In sexual politics the view of women as either Madonnas or whores limits women's sexual expression, offering two mutually exclusive ways to construct a sexual identity. The term is also used popularly, often with subtly different meanings. Causes Freud argued that the Madonna–whore complex is caused by oedipal castration fears which arise when a man experiences the affection he once felt for his mother with women he now sexually desires. In order to manage this anxiety, the man categorizes women into two groups: women he can admire and women he finds sexually attractive. Whereas the man loves women in the former category, he despises and devalues the latter group. Psychoanalyst Richard Tuch suggests that Freud offered at least one alternative explanation for the Madonna–whore complex: According to Freudian psychology, this complex often develops when the sufferer is raised by a cold and distant mother. In popular culture See also References Notes Literature John A.
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