Last time I said the Androgyne archetype is emerging into our awareness and influencing things like gender stereotypes, the sexual double standard, clothing and hairstyles. I noted that it’s responsible for our fascination with angels and space aliens and concluded by asking my readers for other examples of how this archetype is manifesting in today’s world. Bette responded, “…while I found your post on androgyny informative and intriguing, I’m coming up empty on this one — except aren’t children before puberty rather androgynous?” As I began my reply to her I soon realized there was more I wanted to say about this topic.
Yes, children before puberty are in the so called “latent” period during which they are essentially androgynous, both physically and mentally. Then the hormones kick in. Different hormone levels do different things to different kids, but what is common to all is that as their bodies mature they begin to consciously explore identity issues. Whether they realize it or not, the basic questions adolescents everywhere struggle to answer are things like, “Who am I beneath the accommodations I’ve made to gain the approval of my group?” and “Do I have the courage to pursue interests and behaviors that are important to me but frowned on by my elders?”
It’s easy to see how physical changes influence the way we think and feel. But it can be difficult to recognize the historical evolution of the human psyche, and harder still to accept the changes this is making in our world. What I was looking for after the last post were more correlations between the constellation of the Androgyne archetype and healthy societal change.
I remember when the majority of whites in the south thought it was okay for blacks to sit in the back of the bus. When I observed this at the age of seven and asked my parents about it, the response of these good and intelligent people was that this was just the way things were. I’m ashamed to report that like most everyone else, I soon stopped wondering and questioning.
These social inequities went unchallenged for a long time in America because most people assumed like I did that either those in charge must have good reasons, or there was nothing we could do about it. Of course there were no good reasons for segregation and there were many things we could have done about it, but it took us a long time to see the cancer that was destroying the health of our nation and even longer to overcome our lethargy enough to so something about it.
The civil rights movement came about in the 1950’s and 60’s because the Androgyne archetype, which presses us to integrate our inner opposites, is closing the gap between races. A historic bridge had already been built between the genders in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. At that time only a few women were able to receive legal education because courts were reluctant to admit them and employment opportunities were very limited; but by 1991, 43% of students starting law school were women. A more current example is the elimination of legal discrimination against consensual same-gender sex.
The activation of the Androgyne archetype is a hopeful sign for our species. Can you think of other examples that indicate we may be growing up and coming together at last?