Kimmel, Chapter 4

Kimmel, Chapter 4
Psychological Perspectives of
Gender Development
• Psychoanalysis and Freud
– Gender is acquired and determined by biology
– Prior to birth, all needs are gratified
– After birth, they must be provided
• Baby at “oral stage” where gratification is breastfeeding
• At “anal stage” toddler learns to control excretions
• At “genital stage” gender begins: boys must learn
to be masculine, girls feminine.
– Easier for girls who bond with mothers
– Harder for boys who cannot identify with their mothers
• During boys’ gender differentiation, the
Oedipal Crisis must be resolved
– Boy must break identification with mother,
desire her, realize he’s competing with his
father, be afraid that his father will castrate
him upon learning of his desire for his mother,
resolve that fear by transferring affection from
mom to dad, and come to identify with his
father—thus becoming masculine,
heterosexual, and capable of sex with motherlike substitutes
• During girls’ gender differentiation, they must
renounce their sexual desire for their moms,
sine they are incapable of having sexual
relations with her because of differing anatomies
– Women experience ‘penis envy’ because they realize
they cannot have their mother, as their fathers do, so
they must transfer that desire to the desire to be
possessed sexually so that they can have a baby ,
which will be their true source of feminine
gratification; they must transfer the location of sexual
gratification from their atrophied penis (their clitoris) to
their vagina
• Gender and sexuality are psychological
not biological
– Must be resolved within the family
– Homosexuality is a gender identity issue
rather than a morality issue
– Traditional gender roles are success signs of
good mental health
• Research and conclusions are debatable
– Female theories
• Small sample of patients, wealthy upper-class
women who all had some ‘psychosis’ already,
which is why he was treating them
• He believed that many of their claims of being
victims of incest were fantasies created because
they desired their fathers
– Male theories
• Even smaller sample, mostly based on his
recollection of his own childhood
• Implications
– Gender is acquired within the family, then the
parents are to blame—at least in part—for
their children’s failures to successfully
– M-F test
• Scoring along cultural gender values, and children
who ‘failed’ were given therapies
Cognitive Development Theories
• Piaget
– Children are born gender neutral and develop as they
process their experiences through their ‘cognitive
• Children are active learners not just passive recipients
– By age two, they know they are a boy or a girl because of
concrete clues that they interpret
– After age six, the child sees the world in gendered terms,
attributing gender to people and not to the markers
• Kimmel: Always two factors influencing
gendered behavior: the demands of a social
situation and the prior experience one has of
being gendered already.
Feminist Critiques
• Freud: Penis envy
– A male over-emphasizing the importance of his
genitalia who saw women as naturally inferior to
• Horney: the actual social subordination of women
provided the context for women’s development—and
their lack of satisfaction
• Bettleheim: women are subordinated by men
because of the male envy or fear of child-bearing
• Chowdorow: Reverses the question, asking why do
men feel inappropriately superior to women? Freud’s
‘successful’ male development creates men who are
less human, less social, less capable of intimacy
Feminist Critiques
• Kohlberg: Moral Development
– Kohlberg believed most women ‘arrested’ at the third
stage of moral development and could not make
‘proper’ judgments based on universal ethics
– Gilligan: Women make different, not improper,
decisions, based on an ‘ethic of care’ which they
balance with the ‘ethic of justice’
• Seemed to some to support gender differences and
discrimination as these natural psychological differences
were inherent (Tannen)
• Gilligan says that’s a misinterpretation: both men and
women’s ethics are based on their experiences
Developmental Differences
• Maccoby and Jacklin found only four
developmental gender differences in 1600
studies, from 1966 to 1973
– Girls’ higher verbal ability
– Boys’ better visual and spatial skills
– Boys’ higher success at math tests
– Boys’ higher aggression
Social Psychology of Sex Roles
• M-F Test to predict other ‘abnormalities’
– Could a gender identity disorder lead one to fascism or
Internal Psyche
– Hypothesis: Men insecure in their masculinity, internally,
would act masculine to cover their insecurity, often
maintaining rigid adherence to the most traditional norms
Sex Role Theories
• Miller and Swanson: M-F on a
developmental scale
• Parsons: M-F exists to fulfill society's two
main necessities: production and
– Women may be angry when they realize they
are inferior to men or that their security
depends upon a man; then they may reject
the feminine role—and become a feminist.
Critiques of Sex Role Theories
• Too oppositional or binary
• Too supportive of political conservatism
• Too dependent on coercion if sex roles are
• Power differences aren’t accounted for
and individuals alone are assumed to be
gendered—not institutions or roles
Kimmel, Chapter 5
Inequality and Difference
Social Construction of Gender Relations
• Sociology studies the variations among
men and women, as well as the
differences between them
– Definitions of masculinity and femininity vary
from culture to culture and over time
– Gender definitions vary across a person’s life
– Definitions of gender vary within any culture at
any time—by race, class, ethnicity, age,
sexuality, education, geography, etc.
Kimmel’s Conclusions
• Power cannot be ignored
– It is held by groups rather than individuals
– It is institutionalized
– Can rarely be changed by individuals
• Gendered individuals hold places within
gendered institutions
– Gender differences attributed to people
are/can be caused by the institutions

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