Introduce topic of “Perceptions of the feminine,” including female gender concept and gender distortion.
Not all men with SSA experience these issues…
In addition to causing unhealthy responses to women, disturbing or painful childhood experiences with females can also create distorted perspectives or beliefs about women. Many of us develop beliefs about women that are not accurate for women as a whole, even if they may be true about the women within our own families. For example, we may view all women as dangerous or downright evil—as cruel, vindictive abusers. We may see them as needy and engulfing, manipulative and cajoling. Or we may see women generally as being stupid and weak or as just more trouble than they’re worth—moody, complaining, and whining. On the other hand, we may idealize women, viewing them as good, pure, or even sacred. Or we may look to them as our protectors or providers.
Disturbing or painful childhood experiences with females may also create incorrect or immature perceptions of ourselves in relation to women. The kinds of experiences I described above may have left us seeing ourselves as needy and weak in our relationships with women or as undesirable, vulnerable, and inferior to women. We may feel small and incapable of handling the demands of an intimate opposite–sex relationship. On the other extreme, we may see ourselves as being superior to females—as far better or somehow right.
Most critical of all the effects of our childhood relationships with females is the way those relationships impact our sense of gender. For many of us, females were the predominant influence in our lives growing up. They provided us with role modeling and friendship while the men in our lives may have had little impact on us. This may have left us without a clear sense of genderedness—the roles and differences between men and women may seem ambiguous.
In addition, gender shame and gender double binds may have disrupted our connection with our own masculine identity or turned us off to the idea of being male. We may have identified ourselves with females or even come to believe that it would be preferable to be female. Some of us may have developed such strong repugnance toward masculinity and such a strong desire to be female that we truly came to see ourselves as a woman stuck in a man’s body. More commonly, we probably have a clear recognition of our maleness but feel a much stronger sense of connection and resonance with the opposite sex.