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Queering gender: anima/animus and the paradigm of emergence



Abstract:  An exploration into the world of the queer others of gender and sexuality moves us beyond the binary opposition of male/masculinity and female/femininity in our understanding of gender and expands the meaning of gender and sexuality for all humans. A revision of Jungian gender theory that embraces all genders and sexualities is needed not only to inform our clinical work but also to allow us to bring Jungian thought to contemporary gender theory and to cultural struggles such as gay marriage.

The cognitive and developmental neurosciences are increasingly focused on the importance of body biology and embodied experience to the emergence of mind. In my exploration of gender I ask how gender comes to be experienced in a developing body and how those embodied gender feelings elaborate into a conscious category in the mind, a gender position.

My understanding of emergent mind theory suggests that one's sense of gender, like other aspects of the mind, emerges very early in development from a self-organizing process involving an individual's particular body biology, the brain, and cultural environment. Gendered feeling, from this perspective, would be an emergent aspect of mind and not an archetypal inheritance, and the experiencing body would be key to gender emergence.

A revised Jungian gender theory would transcend some of the limitations of Jung's anima/animus (A/A) gender thinking allowing us to contribute to contemporary gender theory in the spirit of another Jung; the Jung of the symbolic, the mythic, and the subtle body. This is the Jung who invites us to the medial place of the soul, bridging the realm of the physical body and the realm of the spirit.