Men Need To Own Their Hatred Of Women

(Disclaimer: most of the material I offer in this article is derived from and inspired by a book title Why Men Hate Women by the psychotherapist Adam Jukes. The book is complex, but I highly recommend it. My goal here is to make sense of his dense arguments and present them in a clear manner. Afterwards, I offer my own solutions to this unfortunate conundrum.)

REALLY THOUGH?

Heterosexual men really like women. Like, a lot. They – we – spend our lives in constant pursuit of women. And if not actual pursuit, then at least imaginative pursuit. We think about them and fantasize about them to, quite literally, no end.

When I saw the title of the book that inspired this article, Why Men Hate Women, I was naturally surprised. And yet there was something inside of me, deep in my core, that resonated with it. There was, in other words, a small and distant part of me that knew it to be true.

All the same, why would us men spend so much of our lives thinking and fantasizing about women if what Adam Jukes proposes is, in fact, the case? Why would we go out of our way again and again to pursue that which we, apparently, hate? And how and why could we possibly hate women?

The brief answer is that hatred and love are not mutually exclusive. Far from. Furthermore, our incessant thoughts, fantasies and pursuits of women are, in part, an unconscious urge to push our hatred further outside of our awareness.

I begin with a presentation of evidence for men’s hatred of women. Afterwards, I explore the psychological reasons behind such hatred. Finally, I propose that any hope of a love that is mature, genuine, mutual, inter-dependent and rewarding is contingent on men bringing their hatred to conscious awareness.

EVIDENCE OF OUR HATRED

Most men don’t own up to it. Perhaps they should be forgiven, seeing as the majority of men are not consciously aware of it. All the same, most men hate women. And the few who truly don’t – or, at least, the few who are not run by their hatred – are those who have fully, consciously, and completely owned it.

This hatred is evidenced by behavior that remains consistent and predictable from one culture to the next: subtle and not-so-subtle attempts at control and domination through attrition and violence exercised by men towards women.

There is unquestionable evidence of men’s hatred towards women in cases of assault, domestic violence and rape. These are more common than we would like to admit. All the same, these cases and the men involved are viewed very much as outliers. “What a shame,” think the rest of us men. “I could never even IMAGINE doing, much less ACTUALLY do, something like that.” And so a blind eye is turned away from our own violent, controlling, dominating impulses and cast upon the accused male in a look of disappointment and disgust. Perhaps the rest of us should thank such men. Because of their horrific acts we don’t have to look at our own innate potential to commit similar horror.

However, evidence for our own hatred towards women is oftentimes found in much more nuanced, even seemingly normal, behavior. The assertive man and the passive man both attempt to control, albeit through very different means. One makes it explicit, the other makes it implicit. The following is a brief list of not-so-obvious instances of physical and psychological/emotional abuse that most men, at one point or another in their lives, are guilty of:

PHYSICAL ABUSE
  • Abuse of furniture
  • Intimidation (standing in the doorway during arguments, driving recklessly, uninvited touch)
  • Threats of violence
  • Self-inflicted injury
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE
  • Yelling, using angry expressions or gestures, embarrassing her
  • Criticism, name calling, blaming, humiliating
  • Pressure tactics (sulking, using guilt, pushing her to make decisions/hurry up)
  • Interrupting, changing the subject, picking up the newspaper when she wants to talk
  • Claiming the truth/being the authority, claiming the right to define what is logical, rational, reasonable or fair in the relationship
  • Feeling stressed or tense and using this to get into a frame of mind where you blame her for everything that goes wrong
  • Emotional withholding (not expressing your feelings, thinking your problems are more important than hers, not giving attention or compliments, not initiating conversation about the relationship and always expecting your partner to do so)
  • Not taking care of yourself and refusing to learn basic life skills
  • Believing you have the right to define appropriate wifely and motherly behavior, and not offering your expectations to negotiation
  • Telling her that if she doesn’t like it she knows what she can do – pack up and leave
  • Not acknowledging that the relationship is important to you, telling her that you don’t need her or love her

The blissful state of oneness that he spent the first few months of life in has been ripped from him. Not only is the breast not his, but it doesn’t even exist solely for his purposes. Not only is he not the world, but the world doesn’t even exist solely for him.

Every man who is starkly honest with himself will admit that he has engaged in at least one of these behaviors at least one time – but most likely many more.

