The Madonna-Whore Complex and You

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Hey Jenny, Jenny
Why are you crying?
There’s a beauty of a moon in the sky
But I guess when you’ve been
leading such a sheltered life
You never lift your head and look so high

The process of getting better at dating and relationships – especially for men – is a tricky one. As much as men need to work to improve the practical aspects of their game – the ability to approach stranger, knowing how to flirt, the use of body language, even how to master the power of texting and phone calls – they also need to work on the mental aspects.

Earlier this week, we talked about self-limiting beliefs and how they can hold you back from the life you want. Today, we’re going to continue that conversation, dealing with one of the most distressingly common beliefs out there – one that actively affects women as much as men, distressingly enough.

We’re talking about the Madonna/Whore complex. You can see it manifested in pop culture – the virginal, even repressed “good girl” (usually a blonde) and the “fallen” femme fatale (usually a brunette) for whom sex is a weapon and men are merely tools are playthings. You see it in how men – and women – refer to women’s behavior and in how men treat the women in their lives.

And this belief is hurting everyone.

What Is It?

The Madonna1 /Whore complex was first encoded into psychological literature by Sigmund Freud as the idea that men (and women) codify women into two camps: saintly “Madonnas” and debased “whores”. The good girls – the Madonnas – are virtuous, innocent, pure and virginal, almost to the point of asexuality. The bad girls – the whores – are sexually voracious, indiscriminate and aggressive… in fact, they are often depicted acting in a manner traditionally defined by male sexuality.

Also: constant inspiration for trashy Halloween costumes

Where Does It Come From?

Well, that’s a bit of a question mark, isn’t it? According to Sigmund Freud, it all stems from Mommy2 and the idea that men are disturbed by feeling the same affection that they once had for their mothers in their sex partner. Because they cannot bear the Oedipal conflict (familial love associated with their mother mixing with sexual desire) they divide women into two categories in their mind.

The dichotomy, however, has existed for centuries before Freud ever started having weird thoughts about cigars and seeing penises everywhere. The division of the saintly, non-sexual woman and the woman-as-sexual-being shows up all over the place. Medieval literature and poetry is rife with the imagery of sexual women being the downfall of men (La Morte D’Arthur, The Faerie Queene) and the pure women as the representation of “proper” life. Hell, in the book of Genesis, it’s Eve who seduces Adam into sin after she’d eaten from the Tree of Knowledge.

Frankly, in my experience and study3 it stems from the fear of female sexuality, a blurring of gender roles and the transfer of power.4

Men are frequently portrayed as being absolutely at the mercy of their own sexual desires, leaving women as the guardians of morality. Men, already feeling at a disadvantage, resent the authority and power over sex that women represent and blame women for their feelings of… impotence. Regulating female sexuality into the acceptable form – under the authority of men (the Madonna)  and the unacceptable form – acting in a manner similar to men (the Whore) provides the illusion of control.

In addition, control of female sexuality also means control of reproduction. Because men had no way of being assured that they weren’t actually expending effort raising someone else’s child (thus contributing to the spread of someone else’s genes, rather than their own), locking a woman’s sexuality to specific rules meant that they could have greater control over who the father is.

So What’s The Problem?

When the sweat is sizzling on
your skin in the dark
And you’re desperate now
for somewhere to turn
Every muscle in rebellion
Every nerve is on edge
And every limb has been erotically burned

It’s easy to think of this as an “old-world” problem; after all, this is the 21st century. We’re living in a post-Third Wave Feminism world. Women are encouraged, nay, expected to take ownership of their sexuality, to be empowered sexual beings… right?

And yet this dichotomy still exists. Women who are considered to be “too” sexy or sexual are condemned for the crime of being the “whore”. Witness the recent manufactured controversy with Sandra Fluke’s testimony before Congress on the matter of government subsidization of hormonal birth control. Despite the fact that her testimony was focused on the non-reproductive benefits of the Pill – controlling her friend’s fibroid ovarian cysts – she became the poster child for unrestrained sexuality to the Right. She was accused of being a whore (metaphorically and literally), told that she was having “far too much sex” by people who don’t seem to have any idea how birth control works and called a “sperm-gulping gutter slut”  (and worse) by the right-wing echo chamber.

All of the insults directed Fluke’s way were of a sexual nature, implying that not only was she having too much sex but that this marked her as being a horrible person on the whole. The suggestion that she is a sexual being carries the implication that she is otherwise worthless because she’s sexual.

The concept of slut-shaming – bashing or insulting a woman for being a sexual being – also springs from this dichotomy. Because a woman doesn’t follow the role of restrained sexuality that culture has laid out for her (the path of the Madonna), she is to be mocked and shamed. The fault of a Whore’s treatment is focused solely on her. If she were to be proper, innocent and pure, she wouldn’t be bringing this upon herself.

