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Archetypal, Mythic Strong Women and Patriarchy -- A Conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD-- Transcript

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JSB: And...

Rob: Not the same as hijabs, a lot of them wear wigs or hats or those same...they have some similarities there.

JSB: Well partly it's because as a initiate, as a new wife, I think you have to shave your head.

Rob: Oh, I didn't know that. Hm. What's the symbolism of shaving your head?

JSB: Well if it goes back to, I mean that...the power of the feminine in her ability to be attractive...a lot has to do with the hair. It's a certain kind of power. Although it was Sampson that had his hair shorn to reduce his power. I know that you become more and more anonymous though when you...if you were to have your hair...head shorn and had to keep it covered and had to keep your eyes down and a few other subordinate behavior things like this.

Rob: You know actually, you talk about this in the book. You talk about...you wrote a book...you refer to your book, Ring of Power, and how there's an abandoned child, and when a son or daughter is expected to be an extension of a parent's needs, which sounds to me a bit like the way a narcissist parent functions.

JSB: It's true. When a culture of behave...enforces that, it's very much the same when the idea of an abandoned child in Ring of Power was that if from the moment you're born your value is determined by how you are going to serve the...in the opera, the ring of the navel on which that I use as a basis for describing this, each of the children -- male and females -- value were entirely based on whether that son could acquire what the father wanted. And so whenever a boy or a girl is born into the world and not seen as a unique individual who has a life to lead and meaning to find in his or her own life, but it's primarily to serve the ambitions of a parent or the unlived out possibilities of the parent, and overlooked is what that boy or that girl really might love to do...or be themselves, that's a narcissistic system in which the narcissism of the parent is primary and that is, of course, what's true of patriarchy...because you look at who has the most, you know, the projections that are the strongest on who you're there to be, it's in the royal families. The higher you are...

Rob: Tell me more about this tie between narcissism and patriarchy?

JSB: Well I think that narcissism and codependency are related, and in fact, one of the interesting things about the recovery movement is it's description is that if women are raised to be codependent, meaning that they are not important -- what they have to do themselves is not significant, that they're whole identity is in relationship to somebody else, and in relationship to the husband or the father. And that's what patriarchy does to daughters -- it says you belong to the father until you're married and you belong to the husband, and your role is to fulfill the expectations of father and then husband, and it's usually to serve -- I mean it's always to serve. It's to be, regardless of whether you inherently want to be a mother of...if your culture says your whole value is on having male babies, then that's what you do, and it's subordinate to any life that you might have preferred yourself. So that's being certainly co-dependent in an institutionalized way to the principle that you have been raised under. And a culture that believes in the individual development of each human being and each human being having worth...innate worth...is different.

So we have the idea of co-dependent and narcissists. You know there's a joke that at the moment in which you're about to die someone else's life flashes by the co-dependent....because the co-dependent puts all the importances on pleasing and in taking care of and in mattering to the other person. So the other person is encouraged to be a narcissist. And given those circumstances, a patriarchal culture trains its girls and boys -- it trains the girls to be co-dependent and it does train the boys to be narcissistic.

Rob: A patriarchal culture does that?

JSB: I believe it does.

Rob: Wow. And how does that manifest?

JSB: All privilege of development goes to the boys. I mean in the consideration in the most patriarchal cultures now are the ones in the middle east that are fighting to keep it the way it is. And there, the women are anonymous with their hajibs and education is denied them, so independent thinking is not allowed. And I'm, you know, when you think about innate gifts and innate archetypes, to me they do go together. So if you have an innate love of something and you never have a chance to develop it, what a denial that is. I mean if you have a fine mind and nobody will educate it because you are a girl, or you have an innate musical ability and you aren't exposed to music or art, and those are natural built into you -- loves and talents -- the idea of behind the Jungian approach to psychology that I follow is that we each have our own individuation or desire to develop fully, and that includes all of the qualities that are human, that they are....we come into the world with certain gifts, we share all the potentials. But, you know, I'm...I like music, but I can't carry a tune if I'm sitting next to somebody who is really in harmony. And then there's the people who have this innate musical gift -- you can say it's archetypal, it's built in -- and will you be allowed to develop it or not? Well not if you're a girl.

So much of what is...and I also in Artemis...one of the things about using the Atalanta myth as a story to exemplify Artemis qualities is the contrast and the explanation about how patriarchy is really tough on boys...

Rob: It's really what? I can't...it's really what?

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