Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 18 of 56 
Next page End Contents 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23  

settlements grew larger. Some historians believe that 10,000 years
(300 generations) ago women were the leaders and the gods of some
larger groups. Mother earth and females were obviously the magical
sources of life and, thus, closer to God. But, according to Rensberger,
in a more settled existence where goods and wealth could be
accumulated, well beyond what one could carry, there developed a
strong relationship between meat-eating and male dominance. Men
were the hunters because they were stronger, didn't have children to
suckle, and were more expendable. The more meat provided the tribe
by the men, the more the men were revered, the more economic and
political power men accumulated, and the more dependent and
submissive became their wives. We still speak of "bringing home the
bacon." This historical scenario may support one contention of
feminists, namely, that women will have to become economic,
political, and religious equals of men before they will be regarded by
society as individuals of equal status. 
There are other theories about the source of male chauvinism.
Even before anthropologists developed their theories, Freud was
impressed both with the power of love-sex drives to dominate our lives
and with the male feeling of superiority over women. He, being a
male, thought young girls might feel inferior because they don't have a
penis and because they may fear it had been cut off as punishment for
being bad. That's an unlikely explanation of why males feel superior
and females feel inferior, compared to continuously being told by your
entire culture that boys are better and girls are nice but not as able or
as wanted as boys, which continues to be said long after the men of a
society have stopped risking their lives to hunt lions. (Besides, why
don't men feel inferior because they don't have breasts?) 
Traditional roles and the Women’s Movement
There was an enormous amount of feminist literature written in the
1960's and 1970's (Friedan, 1963; Greer, 1971; Janeway, 1971). It
rebelled against the 5,000-year-old stereotypes for men and women. I
won't try to summarize the feminist literature but its focus was on the
importance of equality between the sexes, including being against
male chauvinism (feeling superior or "god-like") and female
subservience or dependency. Men and women should read and take to
heart this literature. Schwartz (1970) is typical of the early
assertiveness literature. These writers point out how much more is
involved than the emotional need for love (as discussed above) or the
need for sex discussed by the anthropologists. The feminist writings
clarify how tradition has dictated male and female sex roles that
control much of our lives--our interests, our work assignments, our
attitudes towards ourselves and others, our status, our love lives, our
dreams and aspirations, and almost everything about our lives. As we
have seen, people tend to conform to other peoples' ideas of what is
right or how things ought to be. For example, only men are supposed
(according to "old" tradition) to strive for economic and political power,
e.g. to become chief of the tribe or president of the country or CEO of
Previous page Top Next page

« Back