As much as the Whore represents fear of unrestrained sexuality, the Madonna is equally patronizing and insulting to women. By putting the Madonna on the pedestal of saintliness and purity, she becomes something to be “protected”. Her role is to be submissive and subservient to men; just as the Whore is meant to be punished, the Madonna is to be preserved and worshiped. Her personhood is disregarded.

It’s About More Than Just Sex

The difference between the Madonna and the Whore goes beyond just sexual expression. The division of “good girl” from “bad girl” covers societal codes for behavior as well. The Good Girl is submissive. She doesn’t act too forward or aggressive for fear of offending others. She’s quiet. She goes along to get along. The Bad Girl, on the other hand, is a bitch. She’s brassy. She’s loud. She stands her ground or even pushes for more. She makes a fuss.

She acts more masculine.

A woman who acts too male, too much like The Whore – who enjoys a masculine sense of sexuality – is punished and reviled. The more feminine Madonna is adored because of her submissiveness.

“You *know* we have the better parties too…”

How The Madonna/Whore Complex Affects Men

You’ve been nothing but an angel
Every day of your life
And now you wonder what
it’s like to be damned

As bad as the division of female sexuality is in general, it also takes it’s toll on relationships.

Men – especially men who have little to no experience in sexual relationships – often have a hard time with the concept that women are sexual beings. Or, for that matter, that women enjoy – or even want – sex as much as men do. The belief that women aren’t sexual beings – or that only certain women are – leads to difficulty not only relating to their potential girlfriends and wives on a sexual level, but it can make it difficult for men to know when or how to escalate sexually. These men may be intimidated by the fact that she may be more sexually experienced than him, making him feel as though he is the inferior partner in the relationship.

Other men have a hard time relating to a woman for whom sexuality is an integrated part of her personality. The idea that men want “a lady in the street and a whore in the bedroom” springs from this dichotomy. The sexual woman – the Whore – is for him and him alone and the woman shouldn’t give a single hint that this sexual side exists outside of his immediate control.

The division of female sexuality makes it difficult for many men to properly appreciate his partner as a fully sexual person. Many men have issues with the separation of sex from love. Love is to be reserved for the “good” girl, the one you bring home to mother… the girl who is “marriage material”. Sex, on the other hand, is reserved for the “bad” girl, the one who excites you, the one you can’t think of without feeling an erection growing almost uncontrollably. The one who wears sexual attraction like perfume. The “party girls”. The “hot” ones.

Guess which of them is recommending “the Rusty Venture”?

While these men can and do desire their partner, when they enter a certain stage of the relationship – exclusivity for some, marriage for others, fatherhood for still others – the switch between Whore and Madonna is flipped. They may still feel desire for their partner, but it’s desire leavened with restraint. It’s hard for these men to fantazise about their girlfriends or wives the way they think of the hot stranger at the end of the bar. Gone are the fantasies of slipping off to the bathroom in a crowded club for a blowjob or  a quickie in the changing rooms at Nordstrom. No more kinky, transgressive sex. “I can’t think of her that way,” they say. “She’s the mother of my children!

Despite seeing his partner as the Madonna, the man still has sexual needs – ones that he “can’t” satisfy with his wife. As a result, his gaze begins to wander to the Whore; because he doesn’t see her as sacred and “pure”, he can fully enjoy the “debased” sex he craves. He sees sex as being something “dirty”, which he can’t possibly share with the Madonna; he respects her too much to subject her to his base desires.

This becomes a prime recipe for infidelity on both sides. The man starts looking outside of his relationship for women he thinks he can be sexually honest with, while his partner is left unfulfilled and starts looking for sex and intimacy elsewhere.

Side note: Yes, I’m covering a feminist issue as part of a blog that’s primarily directed at helping men get better at dating. I fully realize that this can be seen as minimizing an important issue by turning it into “…and here’s how this helps you get laid.” That being said: I’m of the opinion that teaching men how to be a better person – or at least less of an asshole – is a critical part of the path of self-improvement that leads to getting better at handling relationships.

How Do You Fix It?

The first step for men dealing with a Madonna/Whore complex is to accept that all women are sexual beings. The division between “good girls” who don’t and “bad girls” who do is a remnant of a time and culture that no longer exists. A woman who has sex, enjoys sex, radiates sexuality is still a woman who is quite capable of being a caring and nurturing parent. Similarly, the girlfriend or wife you love is still a sexual being; the fact that you’re in a relationship or put a ring on her finger doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still crave the wild sweaty monkey sex the two of you used to have in the early days when you burned through every page in the Kama Sutra.

Embrace her bad side.

If you’re in the relationship already and you’re feeling the switch has already been flipped… well, the best thing you can do is fuck. Keeping the passion in your relationship alive can be difficult, but trying to restrain yourself because of some bogus idea of respect is only going to make it fade faster.

The point of a relationship is more than just finding a mother figure to raise your future progeny. You want a partner, yes, but she’s also a partner in crime. You’ve both signed on to share the adventure together, and that means sharing and experiencing the crazy-ass fantasies you have. Remind yourself that she’s as much of a sexual being as you are and start mixing up the sex. Make moves back to the transgressive, borderline illegal stuff you’ve always enjoyed.

