Here Is What A Madonna-Whore Complex Looks Like In 2015

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The term “Madonna-Whore Complex” was first coined by – you guessed it – the father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Though much of Freud’s work has either been disproven or is widely regarded as invalid (to put it nicely), his archetype-based complexes live on. The Madonna-Whore Complex is known as the distinction men draw between the women they desire and the women they respect – with the implication that those two categories are mutually exclusive.

I’d like to say that in 2015, we’re all ready to give up Freudian psychology. But alas, here we are, still exemplifying the Madonna-Whore complex left, right and center. It’s in the very nature of the way that we’re socialized as men and women alike. We all feed into it – it just looks a little different than it did back in Freud’s day.

In 2015, the Madonna-Whore complex looks like a woman lying to her boyfriend about how many people’s she’s slept with because she doesn’t want him to know she’s ‘been around.’ It looks like him judging her for the number if she actually tells the truth.

The Madonna-Whore complex looks like the men who claim to be “Nice guys,” and then shame all sexually active women who aren’t sleeping with them. It looks like the divide that is placed between women who deserve respect in the eyes of a “Nice guy” and women who don’t.

The Madonna-Whore complex is thriving every time a guy tells you that you seem like a “Nice girl” and then is shocked to hear about your sexual history because the idea of you being a nice human being and a sexual human being are incompatible in his mind. It’s the assumption that the traits we value as stereotypically “feminine” are directly at odds with embracing one’s sexuality. That a person can’t be kind, understanding, composed and also sexually empowered. That they have to be one or the other.

The Madonna-Whore complex is hopelessly outdated as a theory but so are our views on dating. We give each other advice like “Don’t sleep with them on the first date,” “Don’t admit how many partners you’ve had,” and “Don’t text unless he texts first.” Be the Madonna, not the whore. Be the docile, most repressed version of yourself. It’ll win you the respect of the person you’re trying to date.

But at the end of the day, it’ll make you lose respect for yourself.

The problem with the Madonna-Whore complex is that 0% of us fit fully into one category or the other. We may err on one side or the other but we’re all born with sex drives. We’re all born with a sense of compassion. We’re all a little bit Madonna and a little bit Whore. Trying to separate the world into two types of women is a game. You’re either lying to yourself or you’re losing.

I, for one, am tired of these accidental categories we’re placing ourselves and each other into – and much of it is, I believe, truly accidental. We put the people we respect up on a pedestal and we strip them of any qualities that we deem to be unvirtuous. We don’t give each other time to reveal who we actually are – we jump to conclusions and then punish one another for not meeting them. We fail to be conscious of the polarized fashion in which we manage our own thoughts and then we let them run rampant.

“She’s a great girl,” or “He’s a nice guy” quickly gives way to “(S)he would never do anything wrong. (S)he shares all my morals. (S)he is an absolute Madonna, whatever that means to me personally.” We compartmentalize our love interests into whichever categories are most convenient for us and then grow frustrated with them for defying our own system.

It’s not just Madonna-Whore. It’s Creative-Conservative. It’s Logical-Foolish. It’s Compassionate-Independent and it’s Feminine-Masculine. Men and women are guilty of the polarization process alike: we place each other into one of two categories and grow enraged by any evidence that fails to line up with what we have decided. It’s a frustrating game for all those playing. And in some way, we’re always all playing.

At some point, we need to put an end to this madness. And we do so by throwing the rulebook out the window – by texting when we want to text, sleeping with whomever we want to sleep with, by refusing to deny our pasts in order to preserve a sick conceptualization that someone else holds of us. We end the game by ceasing to entertain it in absolutely any form. By letting people show us who they are before we go ahead and decide it for them. We end the game by being honest about who we are instead of twisting our image to resemble who we think others want.

We end our psychological complexes by asking ourselves why we hold them. Why we cannot allow people to be entirely, unapologetically themselves without our judgment. Why we cannot allow ourselves to be the same. We end the complex by refusing to entertain it for one more minute. Then, and only then, will we be able to lay our outdated, archetypal mindsets to rest once and for all. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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