical or creative. A woman does not become masculine just because she is analytical. It is her gender she feels inside that matters. This is something the west will never want to acknowledge formally.

Deborah Kate said...

"When the man projects this anima onto women out there in the real world, he therefore reduces them to clichés. He might despise her or he might fall in love with her, but he is not seeing her for who she is. He is, in fact, not falling in love with a real woman out there, but in his own underdeveloped feminine side."

I think this is a positive aspect of crossdreaming. The crossdreamer owns their feminine side, rather than projects it out on to women.

D xx

Jack Molay said...

@Deborah

"I think this is a aspect of crossdreaming. The crossdreamer owns their feminine side, rather than projects it out on to women."

Excellent point! Crossdreamers are actually conscious of their own feminine side, unlike most men, who suppresses it and even projects it onto women "out there".

In Jungian terminology that makes the crossdreamer healthier than the regular Joe (!).

What causes this is, of course, another matter.

Masculine said...

@Jack,
By that very logic of your's, you admit that desire for a woman corresponds to the feminine side of a man. Totally opposite to what the western world preaches!

Jack Molay said...

@Masculine

"By that very logic of your's, you admit that desire for a woman corresponds to the feminine side of a man."

Yes, that is right.

Although it must be said that Western culture is quite diverse, and this is not such a rare thought as media may lead us to believe.

Jung belongs to a several hundred year old tradition that goes -- at least -- back to the Renaissance and its alchemy and hermetism.

This is a tradition that refuses to reduce all complex phenomena to one and only one factor. It is organic, rather than mechanistic.

There are similarities between Jung's philosophy and strands of Hindu and Buddhist thought, as well. Still, he found most of his ideas in Western traditions.

I guess that what I am saying is that there is much to be learned from Western thinkers as well, even if the dominant ideology regarding gender is stifling "heterosexist".

Masculine said...

@Jack,
I agree with that. However,Jung's ideas are not really as popular in the west, is it?
Most of the popular ideas are from the researchers like Freud who all claimed that desire for women is masculine and the desire for men is feminine (in a man).
Infact, Freud was one of the foremost scholars who first propagated the idea of innate bisexuality in humans and still propagated that the mans desire for man is due to some underveloped masculine side of his psyche. He believed that all males pass through this stage and when they grow up as adult masculine men,they become entirely heterosexual.
The ones who don't attain the ideal masculinity remain attracted to men.

Masculine said...

"I guess that what I am saying is that there is much to be learned from Western thinkers as well, even if the dominant ideology regarding gender is stifling "heterosexist"."

When I use the term "west" I mean, mainstream west which is led by the media. There have been several sane western thinkers, Jung,Whitman and Kinsey being a few of them.
However,even if these western thinkers did come close to understanding the truths of male sexuality,they failed to consider the aspect of third-gender in humans.Infact, due to the prevailing western notions, they never saw the world beyond man and woman.That is why they did not understand that a male is not necessarily a "man" and a female is not necessarily a "woman".
A male could have a male body but feel predominantly female,and this independent of his sexual preferences and also prevalent gender-roles.They used the term "animus" to explain this woman inside a man, but then, since they were used to seeing gender in terms of gender-roles rather than the natural essence of gender, they thought that this 'animus' corresponds to traits such as introversion,shyness or even passivity.
Similarly, they thought that the anima inside a woman corresponds to her analytical/mechanical ability, or aggression.
However,all these were gender-roles.
I have seen that the natural essence of gender is not based on these gender roles. This is because a man can feel highly submissive and still feel predominantly masculine gendered. A male can feel highly bitchy and aggressive and still feel predominantly feminine and female gendered.

Jack Molay said...

@Masculine

I recently reread Freud's Three Essays on Sexuality. The book is very well written and well argued, and contains a lot of radical observations.

But here's the thing: When I read it today it is easy to see that all his observations -- his empirical data -- lead up to a conclusion where all men and women are bisexual, where female sexuality is more or less equal to the one of men, and that sexual preferences (fetishes) are either culturally defined or based on the life experience of the individual.

Freud himself does not see this. His starting point is the heterosexual paradigm, so in order to save his view of gender from the facts he himself presents, he has to come up with two clearly false theories:

1. Women's sexual feelings move from the clitoris to the vagina as they grow up (removing the similarity with male sexuality and ensuring the need for men).

2. The Oedipus Complex, which is an amazingly convoluted way of making men follow the rules of conservative Austrian family values.

Masculine said...