Appreciate the fact that your angel has her share of devil inside her, or that your devil has that angelic side and embrace all of her.

Don’t flip the switch; break it off.

  1. as in the Virgin Mary, not the singer… and don’t think that Ms. Ciccone didn’t know what she was doing when she picked that stage name. []
  2. of course it does because, well, Freud…  []
  3. Dr. NerdLove is not a historian. []
  4. Dr. NerdLove is also not a psychologist []

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Comments

  1. I continue to really enjoy your blog. Thank you for this one!

  2. I found it fascinating when the movie Black Swan came out. I read a lot of reviews of the film and the vast majority of the ones written by men focused on the artist's struggle between creative expression and perfect technique. I wanted to scream, this entire movie is about the Madonna /Whore complex and how badly it messes women up! The movie clearly expressed the pressure a woman feels under the burden of this BS.

    If she's the Madonna, she's not "free" enough to be "chosen." But if she's the whore, she's not perfect enough to be exhalted.

    What does it lead to? Watch the movie and find out. It was the creepiest journey into a woman's mind I've ever seen.

    In high school, I was the Madonna. I had guys I liked, and WANTED straight up tell me I was the kind of girl guys married, not the kind they dated. And all that time I had this seething sexual nature that was as much a part of me as my morality, and loyalty.

    It was heartbreaking and infuriating. Needless to say, my husband is a very very lucky man, and he knows it. Ten years and counting, and things are only getting more interesting between us.

    The Madonna/Whore dichotomy needs to die for everyone's sanity.

  3. Christina says:

    I honestly don't see that people seriously think this way unless you were raised by a highly conservative christian upbringing. (in today's world anyways) way back in the days this applied but I think it's more about avoiding pregnancy really when parents raise their kids… which like it or not is our responsibility as women. (yay safe and smart sex) In my experience, everyone has sex now anyways and the only time girls are called sluts if if they a. cheat on their boyfriends or girlfriends and b. act like complete and total trash (which also applies to douchey men only they aren't called "slutty" per say…)

    it's different for everyone though. some women like men with experience and some women find men who have had MULTIPLE partners disgusting (I know I personally do) same with guys. some want girls with experience and others find girls who've had multiple partners gross. STDs ya'll.

    People are going to bitch no matter what. No one ever points out when people complain about someone having no experience though because socially if you're a virgin you're a LOSER. Or the sex won't be very good at first they just can't handle that (boo hoo)

    I admit in highschool even though I wasn't really into sex AT ALL, I did worry about being seen as a slut even for the stupidest things. It gave me an unhealthy view towards sex and I found sex generally revolting (along with others reasons concerning it turns people into assholes as well with entitlement issues) But I also didn't want to get pregnant in highschool or worry about it (THAT I don't regret) I have now learned that sex is just a normal human desire and it's all good and peachy. Used responsibly.

    anyways I'm assuming the readers here are very liberal to moderately liberal and I really doubt anyone truly thinks this way. They only call girls sluts usually cause they're mad they didn't get laid. Also, internet =/= real world.

    This article only applies really to the highly conservative batshit religious crowd where this mindset towards women is a big problem.

    • I think you might be missing the point (or maybe trolling? But benefit of the doubt). So if sex is used irresponsibly (even between consenting adults) is that "slutty"? And who defines "acting like complete and total trash"? It sounds like you are denying the Madonna/whore mentality is a problem except for a in a few crazy subgroups. But, like with Ms. Fluke, women are often denigrated with terms specifically referring to their sexuality, implying they are lesser human beings because of it. Slut shaming stems from this mentality, and is unfortunately alive and well.

      Also: Charlotte's first husband on Sex and the City totally had this problem.

      • latebloomer says:

        Actually, she raises some valid points. Just because she doesn't agree 100% with the good doctor doesn't mean she's trolling. Sure, I found some of the things she said somewhat offense, being a conservative Christian, but being thoughtlessly insulting doesn't make her a troll. Besides, as thoughtful and considerate as Dr. Nerdlove is being, he isn't a woman, and I don't think he can completely grasp how deeply and complex the problem is for women.

        However, he is right and so is Christina. It's a damned if we do and damned if we don't situation. I didn't have sex in high school for a myriad of reasons ranging from fear of pregnancy to being used. I had no respect for high school boys. I found them to be tedious and boring, plus I wasn't going to go out with a guy who would dump me the second I wouldn't put out for my own deeply personal and tailored reasons. God was not going to keep me a virgin and in the end I would say that His influence in our thinking never does. Teenagers are typically rebellious and more driven by what our peers think than what God does. Besides, it's hard to respect any religions view on sexuality when the leaders continually cheat on their wives while preaching fidelity. For me, not having sex wasn't about being "the good girl" or about being more or less desirable.

