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Fandiño, R.P. (1997). Femininity And Masculinity: Clinical Notes On Mutual Fears. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:369-372.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:369-372

Femininity And Masculinity: Clinical Notes On Mutual Fears

Ramón P. Fandiño

There seems to be no end to misunderstandings and trauma, and to the defences against trauma in the realm of sexuality. Patriarchal society created gross ways to control women: the harem, chastity belts and clitoridectomy. Women were seen as embodiments of ‘evil’, associated with witchcraft, menstruation and pregnancy, and as having the power to pervert men, who were ‘good’. The Malleus Maleficarum of Krämer & Sprenger (1486), which deals mostly with women, was the basic book of the Inquisition. Even after the French Revolution of 1789, which brought radical changes throughout the world, the view of woman as passive and hypochondriacal, whereas men were active, continued to hold sway.

Men determined who was a prostitute, a mentally ill person or a pimp—all of whom were excluded from society and could live only in brothels. A powerful reaction formation, both positive and negative, gives rise to two types of man: the macho man (like Ernest Hemingway, or the man in Marlboro cigarette commercials) and the weakling, under the thumb of woman, complaisant and doing his best to satisfy all her desires, at the cost of depersonalisation and loss of his virility and masculinity. Feminist revolutions followed both World Wars in this century: men initially scoffed at these developments, ultimately failing to understand what was happening to women, and vice versa.

In his paper on the taboo of virginity, Freud (1918) comments that women who have just lost their virginity (except those who become mothers) may castrate men out of revenge: hence the custom of the jus primae noctis, in which the strongest, most powerful or most mature men must deflower the bride.

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