When Anger Is Legitimate


Men who speak out about personal issues, along with others advocating for men’s issues, are sometimes charged with being ‘angry men.’ The accusation is designed to reduce a man’s story to a single emotion; he is no longer a man telling his story with a tone of anger, but a story-less freak whose entire manhood is synonymous with anger – angry man – no more and no less than a single taboo emotion.

By labeling him an angry man, a complex human being is reduced to a one-dimensional caricature that dehumanizes him, discredits his claims to a wider audience, and ultimately aims to censor his evidence of pain or unfair treatment. The implication is that angry men are irrational and should be listened to only after they have calmed down and domesticated the raw emotionalism. However calming down would be better termed as pushing down, because that’s what happens to a man’s concerns and sense of passion in the face of the angry man charge.

Calming down leads that initial anger, which longs to effect positive changes to the world, to look for another outlet. Sometimes it intensifies into destructive or violent acting out, or worse, is converted into a neurotic self-censorship through the aid of drugs, depression and not infrequently suicide. If censorship is the desired aim of the angry man taunt, then suicide is delivering it in spades.

One would assume psychotherapists and counselors are savvy to the therapeutic benefits of anger, and sometimes they are. The more aware therapist knows that even the famous and talented are driven to greatness by giving expression to anger, with the trick being to direct it intelligently toward a goal.

The bulk of the therapeutic industry however is captured by the feelgood cliches of PC culture, advising men to find ways other than anger to express themselves, referring to it as an ‘anger problem,’ or ‘toxic anger’ or perhaps simply ‘unhealthy anger.’ Such practitioners are unlikely to consider any expression of anger acceptable, preferring instead to nip it in the bud with kindly admonishments about it being a barrier to progress and personal growth.

While we can agree that some expressions of anger move beyond healthy expression and into the rage-zone, these incidents often come on the tail of being ignored, perhaps serially and over a long periods of time when a man is expressing anger within more normal ranges. That rejection is what the PC therapist ironically tends to specialize in through his refusal of the anger that a man might otherwise use to articulate what’s pissing him off.

For many men anger is the vehicle that gets the message out, a message that remains buried in its absence.

The purpose of emotions, or rather the aim of them is to find a way out; as tears on the cheek, smiles on the lips, clenched fists, or the quivering of the bowels.

Anger likewise wants out – as outrage. By this move anger finds a target; it rages out at the family law courts, the misandric TV ads, the lack of funding for male health problems, infant circumcision, male homelessness. Outrage gets political – takes its concerns to the polis; letters to politicians, making a stand at the polling booth, a placard in the street, or thoughts written on a blog. So too with a man’s personal life; his long hours in a shitty job, his pressurized marriage to a nagging wife, his lack of liesure time, all of which might be tackled with some healthy outrage.

We don’t even need to have solutions to the things we’re angry about, at least not initially. As the late psychologist James Hillman suggests we can start out with an empty protest:

Take your outrage seriously, but you don’t force yourself to have answers. Trust your nose. You know what stinks. Don’t try to replace the helpless frustration you feel, the powerless victimization, by working out a rational answer. The answers will come, if they come, when they come, to you, to others, but don’t fill in the emptiness of the protest with positive suggestions before their time. First, protest! I don’t know what should be done about most of the major political dilemmas, but my gut (my soul, my heart, my skin, my eyes) sinks, creeps, crawls, weeps, cringes, shakes. It’s wrong, simply wrong, what’s going on here.1

How different his advice from that of the average therapist! The idea here is that we follow our animal response to the insults and thoughtlessness of the world around us, and not follow the therapists’ advice that we have cold rational answers before we open our mouths in protest.

The real danger here is that if you don’t get the anger out, if you don’t engage in outrage, it always finds another way. One of those ways is through conversion of anger to psychosomatic symptoms, often crippling ones which cause long-term disease and disability. Alternatively the reaction might be to convert anger into a less outwardly destructive mood such as depression, which is all too common. The old saying “Anger turned inward is depression” rings true for far too many men.

The process of anger morphing into depression can be referred to as sublimation, a swapping of a supposedly unacceptable emotion for a more acceptable one in the eyes of our PC culture. The end result of that process is often suicide, and the therapeutic industry is directly implicated for some of those suicides by reason of its suppression of male clients’ anger.