The argument that I am making here – and the one made by Adam Jukes – is that such behavior should not be regarded as a one-off. On the contrary, such behavior is evidence of deeper, primarily unconscious, feelings of hatred towards the very women we love.

These actions are, at their core, attempts at control. We attempt to control that which we fear. And fear and hatred have been bed maidens for time immemorial.

That is the basic premise. Control is evidence of fear is evidence of hate. If we were truly, radically, honest with ourselves, we might uncover those primal feelings of hatred that dwell within us without the need for such backward reasoning. But then again, that might not cut it. Such feelings remain well within our unconscious for good reason. We fear that if we were to acknowledge them fully – to bring them into the realm of the conscious – they would override us. They would lead us to commit the truly terrible acts that we, consciously, do not wish to commit.

The point of this article is to attempt to convince you, the reader, that such feelings are prevalent in all males. I began by pointing to behaviors that indicate deep feelings of hate. I will now dive into the why. If this is the case, why is it so? What makes us hate women? Understanding the why may serve to increase your buy-in.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF MEN’S HATRED TOWARDS WOMEN

STEP 1: THE STATE OF OCEANIC BLISS

As newborns, we are initially unaware of separately existing people and things. We are unaware of our own individuality, just as we are unaware of the ‘other’. Everything exists in, as Freud called it, a state of ‘oceanic bliss’. An unequivocal and unquestionable oneness. The infant experiences himself as the world and the world as himself. This utter lack of division is truly blissful. To use Freudian terminology, the infant has no concept that the breast that feeds him when he is crying does not belong to him. There is no such thing as separateness.

When the infant has a need, it is met. There is no wanting. The infant doesn’t need to go out and get something. He doesn’t even need to make his need known. Everything just works. 

 

STEP 2: SEPARATION OCCURS

Eventually – again borrowing from Freudian terminology – the breast is taken away. The breast (which at this point is, experientially, synonymous with the entirety of the world) cannot possibly be there at the infant’s every beck and call. As this happens repeatedly, the infant comes to acknowledge the painful reality that the breast is separate from him. The breast belongs to this other person, his mother. As if that initial realization weren’t enough, he also comes to recognize that the breast (aka his mother, aka the world) doesn’t even exist solely for him. 

The blissful state of oneness that he spent the first few months of life in has been taken from him. Not only is the breast not his, but it doesn’t even exist solely for his purposes. Not only is he not the world, but the world doesn’t exist solely for him.

STEP 3: SPLITTING

Here, the infant finds himself in a state of profound dependency. He needs his mother for his survival. In order to deal with the conundrum of needing the very person who took away his blissful oneness, he responds by splitting. That is to say, he splits the person who is his mother into the ‘good’ mother who meets his needs/who is always there for him, and the ‘bad’ mother who doesn’t meet his needs/who isn’t always there for him.

The ‘good’ mother or, as Adam Jukes refers to her, the ‘princess’, is nurturing, loving and always providing. Because she is always there for the infant when he needs her, he comes to fantasize that he has total control over here. This is the basis of omnipotence (which healthy children later have to let go of).

The ‘bad’ mother, or the ‘witch’, either does not respond to distress signals or responds poorly. The infant cannot control her. Additionally, the infant projects his own feelings of aggression and hatred onto her (all infants are born with such feelings) because they are too much for him to handle. He experiences her as aggressive and hateful, but in this sense he NEEDS her, because he cannot deal with those feelings on his own as of yet.

STEP 4: AWARENESS THAT SHE IS ONE PERSON

Eventually, as the infant’s ego functions develop, the infant becomes aware that the ‘good’ mother and the ‘bad’ mother are one person.

This signifies the loss of the fantasy of the ‘good’ mother who responded to his every need and whom he seemed to have total control over. She is the same as the mother who fails him. 

The result is two-fold: 1) he has to give up his fantasy of omnipotence (another painful pill to swallow). His wishes are not always fulfilled. His mother doesn’t exist only to serve him. She has her own life – as does everybody else on the planet. He isn’t all that powerful, nor is he all that important. These are both crucial, albeit painful, realities. 2) he realizes that his state of profound dependency on his mother is vulnerable. Sometimes she is there for him, and sometimes she isn’t. This exposed dependency, where his own well-being is outside of his hands – is terrifying. Jukes proposes that the infant makes a decision at this point to never again allow himself to be so dependent on anybody. 