        Women have a lot of risks in this world and it is up to each of us as individuals to minimize our risks. Do I shake my head at women who sleep with any man who so much as looks at them? Yes. Why? For the same reason I shake my head at men that have sex with anyone who is willing. Some illnesses are not easily cured, and if you aren't careful it can get bad for you. Slut shaming is, I feel, akin to victim blaming these days, only it is slightly different in ways I am not going to get into.

        For me, I am not sure how it is for every woman that walks the face of this planet or even just the ones in the privileged nations such as America and Canada, sex involves a great deal of risk management. I don't want STD's, pregnancy, or every single man and woman in the world knowing about that thing I can do with my tongue. When I was 12 I thought I would wait until I got married to have sex because that's what Jesus wanted (though I have to actually look and see if Jesus even actually mentioned that), but by the time I was 14 it was because I didn't want to have a baby. Then I learned about STD's and I believed sex to be one of the most repulsive things in the world. Then romance novels made me think it wouldn't be so bad if there was something there and it was one person. Anyway, it was a complex road and it all really depends on what you count as sex or not and I'm chasing a rabbit.

        The point is, is that sex is risky business. There are diseases/infections to worry about. If a woman doesn't find out that she has one it can make her ruin any plans she has for having children. It can even kill her if she doesn't pay the utmost attention to her body. Birth control doesn't always work. It puts women in a seriously vulnerable situation.

        The madonna/whore complex gets even more complicated when you take into account that women are now expected you have sex and like it (we're going to ignore the whole "they're still sluts if they do it though" aspect of it for a moment). Men feel entitled to our bodies if we so much go on a date to them. I think, to a degree, that I preferred it when men knew they weren't going to get laid or kissed or anything of that nature. I was lucky with my husband and I really didn't do much dating, but listening to the girls I hung out with was just depressing. They would debate on when they were "supposed" to sleep with the guy they were dating… not if they should or if they wanted to, but when they owed it. Why? Because guys insist that they are owed sex for giving us the time of day. The unwritten, but often spoken rule for high school boys and college boys was that if she is putting out he either cheats on her or dumps her. Do you think we didn't know that? We have ears. Just because you're in a little circle doesn't mean it's private.

        Bah, I've gone off on a serious tangent on this.

        Slut shaming is a problem, but then, in my opinion, so is teen pregnancy.

        • Anthony says:

          You said a lot of things, and a lot of things that I agree with. But the last comment you made, that shaming is a problem but so is teen pregnancy, opens this discussion up greatly.

          Sex absolutely comes with risks, without a doubt. And I'm sure there are enormous amounts of people who have sex before they are actually ready, mentally and emotionally. But it isn't an inherently bad thing, and there are people who go through their lives without any mishaps (unwanted pregnancy, STDs) happening. Your last sentence makes it seem like slut shaming is, in a way, helping prevent teen pregnancy. I'm not entirely sure if that's where you were going, but it's the way that I read it. And I don't think that idea is a healthy one for society (and, whether or not you intended your sentence to read that way, I get the feeling a lot of people would agree with that sentiment).

          I know that I was taught all of the bad things that can happen because of sex and was told how to prevent them in school. But the mental aspect isn't one that's touched upon, and it's especially ignored for males. The physical aspect of sex is the main approach to the issue, ignoring the mental and emotional aspects. I think that if it's taught – from every angle, not just school and parents – that emotional and mental maturity are needed before one thinks about having sex, that will be a much better and effective deterrent to teen pregnancy. A guy who doesn't feel ready for sex would probably be called 'gay' or 'pussy' if he admitted those feelings. If gets into a situation where all of a sudden sex is coming and he doesn't feel ready, he'll become a social pariah if he doesn't go through with it and his actions are revealed. You stated exactly the problem that women face, also – a girl doesn't put out, then she has no boyfriend or an unfaithful one. If it became more acceptable in society to admit that you're not ready for sex, not only would high school be a lot more comfortable for a lot of people, but I bet all teen STDs and pregnancies would go down. Far, far more than slut shaming could ever help.

        • THANK YOU someone who makes complete sense. and I love being called a "troll" just because I'm not going to completely jump on your bullshit "feminism" train or completely suck the Doctor's dick .

        • You lost your faith?

          Jesus wants you to be a virgin until you’re married, no divorce..

        • "Slut shaming is a problem, but then, in my opinion, so is teen pregnancy." Breaking news: slut-shaming makes people have sex on the DL and CONTRIBUTES TO teen pregnancy. see also: abstinence-only "education."

      • I would argue that perhaps more men think this way than you realize. I am fast realizing that my husband’s Madonna/whore complex is killing my marriage.