On the other side of that coin, depressed people who receive encouragement to express anger often experience a lessening of their depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Psychologists have given moving accounts of men who, when put in touch with the things that anger them, experience a lifting of depression and witness the blood flow back into their cheeks. The upshot is that contrary to the therapists who recommend we men bury our anger, the opposite is a likely way to bring about psychological health.

In summary it is therapeutic per se to express anger,2 and when allowed that opportunity it’s less likely to be intensified into uncontrolled rage or conversely transmuted into a death wish. The man-friendly therapist encourages expression of anger as a prophylactic against depression and suicide, and as a way to potentially reverse depression and suicidality in those already there. Outrage might even bring the bonus of changing an ugly world into a better one, because a man sticking apologetically to his convictions compels the world to sit up and listen.

Reference:

[1] James Hillman and Michael Ventura: We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and The World is Getting Worse, HarperOne 1993

[2] Catharsis, Dictionary.com

Aphrodite: Transsexual Goddess of Passion (Rachel Pollack)

The following essay exploring archetypal transsexual archetypes appearing in traditional mythology was first published in Spring – A Journal Of Archetype And Culture, in the edition titled ‘Pink Madness’ (1995). The essay is republished below by permission of the author.

Unintended Effects Of Transgender Activism On Men’s Issues

Wright, P. ‘Unintended Effects Of Transgender Activism On Men’s Issues,’ in New Male Studies An International Journal, ISSN 1839-7816 ~ Vol10, Issue 2,2021, Pp. 71–80, Issue 2, © 2021 Australian Institute Of Male Health And Studies

Bio-gynocentrism: Turning Science Into Goddess Worship

The Rationalisation Of Bigotry

Bio-gynocentrism was first coined by Vernon Meigs in his article The Eight Traits Of A Bio-gynocentrist1, to describe people that resort to twisted interpretations of human biology and evolution to justify the practice of male chivalry and the pedestalisation of women in our gynocentric culture. Bio-gynocentrism attempts to rationalise gynocentrism as what nature intended and therefore an ideal to aspire to. Bio-gynocentrism is an example of the naturalistic fallacy and the fallacy of appealing to nature2.

Bio-gynocentrism is based on the underlying assumption that because something that favours women is perceived to have a biological basis to it and be good for women, it must therefore be good for society and what is optimal for society. This is despite numerous examples where traits and behaviours that have a biological or evolutionary basis to them, actually produce dysfunctional and also evolutionary maladaptive outcomes. The instinctual forces driving addiction and obesity in the modern world and our superresponses to supernormal stimuli3, are such examples where our evolved biology can express itself in exaggerated and maladaptive ways. The psychology of gynocentrism itself shares a great degree of similarity with addiction and is one example of a dysfunctional superresponse to superstimuli4.

Expanding on Vernon Meigs article, I would define bio-gynocentrism more broadly as the selective interpretation of scientific research in the biological sciences through a gynocentric lens that favours women, omits information to the contrary and consequently is disconnected from broader reality. Bio-gynocentrism is in essence the women are wonderful effect5 expressing itself in the interpretation and dissemination of scientific research on human biology and evolution.

Bio-gynocentrism is quite prolific not just from the commentary of scientific research in the mainstream media and social media, but also within academia itself. Gynocentrism is fundamentally a bias in human perception and behavior that favours women over men. Bio-gynocentrism is one of the ways gynocentrism manifests itself in skewing our perception of reality and is a form of gamma bias6. Bio-gynocentrism can be observed7 when looking at how people respond to research on sex differences and can be identified and critiqued even when examining work8 within the supposedly objective scientific community itself. Bio-gynocentrism is also reflected in the general attitudes held in society about men and women9 and their perceived strengths.

There are two main examples of bio-gynocentrism and they overlap considerably.

1. Arguments put forward by female supremacists that women are inherently biologically superior to men10. They often cherry-pick and spin facts about sex differences in genetics and scholastic achievement for example to convey a narrative that supports their conclusion that women are superior and then casually omit or downplay the vast quantity of information that does not support their preconceived conclusion of female superiority.

A classic example of this can be seen from an excellent critique by one learned reviewer11 of a book12 making the absurdly broad generalisation that women are genetically superior to men. Books like this from bio-gynocentrists in academia are common. They are examples of the women are wonderful effect in academia undermining the objectivity of scientific research.

The male sex that produced the works of Einstein, Newton, Shakespeare and Beethoven, invented the aeroplane, discovered and harnessed electricity, split the atom and landed on the moon, is regarded as inferior by bio-gynocentrists. Like horses with blinders on, bio-gynocentrists are incapable of objectively assessing human biology without becoming fixated on satisfying their desire to pedestalise women and developing tunnel vision.

