Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy "Mother's" Day...and "Companion's" and "Amazon's" and "Medium's" Day, Too!

I have been personally aware of the "Mother Bias" ever since I read a short book called About Men and Women... by Tad and Noreen Guzie back in 1997. In this book the authors explore the Jungian archetypes of "Mother", "Amazon", "Companion", and "Medium" (for women), and "Father", "Warrior", "Seeker", and "Sage" (for men). If you naturally fall into either of the first two archetypal patterns in each group, then you have experienced positive social bias from the beginning and throughout your life. If you naturally fall into the latter two patterns, then you have lived with the opposite; i.e. a negative social bias towards things that would be "fundamental" to your character and your point of view.

This was a very liberating read for me because I was finally made aware that I happen to be a "Companion/Medium" woman myself. So I have been faced with that negative social bias all of my life (and even especially, within my own family). In addition, popular media has not provided me with role models for what my pattern looks like in a positive and mature form. Instead, I have been faced with role models with which I could not truly identify, or with mostly negative or immature portrayals of my particular archetypal pattern(s). The "Mother" and "Amazon" characterizations express values that are not My Deepest Values and, until I read this book, I just thought there was something wrong with me. I am grateful to the authors for making it clear to me that ALL of these ways, or "archetypal patterns", for expressing feminine and masculine energy are VALID and VALUABLE, as they reflect the realities of life experience for All of Us as Human Beings, just with a different emphasis or primary focus for each. (I will go into that more here shortly.)

In my earliest years, I imagined what so many other young women (and men) imagine: I would find a good man, get married, have children, and lead a "normal" life. But, when that opportunity presented itself for real, in my late twenties, I realized that it was not The Most Important Goal of My Life. Instead, I was being drawn to know myself better As an Individual, not as a "Mother/Wife" only, and one of the ways I came to that self-awareness and self-understanding was through a wide range of personal life experiences, especially in my relationships with men.

As some of you may already know, the first 20 years of my life were defined by my relationship with my mother who was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. I have a TEDx talk on that part of my story: "Get Ready: The World Is Waiting". As a result of that relationship, the range of my early personal exploration and experience was very limited. In those first 20 years I identified myself as a Christian, even a "devout" Christian - after all, my mother and I were "prophets sent here to save the world." Going through my early teens, apart from my relationship with my mother, my interests and close relationships were mostly with "non-humans": turtles, fish, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, lizards, snakes, earthworms, etc. I even remember keeping a Praying Mantis for a while. My mother would let me keep just about any critter I wanted, as long as I could figure out how to get them to eat. For the Praying was refried beans on the middle of a toothpick!

I haven't thought about it until now, but even though I took these animals in and "cared for them" as a "nurturer", it was in a more "Companioning" way; i.e. I wanted to know about them as individual species. I read books that I got from the library, and then I would accommodate their needs based on what I learned. I did not gain a lot of self-esteem based on how much they depended on me. I related with them to better understand them. Later in life, this would be the same approach I would take with men, and if my having the opportunity to relate with them was dependent on my meeting certain of their needs (expressed or unexpressed), then I was more than willing to do that (sometimes a little too willing). But meeting those needs was not a way of encouraging or supporting dependency. It was simply one aspect of my relating with them as individuals and (hopefully) as "equals" (though, as it turned out, my ability to take care of myself And take care of them often outweighed their abilities to reciprocate).

So, according to the authors of About Men and Women... how is that different from the way a "Mother" might approach a relationship with a man, in this "interpersonal" realm of relating to others?

"Mothers" identify with and conform themselves to the "role" of "Mother" as "caretaker of those in need" and as the role is more specifically defined by tradition and culture. Furthermore, most true "Mother" types gain a boost in self-esteem having people depending on them (although, too many dependencies can become overwhelming, if they are not careful). Nevertheless, "Mothers", like being "in control", and they like the status that motherhood holds for them in society.

The primary focus of the role of "Mother" is not on the father of her children, but on the children themselves. In other words, and this seems especially true for modern western society, the "Mother" role has taken on much more emphasis than the "Wife/Companion" role for women in relationship to the men with whom they conceive children. Granted, cultural norms shift over time, but, currently, through its welfare programs, the State has actually taken over many of the traditional functions that "Fathers" use to fulfill. The role of "Mother" is now seen by the State, legally and otherwise, as more vital than the role of "Father" when it comes to raising children. As a consequence, there are more and more "Father" types in the world who are not getting to express that archetype, no matter how much it might naturally define their character. Furthermore, there are many more women who never learn to relate on equal terms with other adults who do not depend on them for care.