    • You said yourself that you had a pretty negative view of sex when you were in high school. That right there means it is still an issue in society, and even though you have things figured out now and it's all good, that doesn't mean everyone else comes to this realization this quickly or ever. At least, not on their own. Sex is still a very taboo subject when it comes to talking about it publicly. Most circles of friends are relatively free and open with each other about sexual things, but when it comes to talking to strangers, a lot of people feel anxiety or embarrassment when the topic of sex comes up. That stems from this philosophy, and the desire of men to control sex. You say that women are only sluts if they act a certain way, and guys who act the same way are considered equivalent. That has not been true in my experience. Men get much more of a free pass when it comes to sexual issues. And a woman who is free and open with her sexuality is often labeled a slut. You're right that this is much more of an issue with religious folks, but I have to say two things to that: 1) Religious people are still a heavy majority in America. And despite a good sized chunk of religious people not adhering to their doctrines word for word, growing up in that environment will color your interactions and reactions to everything, consciously or not. If their gut reaction is to label a girl a slut because she is having casual relationships, they won't necessarily rethink that opinion. Even if they feel comfortable with their own sexuality. And 2) All of the people who don't feel like this at all still have to deal with religious people. And I am not a psychologist, but I do know that understanding why people feel a certain way helps me a lot in dealing with them. Knowing where this Madonna/Whore Complex comes from and how to relate to it helps me understand (and subsequently keeps me from getting frustrated) and possibly educate people who do feel like this. I am not religious at all, but that doesn't mean I can't have relationships with religious people. I don't want to say no to someone just because of one facet of their self (well, being a murderer might be one facet that I'd say no to), so it helps me to be prepared with what obstacles I might face.

      And, one comment that you made – that people with multiple partners are disgusting – still comes back to the idea of sex as a negative thing. I see no inherent reason that someone who has had multiple partners has to be disgusting. It absolutely depends on the person and how they handled their previous relationships.

      • She STILL has a negative view and is buying into the "ew sluts" mentality. What does "trash" act like? How many partners is "multiple"? Goalposts change by the second with people like this, who haven't quite reached a full acceptance of human sexuality.

    • GentlemanJohnny says:

      "I honestly don’t see that people seriously think this way unless you were raised by a highly conservative christian upbringing. "

      If this is like any of the doc's other controversial articles, Christina, you have only to wait and see for yourself in the comments.

  4. Uh, the whole seduction thing is much more Paradise Lost than it is Book of Genesis. In fact it's pretty strongly implied that Adam is not capable of lust until after eating of the fruit.

    And I feel like you're not being completely fair to the literature of the middle ages either- look at pretty much all troubador and trobairitz poetry. Ideal love here is sexless, not because the woman is asexual, but because she's sleeping with her husband and is too virtuous to cheat on him. In Gawain, the "temptress" is actually a positive moral force, teaching the knight much about how lacking he is in virtue (one could argue that the Gawain poet embraces this Madonna/whore dichotomy in Pearl, where the female lead is most definitely asexual; but she's also the narrator's dead daughter…). Chaucer most definitely follow this breakdown, and one could argue that neither does the ultimate badass of medieval poetry, Dante.

    You are definitely right about the fairy queen- but let that be tempered with Spenser's sonnets.

    • Holy hells, you just had to bring troubadours into this, didn't you? *Dismay* Troubadours are THE source of (the modern romantic version of) the Madonna complex. La princesse lointaine (the technical term for the unattainable ladies you reference) is what she is because she is the moral guardian, the better-not-equal. She is perfect and flawless and can only be aspired to. She is not a person. She is a stock character. And moreover, she is not so much a character as a tool the hero uses for his own self-betterment, à la "blue chick" in Avatar.

      Troubadourial literature is by far one of the most pervasive problems nerd culture faces. It is the source of most of the "nice guy" attitude and ESPECIALLY of the "White Knight Syndrome."

      As to the positive "negative" women you reference, while they DO exist in fully-realized MYTHOLOGIES, they are not the subjects of the sorts of pop-culture tunes dealing with subjects from everyday life that bards were spreading about on a routine/regular basis. Moreover, there are all sorts of weird and ungodly things that get subsumed into folk stories, BTW. I have seen fairy tales that treat father-daughter incest in a quasi-positive light. That is NOT an accurate reflection of popular culture at the time, nor — more importantly — of its ongoing impact on society.

      • Not arguing that the objects were complex characters; just saying that the ultimate sexlessness isn't about the objects being asexual virgins, but rather sexually unavailable to the narrator.

        And it's pervading attitudes are totally problematic, I agree.

        I don't quite understand your last comment, to be honest. I understand the examples I've given isn't anything the majority of the population would have engaged during their time periods…but neither were the examples the good doctor gave.

      • (also I'm obviously not a medievalist; I'm speaking from knowledge which is probably greater than the Doctor's but not that great ultimately. My opinion here is based not on intense but passing reading of some works in translation. If I'm wrong and all the filthy troubadour poetry I've read was a fluke, and it all really is just about women who are totally asexual, foot will go firmly in mouth. Though not for the Genesis/Paradise Lost comment; that is plain to anyone who opens the bible to page 1).