Beliefs in the supposed inherent superiority of women, are often based on extreme and simplistic generalisations like other forms of bigotry. Briffault’s law is another example of such a generalisation, which is based on the implied assumption of female social omnipotence (see articles where I debunk that myth here13 and here14).

2. Arguments put forward by female supremacists and gynocentric traditionalists, that women are more valuable than men because women are supposedly more important to the continuation of the community as a result of being the rate limiting factor of reproduction. These arguments are collectively called the golden uterus dogma.

Reducing The Complexity Of Human Biology Down To Goddess Worship

On the surface these simplistic biogynocentric arguments appear to make logical sense. However, on closer examination the arguments are actually highly reductive and omit many important facts as a consequence of the selective cherry-picking of scientific information and the skewed evaluation of the information that is reported. Like the feminist position on the gender wage gap, bio-gynocentrism dramatically simplifies complex multivariate aspects of biology and evolution and in the process grossly mischaracterises them.

For example, whilst the female role in reproduction is important, the golden uterus argument fails to adequately consider the importance of the male role in ensuring the continued survival of the community so that people can reproduce in the first place and also raise any resultant offspring to sexual maturity. Such a reductive overemphasis on reproduction, also ignores the limited carrying capacity of the environment to sustain high rates of reproduction and the reality that our species has a slow rate of reproduction in comparison to other forms of life and did not evolve to place enormous importance on reproduction.

Adherents of the golden uterus dogma will argue that a population that loses most of its women will struggle to replace itself, but then fail to differentiate such an extreme reality from the more common reality that populations generally have a surplus number of women beyond the critical minimum amount required and can actually tolerate a significant loss of women. These sycophants of the golden uterus, also fail to consider that a population that loses most of its men will struggle to survive and may not live long enough to even have a chance at replacing itself or ensure enough offspring live to adulthood.

The golden uterus argument for gynocentrism, also begs the question why do we protect women over 40 whom have limited or zero prospects of giving birth to healthy live offspring? The reality is the golden uterus dogma is not just a weak rationalisation for gynocentrism, it is also a weak explanation for its pervasiveness in society.

There many other factors and details beyond what I have raised here which the golden uterus argument omits (please refer to this article15 for more information). Unsurprisingly, it is the enormous level of detail and nuance in human biology and evolution that bio-gynocentrism fails to take into consideration, which ultimately undermines its validity in a way that is fatal and unrecoverable.

As I have discussed before in previous articles, bio-gynocentrism is an example of categorical thinking16 which Prof. Sapolsky described in his first lecture on behavioural biology citing numerous horrific examples of it involving prominent scientists in the 20th century. When we oversimplify and overgeneralise complex biological systems like human biology, we can make horrific mistakes. When we don’t recognise what led to our mistakes, we are destined to repeat those mistakes.

We should stop and pause on the implications of applying a biogynocentric perspective on human behaviour and biology and the consequences that will flow from it. The same thinking behind bio-gynocentrism, is the same type of lazy thinking behind the scientific racism and eugenics observed in the early 20th century. Bio-gynocentrism is just a different flavour of the same backward thinking.

Bio-gynocentrism fails to account for the fact that human males and females are part of one biological system that replicates itself. Both the human male and human female are equally essential components to that system. The male and the female have coevolved to perform different, but complementary and equally important roles in the propagation of the genome.

We cannot consider the relative strengths of women or men, without considering how they are interlinked with the strengths of the other sex. Neither sex alone can perform their biological role in a way that leads to the propagation of the genome and the continuation of the community, without the other sex adequately performing their biological role.

The evolutionary dynamics of Fishers principle17 generates an equal parental investment in producing male and female offspring and this focuses the forces of natural selection and sexual selection to drive a sexually interdependent coevolution in which both males and females share equal importance toward the propagation of the genome. There is a selective pressure to select against imbalances where the propagation of the genome is more dependent on one sex than the other and where the dynamics of Fishers principle operates and drives equal parental investment in the production of male and female offspring.

Over many tens of millions of years of evolution within the constraints of Fishers principle, our lineage has produced a male and female sex that are both equally valuable to the propagation of the genome. It cannot be any other way when there is a natural force driving equal parental investment in male and female offspring and a distinct evolutionary disadvantage in relying too heavily on one sex, especially over timescales of tens of millions of years.

