Table of Contents
The Law of Gender Rigidity
Based on Carl’s Jung discovery of the anima and the animus, Greene writes about the dangers of over identifying with your gender, and how you can connect to the repressed feminine if you are male, and to the repressed masculine if you are female.
As children, boys are extremely sensitive, expressive, and empathetic – more so than girls who at an early age are confident and enjoy transforming their environments according to their own tastes. But as both sexes mature and assume gender roles, it becomes taboo for boys to show a lot of emotion while it is considered distasteful for girls to display signs of aggression.
Outwardly, society has made progress in this regard, but inwardly, these ideas are still pervasive within us.
Jung described the anima as the feminine personality in men. This dormant personality is transferred by the mother to the boy, and at an early age, he shows signs of it. As a child, his mother provides him with the projection of this anima. But as he matures, and fears his mother controlling him too much, or affecting his personality in some way, he rejects the anima within him. He attempts to conform to his gender role as strictly as possible, thus limiting his mother’s influence. This is exhibited through hypermasculine traits. But what happens is that when the anima is repressed too much, it manifests in ways he cannot control.
The Emergence of the Anima/Animus
He may become overly concerned with clothes and appearance – even of other men. He may show a particular interest to colors and design, typically feminine concerns. He may act out emotionally, or he may look for a romantic partner that fills the hole left behind by the suppression of the anima. In any case, the results are less than desirable and will bring out behavior that the man does not want or intend. When this man falls in love, typically it will be with a romantic partner that manifests his repressed anima. She may show signs of tenderness and empathy. And he will find that as he sinks into the relationship, he will start to exhibit the anima himself – expressing empathy, neediness, and emotion. But over time, he will discover that this woman does not fulfill his ideal at all, she is aggressive and can be quite cruel. So he moves on, desperately searching for someone who will fill the hole.
In the woman’s case, it is the opposite. Of course, for both scenarios, we are discussing heterosexual men and women for simplification. The woman will have suppressed the masculine instinct or the animus. And the extreme suppression of this will result in aggressive behavior. For example, she may hold too strong an opinion and insist that things go her way in some trivial thing. She may look for a romantic partner that manifests the animus. If her father was domineering and patriarchal, she will look for a rebel, someone with tattoos and who despises authority. But like the previous example, with time she will become disillusioned as she discovers that this man is just as domineering as her father, and worse, he can’t hold down a job.
In both cases, the female and the male should allow their hidden sides to manifest. If you are too orderly, and constricted in your experiences, instead of looking for a broken woman to fix, add some adventure to your life, even add some fear. This will allow your anima to express itself in a healthy way. This may save you the trauma of a bad relationship.
If you are a woman who had a domineering father, who never let you break the rules, your animus will be projected on to the rebel – someone your father will not approve of. Instead, take small risks and with time you will not have such an obsessive need and will choose better adjusted men.
Don’t be so One-Sided
The central point here is that everyone has both feminine and masculine energies, and if you want to make the most out of your potential, and not allow your shadow or your anima/animus take control of your life, you must allow your repressed side to show. If you are a male, do not always feel like you must conform to hypermasculine behavior. When you are with women, try to empathize with them, and see things as they do.
When you think, don’t only think the way men do. The male thought pattern involves breaking things up into its component parts and studying each part separately. The female way is more holistic, it takes the entire object and tries to make loose relations between different ideas that are seemingly unrelated. Both ways of thinking are useful in their own way. In the west, the masculine style is considered superior, but this is not so in the east.
As Greene explains, sometimes, the smartest thing you can do is to retreat, to allow time to pass, and do nothing. In this way, you let your enemies self-destruct through their own aggression, while you gain more information and see things more clearly. There is much wisdom in taking a step back in order to take a leap forward.
On the other hand, if you tend to think in a feminine way, that is – holistically. You will greatly benefit by looking into things more deeply, the details will help you organize your thoughts better, and give you superior intuition.
Typically, men act, lead, and learn differently. Men use brute force, while women look at the different options available. Men lead by setting a rigid top-down structure. Women look for group resolutions. Men blame others for failure and take credit for their success. Women blame themselves for failure, and attribute their success to luck.
Once you are aware of how your gender influences how you think and behave, you can transcend it and see the bigger picture. This will help you fulfill your potential as a human being and more deeply connect with others.
If you’re interested in exploring the darker parts of human psychology that most people ignore, consider reading this short book The Dichotomy of the Self.