  5. Actually Madonna is the singer's birth-name.

  6. Great article. I notice this issue all the time!

  7. +1 internets for quoting Meatloaf songs. Now, back to reading the article…

  8. I don't think teaching men to respect women is minimizing an important issue, rather I applaud you for attempting to expand the pool of fuckable men (for a feminist).

  9. One part of this problem that was only lightly touched on in how it affects men: Since society says that women should hide their sexual side, often times they hide it so well that men can't see it. Of course I don't blame them, if they show that side, they get labelled as Whores instead of Madonnas.

    I actively seek a "best friend lover" or "partner in crime" as a romantic partner. In this search, I find it's easier to find "Whores with a Madonna side" than it is to find "Madonnas with a Whore side." And even then it's still hard. Too many women are only comfortable showing one side of themselves.

    A woman is a complete person. Perhaps why I'm so fascinated with them. o.o But I find rarely do they let themselves shine.

  10. stop madonna blaming , she is and works or worked in a band. that lead to her becoming a icon in music. how does that in anyway justify or explain why some american women dress like hooker on halloween?

    • Dr. NerdLove says:

      Hrm. I honestly can't decide if this is trolling or if you really didn't understand the article…

    • Yeah, I'm thinking someone doesn't quite understand that the term "Madonna" as used here doesn't actually refer to the singer… (Because the term, in this context, is all about purity…)

  11. As a single guy, working who hasn't dated yet, this was a real eye-opener. I was aware that the women desires sex as much as men, but never realized that this bias was the cause for making that information obscure. I definitely see the bias in myself, and I'll have to spend the time getting out of this mindset.

    This does beg a question, though. What is romantic love, then? I mean, from the way the article makes it sound, it's not just "a strong desire to have sex with your partner" or "a strong desire to have prolong friend-like relationship with your partner." So…what is romantic love supposed to feel like?

    • Romantic love is pretty much both of those feelings rolled into one. I have friends who I absolutely want to remain friends with for as long as possible, preferably forever. And I have friends who I would enjoy sleeping with. The cross between the two is what I call romantic love. It's also really, really important (in my opinion) to know the difference between friends who want to be around forever and friends that you're just attracted to you. I could never pursue a relationship with someone who I wasn't really attracted to, and the same goes for someone who I wouldn't actually want to spend significant time with. Of course, attraction can grow over time, and having a short term relationship is not a bad thing, in fact I think it's great. I just try to be incredibly honest and flexible about how I feel towards others.

      • why the hell with you want to fuck your FRIENDS?

        • Anthony says:

          You've never had an attraction to a friend? In re-reading my comment, it's probably more accurate to say acquaintances I'd want to sleep with, because that is what I meant.

          • why the hell would I stay friends with someone I wanna fuck? that's stupid and messes everything up and awkward

          • Anthony says:

            I guess I just disagree. I can be friends with people I find attractive and not be awkward about it. And these aren't people that I would classify as 'relationship material,' which was the original point I was looking to make. Trying to be friends with someone whom I want an actual relationship with is a lot different (and harder) than just someone who I'd like to have sex with. But if why shouldn't I be friends with someone who is attractive? I am not going to make every interaction with attractive women about being in a relationship with them.

      • …I still don't get it. Part of it, I admit, is due to the very rare encounters I have with single women (or at least, women who admits being single). It's an easy problem to solve, fortunately (there's an article in here already that discusses about it), but I'd rather pursue on much more clear goals, such as making money.

        I guess a better question I should have asked is, if looking for a partner, what stimuli should I be seeking for that indicates whether I'm in love with her or not? I'm assuming it feels different than loving your iPhone, your hobby, your country, favorite food, close relatives (I hope), comedians, etc. I'm also assuming it's different from the thrills of looking through porn, at least in a few details.

        I don't know. I have no memories of having a crush on anyone before — both local and celebrities — let alone being in love with one.

        • You'll know it when it happens to you. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. If you think you would die her, and the thought of being without her terrifies you, and you also masturbate to the thought of her constantly when she's not around then it's love.

          I used to kinda think like you, but then it hit me like a brick, and fairly late in life, too. So you'll know when it happens.

          I have friends that I'm sexually attracted to/friends that I sometimes hook up with, so I think love is more than just friendship + sexual attraction. I think it's like the very closest friendship you can imagine, plus sex. Your very best friend plus sex.

    • Dr. NerdLove says:

      You realize that's a question that's kept song-writers employed for centuries, right?

      Now I've got Van Halen stuck in my head…

  12. So you will not be friends with someone you are attracted to?

  13. I've come to realize that I have this problem myself, despite being a woman. I can hang around other women, some of them mothers, knowing perfectly well that they must've had sex at some point, and it doesn't bother me at all. But the moment a woman starts talking about how much they like sex, or that they got laid that weekend or the other, I immediately feel a little less respect for that person. I know it's a terrible thing to do and I really must work on getting this out of my system, but I suppose that knowing that I have this problem is a good start. I think it might be rooted in my upbringing, my mom did tell me to be "careful with your thing and that stuff", but didn't say anything like that to my brothers.