In contrast, "Companion" women do not automatically relate to a man as a potential "husband" and/or "father" with all of those expectations and qualities significantly defined by social norms. She is not just looking for a "sperm donor" so that she can conceive and bear children whom she can then "Mother". "Companion" women are interested in men mainly as individuals with whom they can share a variety of life experiences (including sexual experiences), and as equals. Typical "Companion" women pride themselves on their ability to adapt, to become a "good companion" for their partner, whatever his interests might be.

Within this "interpersonal" sphere of relationships, where "Mothers" and "Fathers" orient themselves towards the pre-defined, or traditional roles they play (or are allowed to play) within the collective of society, "Companion" women (and their counterparts, "Seeker" men) are oriented more towards themselves and others as unique individuals, and they develop their own identities over time, sometimes a very long time, rather than simply following (or falling into) the roles that have already been defined for them by society. The evidence (or propaganda) of these role definitions for "Mothers" and "Fathers" is prevalent in modern media, as it has been throughout history, while one would be hard-pressed, as I have been, to find the same clear (and/or positive) role modeling for "Companions" and "Seekers".

Although there are, of course, more extensive descriptions in the book, there are a couple of other things I want to add here concerning "Companion" women and "Seeker" men as parents: 1) Because those "Mother" and "Father" images are so prevelant in society, many "Companion" women and "Seeker" men, may at least try to conform their lives to those expecations, even when it is not natural, or even the "right" thing for them to do, especially early in their lives when they are usually not very stable, moving from job to job and relationship to relationship, as they are "figuring themselves out"; and 2) If "Companion" women or "Seeker" men do decide to have children, they will usually relate to their children as individuals rather than as members of the family/social unit. In addition, they typically do not look to their children to define their own status in society, since most "Companion" women and "Seeker" men really don't care what others, what "society" thinks of them in the first place. They can, however, run into "problems", if they end up giving birth to "Mother" or "Father" type children, for whom such things will hold more significance and value. Although there are no studies that I know of to make an analysis, my intuition is that, for whatever reasons, the archetypal patterns run pretty deep, and may not be shaped so much by environment. In other words, the parents' archetypal patterns are not necessarily going to be duplicated in their children, and the fact that the opposite is often true makes for much misunderstanding, confusion, and conflict within families and from generation to generation.

So what about the differences between "Amazons" and "Warriors", "Mediums" and "Sages"?

Where what I have written previously focuses on interpersonal relating, these other archetypes focus more on how one relates with respect to the "plane" of The World. Where our interpersonal relationships span the continuum between the "Collective" and the "Individual", the Plane of the World, spans the continuum between the "Material" and the "Spiritual" (or non-material) aspects of our experience. Consequently, it is normal for one's character to be identified by two archetypes that are adjacent, but not opposite one another; i.e. for women - "Mother/Amazon", "Mother/Medium", "Companion/Amazon", or "Companion/Medium"; and for men - "Father/Warrior", "Father/Sage", "Seeker/Warrior", or "Seeker/Sage". Furthermore, even within those pairings, one may be more identified with one archetype than the other.

Nevertheless, the basic idea is that we all have to interact interpersonally and within the broader world, so there are going to be certain patterns we naturally tend towards in each case. Furthermore, depending on your level of self-awareness, which archetypes you identify with may be more or less obvious to you - and, granted, there is plenty of room for variation along the continuums. But, usually, if you have to choose, there are going to be certain values that you will focus on over others, and that is how your archetype is defined or how your archetype defines you (until you become self-aware enough to possibly grow beyond its potential limitations).

I can pretty much bet as soon as you saw the terms "Amazon" and "Warrior," there were images coming to mind, "Xena - Warrior Princess", or "Wonder Woman", or Arnold Schwarzenegger in any number of his film roles.

You may also fairly quickly realize that just about anyone who has "made it" - as a rock star, politician, professional athlete, etc., etc., both male and female, by necessity have to have the will and ambition to be a "success" in the material world. In fact, this is a key characteristic of "Amazon" and "Warrior" types: They Thrive On Competition! They thrive on receiving the acknowledgment of others for their "accomplishments", on their obvious, visible material successes.