@Jack,
Tell you one thing, heterosexuality is the essence of queerdom. Some of the surveys conducted of transgendered people have shown that near about 90% of transgendered males are near exclusively heterosexual (e.g.: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/gsc/faqtransgender.php).
But the western culture doesn't want to talk about them. Even the western science prefers to concentrate on queer male desire for men as its focus of research on transgenders who are lumped with 'gays'.
The only time western science intervened on this issue, was to 'prove' that heterosexual transgenderism is artificial, not real, unlike what they term 'homosexual' transgenderism (please refer to Michael Bailey's research book: The man who would be Queen), which is the only thing according to western culture that makes sense. Even Anne Lawrence, a queer heterosexual, has depicted that when a feminine male is heterosexual, he is some kind of 'pervert' although these same researchers would never say that the effeminate gays are perverts because,their motto is that desire for men=effeminate.
This is clearly a conspiracy to emasculate man-man desire and bring out a heteronormative culture so that men have to heterosexualize themselves 24 hours to retain manhood (which in nature, few masculine men would care for).

Also, in my day to day personal and work experience of men in my own culture, where men traditionally have some freedom to desire men, at least in men's spaces ... and men were traditionally under no pressure to desire or date women (but to marry them and produce children), I have seen that the males who tend to fall in love with women definitely have more feminine qualities and behaviour patterns (including things like gait and speech patterns) than those who don't have relationships with women (although, they don't deny desiring women, they may compete with men on that count and they do marry and produce children). Many of them want to be 'women' in their next birth, and tend to mix freely in women's spaces, even where men's and women's spaces are separate -- here, they share this quality with the third genders.
The culture however, may even believe they are hypermasculine men for their crazy desire for women.

Masculine said...

It is always obvious if you look behind the social facades, that a lot of the 'natural heterosexual' males have a queer element in them. I know some of them have a queer gait, and their voice turns especially queer when they're attracted to women, just like it happens with the gays when they're hitting on a man.Sometimes,if not outer mannerisms, inner personalities may change. For example, when such a male likes a woman and desires a relation with her, he will see himself as a 'lesbian' in the relationship and even dream of having a female body, and sometimes even have a feeling of hyperfeminine softness inside him, even if others will continue to see him as manly for his attraction to women (since the west foolishly thinks desire for women is masculine).
It's only that the average person is not experienced enough to see this queerness, because, it is often amply hidden by the artificial power and manhood that heterosexuality is injected with in the western society. In our society its slightly more visible than in west, but only to the experienced.
I have seen plenty of part-time Hijras in my culture of this type.

Abhirup said...

@Masculine,
Do you mean you have seen lesbian hijras in India?
Where? How? I have only met hijras who are the gay types and have sexual relations with men.

Masculine said...

They are there everywhere around us. You won't get to detect them in real life only because unlike the gays who are more visible in the gay community, they act straight and dress up and move like men outdoors and more so because society thinks they are manly for their heterosexuality. Many are closet crossdressers in private.
I have met atleast several in gay places, where they only visit because like other 'gays', they like to dress up flamboyantly. If you wanted them to prove they are hijras, they might as well get sex with a man (just like penetrating women is a stereotype of masculine men that men have to prove,hijras have the gender role of being penetrated).

Masculine said...

Manly men when they do care for females,are promiscuous,and would want to just penetrate and pass off the genes for procreation.
For the natural 'heterosexual' male (which constitutes just 5% of the male population and is inevitably on the transgender spectrum), it's not important to pass on his genes, but rather to have a romantic love 'relationship' with the female and to raise kids with the female. He doesn't even care if its not his offsprings that his female is giving birth to.
This kind of male, unlike the manly man, does not simply like to penetrate women. He enjoys all kinds of sexual kicks with women, even enjoys being dominated by dominatrixes. This is the reason why a high majority of transgender erotica focuses on the shemale-domintrix theme. Infact, one dictionary meaning of a 'sissy' is a male who enjoys being dominated by girls (rather than 'gay'), so, looks like,very few sane westerners do understand that heterosexuality is connected to queerhood in males.
Yet,in mainstream,the conspirators and anti-man forces have managed to keep the stereotype of a sissy as connected with gays (and hence man-man desire).

wxhluyp said...

Masculine,you seem to be attributing a false essentialization of being a biological gender. There is a threshold between biological gender, but the experience of "being a gender", or a notion of "masculinity", or of being "attracted to bodies" are all but total social constructions.

The aim should be postgender

Masculine said...