    Of course, this messed up a shitload of things when she suddenly started talking about how much SHE likes sex. Oy…

  14. Juniper says:

    Professor of a required class, who does this to everyone who misses his class, not just women: “Where is Jane? Does anyone have her phone number? Let’s call Jane and get her in here.”

    Male student (in a stage whisper which is directed to the male around him, but audible throughout the room): Will anyone admit to having her number?

    *Male students laugh*

    Translation: Jane has a reputation for too much sexual agency for a woman, which makes her dirty. No man can afford to have his reputation mingled with Jane’s because this makes him, by association, dirty. I believe that some of the men have reputations for having lots of sex, which does not make them dirty.

    This is in graduate school in a red state. Slut-shaming is a thing.

    • Notice when a guy has lots of sex he's considered a hero by his male peers. But when a woman has lots of sex she is a whore, not only is she slut shamed by men she is also slut shamed by madonna/virginal women too. I think men are intimidated by women who admit to liking sex as much as men do and having lots of it because men don't like the thought of a women being more sexually powerful than them.

  15. I believe that PEOPLE should be able to do whatever they want to as long as A) It makes them happy, B) Their actions are not causing harm to anybody, and C) Whatever consequences there may be from said actions, that they are willing to live with them.

  16. it's Sandra Fluke not Susan Fluke. I really liked the article.

  17. ELphaba says:

    I just love that you included lyrics of good girls go to heaven bad girls go everywhere by Meatloaf. RIght on

  18. Porn is perpetuating this to a new generation. Porn NAMES women who have sex sluts, slappers, tarts and whores.

  19. deadliftman says:

    I think the whole reason behind the fear of female sexuality is that many men feel insecure in their own abilities to hold onto a woman and fear that a sexually open woman who is in a relationship with them may cheat on them. I don't think you addressed that point. I think it's a fairly complicated issue. The fear of being cheated on is more intense for males than it is for females. A man stands to lose his chance to propagate his genes while a woman stands to lose resources in case of being cheated on. It would take a great deal of maturity, confidence and belief in his own masculinity from a guy to not fear his woman's sexuality. Even then, female sexuality is so rampant that if left unrestrained, it would fuck up most less-than-awesome guys. As much as you think it's fair to consider all women as sexual, I don't think many guys are emotionally equipped to deal with that sort of assertion. Hell, I would guess (I may be wrong) there has never been a point of time in human history when female sexuality was openly celebrated.

    • It sounds as though you have come to us from a parallel dimension where society sends completely opposite messages. See, I live in a world where we're constantly bombarded with the idea that *men* cannot control their sexual impulses, that *men* will cheat if given any temptation and women have to worry about holding on to their guy much more than vice versa, that *men's* sexuality is "rampant if left unrestrained". (Not that these messages are true, but that's the expectation that's set.) And yet somehow in this society, most women are emotionally capable of "dealing" with the fact that the men they date are open about their sexual desires, are expected to trust their boyfriends not to cheat on them unless given actual evidence that this is happening, etc.

      I wonder why most men aren't capable of doing the same in the dimension you come from?

  20. deadliftman says:

    Yes, you are right. Male sexuality is no less rampant. And females have done a commendable job of accepting this fact. One wonders whether it has anything to do with the patriarchal society. Sort of like women were forced to accept that guys will be sexual. Even then, as I mentioned, men have lot more to lose than women if they are cheated on. I think we may be able to reach a point where all forms of sexuality are accepted freely in the society. But such a change can only be brought into effect with other balancing laws like mandatory paternity tests, legalization of prostitution and extremely strict anti-rape laws.

    • Well, for one thing, I don't see how the patriarchal society can affect what women are emotionally capable of dealing with. If women are psychologically equipped to deal with the ideas about men's rampant sexuality, then I don't see why men couldn't also deal with it if they chose to try. Unless you're saying that women are emotionally more capable than men? In which case, wouldn't the problem be to help men become more capable, not to excuse them of their unreasonable fears.

      Because those fears are unreasonable. Because men's and women's sexuality is not actually rampant; men and women are capable of controlling themselves, and many go their entire lives without once cheating on a partner. I don't buy into this evolutionary argument that men have more to lose, because we're perfectly capable of thinking and feeling beyond our evolutionary background in all areas of our life, and most guys are not actually trying to get their girlfriends pregnant and pass on genes most of the time they're having sex, and most women are not only with a guy because of his "resources" but because they're emotionally attached to *him* as an individual, and they don't want to lose that.

  21. Society admires or is fascinated by the unusual or the unlikely :

    Women can get sex whenever they want, while men (average men) have to work at it.

    So, a man who a lot of sexual conquests is admired for transending the average. Since women can get sex easily, a woman who restrains her sexual urges is admired for her self discipline.