But, our "World" is not being driven solely by competition. The truth is: There is a lot of cooperation that is also critical for anyone in this world to ultimately be a material success. Think of all of the stage hands who have to cooperate to help a rock star put on a show? Think of all of the interns and advisors who work together to carry out a successful political campaign. Think of all of the physical therapists and trainers and water boys and ball girls who support competing athletes. All these people are like the roots of a plant that go about their business quietly, underground, but what we ultimately give our attention to is the plant that "breaks through" to the surface, to "bask in the sun".

These "root beings" are characterized in the archetypes of female "Mediums" and male "Sages". "Mediums" or "Mediumistic Women" and "Sage" men tend to be those who are most empathetic, most sensitive to the invisible/emotional/spiritual aspects of human life and experience. That is part of the reason why they are not inclined to compete with others because...Losing Hurts! And why would they want to go through that painful experience themselves, OR inflict it on someone else with whom they will invariably empathize. In other words, if they lose they feel their own pain, if they win they will feel the pain of loss experienced by the other person! So, in most cases, competition is, emotionally, a "no win" situation for "Mediumistic" women and "Sage" men.

However, this is not to say they are not ambitious. Quite the contrary, they can be very ambitious when it comes to how well they learn to empathize with and understand themselves and others. They will strive to be "superior" human beings...when it comes to certain mental, emotional, philosophical, and/or spiritual "goals". However, their "successes" are most often experienced internally, not externally, and those successes generally do not require validation from others in order to be meaningful to the person experiencing them. Again, like roots growing underground, too much "sun" can actually inhibit their functioning.

Again, as the author's of About Men and Women... explain, and as I hope I have made more clear here, ALL of these archetypal patterns are Valid and Necessary expressions of human beings who exist equally as individuals and as parts of the collectives of their social groups and societies, and as human beings who live in a world that includes both material and non-material aspects. However, I do not think the bias that has developed in favor of some of the archetypes and against others was ever truly intentional. It has just "worked out" that way. The species could not have perpetuated itself if it were not for "Mothers" and "Fathers", and all of the traditional/cultural elements that support long-term stability for society as a whole. And clearly, it was important, especially early in our evolution, that "the strongest survived" in order to fend off all of the other potential threats to hearth and home (such as animal predators).

However, today, the potential range of human experience has expanded exponentially. No longer is one bound to live a life where bearing children is a necessary focal point. As most people know, the human species is doing just fine at reproducing as there are still plenty of "Mothers" and "Fathers" out there who are more than happy to engage in and express those valid and necessary patterns. However, culturally, there is now more freedom for "Companions" and "Seekers" to use their entire lives, if they so choose, simply exploring all aspects of their own nature and, in the broader sense, what it means to be "a human being" apart from the obvious reproductive and cultural aspects.

Also, as people like Garret John Loporto originator of the "Wayseers" movement has pointed out: Some of the greatest advances of human culture have come from Un-Conventional, Non-Traditional, Individual, "Free Thinkers" - people who did not easily fall into culturally prescribed roles. I think his basic idea of these advances in society coming from the interaction of "Uprisers" and "Stabilizers" is a valid one, which also highlights the distinct play of "opposing" archetypes, especially the dynamic play between "Mothers" and "Fathers", "Companions", and "Seekers".

Finally, where we have managed to ever-so-successfully compete in and dominate the "material world", problems are more root-like. Now, it is much more obvious that we are fighting over beliefs, ideas, and ideologies, those "invisible" parts of our human experience that ultimately mold our outward behavior. More outwad, obvious, technological advances are, ultimately, not going to save us. In fact, our advances in producing weapons of mass destruction have brought us to the brink of self-annihilation.

No. I would dare say the hope of humanity no longer lies with the "Warriors" and the "Amazons" - at least, not the traditional ones. No, I think we are moving into the age when the "Mediums" and "Sages" are going to have to do more to show themselves and to let their so important and necessary internal and underground work be seen by others. It is interesting to me that advances in technology, especially The Internet, have made it possible for the usually introverted and shy philosophers-sages and mediumistic women to offer up their they can do it from the privacy and even the anonymity of their own "dark closets" where they do their best work! (Again, keep in mind the metaphor of the "roots" that generally do not do well when overexposed to the "sun"!)