Consider the reasoning behind diversifying a market portfolio to minimise risk, or the old adage to not put all your eggs in one basket. Being overly reliant on one half of the population to continue the community and propagate the genome from an evolutionary perspective, represents a significant risk and a cost that over long timescales of tens of millions of years would have been selected against under evolutionary pressures.

Natural selection and sexual selection would have favoured males that contributed equally to the burden of supporting the community and the propagation of the genome. That is precisely what we see when we examine male traits and observe male behaviour in our species and the multitude of ways men have kept the community and their children alive both directly and indirectly in prehistoric times and right up until the modern day.

If men walked off the job for one day today, many people would die. If men walked away from their tribe many tens of thousands of years ago for one day, there may not have been a tribe left to return to. These are the realities our gynocentric culture and bio-gynocentrists will never acknowledge or fully appreciate.

The reality is that if the female role in reproduction truly had the level of importance bio-gynocentrists place in it, then all life on this planet would reproduce asexually. If bio-gynocentrists were right, producing males and sexually reproducing would be too costly and wasteful. If bio-gynocentrists were right, then where sexual reproduction did emerge, any species would strictly be comprised of hermaphrodites since having half the population unable to give birth to offspring would again be too costly and wasteful.

Bio-gynocentrism does not leave any room to consider the biological value the male sex might provide to the continuation of a population and a species. It does not permit any consideration of how a male biological role might actually be extremely adaptive and drive evolution to favour a sex that does not give birth and instead contributes to the propagation of a species in other ways. Socially contributing to community survival may actually have greater value than simply gestating offspring and lactating and feeding small infants, especially in harsh climates and scarce habitats.

One has to simply ask why women do more than just gestate and feed offspring when supporting their community, to see the short sightedness in overemphasising the female role in pregnancy and looking after infants. These are certainly important activities for a community to perpetuate its existence, but so are many of the activities related to community survival that men predominantly do. The golden uterus is simply not as important as bio-gynocentrists assert it is and that reality is glaringly obvious when considering hunter-gatherer communities in harsh environments, past civilisations and the challenges they faced and also modern civilisation.

Pedestalising Women Is Not For The Greater Good Of Society Or Science

The greater good of the community is also often conflated with prioritising what is best for women thanks to bio-gynocentrism. This is despite ample evidence that when a society prioritises the female sex over other interests, it routinely neglects to address matters of great importance and also the well-being of the very men civilisation is dependent on to sustain itself.

The reality is that when a society puts men down to lift women up, fertility rates plummet as a result of courtship, relationships, marriage and family formation being undermined. When a society puts men down to lift women up, fatherlessness becomes widespread and so does the serious social and economic consequences that flow from that. When a society puts men down to lift women up, it undermines its economic productivity and its primary source of innovation because it is predominantly men driving essential sectors supporting GDP and consumer spending, inventing new technology and making major discoveries and contributing the bulk of tax revenue.

When a society puts men down to lift women up, it compromises its own national security and safety, as crime goes up and civil unrest becomes more frequent from directionless young men and external threats become harder to challenge from a weakened society that has marginalised and disincentivised it’s male protectors and armed forces.

Gynocentric cultures are cultures of death and not cultures of life. They do not replace themselves and they do not socially, economically or militarily sustain themselves. Karen Straughan called the process of decline from gynocentrism the Fempocalypse18. The long process of decline and the slow gradual collapse of society from gynocentrism in tandem with other destructive forces in our culture, has already begun. Gynocentric cultures of death rely on endless debt and migration to stave off their inevitable decline, but eventually they socially and economically implode from within and are overtaken by cultures that do have a functional non-gynocentric social balance between the sexes.

Bio-gynocentrism reduces our understanding of human biology and evolution by selectively omitting facts, evidence and perspectives that do not support a position that females are inherently superior or more valuable than males. Bio-gynocentrism hijacks legitimate biological science and research and converts them into gynocentric dogma that has more in common with a new age religion of female worship than actual science. Pedestalising women is not for the greater good of society or science.

