(Note: while I am using the gender pronouns she/he this complex may refer to all genders and sexual orientations).

The Madonna/Whore Complex is a term that was coined by the psychologist Sigmund Freud. It refers to a man’s inability to achieve sexual arousal with his wife or long-term partner but rather, only with a mistress or prostitute. It describes men who split women into two camps: saintly Madonnas or degenerate Whores. These men may display certain behaviors towards their wives while reserving other behavior for women they view as more sexual.

While this term was coined to define a certain type of male sexual behavior it adequately describes the camps in which most women are placed from an early age.  You may have been placed in one or another of these camps because of race, socio-economic status, academic status, disability, complex trauma or religion.

If you were socialized female then it’s possible that you were assigned one of these roles during your formative years.

Have you been told that your sexuality is bad, shameful, taboo, too much, too aggressive, too public or, that you are a bad woman for engaging in sexual desires? And, has this belief affected your life negatively?

Or, have you always been the good girl who has no connection with her sexuality because being sexual is not what good girls do? Have you been raised within a societal construct that teaches women to be good girls, good mothers, good academics but that you should never speak about sex, desire sex or receive pleasure from sex?

If you resonate with either one of these camps then you are living in the societal narrative of the Madonna/Whore Complex.

If you are a man and you struggle within this binary of viewing women as either good girls/Madonnas or bad girls/Whores then you too are living within a societal construct.

This construct is as old as time.  Women have been bisected at the middle so to speak. Either sexualized, and as a result marginalized by society, or, desexualized and denied access to sexual pleasure.

Let’s look at a definition of social constructionism:

“The theory of social constructionism states that meaning and knowledge are socially created. Social constructionists believe that things that are generally viewed as natural or normal in society, such as understandings of gender, race, class, and disability, are socially constructed, and consequently aren’t an accurate reflection of reality”. thoughtco.com

If you open your lens of reality to question the Madonna/Whore Complex you can see that society has created arbitrary distinctions which has greatly harmed and denied access to the human needs of all women. All women deserve sexual pleasure as well as long-term relationships (if desired), fulfilling careers and being treated as equals.

My work with women is to undo some of the societal programming that has created The Madonna/Whore Complex. I believe that women can be complete but it’s a process of untangling long held beliefs about oneself.

You are capable of being a wife, mother, career woman *and* a sexual temptress who is capable of pleasure, orgasm, arousal and desire.

If you want to heal some of these rifts within yourself and possibly, within your relationship to your partner, other women, and society please book a free consultation call!

If you are a man who is caught in this binary it is also important to begin the process of dismantling this super old and outdated belief system. Book a call today.

All the best,

Dr. Anya

Categories: Sex Education

Dr. Anya

Dr. Anya is a sexuality expert with over 25 years experience working with individuals, couples, and groups. Dr. Anya has a Doctor of Human Sexuality degree and is a certified sex educator and certified sexologist. Dr. Anya has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area working with individuals and couples and invites straight and LGBTQ people into her practice.

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