Who doesn’t want to know what women want, right? Well, in this interview with Hendrika Freud, we begin to get the idea that women often prefer not to know. As I sit in my private practice, many of my female patients put on a good smoke and mirror show, cloaking desires behind reaction formations, saying they are not angry when indeed they are, and feeling guilty when they venture to articulate what they prefer in bed, for breakfast, or as payment for services rendered. Indeed, when a woman says “no” she does often mean “yes.” In her book Electra vs Oedipus: The Drama of the Mother-Daughter Relationship (Routledge, 2010), Freud explores why being affirmative, embracing one’s desires, can be so vexatious for those deemed female.
Finding a way to separate from the one whose gender identity we share, our mother, is a very complicated affair. According to Freud, a mother’s unconscious fantasies regarding her daughter are transmitted at a very young age. If a mother is narcissistically vulnerable, she is more prone to use her daughter as an extension of herself and so to be threatened by her daughter’s expressions of difference. If you have seen Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” you have witnessed an excellent depiction of how destructive such a set up is for the daughter, leading at its most extreme to florid psychosis.
So what do women want? According to Hendrika Freud, “they want a woman with a penis.”