AnimaAnimusIt’s not much of a secret I don’t particularly like men. Even my male friends have caught on and joke about how much I dislike them. If you were to ask me why I might say its because of the way men usually talk to each other…more dictative and less relational.  Or because it feels like they are competing about everything all the time.  I have often wished to be a lesbian finding romantic bliss in the arms of a sweet, soft woman instead of what I often perceive to be an unfeeling, non-cuddling man.  It would not surprise anyone reading this to know I’ve had very few boyfriends (several of them are gay now) and that most of my closest friends (besides my gay boyfriend) are women.

I have spent countless hours wondering where this judgment of men came from. I start with my father, who is nothing like the men I described above. He is kind, sweet, caring, and somehow also quite masculine (I still have yet to learn how or when he became so balanced). While he doesn’t seem particularly fond of men himself, I don’t get the sense he dislikes them the way I do. I look at my other family members…my mother (an Aries) is a warrior for women and the candidate for a strong female lead in a movie. She gets angry (which is often a trait allowed only for men) but has never told me to hate men. Next in line is my sister, a stunning Amazon woman who was a tomboy and now just a strong, Olympic hopeful competitor.  She is married and doesn’t seem to have the same bias I do.

After this brief family analysis, I could begin analysis of my family’s deceased dog (who was more like a human animal) or two scaredy cats; however, that would only be avoiding looking at myself.  Truth be told I have always preferred the company of women to men. I have always been a women’s club joiner such as a sorority (go DZ!) and Junior League. I’m wary of women who don’t like women and men who don’t like men, then why have I not been willing to look at myself as a woman who doesn’t like men? If there is anything I’ve learned since having a therapist is that 1) everyone should have one and 2) the first key to healing an outside experience is to heal the inner one (which is also never the answer I’m hoping for).

 In Jungian psychology the individuation process brings us through a series of information about our selves that involves us coming into a relationship with all parts of ourselves to become the greatest expression of Self. According to Jung this includes understanding our anima or animus. (on a random note I want to mention here that I think this is the remant of our “twin flame” discussed in Plato) For men it is an inner, unconscious woman (anima) and for women we have an inner, unconscious man (animus). Both words come from Sanskrit for “aniti” meaning “breath” or Old English for “soul.”

My image of a man is someone who has no access to his “inner woman,” which all men have by the way, is the man I resist and dislike. He is inflexible and seems hard or weathered. What we haven’t accepted of our animus or anima gets projected onto the men and women we are attracted to (or in my case repelled by). However, according to these ideas I have greatly disowned my animus and inner man, which creates a dislike for my outer experience of men. As men and women bring greater awareness to these “souls” inside, we have the opportunity to become more and more whole. Projecting traits we believe we don’t own, which happens in both a negative and positive way.

Here is my list of perceived “negative aspects” about men:

  • talk at people instead of with them
  • don’t value relationality
  • impatient
  • talk just to hear themselves talk
  • refusal to admit when wrong, always want to be right
  • easily angered and aggressive
  • competitive
  • need to dominate

The positive aspects I like about, or attribute to, men:

  • thoughtful
  • rational
  • courageous
  • direct
  • honorable
  • powerful
  • assertive
  • ambitious
  • action-oriented

All of these things are course the things I don’t like about myself and wish I could “get rid of” and also the things I like about myself and want to cultivate more of. I feel most of my life I have spent trying to “cover up” or push aside my masculine traits. Bit by bit I’m learning to appreciate them and know that I can love all parts of me, even around men. Society and my experience has taught me that when I utilize my masculine traits people (especially men) won’t like me. Women (such as Hillary Clinton) are ostracized for being in masculine energy and I have wanted to avoid feeling the dislike of others. However, in the process of fearing how my masculinity would be accepted I began to dislike parts of myself.

Psychologist Carolyn Kaufman explains that female characters in films with strong animuses are usually quite feminine, but instead of drawing strength from seduction or manipulation, they rely upon something from inside. Examples of these would be Lois Lane from Superman or Princess Leia from Star Wars. These women are courageous, wise, and powerful without gaining power through seducing men.

For every woman like me who dislikes men there is of course a misgyonist with a similar wound of unloving and disowning the feminine parts of himself. In Robert A Johnson’s book, He: Understanding Masculine Psychology, he explains the need for men to understand their “inner woman” so that he doesn’t confuse this inner experience and emotions with an outer females in his life (I think every man should read this book, and women who want to understand them a bit more). Ultimately I desire for men to experience more of their inner feminine just as I desire myself as a woman to become more comfortable with the masculine parts of myself.  Lists of men who fear or don’t like women (or a woman unowning her own femininity) might look like the ones I have created below.

Negative traits of women:

  • moody
  • catty
  • insecure
  • overbearing
  • hypersensitive
  • dangerously tempting
  • uncertain

Positive traits of women:

  • patient
  • compassionate
  • tender
  • nurturing
  • intuitive
  • life-giving
  • loving
  • considerate

As Kaufman points out, males in movies with healthy anima figures would include Christian from Moulin Rouge or Wesley  from Princess Bride who are display both loving traits and courage. Since most stories involve male heroes, it is the women (symbolizing their anima) in the story who often shows them how to recognize these traits in themselves. For so long as a woman I often feel a calling to help remind men of the kind, tender person they truly are. I’ve dated many men who wish for a loving woman and forget they are the loving woman as well. If a man is unwilling to do this work and own his inner woman the dangers of projection get greater and greater.  Just like my relationship to men as becoming strained because of my unconsciousness around my animus, this process begins and perpetuates misogyny.

Several years ago when Hillary Clinton was running for presidency I was driving home and heard a radio DJ say that a woman could never be president because we were too moody. Immediately my warrior woman insides fueled by my angry animus furiously called the station to make my opinion known.  I yelled at him (which of course he aired a few minutes later) and said I hoped he didn’t have a daughter to tell that to and that it was his fault that patriarchy exists. To this day I feel my rage at this man and my recognition that his inner woman felt as ignored as my inner man.

Until men and women appreciate and befriend our inner anima and animus we will remain enemies in an inner battle that has taken shape outwardly. A part of humanity’s collective healing includes coming back into wholeness with ourselves and using our outer experience to inform where we need the most healing. In this way men and women serve each other’s healing collectively and individually. Let the battles of the sexists begin!

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4 comments

  1. I love your blogs Becky 🙂 if anything when I get sad about my life or feel like nobody understands me, your writing always makes me feel like everything will be okay!

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