    Also, I think that for many men, a woman who has had many sex partners is a reminder of how difficult and ego -bustng it often is for Joe regular to get a woman to agree to have sex with him. That can lead to feelings of fustration and rejection which leads to anger and thus ugly words.

    In the case where a man finds out that a woman he is pursuing or persued has had many sex partners, he can feel resentful that he has to work at getting her attention while everyone else seems gets a free ride. If a woman has played coy with a man because "he's the one", she may feel like she's expressing her love by choosing him over all the others while he, upon learning her number, feels like he's a poor loser who was duped into paying for her party.

    I guess what I 'm trying to say is that the M /W thing is a result of male resentment over how easy it is for woman to get sex.

    .

    • You are full of bullshit if you think any woman can get sex whenever she wants. You have no idea what you're even talking about. M/W is a nearly ancient method of trying to control women's sexuality in service of patriarchal society. It has nothing to do with your wack theory.

      • I dunno Tosca, I think this guy has presented a great explanation of the thought process of misogynistic dickbags.

    • WordyLibrarian says:

      There's a problem. You're relying on the completely ridiculous premise that women can get sex whenever we want. Oh pray tell me the way to this lavish fantasy world where I have but to tap a bell and the magical hunky sex fairy will appear and obey my every whim. I want to go to there.

      You also need to remember something that may be hard to keep in mind if you haven't gotten to experience much sex. It is NOT a one-size-fits-all magical rite that's more or less the same no matter who's involved as long as no one involved has any glaring flaws. If sex were a magical powdery substance we exchanged with others in boxes, sure it would be really easy for women to get sex whenever we want. If the magical powder is all the same and I can get ahold of a hazmat suit, I'll trade uniform magic dust with anyone who isn't actively making me unhappy.

      Here in reality, sex VARIES. It can be mind-blowing and earth-shaking. It can be a rockingly good time. It can be a pleasant way to pass the time. From there it starts to plunge into unsatisfying, awkward, boring, uncomfortable, emotionally or physically painful, even scarring… Obviously there's infinite levels in between. I love good sex as much as anyone I've ever met and more than most. I detest bad sex. Miserable, uncomfortable, really bad sex with someone you're not that into when you're just not in sync and you don't feel your preferences are being considered… Ugh. I would rather endure complete celibacy. My vibrator is at least in the pleasant way to pass the time category. I would prefer another human being to share an experience with. However, if you can't offer me anything AT LEAST equal to my hitachi in enjoyability (a pleasant way to pass the time) then you DO NOT meet my standards.

      If that strikes anyone as "unfair" then that is too bloody bad. I actually enjoy time alone, sexually or otherwise, enough that I would prefer solitude to neutral or unpleasant company. If you don't enjoy your own company as much as I enjoy mine, THAT IS NOT MY FAULT and there is nothing unfair about it.

    • Ah, more BS from a loser with poor social skills that spends too much time reading misogynistic garbage on the Internet.

      Men are the aggressors, traditionally. So it makes sense that women will get more offers, because they are traditionally the receptive sex. I once had a male friend say to me, "It's 2014, women are asking men out," yet I have never seen or heard of any woman asking a man out and getting a positive result (I don't buy stories in the Internet; sorry). Women are not hardwired to be comfortable with aggression. In that same vein, I read multiple articles from both male and female authors urging men to avoid women who ask them out, and urging women not to ask men out.

      Men today feel overwhelmed by the constant displays of sex and sexuality in the media. They are trained by the media to crave sex, yet they are not schooled in how to satisfy that craving. In reality, there are no "alpha," "beta" or "omega" males, there are simply shy men and aggressive men. And aggressive men get more dates and more sex because they actually ask women out. They could be complete garbage – I've been asked out by unemployed men, drug peddlers, alcoholics, you name it – but they have the confidence to go after what they want. Pathologically shy men, meanwhile, turn to the Internet, which poisons their impressionable minds with disgusting malarky like "all women are whores/cheats/sluts" (pick your label). This inane rhetoric pacifies their unsatisfied sexual urges. Instead, such men should be learning how to properly approach a woman in a social setting and how to take rejection properly. As one man wrote, "rejection helps build character." Also, they should be taught how to look for signs of interest in a woman so as to minimize rejection. This isn't rocket science, people. This is simple social behavior.

      I've seen the nasties "joe regulars" pick up women with ease. They've got confidence, at least in that arena.

      And this myth about "alpha" males getting all the action – preposterous and never once proved by reality. Ever. Fact is, all kinds of guys get laid, by all kinds of females. Confidence – again – is the name of the game.

      Men like "cheesedog" need to learn basic human social cues and how to interpret them. They also need confidence building exercises, classes, or friends who can help them.

      Any moron can get some action. Sex is a basic biological function.

  22. Nailed it, doc.

  23. Good explanation of problem but a short and not effective solution.

  24. Never saw it described with such clarity and free of judgement. Totally helpful insight top to bottom. Bravo — keep it uh.. cummin'..

Trackbacks

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