Relationships, Part 18: The Madonna and the Whore

Matt Davidson ImageFor centuries, men have been putting women, and women have been putting themselves, into two categories, the Madonnas and the Whores. Consequently, they either get sex without love, or love without sex.

The Madonna is serious, pure, virginal, loving, forgiving, safe, and supportive. She washes the man’s socks. She raises his children. He can leave and she will still be there when he returns. She is his mother.

The Whore is fun, slutty, degraded, aggressive, hard, and wanton. She goes away when he’s done. He doesn’t have to wake up with her. He’s thrilled by her. She is his toy.

At the first encounter, when dating, a man will quickly size a woman up and put her in one of the two categories. In his mind, either she will be fun, or she will be good. One he takes out dancing. The other he’ll takes to meet his family. The one, he will have sex with soon, before she goes away. For the other, he will be willing to wait. He’ll marry the good one and sex will be almost absent. He may blame her for the lack of sex life, but she has become what she has been scripted to be. Is it any wonder that he goes out and finds a Whore?

Women are often complicit. They may willingly play at being a Madonna or a Whore, thinking that’s what’s required. They might accept the assigned role because it’s complicated and dangerous to be themselves. They may don the Whore mask when single, thinking it’s the best way to attract a man, then forget all that when married, believing that’s how to keep him.

The Madonna-Whore complex arises as problems always do when we try to categorize people, or ourselves, and expect them, or ourselves, to follow a script. A woman cannot be either just a Madonna or just a Whore, she has the capacity to be both. For instance, she can be a lady in the living room and a tiger in the bedroom. Men, when they live with a women, should expect to domicile with both a lady and a tiger, both a Madonna and a Whore.

The literature about the Madonna-Whore dichotomy reaches back to ancient times. Freud used it to explain how the Oedipus Complex plays out into a sexless marriage. Is there a similar dichotomy enacted by women to categorize men? Is the Bad Boy figure the male equivalent to the Whore? Is the Family Man like the Madonna? Don’t many women marry Bad Boys and then expect them to settle down?

Stay tune next week for the script that many women hand to men. Stay tuned for The Beauty and the Beast.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

 

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