Sexual DictionaryDictionary of the F-Word

prostitute-versus-madonna syndrome:

Or: madonna-whore-syndrome / Madonna-prostitute syndrome, a love/lust dichotomy between the idealization of woman as virgin/wife/mother versus the eroticization of woman as hussy/whore/tease. For his own purposes, the male psyche divides woman into two mutually exclusive categories; this dichotomy gave rise to the double-standard between the sexes, it is basis of the pornography industry and underlies a good deal of the violence inflicted by men on women. The whore satisfies his sexual lust ; the virgin , by not bearing children, calms his birthing jealousy. Mens envy of womens capacity to give birth, to create a new life , is evident in the madonna-whore-syndrome .
Also called, more rarely, Madonna complex / Madonna syndrome , the word Madonna encompassing the opposing notions of Madam , the keeper of a brothel , and donna , lady (from Latin domina , master of a household).


(1) Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977): ' What most men desire is a virgin who is a whore .'

(2) Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) in Notting Hill (1999): ' Rita Hayworth used to say: 'They go-to-bed-with Gilda, they wake up with me' (...) Men went to bed with the dream and they didn't like it when they woke up with reality .'

(3) Tamara Broder (Anjelica Huston) in Enemies. A Love Story (1989): ' Men love virgins. If every man had his way every woman would lie down a prostitute and get up a virgin .'

(4) Charles Panati. Sexy Origins and Intimate Things (1998): ' Thanks to photography and film, Americans have created and worshiped more femme icons than all previous centuries combined. Each of our decades has produced several new images. For the most part, men dreamed up these images and named them, and women have worked hard to copy their shapes and costumes. If there is a single attribute that most of these modern images possess, its "sex-appeal " - a relatively new and daring term in English. American men have categorized their women by sexual types and nicknamed them with suggestively playful tags. In centuries past, where a virtue-vice dichotomy prevailed, women came in only two types: good or bad , whores or madonnas, mothers or mistresses .'

See Also: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, acute HIV infection, madonna-whore syndrome, person with AIDS, prostitute-versus-madonna syndrome, Slim, spastic colon

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