References:

  1. https://avoiceformen.com/featured/eight-traits-of-the-bio-gynocentrist/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy
  3. https://www.amazon.com/Supernormal-Stimuli-Overran-Evolutionary-Purpose/dp/039306848X
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VygKQV-hEpY
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhm_HZ9twMg
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHYRYKCIDxk
  7. https://www.psypost.org/2020/12/people-are-more-accepting-of-research-that-uncovers-sex-differences-that-favour-women-58862
  8. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40806-015-0029-1
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxpX6IQ3GY4
  10. 10. https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Superiority-Women-5th/dp/076198982x
  11.  https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R20UNZIUKBRWF0/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1250782732#R20UNZIUKBRWF0
  12. https://www.amazon.com/Better-Half-Genetic-Superiority-Women/dp/1250782732/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
  13. https://gynocentrism.com/2021/11/26/briffaults-law-a-classic-example-of-reductionist-categorical-thinking/
  14. https://gynocentrism.com/2022/02/01/rebutting-colttaines-nonsense-and-thinking-beyond-notions-of-female-omnipotence/
  15. https://gynocentrism.com/2021/01/15/the-fallacy-of-the-golden-uterus-and-the-true-origins-of-gynocentrism-part-one/
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNnIGh9g6fA
  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher%27s_principle#:~:text=Fisher’s%20principle%20is%20an%20evolutionary,celebrated%20argument%20in%20evolutionary%20biology%22
  18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w__PJ8ymliw

Is Romantic Love a Timeless Evolutionary Universal, or a Frankenstein Creation of The Middle Ages?

Addendum:

I’m suspicious of scholarly works which “find” romantic love all over the world, appearing seamlessly throughout all places and all periods of history. After reading many such essays I’ve come to the conclusion they confine their definitions of romantic love to biological universals such as the desire for sex, the need for attachment, limerence, social interaction and so on and so forth — all of which falls well short of the complex European-derived phenomenon known as courtly & romantic love.

Those academic surveys conveniently omit the idiosyncratic elements that might cast doubt on their universality thesis of romantic love – details like the inherent displays of male masochism, uniquely stylized feudal relationships borrowed from from French or German class conventions, the conceptualization of the Virgin Mary and her purity and how that plays into conceptions of gender and love, along with other complex behaviors and influences which make up the courtly love complex arising in medieval Europe.

When Gaston Paris first coined the phrase ‘Courtly Love’ (1883) he was referring precisely to those idiosyncratic elements that render the phenomenon distinct from the universals many scholars reduce it to.

Gaston Paris’ description of courtly love can be summarized as follows:

“It is illicit, furtive and extra-conjugal; the lover continually fears lest he should, by some misfortune, displease his mistress or cease to be worthy of her; the male lover’s position is one of inferiority; even the hardened warrior trembles in his lady’s presence; she, on her part, makes her suitor acutely aware of his insecurity by deliberately acting in a capricious and haughty manner; love is a source of courage and refinement; the lady’s apparent cruelty serves to test her lover’s valor; finally, love, like chivalry and courtoisie, is an art with its own set of rules.” 1

 Thus courtly love as defined by Paris has four distinctive traits;

  1. It is illegitimate and furtive
  2. The male lover is inferior and insecure; the beloved is elevated; haughty; even disdainful.
  3. The lover must earn the lady’s affection by undergoing tests of prowess, valor and devotion.
  4. The love is an art and a science, subject to many rules and regulations — like courtesy in general.

 
It’s clear that what we call romantic love today continues each of these conventions with the sole exception of illegitimacy and furtiveness. With this one exception romantic love can be regarded as coextensive with the courtly love described by Paris.

Many scholars researching this area conveniently overlook (or refuse to mention) the sexual feudalism inherent to the European-descended model of romantic love. Attempts to homogenize and cast romantic love as a global universal, while avoiding all mention of the unsavory sexual feudalism that might render it more problematic and complex, is unhelpful to say the least, and misleading at worst. European-descended romantic love, now the dominant version globally, deserves to be considered separately and need not be confused with more simple theoretical constructs on offer.

In summary, to reduce romantic love to a consistently and universally expressed set of evolutionary behaviors amounts to an attribution error.

Note:
[1] Roger Boase, The Origin and Meaning of Courtly Love: A Critical Study of European Scholarship, p.24, Manchester University Press, 1977
_________________________________________________

For more about romantic love as a confabulation of the middle ages, see the following video which explores the unique creation of supernormal sign stimuli which lies at the heart of the romantic love trope.