@wxhlyup,
The west, with its strong Christian background obliterated the notion of more than two human genders (ie.,man-woman).
The traditional people of the west with strong Christian background enforce strict dichotomy of masculinity and femininity.
The liberal thought is that all gender is a social construct and that there is no such thing as biological gender,(as you are implying).
However, both notions are wrong.Gender is as much biological as social. Manhood is a social construct but the feeling of being masculine gendered is not. Womanhood is also a social construct but the feeling of being feminine gendered is not.
There is a strong biological reason why a man may have a male body but feel predominantly female inside. This transcends all social constructs of gender and socially imposed gender-roles.
Even in pre-civilized worlds, when manhood was not tied with heterosexuality and even many other masculine stuff like sports, there were transgenders (traditionally, known as 'catamites').

wxhluyp said...

@Masculine

I have talked about this more in the comments to the previous post "Transgender and the mind and body conundrum"

Biological sex for me, is a threshold which only has substantial differences in terms of reproductive capabilities. A typical mistake is the presupposition that a form of experience has its origin outside of symbolism, or that the symbol is itself biological. Symbolism is differential, a form of meaning has no genesis or essence, only the power to produce meaning has an underlying biological essence. The "feeling" of identifying as anything is a construction. Identification as a "gender" or even as an "individual" is semiotic and has its origin in semiotic correlation with differentiated bodies. The role of biology in this can only be an indirect evolutionary pragmatic reaction. This biological reaction cannot house(understand) the semiotic identity in itself, yet can at best indirectly support this identity in a culture where this identity is already present. What you presume are transcending preconditions of identifying as a gender are in fact abstractions of culture that are genderless in isolation from culture

Masculine said...

So you mean to say that a person's perception of his own gender comes through a set of social constructs and is not biological?
That is certainly not true. If gender feelings were simply a matter of some cultural symbolism, as you say, there we would not have transsexuals (the extreme transgenders) who would want to castrate themselves or undergo transition and start living as the opposite gender.
That would certainly be possible only when gender feelings are biological.
Transgenderism itself is a phenomenon that proves gender is biological and independent of social roles.

wxhluyp said...

"So you mean to say that a person's perception of his own gender comes through a set of social constructs and is not biological?"

-There is no gender gender identity, or self-identity in general there to be discovered through perception. They are rather constructs given the existence of perception

"If gender feelings were simply a matter of some cultural symbolism, as you say, there we would not have transsexuals (the extreme transgenders) who would want to castrate themselves or undergo transition and start living as the opposite gender."

-it is bizarre that you think that the "feeling" of gender dysphoria must necessarily be based on something that transcends one's cultural symbolism. Perhaps you are not familiar with the symbolism of gender itself. Gender dysphoria isn't an "illness" per se, and can emerge from any sort of ideological or psychological context.

Jack Molay said...

@Masculine

Your observations of Bailey and Lawrence fit very well with mine. The idea that gynephilic crossdreamers have to be perverts, while androphilic transwomen are not, is definitely an attempt to shoehorn reality into a model where only the effiminate gay "man" (as they call man loving transwomen) are natural, while crossdreamers are not.

This also explains their desperate attempts at making the facts fit this theory (which it does not). They fix the numbers, arguing that all androphilic M2F crossdreamers are gynephilic if they have ever had sex with a woman (as if homosexual men never try to have sex with men). They reduce feminine to looks and mannerisms, ignoring personality traits. They ignore the fact that gynephilic M2F crossdreamers have different life trajectories than the androphilic ones, as they desperately try to adapt to a masculine life style and so on and so forth.

So yes, the stereotypical heterosexual paradigm has been transposed onto male same-sex relationships, and they use this paradigm to sort the good transwomen from the bad.

As for there being a biological core to transsexuality and at least some other forms of transgender conditions, I agree. You can see how wxhluyp and I have discussed this extensively in other blog post comments. I am personally good at cracking symbols, and if this feeling was semitic only, I would definitely find a way around it.

Zamyou said...

Very interesting article. If we ignore any social gender structures whatsoever, i think gender expressions would blend in together much more than now!

Of course every man has an inner feminity and vice versa for women.
And i think the ideal "feminity" and "masculinity" are in parallel but the inner sense of gender is still the same as now but less socially defined.

Jung is not the only one theorizing about the erotic inner woman. Transvestic fetishists might claim to be sexually motivated but their appearance and behaviour might relfect to their ideal feminine symbols.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Can anyone help?

