Parsing the Madonna-Whore Complex

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The Madonna-whore complex is endemic to our species.  It’s the internalized conflict of an outward struggle.  The first order of this problem reflects the two competing reproductive strategies of the sexes: women want to secure the resources of a devoted male, while covertly reproducing with a sexy man.  For their part, men want sex from dozens of women who are uninhibited and libidinous, while simultaneously guaranteeing the parentage of their children by selecting a woman who is self-controlled and faithful.

It’s on the second-order that these competing strategies turn into a complex.  The man selects his wife because he believes in her fidelity; and because he believes in her fidelity, he believes that she must be non-sexual.  The woman comes to believe that her husband – since he is a husband – must be a good provider; ergo, he is not a sexy fornicator.

This struggle was summed up recently on Vox Day’s Alpha Game blog, in the form of a reader’s question:

When picking a woman for the long haul, which is more important: (1) that you have high sexual rapport with her, or (2), that she does not have a significant sexual history?

I initially chose my girlfriend for a LTR (in part) because of her tame sexual history. We broke up over her not wanting kids. She has since changed her mind, and we are now back together. However, in the interim, I had a couple of sexual experiences at festivals that were more enjoyable than I ever had with my girlfriend. She claims she is “not like those girls”, but that she could act like that if she felt more secure about the relationship.

I know her pretty well and I think it is true that she is “not like those girls”, in the sense that her personality is more apprehensive, anxious and self-conscious. I think that having a more secure relationship won’t change these traits significantly, but it may make her invested enough to do things that make her uncomfortable, which isn’t really what I want.

What I really want is to fuck “those girls”, because they are more sexually generous and receptive, whom I have previously disqualified for relationships… for (essentially) the same reasons.  I don’t know whether I am sabotaging a perfectly good relationship to indulge a fleeting sexual impulse or robbing myself of more compatible and loving long term partners. Either way it seems like I am my own worst enemy.

We should start off by admitting that, to some extent (possibly a very large extent) the Madonna-whore complex in practice is simply a consequence of variation between individuals.  Women who are comely, extroverted, and carnal will have more partners on average than women who are homely, introverted, and prurient.  If your sole measure of a woman is partner-count, you are selecting for a woman who is anhedonic.

A more sensible heuristic demands that you consider additional factors; her upbringing, her religious background, what sort of temptations she’s endured – while also remembering that all of the justification in the world doesn’t change the fact that, the more partners a woman has, the harder it becomes for her to pair-bond with a single individual.

This is the Catch-22 – the Devil’s Bargain – that modernity has presented us: there are no more wives, only different sorts of whores.  The best women out there have soft-haremmed themselves to the point where they can no longer be faithful, while the virgins are whoring themselves for social status; they most likely belong to churches deep under the sway of feminism, and frequently harbour an inappropriate eroticization of Jesus Christ.  Instead of cheating or divorce, you’ll merely be stuck with a sexless scold (feel free to replace church and Christ with the corporation and Obama if they’re atheists; psychological neuroses can manifest in a variety of ways, the commonality is the mechanism behind them).

There is very little good news to be found out there, I’m afraid; whether you continue to walk the straight and narrow, or you dive off into the abyss with the rest of the horde, is a matter of faith.  I’m going to assume you’ve already chosen the former.

The metrics by which you should select such a woman are beyond the scope of this article; for now, let’s assume that you’ve found one who, despite her imperfections, is striving to become better every day.  How do you ensure that your marriage doesn’t degenerate into sexless, mutual contempt?

Let’s consider what the girlfriend said in the above example: “[she said] she could act [more sexual] if she felt more secure about the relationship.”

When a woman says “security”, she doesn’t mean what you think she means.

A man feels security through the devotion of his woman; by her focus upon him, her desire to please him, rather than her interest in others.  A woman’s sense of security complements this; she is the moon to his sun, needing his light so that she can shine her brightest.  She feels security by having something to be devoted to, and her sexuality will blossom when you are confident enough to direct matters in the bedroom.  If you view her as a Madonna, she’ll become a frigid shrew; her light will wane, because you’ve failed in your role as a radiant star.  But how can you possibly treat the mother of your children like a whore?

The trick is in understanding the difference between a sexual woman, and a whore.  One gives – the other takes.

These lines were blurred as recently as ten years ago: Generation X killed dating as surely as the Boomers killed marriage, but at least they were still civilized enough to make love; between the sheets they could still be giving.  With the Millenials, we see the natural progression of this march towards selfishness, where it’s all about taking.

The whore is fundamentally selfish; she chooses you for sex because you fulfil her needs.  You’re an object in her psychodrama.  Your substance is irrelevant, the style is all that matters; do you fit in to the narrative she’s written for her life?  The sexy bad boy and the sexless provider both give her what she wants on her terms, their internal life is irrelevant.

Contrast this to the sexual woman: she views your style as an outgrowth of your inner substance.  She gives herself to you because you are worthy; you tell her what you want, and she is happy to comply because you asked for it.  Sex isn’t a tool used to manipulate, to be doled out in exchange for meeting certain requirements – you’ve already met those requirements, and sex is a foregone conclusion.

This all applies to men as well, equally and complementary.  The selfish man uses the women who use him with no regard for the women themselves.  Both the sexy bad boy, and the sexless chump, are ultimately claiming ownership over a woman in their own way, rather than having her give herself to him.  The badboy wants her body.  The chump wants a pat on the head from mommy.  The Vir shines brightly, and allows her to reflect his brightness; he gives everything, because that is what a man does; she gives herself in return.

The Madonna-whore complex is an issue of the ego: “What are you?” versus “What do you think you are?” A man needs to be a man.  Rather than trying to find a woman who approves of his masculinity; he needs to embrace heroism, to hope without hope.  A woman needs to subsume herself in him; to shun the weak, sporadic light that comes from the far-off stars of social media and social insincerity, and find a brightness so overwhelming that she becomes a part of it.

The ego wants to take, it wants to control, it wants to bulwark itself against an uncertain world.  To transcend the Madonna-whore complex, both partners must learn to give up this control, to stop rebelling against the world, and, ultimately, to give themselves to one another.

Love or hate?  Giving or taking?  It’s the same old question, time and again.

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Davis M.J. Aurini

Trained as a Historian at McMaster University, and as an Infantry soldier in the Canadian Forces, I'm a Scholar, Author, Film Maker, and a God fearing Catholic, who loves women for their illogical nature.

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3 Responses

  1. Marc says:

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on the subject.

  2. The Question says:

    This really comes back to your video on the church’s stance concerning chastity and marriage. They want young men and women to wait for marriage to have sex, but the other unspoken half of this command in Western society is they also need to wait until they’re around 30. If people got married when they were in their late teens and early twenties, much of problem would be remedied. Their marriage would occur shortly after they discovered their sexuality, and this would allow them to explore it within the context of marriage from the offset, rather than the other way around.

  1. June 26, 2015

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