SUMMARY

First, the infant existed in a state of blissful oneness. Gradually, he became aware of separateness. The catalyst to this transition was, in addition to his own maturing faculties, the fact that his mother (his environment) couldn’t always be there for him.

So, he becomes aware of the painful reality of separateness because of his mother. 

Second, the infant is entirely dependent on this other person, his mother, for his own survival. He allows himself to depend on her so completely by splitting her into two – the ‘good’ mother and the ‘bad’ mother.

Here he develops the fantasy of omnipotence. All of his needs are met (by the ‘good’ mother).

He also projects his feelings of hatred and aggression (natural in all humans) onto the ‘bad’ mother because they are too intense for him to feel.

Third, the infant comes to realize that the ‘good’ mother and ‘bad’ mother are one and the same. The same mother who loves him is the same as the one who fails him. 

His state of dependency now feels vulnerable and threatening. There is not such thing as a ‘perfect’ other who exists to meet and fulfill his every need. 

There is no longer a ‘bad’ mother for him to project his hatred onto. He responds by repressing the feelings of hate that he has towards his mother. This is where they last for the rest of his life (unless he does work as an adult to bring them to conscious). This would be all fine and good, but the unconscious is extremely powerful and his feelings of hate take control in his adult life from time to time.


In each circumstance, the mother is to ‘blame’.

But I want to make this point clear: no matter how loving and tender and concerned a mother is, the above is inevitable. She couldn’t possibly maintain the state of oneness. The reality of the world is that we exist separately. We exist as individuals. That awareness will always come through.

The mother is not at fault. She could not have done something to prevent it from happening. Although these events may serve as the psychological root of men’s hatred towards women, to blame women/mother’s for this is a cruel misunderstanding. As we will see, men must take full responsibility for feelings of hatred, which necessarily removes all blame.

HOW DOES THIS MATERIALIZE IN THE PSYCHE OF THE ADULT MALE  WITH REGARDS TO HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH WOMEN?

The adult male is driven, in part, by an unconscious drive to bring back the initial oceanic state of bliss. This is impossible to do. The urge to achieve the unattainable and avoid the unavoidable (the reality of a separately-existing partner with her own world, goals, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, concerns and motives) gives rise to controlling and dominating, subtle and not-so-subtle, behaviors.

We want the ‘good’ mother. We do not want the ‘bad’ mother.

We go to numerous efforts to ‘create’ the ‘good’ mother and to negate, suppress and destroy the ‘bad’ mother.

Idealization

When a man idealizes a women, he is superimposing upon her his infantile image of the ‘good’ mother. This requires a refusal to acknowledge anything about the woman that might contradict his over-evaluation.

The impulse is to merge with her completely and reassume the blissful oneness he shared with his mother.

Additionally, idealization is an effort to repress feelings of destruction and hate. To reiterate, the male infant feels hatred and in order to deal with it he projects it onto the ‘bad’ mother. Later, when he resolves the split between ‘good’ mother and ‘bad’ mother, he suppresses his feelings of hate. However, those feelings persist in the unconscious and are always trying return to conscious awareness. The effort to only see the ‘good’ mother by idealizing a partner is, in part, the effort to keep feelings of hate and destruction at bay. The adult male fears that, where he to acknowledge the whole of his partner – i.e. both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – he would be unable to keep the lid on his feelings of hatred and they would destroy the relationship.

By refusing to see her negative characteristics and by convincing himself of his undying love, the male is doing everything he can to repress his feelings of hate from his conscious awareness.

It might be said that the more desperately he is trying to fall in love – or trying to convince himself of his love – the more hate, destruction and sadism he is feeling towards the object.

Falling in “love”

Part of ‘falling in love’ is motivated by a desire to recreate the initial experience of oneness with the goal of making it last this time around. The man wants to merge with the woman – to make her into self.

The man, in his unconscious, expects the woman he chooses to do better than his mother. To play her role perfectly. To not turn into the ‘bad’ mother. That is to say, he expects her to to not have needs of her own – for doing so would force him to acknowledge her separateness (the source of the initial pain). This time around, he is determined to succeed in preventing the ‘bad’ mother’s appearance.

This is the source of much of the tragedy in adult relationships.

The failure of “love”

This effort fails.

Eventually, unconscious feelings make their way into the relationship. Men cannot, try as they might, hide their fear and hatred forever.