As for myself, personally, I took some advice from the authors of About Men and Women... and made a determined commitment not only to mature as a "Companion/Medium" woman, but also to consciously "explore my opposite archetypes".

When I joined the U.S. Navy, nearly 14 years ago now, I knew I would be putting myself in an environment that would be heavily populated by "Mother" and especially "Amazon" type women. Furthermore, I was really "coming out of the closet" by having to be closely associated with other human beings, day in and day out. There were very, very few times I was alone, especially when I was deployed on the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington. During one of my deployments, I became overwhelmed by all of the emotional content I was absorbing from so many other people through my natural, "Mediumistic" tendency to empathize deeply. But...I learned something Very Valuable from that experience: Of Necessity (because I simply could not continue to effectively function in that environment otherwise), I learned how to adjust the "radar" down a few notches. I learned how to have more Conscious Control over my emotional sensitivity towards others. Now I feel about as comfortable "out in the world" as I do "in my closet", and by being "out in the world", I have been able to speak more openly to others in support of, and seeking better understanding and recognition for, people like myself.

The very fact that I now have the will, and "backbone", the "ambition", to pursue my writing more purposefully, and, not to mention, to ride my bicycle across the country, is a testimony to the fact that I have not only matured as a "Companion/Medium" woman in my own right, but I have gained a great deal from my experiences "on the other side" - as an "Amazon/Sailor" with the U.S. Navy, as a competitive cyclist for a very brief period during my shore duty in Maryland, and as a marathon and half-marathon runner. No, there was never a complete "conversion", but I learned what I needed to learn to at least bring myself closer to the "middle point" between all of those archetypal extremes. And I have decided, that is a very good place for me to be!

Unfortunately, this is not the case with many, if not most, other people. As the authors of About Men and Women... point out, there is a natural antipathy between opposite archetypes. Furthermore, some "Mothers" and "Fathers", "Amazons" and "Warriors" still think that: a) Theirs are the Only Valid archetypes (and this presumption is greatly supported by the media), and b) Their ways of expressing feminine and masculine energy are the only "right" or "moral" ways to do so!

And therein lies a Big Problem, especially if you happen to more naturally express those "other" archetypes. As I said, for the first 32 years of my life I thought something was fundamentally "wrong" with me. Furthermore, I had no way of knowing how a mature "Companion" or "Mediumistic" woman was supposed to act. But, I did know, after reading About Men and Women... that I would eventually be writing about this, just as I have done here.

And now, I am very comfortable being Exactly Who I Am because I Know Just How Important the Role Is that I Now Have to Play in This World, especially at this critical time in our history. At the same time...I respect the roles that are also being lived by my "opposites" - "Mother" and "Amazon" women - and All of the roles that are also being lived by men. My highest hope and motivation for writing (this blog-post in particular) is that: a) we would all learn what mature expressions of each of those archetypal patterns looks like and aspire to the highest level of maturity we can achieve as individuals, and b) that Everyone Else (besides me) also start to recognize and value those people who express archetypes that are "opposite" from their own.

I feel Very, Very Strongly about this issue. Just as with understanding the play of "anima" and "animus" between men and women, I feel it is also crucial that more people in the world come to a better understanding of these basic, patterned expressions of masculine and feminine energy and consciousness. Once you start to see these patterns in yourself and others, you will also start to see the way they are affecting our experiences in the world as a whole... for better and for worse.

The Key, as in so many areas of Life Experience, is Finding the Right Balance, between "Mothers" and "Companions", "Amazons" and "Mediums", "Fathers" and "Seekers", "Warriors" and "Sages". Again, and I do not think I can emphasize this strongly enough (so I'm using every tool in the box here): ALL OF THESE ARCHETYPAL PATTERNS ARE VALID AND VALUABLE EXPRESSIONS OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS!

(Please understand my descriptions here are by no means exhaustive. Reading About Men and Women... will definitely help round out your knowledge and understanding! It is one of my Most Highly Recommended Books of All Time, and another one of my "Favorite Books Under 200 Pages"! I will also willingly answer any questions and respond to comments. This is probably not the only blog I will end up writing on this topic.)

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