WHAT DO WOMEN REALLY WANT? (Or men, for that matter)

This, of course, is a famous question, as much as anything for the fact that Freud confessed himself unable to answer it.

One of the most interesting statistics to come out of the analysis of the recent US election is surely the fact that 53% of white women who voted, voted for Trump; this at a time when there was the best ever possibility of breaking the "ultimate glass ceiling" by putting a woman in the White House. I'm not saying that they should have voted for Clinton, I'm simply raising the interesting question.

Perhaps they simply made a rational decision that the policies of the man they voted for were superior. On the other hand, perhaps they (and we) are actually driven by forces that go mostly unacknowledged that have nothing to do with such "rational" judgements.

I imagine that many people saw Trump as an old fashioned male chauvinist. If so, then that evidently was not totally unwelcome to them. Many must have seen Clinton as a clever and successful modern woman, and, evidently, that was not an overwhelmingly popular image. There certainly are a fair number of "modern women" out there, but they do not seem to have been the dominant force this time. Is "political correctness" blinding us to important dimensions of what it is to be human?

Perhaps we have to find a way to co-exist in a world where some people, male and female, are "modern" and some are not, and not make it into too much of a moral imperative that one become one or the other, necessarily. "Modern" values have certainly made some progress, but in this election there is, unless I am much mistaken, some reaction against them at work.

However, such universal tolerance is not an easy matter to actually implement since attitudes do have real social consequences and there are a great many situations where it is not possible to have it both ways. If you long for a world where women stay at home and only men go out to work, then the men have got to have jobs available that pay a wage sufficient to keep a family. If, as in the USA, there are actually more women in the workforce than men, the economics work out quite differently and it becomes quite difficult to be a stay-at-home mum even if you want to.

So, we could simply say that not all people (because, although I am focussing on women here, similar considerations apply to men) want the same thing, and to think so is not a bad assumption for the purposes of social administration, but wanting and being able to have may not match and, in any case, we can surely say more than that for the purposes of psychology. In fact, there is surely a profound clash between the understandings of depth psychology that acknowledge the workings of sexual drives with their concomitant rivalries, grasping, possessiveness, envy, and struggles for genetic survival, on the one hand, and the claims of a more legalistic logic that deals in rights, rational choice and conscious identities alone, on the other. In the pagan religions there were the Furies, and although society has officially worshipped at the shrine of Reason since the time of the French Revolution, the more archaic spirits have not gone away.

The supposedly darker forces in the depths are just as much a part of human nature as the more socially acceptable ones. The pollsters probably got this election wrong because voters were not willing to tell them their real intentions because these were based on aspects of life that remain taboo. If Trump had set out deliberately (perhaps he did) to offend modern progressive women, he could not have done much more than he did, apparently quite naturally. This did not, however, drive all women away into the other camp.

The really difficult glass wall is the one that prevents us from facing our own deeper nature, and for the majority of people, women and men, that wall is probably going to remain a permanent fixture. One reason for this is that the deeper forces themselves call for subterfuge. If you are going to defeat a rival of your own gender, even vicariously and in unconscious fantasy, and even if that rival is a presidential candidate, then it stands to reason (sic) that one's best approach will be to say one thing and do another.

Human nature is complicated in this way. To really examine what is going on, in ourselves, in others, in society, we need to suspend judgement and look at aspects of life that normally, and for good reason, remain in the shadows.

What we say we want, what we secretly want, what we do not ourselves realise that we are angling for, and what our soul wants may well be four quite different things.

You need to be a member of David Brazier at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) to add comments!

Join David Brazier at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis)

Email me when people reply –


  • Thanks, Kim. Yes, interesting points. Yes, if you go back in history you can get all kinds of ideas. The Republicans abolished slavery and the Democrats opposed them. The non-voting thing certainly makes a difference. I suspect that if everybody had voted there would not have been a majority for Brexit. I must say that I think representational democracy is a much better bet than direct democracy, but then you do get distortions due to movements of population and how the rules work. We have several times had governments in the UK by parties that got an overall majority in parliament on less votes than the other large party got. Also, at the last election, the Scottish Nationalists won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland by getting 50% of the votes. But no system (and no electorate :-) ) is perfect.

