A Complex Problem

I.

This post is something of a follow-up to Complex and Reflected, wherein I examined and discussed the Madonna/Whore complex in men. Since I have more questions than answers when it comes to the topics of this post (more on those later), this post will end up looking quite a bit different from the original. Not only will it be shorter, but it is going to be filled with unanswered questions, which I hope my readers will take a stab at answering. So expect some major rambling.

What I want to explore in this post is the “Madonna” part of the Madonna/Whore complex.  I am curious about a few things:

  • Why Christians will at times promote the idea that women, at least the “good” ones, are not sexual creatures
  • What kind of impact does the complex have on the “good” women living in a culture where it exists
  • Are “good” women in some way responsible for promoting or sustaining the complex, and if so, how

I am going to address each in its own section, mostly for ease of organization. This post won’t be long enough to really require it, but my OCD demands as much.

II.

In this section I want to delve into why Christians, including theologians, will sometimes promote the idea that good Christian women are asexual, or are supposed to be.

I should start by saying that I never grew up hearing this, but then again, I didn’t hear a whole lot about sexuality from the Church growing up. Most of what I know, including back then, about the Church’s stance on sex is what I found out for myself.Perhaps some other Catholics were taught that women were asexual angelic creatures while growing up, but I wasn’t. However, some of the Protestant men who populate the ‘sphere have indicated in the past that they did grow up hearing that kind of lesson.  I would appreciate it if they could fill in exactly what they heard along those lines.

One possible reason I could see for this kind of thinking to have developed arises from the original Madonna herself, Mary the mother of Jesus. In Catholic and Orthodox circles she is greatly venerated, and held up as the paragon example of womanhood. Furthermore, Tradition holds that she was always a virgin, and goes even further to say that through Grace she was born without sin (a doctrine known as the Immaculate Conception). I can see where holding up as the paragon of womanhood a woman who was a virgin could lead to the impression that an absence of sexuality is essential in a “good” woman.

Of course, that doesn’t apply to Protestant sects, who don’t hold Mary in such high regard. So something else is at play there. My suspicion for them is that Victorian impulses might have moved from cultural/social lines of thought to religious lines of thought without people giving it much consideration, or fully realizing what was happening.

If anyone has any thoughts of their own, do tell.

III.

Another interesting question is the impact that the Madonna/Whore complex has on “good” women.

The most obvious effect on them would of course be sexual frustration. Women are sexual creatures, after all, even “good” ones. Not being a woman, I can only imagine the kind of frustration they feel. Perhaps if there are any bold female readers here who might have experienced it at some point they could fill in. Or if they know women who have experienced it, if they could speak for them.

I know that on SSM’s blog there were several posts which covered the health benefits of sex for women, so that is another obvious loss. I suspect that “good” women who are married in these cultures suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety because of their minimal sex lives.

Perhaps most insidious is the emotional wall of separation between husbands and wives. While the exact manner is different, women bond emotionally through sex just as men do. Without regular sex with their husbands, I imagine that wives won’t feel as connected to their husbands as they could be. This distance can only harm the marriage.

IV.

Lastly, I wonder what role “good” women might have in perpetrating and promoting the Madonna/Whore complex in men.

One thing I don’t understand is why more mother’s don’t try and teach their sons to avoid this mentality. If they have suffered from it, surely they realize how unhealthy it is for men to have this complex. So why not try and influence their sons in another direction? Are they unwilling to acknowledge its a problem? Do they not care for their daughters-in-law well-being? Barring that, what about their sons? Do they not care for them? This is all something I just don’t understand.

Perhaps the mothering instinct of the “good” women is also to blame. They go overboard in taking care of their men, and so men stop looking at them as mates and more as a mother figure. I don’t think I need to go into detail about how they could interfere with a man’s desire to be sexually drawn to a woman. Maybe if women were more inclined to adopt behaviors and attitudes different from a man’s mother the complex wouldn’t be so much of a problem.

Another thing that helps keep this cycle going is the silence of many of the “good” women. They don’t speak up against this complex, or at least don’t seem to. Instead, most of its opponents are the “whore” part of the complex, those women who men will sleep with but not marry. Is it fear that drives them to silence? Shame? I truly don’t understand this. Are they so submissive that they won’t, can’t voice their despondency? Or is it pride, an unwillingness to void aloud a deep felt desire because they don’t want to appear weak?

