July 1996

Root Page of Article: Gender and Computer Networking, by Gérard Martin

Anima and Animus

C. G. Jung's theory of anima-animus states that every man has a female side to his unconscious psyche which Jung calls anima. Likewise, every woman has a male counterpart within her unconscious psyche which is called the animus. Furthermore, Jung suggests stages of evolution that follow flows of development from bondage, reverence, or apprenticeship to creative boldness, individuation and the union of opposites. It is noteworthy that Jung's anima-animus theory has been criticized by some who argue a erroneous cultural bias that is misogynist or otherwise demeaning to women--especially in regard to how power is mediated through the animus. Yet, is it so surprising that anima in Aristotelian thought is considered the very soul or essence while animus is the body or other practical and tangible manifestation? What parallel does this hold for computing and knowledge, for Internet networking and community, or for technology and technological advancement and what one would call progress? The guidance that one brings to the very conduit of flow can be likened to an intuitive process--not unlike the way in which a man's anima helps him to find the hidden facts of his unconsciousness about himself; helping reveal the more profound inner depths of character and inner values. If the parallel holds even remotely true, then just what are the vital messages innate to technology-driven knowledge and understanding?

Perhaps, the most remarkable aspect of the Grand Coteau Academy of the Sacred Heart is the bringing together of at least one set of opposites. The highly acquisition oriented use of the Internet is gender sensitive in directions not altogether representative of the usual character of full-fledged female constituency. None of Susan Herring's "Making the NetWork"" observations yet apply to the academy's current computer-mediated networking activities. There is no clear evidence of a female-gendered style as characterized by "expressions of appreciation, thanking, and community-building activities." Attenuation is not yet practiced as an activity. Whether this is a function of the restrictions and direction, or other factors such as age or grade levels of the students is not easy to discern at this time. In large part, arguably by pedagogical and technological means, the technology has been limited to conformance within strict categories of Internet usage.

In the anima-animus "us" and "them" conundrum, how much of us will soon become them? Does this address full flux the winds of change? Or, alternatively, is this a herewith untouched battlefield? Grand Coteau's Academy of the Sacred Heart is the oldest continuously operating Sacred Heart school in the world. Amazingly, during the American Civil War, school continued despite encroaching hostilities. As the sound of mayhem grew closer, the headmistress decided that it was time for the battlefield generals to take their battlefield conflicts elsewhere. That the sounds of war were gone the next morning is surely full testimony to at least one woman's full sense of anima-animus empowerment. --

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