Why Women Vote for Trump
Some women are like castrated males and can be worse patriarchs than men, says Marion Woodman.
We’ve heard all the data-driven theories, the results of focus-grouped women, the qualitative and quantitative analyses. But only one woman, the late Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, gets beneath all the left-brain distraction to the deep heart and soul of the why any self-aware, self-respecting woman would vote for a predatory man with serious narcissistic personality disorder. That is, no matter what she believes her reasons were, but especially if she chose him because she couldn’t vote for a woman (Hillary Clinton in this case).
Woodman in her 1990 book, The Ravaged Bridegroom, explores the psychology of the innermost drives of the masculine and feminine in women as well as in men. By now, it’s widely accepted that all of us embody both masculine and feminine attributes to varying degrees. As Woodman’s book-jacket notes, “a woman’s perspective on herself can be undermined by a crippling relationship with her inner man.”
Patriarchy has been falling apart for a long time now. But many men and women still carry the torch even as its swan song gets shriller. In fact, Woodman, a true Renaissance woman schooled in art, music, dance, and mythology from prehistoric times through the present, focuses our attention on previous eras when matriarchy or the Great Mother or feminine values in general had much more sway in cultures throughout the world than now.
“The unconscious dynamics that keep the feminine prisoner of patriarchy are in the marrow of our bones,” Woodman writes.
Those women (and probably men) who voted for Tump are cut off from their feminine power, and even worse, harbor a great disdain for it, as they have internalized misogyny. Woodman says such women are in the grip of “the old petrifying mother” who is:
“like a great lizard lounging in the depths of the unconscious. She wants nothing to change. If the feisty ego attempts to accomplish anything, one flash of her tongue disposes of the childish rebel. Her consort, the rigid authoritarian father, passes the laws that maintain her inertia. Together they rule with an iron fist in a velvet glove.”
Not “woke” to their true power, these women typically are suburban housewives, in nuclear families, or simply, often blindly, following other old crusty, stultifying conventions, denying their deepest creative impulses. What a sad situation—for them and for all of us. So cut off from their most authentic Self, they zombie-like allow “outworn parental images (to) wield the power that inhibits personal growth.”
Woodman, who in her lifetime had numerous analysands in both sexes, says that when the feminine is “separated from its own source of life and power in matter (mater) . . . the woman becomes what Freud declared her to be: a castrated male, her vagina an open wound that strikes terror into a man when he first perceives it.” (Might Trump fit the type?)
Through numerous examples of world mythology Woodman shows that women must access and mediate between both their feminine (lunar, or dark) and masculine (solar or light) powers. And men must do the same. Men must develop an awareness of the deep-seated “ancient fear that the forces of darkness may . . . overtake the forces of light . . . leaving man . . .denied his phallic power.”
I’ve seen some of Mrs. America on FX about the anti-woman, misogynist anti-feminist, god-awful Phyllis Schlafly. You might gather that I am old enough to recall how she was a major thorn in feminism advances in the 1970s (just as Bible-thumping Anita Bryant was the bigot-du-jour against gay rights). Although the series doesn’t uncover deeper ground as does Woodman, Cate Blanchett, described in the New Yorker as “a pastel nightmare, arch and juicily camp,” does a terrific job as Schlafly. I had to take a break from the first episode as nothing disturbs me more than a “castrated female.” The New Yorker reviewer notes, “Schlafly sets out as the most dangerous type of powermonger: one without power.” Hence, all the powerless women who helped prop up a Trump.
I read Woodman’s books back in the 1990s when she offered workshops with the poet Robert Bly (who had spearheaded a much needed men’s movement). Her work, especially The Pregnant Virgin, (“The woman who is a virgin, one in herself, does what she does not for power or out of the desire to please, but because what she does is true.”) opened my eyes to my own creative powers—fruitful years in work and love followed those epiphanies.
Woodman did a lot of work with addictions, especially eating disroders. I highly recommend her to women and men who are sensitive to the friction created by our living in paternalistic culture and our soulful desire to be creative and intimate beings. Much of Woodman’s writing concerns soul-making, a phrase she attributes to John Keats: “Keats’ insight into feminine consciousness was far ahead of its time. The effort he expended pioneering a new inner path, with his concept of life as a ‘vale of soul-making’ opened channels of sensibility that may have precipitated his early death at twenty-five.”
Meanwhile, we can only hope the women who vote against their own best interest will, whether by magic, alchemy, or osmosis, absorb the message, the good news as it were. It is here.