V.

That brings this post to an end. If anyone wants to take a stab at answering any of the questions I raised, or even those that I didn’t, feel free to do so in the comments. A topic like this lends itself better to an ongoing discussion than a detailed post anyways.

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63 Comments

Filed under Blue Pill, Christianity, Churchianity, Red Pill, Sex, Temptation

63 responses to “A Complex Problem

  1. @DonalGraeme: “It is a lot easier to control yourself (or at least I find it works that way for me) when you don’t draw in as many attractive women.”

    That’s a good point – it’s easier to fight if you are your only opponent, rather than if you must fight yourself as well as…well, I was going to say “the other person”, but it may be more accurate to say “as well as your perception of what the other person is supposed to want in the situation.” … which perception may not match the other’s actual wants.

    Perhaps this is part of the M/W complex as it affects women: a woman must show enough interest/enthusiasm that the guy won’t think she’s “too pure for the earth” (or, more likely, “a frigid bitch”), but not so much interest/enthusiasm that he will think she’s DTF (which she figures drops her straight into the Whore category in his mind), because then she’d have to turn him down, but she’d have to turn him down gently enough that he won’t be offended/emasculated by her rejection, but not so gently that he thinks she’s playing coy and just needs some slightly more forceful convincing, and if she does it just wrong it’ll take all the fun out of the flirting and the date will be ruined and it will be ~all her fault~… at which point the cost-benefit analysis says “It’s not worth trying to even get a date. And any guy you’re interested in will reject you before it gets to that point anyway.”

    It makes one fantastically paranoid.

  2. @ Feather Blade

    There is a whole lot going on in your second paragraph, and more than just the M/W complex at work. You have wife frigidity, and the male fear of it, you have concerns over a “slut vibe” and then you have concerns over the proper way to tell a guy you aren’t interested.

    I can tell you, and you probably already know, that you are over-thinking it. But I can certainly understand why you are. This present system is an awful way for Christians to meet, court and marry. Uncertainty, fear and confusion are only natural. Thrown in bad teaching, even to the point of heresy, and well, you understand where I’m going.

    Sorry that you have suffered as you have over this. One thing is certain, a lot of folks are going to be held to account one day for their part in all of this.

    Incidentally, fear of being seen as frigid isn’t a problem connected to the M/W complex. After all, men who have that don’t care if their wife is frigid or not. They weren’t expecting sex with her anyways.

  3. @Donalgraeme:

    My apologies, I thought the discussion was M/W-complex-in-general, not specifically-pertaining-to-married-couples, so the thought process I described above (a.k.a. How to Avoid Being Labeled as Either Madonna or Whore by the Man You Are With) is one that (in my experience) prevents a woman from meeting someone and getting married in the first place.

    And to a certain extent, it is both over-thought and over-wrought… but that tends to be the way of feminine thought-processes: a web of interrelated details and tangents that can take the thinker far afield from the topic at hand. I’m fairly sure that’s why they invented standardized etiquette: to enable women to not over-think everything. (Which sentence in itself is a perfect example of how this type of information-processing works.)

    Marriage is much simpler: your spouse wants you, you comply, barring extenuating circumstances such as illness and other occasions for mutual agreement on abstention.

  4. @ Feather Blade

    No apologies needed. This post covers the Madonna/Whore complex from all angles.

    so the thought process I described above (a.k.a. How to Avoid Being Labeled as Either Madonna or Whore by the Man You Are With) is one that (in my experience) prevents a woman from meeting someone and getting married in the first place.

    What I was trying to say is that what you are describing really isn’t the M/W complex in action. After all, if the man suffered from the M/W complex, he wouldn’t be driven off by a woman being a Madonna. Far from it, he would seek it out- remember, he isn’t marrying her for her sexuality, and in fact doesn’t want to think of it.

    The situation is somewhat different when you have to balance matters so you don’t appear to be frigid or a slut. That is more of a modern problem, I suspect, brought about by the modern deluge of married prostitutes (aka frigid wives) and loose women who are bad investments (poor wife candidates). It is definitely a problem for chaste women these days, and I have to say that I feel for you. All the other women out there have really ruined things for you.

    And to a certain extent, it is both over-thought and over-wrought… but that tends to be the way of feminine thought-processes: a web of interrelated details and tangents that can take the thinker far afield from the topic at hand.