Women will simply not live up to men’s impossible and unfair expectations – nor should they, even if they could.

As his partner continues to disappoint him simply by being her own self (thus ruining his fantasy of oneness), the man’s unconscious fear and hatred starts to rear it’s ugly head.

He responds by behaving in whatever manner he (unconsciously) thinks will bring back the ‘good’ mother and kill off the ‘bad’ mother. This behavior, in addition to never being successful, can be controlling, oppressing and abusive.

It looks like: sulking, criticizing, demanding, withdrawing, playing the role of the victim, belittling, playing the role of the ‘good’ boy/perfect partner (an act which he cannot maintain), shutting down, yelling, name-calling, hitting, moping, violence, putting on the woe-is-me card, etc.

These techniques – many of them passive – are used to let her know that what she did and is doing is not ok and that she better go back to being the woman that we ‘fell in love with’. They also serve to keep the man’s conscious awareness of his own hatred at bay. As the ‘bad’ mother rises, so does his hatred. In this sense, it is his avoidance of his hatred that is resulting in abusive behavior.

The return to reality

In his unconscious, women are both the problem (the source of his initial pain) and the solution (that of oceanic bliss).

In reality, women are neither the problem nor the solution.

The problem is not that our mother exposed us to the brutal reality of separateness. How could it be a problem that she brought us in line with reality?

The problem is not that our mother didn’t meet our every need. That is an impossible task.

The problem is that we continue to operate as infants in intimate partnerships. The problem is that we keep our unconscious feelings outside of our awareness. In doing this, we inadvertently let them run the show. The problem is that we expect a ‘princess’ who exists solely for us and who will never disappoint us or have a life of her own. As such, we attempt to control our partner so as to annihilate the ‘witch’.

We want to keep alive the hope and fantasy that oneness is possible. We want to avoid our hatred and fear. But oneness is impossible and hatred and fear are real.

The solution is to come to reality, brutal though it may be.

THE SOLUTION

Hopefully I have done a decent job at: a) showing the reader that men harbor deep feelings of fear and hatred towards women – and why – and b) it is the effort to suppress these feelings that causes men to act in ways that are harmful towards women (whether explicit and obvious or implicit and subtle).

The final piece is to offer a solution.

Our unconscious wants to become conscious. Our conscious does not want that. We fear that if we were to let it come out, it would overwhelm us, usurp us, take complete control of our lives and run the show. Perhaps our conscious mind isn’t giving itself the credit that it is due. When we were young, before our prefrontal cortex fully developed, unconscious urges might well have hijacked our system. Now, however, we have the capacity to self-regulate, experience/tolerate psychic pain, not act on feelings, hold contradictory feelings, and think before acting. All of these capacities prepare us for the emergence of our unconscious.

So, if you, the reader, accept – or at least suspect – that you harbor deep feelings of fear and hatred towards women, the most healthy course of action is to bring those feelings to the surface. As Carl Jung said, “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” We bring them to the surface in the form of thought and feeling, not in the form of action and behavior. The aim of this practice is to integrate the sadistic/hateful aspects of ‘self’ and ‘mother’ so that they no longer need to be split off and repressed. To the extent that we fail to do this, women remain objects of hatred and fear whom we need to control and oppress.

The following is a list of statements intended to pull our unconscious world out from the depths of our being:

  1. Experience the pain of separateness with no fantasy of it ever being resolved (i.e. give up the fantasy of oneness). Experience the grief and rage that comes with this. Say goodbye to the fantasy of the return of the idealized ‘princess’.
    • “I give myself permission to feel the pain of being a separate person in a world of separate people. This world isn’t really about me. I give up any fantasy that it will ever be anything different.”
    • “Apparently, I want women to save me. But deep down I know that they can’t. And so I try to control and dominate through both aggressive and passive behavior.”
  2. Come to feel in our bones that the ‘princess’ and the ‘witch’ are both fantasies
    • “Women do not exist to save me, nor are they capable of it. Similarly, they are not capable of destroying me.”
  3. Learn to tolerate psychic pain without acting on it (because such action is usually an attempt at controlling our partner with the aim of reducing our experience of pain)
  4. Feel the vulnerability that comes with our dependency. As we suppress and deny our dependency less, we allow ourselves the opportunity to deal with it in a healthy way. It can, for example, be the basis of closeness.
    • “Apparently, I am a profoundly dependent person.”
  5. Feel the fear and hatred that we harbor towards women. Talk about it with our partners so that it doesn’t get acted out.
    • “Apparently, I am deeply afraid of women.”
    • “I give myself permission to feel the hatred that I have towards women.”