I'm physically female, was disappointed when to realise that there are two different genders with two (according to society)different destinies, and rebelled ever since. I don't want a relationship and am very happy with 'him', the animus. Problem is, if some sleazy creep advances on me because he sees only a 'woman' and I have to appear unconcerned for social reasons, i.e. not to cause offence etc.(instead of knocking the creep through the wall ... which would do me far more good!), it seems as though they have the power to rob me of my own identity. I can't find a way out of this problem, and it has seemingly infinite power in this physical realm.

I am happy and content with my anima and want nothing else.

Janie

Jack Molay said...

@Janie

Ah, there are actually male bodied persons out there who would love you for who you are, gender free and independent.

Actually, I think the readership of this blog has statistically speaking more potential candidates of this kind than most communities.

The problem is, of course, that they expect you to expect them to behave in a stereotypical masculine way, so they will do their best to treat you like a "lady", even if they hate that game.

But if I understand you correctly, you are not looking for a lover or a partner. You want men to stop treating you as a potential love interest.

I am afraid that requires for you (1) to be completely obnoxious, (2) to do everything you can to look unattractive or (3) pretend you are a lesbian.

Alternative (3) is unlikely to work in the long run, as many men will try to convert you, and you will feel the same objectification from women instead.

OK, this reply is a little bit tongue in cheek, but seriously: I think the human need for love and sex is so basic that you cannot expect men to stop approaching you. This is a fact of life, like rain and earth quakes.

What you can do is to to tell them in a polite but unambiguous way that you are not interested.

son_o_lilith said...

"On the one hand, the anima is, in the words of Emma "the collective image of woman carried in the psyche of the individual man". On the other hand it is a part of the psyche that expresses personality traits that have been expelled from the persona."



Wherein lies the conflict sir?

Whether you believe that female and male biology/psychology is inherently different, or that sexual identity is thrust upon an individual and likewise developed that way, the ideas of anima and animus still hold both ways.

I don't think Carl describes anima and animus as wholly destructive traits. They're just suppressed and therefore comeback with a vengeance as destructive unless integrated. I believe they are useful ideas in maintaining individual sexual balance and wholeness in general.

A man manifests an outer trait that suppresses his inner trait that is his anima. Whether you think that manifestation as genetic or educated really does not matter. I don't quite agree with Carl's definition of feminine or masculine but that's precisely because I am not from Carl's era. If you grow up as a woman you are expected to act in certain ways and you naturally react to it, whether by conforming or resisting. This creates a subconscious sexuality that is different in man from woman. Don't you think that a man faces different challenges from a woman in society and therefore this requires a differentiation between anima and animus?

I mean, if feminine or masculine traits did not exist at all, why would so many transgenders think they are in the wrong body? They have a sexual identity, whether culturally ingrained or genetically formed, and they want that identity to match with their bodies.

son_o_lilith said...

To continue in this line of thought, yes, I do believe that man-to-woman transgenders possess an anima and woman-to-man transgenders possess an animus, that has been developed from birth right up to the point of sexual operation by society.

The biggest difference, I believe, is that they have a sexual subconscious that is inherently so strong to ignore/repress that it is no longer subconscious and becomes an evident manifest trait. Couple that with the ongoing pressure from society and you have a newfound desire to change your sex.

Take man-to-woman trans for example. I think these people will not desire to change their sex if society had no social gender impositions to begin with. Unless perhaps they are dissatisfied with simple crossdressing or makeup and actually want the help of hormones to sound and feel more woman, in which case I see some points. But ultimately the motivation is still the same - appearing more like a woman. Obviously you cannot have vagina sex or bear a baby so the aim is purely as a social statement: I am a woman so treat me as one. Anima becomes a part of the conscious and wanted to be treated as such. How is this unrelated to social impositions? How is anima an invalid idea?

As I said before, if anima and animus cannot exist because sexuality is an illusion, transgenders likewise would not exist. "Feminine" men would not want to become women if it was perfectly okay to be a feminine man, except for purely aesthetic reasons.

Contrary to popular thought I don't think that transgenders are completely transformed to the other sex, any more than there is an archetype of the other sex.
If society saw her and accepted her completely as a woman, then she would be, she might even go on to develop an animus, but currently speaking that is not possible. She will be noticed, even by those approving her, as a transgender and not a woman.


However, they would be a healthy example of integration of both genders, and an epitome of sexual freedom. It means breaking out of societal repression, regardless of whether they really are woman or not.


Jack Molay said...

@Son of Lilith

Thank you for some very interesting observations. I think I have touched upon some of the points you have made in the next post in the series.

"I don't think Carl describes anima and animus as wholly destructive traits. They're just suppressed and therefore comeback with a vengeance as destructive unless integrated."

