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.