    Thanks for explaining that so clearly. It is something that men need to understand, because it isn’t how we think at all.

    Marriage is much simpler: your spouse wants you, you comply, barring extenuating circumstances such as illness and other occasions for mutual agreement on abstention.

    It really is simple, when you get down to it. Alas that even the simple things can be very difficult.

  5. femininebutnotfeminist

    “After all, if the man suffered from the M/W complex, he wouldn’t be driven off by a woman being a Madonna. Far from it, he would seek it out- remember, he isn’t marrying her for her sexuality, and in fact doesn’t want to think of it.”

    All the more reason for us all to talk about our expectations about sex with those that we might marry. It’s crucial for both men and women to do this IMO. In this case, a Madonna should make her expectations for sex known to weed out any men that would put her through the torture of a sexless marriage. And no, I don’t think “torture” is too strong of a word in this context.

    “It is definitely a problem for chaste women these days, and I have to say that I feel for you. All the other women out there have really ruined things for you.”

    That’s an understatement of epic proportions. Thank you for getting it Donal. 🙂

  6. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ chokingonredpills,

    Hmmm, makes sense. But I dare say, it would be better to remain single than to enter willingly into a sexless marriage, knowing that it will be as such. And I say that as someone who despises being single.

    [DG: Beat me to the punch there.]

  7. @ FBNF

    All the more reason for us all to talk about our expectations about sex with those that we might marry. It’s crucial for both men and women to do this IMO.

    The problem is that the M/W complex usually arises in cultures where it is considered “inappropriate” to talk about sex with a potential spouse. My understanding is that many men will simply refuse to talk about it with a woman they want to marry. And of course the Church in such countries is of no help either.

    In this case, a Madonna should make her expectations for sex known to weed out any men that would put her through the torture of a sexless marriage. And no, I don’t think “torture” is too strong of a word in this context.

    I think that I can speak for all men when I say that you are right to use the word torture. Now, this might just be me, but I think it would be easier for me as I am now -single- to tolerate a celibate existence than as a married man. After all, as a single man I don’t have any permissible outlet for my drive, but if I were married but my wife froze me out, denied me that singular permissible outlet? I would lose my mind.

  8. @DG

    I’m from Southeast Asia, It’s what I experienced.

    @FBNF

    I’m close to 40. And having been reading the Manosphere as well as a few other blogs, I’m scared of marriage and having to deal with a woman I’m going to spend the rest of my life with knowing that she may just blow up the family. I’m still searching but I think I’m near that tipping point where the sex isn’t worth it any more.

    And the point about talking to a potential mate about sex in the marriage? I’m not really sure about this because theoretically speaking, my society’s pretty conservative and I’ve no idea how to start that topic.

  9. @ Chocking

    Interesting. I’m curious, was your church connected to American Protestant ones in some way? I wonder if the heresy has spread overseas through mission work and such. Not that it couldn’t develop elsewhere on its own, mind you.

  10. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Donal,

    Yeah, I hear ya… I would lose my mind if my husband froze me out too. (I know it’s far less likely for a husband to do so than a wife, but still). It is a little bit easier for me to be celibate being single for the same reason you gave, but not much easier. If living in a sexless marriage is torture, then living single is borderline torture, closer to the torture side than not. It’s a wonder I haven’t lost my mind over it, seriously.

    @ Chokingonredpills,

    Hmmm, I’m not sure how best to approach a conversation like that with a woman in your culture. I’m not familiar enough with Asian cultures to know how it would work out. It’s different here in America. Here, it’s pretty much “anything goes” these days. Normally that can be a disasterous thing, but in this case it can come in handy, since talking about sex isn’t taboo here. I see why you would be afraid of marriage… it’s much more risky for men these days to marry than it is for women. Either way, I hope it works out well for you.

  11. @DG:

    I had always been in an Assembly of God church (which is Evangelical/Protestant?). I live in a city which was a former British colony but, in recent decades, has been infused with loads of American culture. So yes, the feminist teaching and thought have seeped into my home churches.

    @FBNF
    Thanks. I hope things work out for you too.

  12. @ Choking

    I’m not that familiar with that particular denomination, so I don’t know. But what you have said about American culture seeping in is probably enough in and of itself. Even more so, as I think about it, due to preachers/pastors possibly getting educated here in the US.

  13. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Chokingonredpills,

    You’re welcome, and thank you too. 🙂

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