The solution is to come to terms with our darkest natures.

It may not be our fault that we harbor such deep fear and hatred, but it certainly is our responsibility to work with it in a way that is healthy and kind, both for ourselves and others.

As we increase our ability to tolerate our fear and hatred, we realize that we can feel it without acting on it. We no longer need to push it outside of our consciousness, where it controls our lives without our awareness. We can talk about it with our partner when we recognize its emergence. As we bring it into the open, we actually have choice with how to work with it. Knowing our partner will never be who we want them to be, we can give them the freedom to be themselves while talking about and feeling (but not acting on) the difficult feelings that this brings up in us.

CONCLUSION

Due to early infancy experiences, men hate women. We hate them for having taken us out of our blissful oneness, we hate them because we were (and are) profoundly dependent on them, and we hate them because they didn’t (and don’t) exist solely for us.

As adult men, it is crucial that we take full ownership of the deep feelings of dependency, fear and hatred that we harbor towards women. This requires vulnerability. Most of us will choose not to do this work. Most of us will keep these feelings in our unconscious where they control us and where we act them out in passive, assertive, subtle and overt ways.

If we are interested in maturing as men, in truly growing into adulthood, in truly treating women as equals, in responding effectively to the #metoo movement (not just by becoming guilt-ridden or turning into a puppet), we must start by acknowledging, accepting and deeply understanding those parts of ourselves we would like, more than anything, to avoid.

Genuine adult love is about mutuality, inter-dependency, reciprocity and acknowledgement and respect for the individuality and separateness of the loved one.

So long as we maintain the fantasy of oneness, no matter how deep it is in our unconscious, and so long as we repress our feelings of fear and hate, we will continue to relate to women as extensions of ourselves. As people who should serve us and make us happy, not have lives of their own. And we will behave in such a manner as to make our wishes come true (and they never will).

Summary


Men’s hatred for women is the result of the following psychological processes:

  1. The initial break of the unity known as ‘oceanic bliss’. This failed symbioses is deeply painful and the pain remains alive in our psyches
  2. The ensuing profound dependency that we experienced towards our mother (and the terror that this gives rise to)
  3. The acknowledgement that the ‘bad’ mother (the mother who doesn’t meet each and every one of our needs) is the same as the ‘good’ mother who does

As adults, men’s behavior is informed by the following unconscious urges:

  1. A desire to return to the state of unity/find a woman who will be there for him the way his mother wasn’t/who will make him completely secure and never abandon him and exist solely for him
  2. A desire to never again expose himself to such profound dependency as he was exposed to in childhood
  3. A desire to keep his feelings of fear and hatred outside of his awareness – this is done by controlling his partner so that the ‘bad’ mother doesn’t emerge

These unconscious impulses result in behavior that is either outright abusive or passively controlling. This behavior includes:

  1. Emotional withdrawal. Shut-down. Sulking. (The aim of such behaviors are to get the ‘good’ mother to show up.)
  2. Physical and verbal abuse and control. (The aim is the same as above. This sort of man is likely more aware of his hatred, but probably doesn’t realize that it has to do with his fear/dependency towards women in general and really has nothing to do with his partner.)

The solution is to:

  1. Own our profound dependency. 
  2. Own our fear towards women and the resulting hatred
  3. Experience the pain of separateness with no fantasy of it ever being resolved (i.e. give up the fantasy of oneness). Experience the grief and rage that comes with this. Say goodbye to the fantasy of the return of the idealized ‘princess’.
  4. Come to feel in our bones that the ‘princess’ and the ‘witch’ are both fantasies
  5. Learn to tolerate conflicting feelings and psychic pain without acting on them (because such action is usually an attempt at controlling our partner with the aim of reducing our experience of pain)

If done, the result will be:

  1. We will relate to our loved one with less desperation and idealism
  2. We will be able to feel and speak to our hatreds and fears, which reduces the potential that they run the show in the background
  3. True adult love. The type of love where separateness is acknowledged and appreciated and actually becomes the very grounds of connection (because we need to be separate in order to connect in the first place)

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