“Who can understand women?” – With a defeated tone of voice and sometimes with disdain, says almost every guy I know. I hear it in daily conversations, in television and it’s all over the internet; sometimes said directly, but many times alluded to in subtle ways. Well, the answer to that question is simple: women.
Women are seen as complicated because most people (including them sometimes) don’t understand the complexity of their psyche. Our poor understanding of the female psyche, in my opinion, lies on two main aspects. One has to do with the complexity of her body, and the other has to do with the imposed gender roles. Due to these two aspects, women are seen as complicated, hysterical, emotional; to the point that many women have become convinced of this too.
Taking into consideration that our general knowledge of psychology, anthropology and sociology are male-centered: that is, examined from a male point of view of a male subject of study; and that there aren’t as many female specialized researches, we naturally don’t have much choice but to believe that women are no less than complicated. I say if the world was female-centered, it would be more common to hear that men are just basic.
Thankfully now, compared to just half a century ago, there is a lot more interest and many more studies about the female body and psyche from the perspective of females. One book I really enjoyed is Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés; I strongly recommend this book to women but also to those men who think women are ungraspable beings. In her book, she intertwines the female spirit, energy, and psyche, as the Wild Woman, that true female nature we have beneath our masks (gender roles) assigned by society throughout the years. This Wild Woman archetype is strongly characterized by originality, freedom as well as instinct, and this instinct is intensely protective, creative, ingenious, loyal and constantly moving. Her psyche is, without any doubt, complex. It responds organically to the complexity of her body and of her surroundings.
As we all know, the female body is very complex; we cannot expect a body capable of carrying human life within itself to be simple. However, many of us females underestimate the complexity of our bodies, which is one of the reasons why we sometimes get frustrated for not understanding exactly why we feel the way you we do; that’s when we blame our “hormones” (without necessarily understanding what that means), the moon, the waves, or whatever our culture tells us that has an effect on our bodies and minds. Sometimes we feel crazy for no reason so we try to suppress it.
On top of that, we must comply with all the expectations of our societies, expectations associated to gender roles that are sometimes unrealistic and many times unfair, such as: maintaining a certain type of body, staying forever young (I really don’t get this one, why is it frowned upon that I, a living being, age?), focusing from a young age primarily on the poetic and romantic aspects of life despite our natural interest for the exact sciences, not expressing too much of our minds and bodies yet always smiling (when women are told “put a smile on your face”, “why so serious?” by a stranger in the street when just walking and minding her own business).
A woman that doesn’t understand her true nature, complexity, and is forced to comply with unnatural requirements, will certainly not be able to express her true self, especially not in a way that would be graspable for men. As a result, some women prefer to hide their feelings, thoughts and desires because they don’t want to be seen as too weak or emotional, which is looked down upon, and sometimes choose to adopt manly attitudes, at the risk of being called names such as b*tch or sl*t, due to society’s double standards. To explain this differently, think of the gender stereotypes we are often exposed to. When you imagine a girly girl what adjectives come to mind?
I have always considered myself a girls’ girl, as female as it gets, I can understand women well. However, I never enjoyed shopping, I never asked my girls to accompany me to the public bathrooms, I do not cry during romantic movies, I didn’t dream about my wedding day as a little girl, as a child I liked sports and outdoor activities, as a teenager my favorite movies where action movies, I do not expect a guy to pay for my things, I do not like heart-shaped chocolates, I do not believe in Valentine’s Day, and I do not believe in flowers as gifts (they should stay in the ground where they belong; give me a potted plant instead). These preferences don’t make you more or less of a female/male; whether you enjoy these things or not is a matter of personal preference. Humans should be able to have these preferences without being subjected to labels (girls being called tomboys and boys being called sissies). The female psyche is a lot deeper than superficial preferences.
So please, let’s not attempt to describe womanhood on the base of women who have been molded and adapted to gender roles. We must define womanhood on the base of a woman liberated from those gender roles, a woman true to her authentic nature. When we remove gender roles we find a woman who responds to the complexity of her body, to her cognition and to her transcendental self (spirituality). What mainly defines the female psyche is that these three aspects often overlap and are expressed simultaneously (integrated consciousness) which gives rise to intuition; for this reason, female views of reality can often be less compartmentalized, more holistic.
I believe males are definitely equally integrated beings, but throughout history, they have convinced themselves that their physical capacities and their evolving survival capabilities (which in modern times translate into dollar earnings) are the only things that define their worth; they conformed to a less evolved version of who they actually are. Many of them are expressing only one aspect of their psyche rather than all three and only awareness of all three will allow them to live more holistically. So when I say that some men are too basic I mean they choose to think, feel and act too basic. The word is basic, not simple, because the way I see it “simple” implies humbleness, detachment from egotistic desires, whereas “basic” implies a strong attachment to our most primitive selves (bodily desires). Basic men act as if they had little more than just an animal body. I think male humans, in their essence, are as capable of self-control as female humans, their minds and souls are also connected to their bodies and therefore they are equally complicated. However, many times they choose to ignore this and go with their basic instincts. And this choice has become so engraved in their behavior that it is misinterpreted as the main manifestation of their nature, to the point that it’s common to believe that there is nothing they can do about it.
You see, I am very much attracted to the male body, but my integrated consciousness (the one described above) allows me to focus on other things besides tall-muscular-dark-hairy men (my favorite kind). Thanks to my capacity of seeing further than my animal instinct, I don’t need to think about them 24/7. As integrated humans, we don’t need to act on our impulses all the time not because we’re afraid to get hurt, or because it’s “immoral” in the traditional sense, or because it’s frowned upon or illegal in some forms, but because our rational minds and souls can understand that that is not what we really want at a certain moment. If you think this makes me complicated then consider yourself basic to me.
The misunderstanding that human nature, as studied by men, is primarily controlled by basic instincts has been the cause of many unfortunate behaviors, such as oppression of one group over another, unhealthy competition, abuse of natural resources, harmful expressions of sexuality, violence, uncontrollable materialism, repression of inner feelings, dichotomizing between mind and heart, dismissing transcendental reality, and a large number of more misconceptions of humanity that resulted in millions of frustrated men (and women) today.
So my suggestion is that in the face of complicated feelings, or people, first of all, be grateful that your consciousness is not basic, and then trust that there is a real reason for that complication; it is primarily because one is not being true to what the integrated consciousness really wants, one is not honoring our inherent complexity. Once we realize what our holistic self wants, we become simpler. In other words, I think all humans are complex, and how integrated each individual chooses to think and act is what will make them less basic, and moreover become simple which paradoxically requires complexity and integrated consciousness.
‘The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without’ – Ernest Hemingway.