  • It is interesting to note that 51% of the eligible voters in the United States (where I grew up), did NOT VOTE!  It is also interesting to note that Trump lost the popular vote by over 3 million votes.  The electoral college put Trump in power just as the Supreme Court of the United States put Bush in power by ignoring the Florida recount.  The US is not a democracy, it is a representational democracy. 

    Also, with respect to women voting more conservatively, the statistics suggest the following:

    Black women voting for Trump 4%, Black women voting for Clinton 94%

    Latino woment voting for Trump 26% Latino women voting for Clinton 68%

    Unfortunately women other than white women, did not vote in large enough numbers and as I said, many, many many people DID NOTE VOTE at all or they voted outside the mainstream parties.

    White women voting for Trump 53% White women voting for Clinton 43%

    Other women voting for

    It is also important to remember that the US is composed of people and ideologies from all over the world.  I worked with a man from Viet Nam who said that he and everyone from Viet Nam always voted for Repulbicans regardless of the platform.  I asked him why?  "Because the Democrats ruined my country."  Donald Trump is a "used-car" salesman who has the ability to make people think that he is on their side.  As Mark Twain said, "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

  • Well, yes. Unfortunately, my country has two irreconcilable bands... There is a lack of compassion on both sides.

  • So was the dictatorship popular in its own time?

  • Yes, I agree. I guess I rebel against that fact, mostly because I radically fight for women rights, that women vote more conservative, but you got a point.

    Perhaps it is also a generation matter: young people vote less, and old women (at least, in Spain) tend to be more conservative. Do not forget that Spain was under a Catholic Dictatorship for 50 years. So the women from that time are less liberal, in general.

  • Thank you, Cayetano - yes. I don't think it is always this way, but you have a point. I still think that the majority of people in UK did not want Brexit and if it had been a legal requirement that one had to vote (as in Australia) the result would have gone the other way. The pro-remain people were less sure than the pro-leave people. As you say, the system allows those who are more enthusiastic to have a stronger voice, because they actually go out and vote. I don't think that this always favours the "right" rather than the "left" but it does seem to have done so recently. In the US there is a further factor in that due to migration toward the coasts, the states that voted republican (in the interior) are over-represented vis-a-vis the states that vote Democrat (on the east and west coast). The number of places in the electoral college has not been adjusted to represent the actual levels of population living in the various states.

    To go back to the main point, there does seem to be some tendency for women to vote conservatively. I guess this is partly because women have a greater need for stability than men and partly a matter of style. The appeal of the "right" is generally couched in more emotive symbols and that of the left is commonly presented in a more rational style, and I mean "style" rather than substance. It is all a bit like "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus".

    Of course this can have surprising consequences. In Britain, the left talks a lot more about gender equality than the right. The right is more likely to push forward images of old fashioned family life. However, the right has produced two female prime ministers now while the Labour Party has yet to produce a single female leader. Not everything in politics is rational and sometimes the irrational works better.

  • Hello!

    Well, I guess it's the same in my country: 53% of women who voted, voted to the extreme-right wing Spanish party. But that's not the point, the point is that more than 60% of Spain population didn't vote. I guess it's the same in any country, as it happened recently with British and the Brexit: the right always vote, the left is divided and fighting intestines wars. Because of that, populism rises to power and, once again as 80 years ago, it is slowly taking control over the Western world, and using the same old tricks and mass-media manipulation.

    But I'm just thinking aloud, sorry :)

    Namu Amida Bu

  • :-)

    Nati said: Oh, thank you,....

  • Oh, thank you, this is very good! It is really a very interesting dream, with a very symbolic response...let¨s see how this sort of "leisure time" with coffee and croissant takes form in reality. 

    Namo Amida Bu

  • Thank you, Nati. Very nice observations and sharing.

    Actually, on the night of the election I had a dream in which I was chatting with Donald Trump and he was telling me that he had just won the election. I asked him what he was going to do now and he said, "I'm going to get a coffee and croissant." At that point, I woke up from the dream. I went to my computer and checked the news. It was very early in the morning and Trump was very slightly ahead at that time, but nobody was predicting the final outcome.

This reply was deleted.