“Love Service”

Love service is a ritualized form of male love-devotion toward women, especially noble women, that was popularized in the Middle Ages.[1][2][3]

History

The practice of love service appeared first in Medieval Europe and was modeled on a combination of feudalistic class distinctions, courtly love tenets, and gendered aspects of the chivalric class code regarding respectful treatment of women.[4][5]

Love service had certain resemblances with vassalage, especially the concept of obedience. According to Sandra R. Alfonsi the entire concept of love-service was patterned after the vassal’s oath to serve his lord with loyalty, tenacity, and courage. These same virtues were demanded of the male supplicant. Like the liegeman vis-a-vis his sovereign, the male approached his lady with fear and respect, submitted obediently to her and awaited a fief or in this case an honor of reception as did the vassal.[6]

The vocabulary of love service borrowed some terminology from the vocabulary of feudalism indicative of the ties between a man to his lord. Examples are servitium (service), dominus (denoting the feudal Lord, or Lady), homo ligius (addressing the Lord’s liegeman or ‘my man’), homage (duty toward Lord), and honor (honoring gestures). The men were sometimes referred to as domnei or donnoi, meaning an attitude of chivalrous devotion of a knight to his Lady based in servitude and duty.[7]

References
  1. Margaret Schaus, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 2006
  2. Chivalry and Love Service, in Judith M. Bennett, Ruth Mazo Karras, The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, Oxford University Press, 2013
  3. Sandra R Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric (American University Studies), Peter Lang Publishing, 1986
  4. James A. Schultz, Courtly Love, the Love of Courtliness, and the History of Sexuality, University of Chicago Press, 2006
  5. Chivalry and Love Service, in Judith M. Bennett, Ruth Mazo Karras, The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe, Oxford University Press, 2013
  6. Sandra R Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric (American University Studies), Peter Lang Publishing, 1986
  7. Sandra R Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric (American University Studies), Peter Lang Publishing, 1986

Archetypes & Gender

The Dogma Of Gender (by Patricia Berry)
Gendered Archetypes: Masculine and Feminine (Peter Wright)
The Psyche Often Ignores Gender (James Hillman)
Masculinity & Femininity Are Plural (Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig)
Beyond The ‘Feminine’ Principle (Andrew Samuels)
Gender And Individuality (James Hillman)
“The One True Masculinity” (Peter Wright)
Revisioning Anima & Animus (James Hillman)
Nothing Envy and the Fascration Complex (David L. Miller)
A Mythopoetic View Of Men & Masculinity (Shepherd Bliss)

Transgender Musings

Aphrodite: Transsexual Goddess of Passion (Rachel Pollack)
Archetypal Transsexuality (Rachel Pollack)

Gendered archetypes: masculine & feminine

Below in an amended excerpt from an interview with Greta Auroa which touches on archetypes of masculinity and femininity appearing in traditional mythologies.

Greta Aurora: You previously mentioned you don’t agree with looking at masculinity and femininity as the order-chaos duality. Is there another archetypal/symbolic representation of male and female nature, which you feel is more accurate?

Peter Wright: Some archetypal portrayals in mythology are distinctly male and female, such as male muscle strength and the various tests of it (think of the Labours of Hercules), or pregnancy and childbirth for females (think Demeter, Gaia etc.). Aside from these universal physiology-celebrating archetypes, many portrayals of male or female roles in traditional stories can be viewed instead as stereotypes rather than archetypes in the sense that they are not universally portrayed across different mythological traditions (as would be required of a strictly archetypal criteria in which images must be universally held across cultures).

For example you have a Mother Sky and a Father Earth in classical Egyptian mythology, which is a reverse of popular stereotypes, and males are often portrayed as nurturers. This indicates that material nurture is not the sole archetypal province of a feminine archetype. Also, many archetypal themes are portrayed interchangeably among the sexes – think of the Greek Aphrodite or Adonis both as archetypal representations of beauty, or Apollo and Cassandra as representatives of intellect, or of the warlikeness to Ares or Athene.

To my knowledge the primordial Chaos described in Hesiod’s Theogony had no apparent gender, and when gender was assigned to Chaos by later writers it was often portrayed as male. There is no reason why we can’t assign genders to chaos and order to illustrate some point, but we need to be clear that this rendition is not uniformly backed by archetypal portrayals in myths – and myths are the primary datum of archetypal images. So broadly speaking the only danger would be if we insist that chaos must always be female, and order must always be male as if that formula were an incontrovertible dogma.

There’s also a rich history of psychological writings which look at chaos as a state not only of the universe, or of societies, but as a potential in the psyche or behavior of all human beings regardless of gender; e.g. this factor elaborated for example in the writings of psychiatrists R.D. Laing and by W.D. Winnicott .

See also: The Greek Titans: Images of Chaos