The Feminization of American Culture

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – The Feminization of American Culture

The Feminization of American Culture
Regular Contributor

Leonard Sax, M.D.

n ancient times–by which I mean, before 1950–most scholars agreed that women were, as a rule, not quite equal to men. Women were charming but mildly defective. Many (male) writers viewed women as perpetual teenagers, stuck in an awkward place between childhood and adulthood. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, for example, wrote that women are “childish, silly and short-sighted, really nothing more than overgrown children, all their life long. Women are a kind of intermediate stage between the child and the man.” 1

Psychologists in that bygone era devoted considerable time and energy to the question of why women couldn’t outgrow their childish ways. The Freudians said it was because they were trapped in the pre-Oedipal stage, tortured by **bleep** envy. Followers of Abraham Maslow claimed that women were fearful of self-actualization. Jungians insisted that women were born with a deficiency of imprinted archetypes. Back then, of course, almost all the psychologists were men.

Things are different now. Male psychologists today are so rare that Ilene Philipson–author of On the Shoulders of Women: The Feminization of Psychotherapy–speaks of “the vanishing male therapist as a species soon to be extinct.2 the gender of the modal psychotherapist has changed from male to female, the standard of mental health has changed along with it. Today, Dr. Philipson observes, the badge of emotional maturity is no longer the ability to control or sublimate your feelings but rather the ability to express them. A mature adult nowadays is someone who is comfortable talking about her inner conflicts, someone who values personal relationships above abstract goals, someone who isn’t afraid to cry. In other words: a mature adult is a woman.

It is now the men who are thought to be stuck halfway between childhood and adulthood, incapable of articulating their inner selves. Whereas psychologists fifty years ago amused themselves by cataloging women’s (supposed) deficiencies, psychologists today devote themselves to demonstrating “the natural superiority of women.”3 Psychologists report that women are better able to understand nonverbal communication and are more expressive of emotion.4 ,5Quantitative personality inventories reveal that the average woman is more trusting, nurturing, and outgoing than the average man.6 The average eighth-grade girl has a command of language and writing skills equal to that of the average eleventh-grade boy.7

As the influence of the new psychology permeates our culture, women have understandably begun to wonder whether men are really, well, human. “What if these women are right?” wonders one writer in an article for Marie Claire, a national woman’s magazine. “What if it’s true that some men don’t possess, or at least can’t express, nuanced emotions?”8 More than a few contemporary psychologists have come to regard the male of our species as a coarsened, more violent edition of the normal, female, human. Not surprisingly, they have begun to question whether having a man in the house is desirable or even safe.
years ago, scholar Sara Ruddick expressed her concern about “the extent and variety of the psychological, sexual, and physical battery suffered by women and children of all classes and social groups … at the hands of fathers, their mothers’ male lovers, or male relatives. If putative fathers are absent or perpetually disappearing and actual fathers are controlling or abusive, who needs a father? What mother would want to live with one or wish one on her children?”9 Nancy Polikoff, former counsel to the Women’s Legal Defense Fund, said that “it is no tragedy, either on a national scale or in an individual family, for children to be raised without fathers.”10

The feminization of psychology manifests itself in myriad ways. Consider child discipline. Seventy years ago, doctors agreed that the best way to discipline your child was to punish the little criminal. (“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Today, spanking is considered child abuse.11 You’re supposed to talk with your kid. Spanking sends all the wrong messages, we are told, and may have stupendously horrible consequences. Psychoanalyst Alice Miller confidently informed us, in her book For Your Own Good, that Adolf Hitler’s evil can be traced to the spankings his father inflicted on him in childhood.12

11-22-2006 03:08 PM

Re: The Feminization of American Culture

Meh, I was spanked as a child.

These women being quoted are dead wrong. My husband has a myriad of different emotions. He’s not the slightest bit dangerous, unless someone tries to hurt me or someone else he cares about. I look forward to having children with him.

01-09-2007 12:40 PM

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