I agree, for Jung the unconscious also contains the life giving and life affirming sides of our psyche we have repressed.

This is abundantly clear in the case of transgender persons, where the recognition of the "other side" is a prerequisite for healing.

"Take man-to-woman trans for example. I think these people will not desire to change their sex if society had no social gender impositions to begin with."

I doubt this. The feeling of alienation from the body, as opposed to imposed gender behavior, is far too strong among too many of them for this to make sense to me.

For the truly gender dysphoric an integration of the other side of the psyche is simply not enough.



son_o_lilith said...

The reason for my claims is somewhat personal. I am not cissexual myself, I'm gay but I also more than often fantasize of being a woman. The reason I'm not transgender or crossdress is that 1. I'm not interested in my appearance and 2. the operation is imperfect. I wouldn't have a vagina and a womb. I cannot bear the child of my lover and I cannot even self-generate estrogen. Forgive me if I'm too honest but I don't even find the appearance or voice of transgenders to be genuinely that of the other sex. Not too mention most if not all the rest of the world would think that way.

It seems to me according to your observation that most transgenders want to "change sex" not because of a desire to become woman but of hatred of being a man. Perhaps this is where I differ. I would be more comfortable as a woman than a man but I don't hate being a man to the point of desiring castration. The dissonance of the mind from the body is a genuine problem, I see, although I still believe that the body is so saturated with the imprints of social impositions that the beholder of that body cannot differentiate the two. Even if you don't believe this statement, the transsexual herself would not be satisfied with the operation because clearly it does not transform biology perfectly. If they are satisfied then the desire is not about becoming woman but being less man.

And it seems most are. So many transgenders want to be 'treated' as a woman, yet if this was just between her soul and her body, they wouldn't be so obsessed over how others think of them. You cannot just ignore the years and years of social ingrainment of what it is to be a man or a woman, society will affect you and you the society. This will affect how you see your body and the privilege/responsibility/limits it entails, to the point that you either love/hate your body. Again, even if you don't believe in this, it would be erroneous to make not only others but herself to find her newfound body as a woman because it simply is not. The operation is just as superficial as crossdressing and even "crossdressing" is more socially dependent rather than biological.

I see them as a third sex free of either anima or animus because society has absolutely no way to confine their behavior according to dimorphism. It's a good thing, and it would be if many transsexuals realize that, instead of pretending to be either side of dimorphism. They cannot have an animus because their body is or rather was male. The sexual subconscious is not dependent on inner soul but rather the outer oppression of the body. It is created out of biological-social interaction which cannot be separate from the psyche. They may have had an anima that was formed from the very birth to their transformation but beyond that point even anima is fully integrated and gone through the ritual act of castration. They are free.


+ this is a rather separate inquiry while thinking of estrogen. how is a soul truly feminine in a testerone producing male body? Testerone that affects not just biology but psychology. I was thinking of some of the rebuttals you may come up with - if a definition of femininity is dependent on estrogen then perhaps they can be barren women, but then both the soul and body of the untransformed body would be male. How is male psyche dissonant to the male body? Perhaps this dissatifaction may not be sexual in nature but something else.

Jack Molay said...

"You cannot just ignore the years and years of social ingrainment of what it is to be a man or a woman, society will affect you and you the society."

I agree with you in this, and far too often we ignore the obvious realities of a social and cultural context when discussing transitioning. In other words: Transgendered people may decide not to transition, not because they do not believe they are the other sex, but because they doubt they will be able to live the life they dream post-op.

On the other hand: A lot of trans men and women report that they are much happier after transitioning. Indeed, for many of them this is a choice between transitioning and death.

"+ this is a rather separate inquiry while thinking of estrogen. how is a soul truly feminine in a testerone producing male body?"

This requires a separate blog post, but let me make a few maybe surprising observation:

Science have never managed to prove that testosterone is underpinning masculinity. I have looked all over the place to find proof of this, but cannot find it.

It seems to have something to do with aggressiveness (although this hasn't been proven either!).

But the fact that women have less testosterone does not make them less aggressive. In some primates (monkeys) the females are more aggressive than the males, in spite of having less testosterone.

It is estrogen, not testosterone, that kick starts the development of a fetus towards manhood. Men needs estrogen. Women needs testosterone. This has made some researchers doubt that they are sex specific it all.

It seems it is the balance of hormones and not the quantity itself that influence the development of the psyche.

It seems to me testosterone has taken the position "fire" had in the premodern world. Men where dominated by "hot fire", women by "cold water", which explained the feminine lack of strength and rigor.