Psychological Self-Help

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Competition and Feeling Superior to Others
Gender differences in values, purposes, self-esteem, and orientation
No human trait is so emphasized as gender. We are deluged, even
as infants, with "Oh, you're a big boy" or "you are such a pretty little
girl." Why is this such a critical differentiation? Would it make much
difference in a non-sexist society if you were a boy or a girl? No. Yet,
as Freud observed, the first thing we instantly determine, when
meeting someone new, is gender--is this person male or female?
Indeed, it will probably trouble us if we can't tell which gender the
person is (even though we have no reason to know)! Maybe this "need
to know" has something to do with "knowing how to act" with this
person... or establishing a pecking order... or with sex... or all of the
In chapters 6 and 8, we focused on feeling inferior, dependency,
and submissiveness. Here we will deal with the opposite--male
dominance and feeling superior to women. (Note: besides gender,
humans use several other bases for feeling superior: looks, wealth,
education, status, job, race-ethnic group, nationality, religion, morals,
size, talent, etc.) Of course, not all men have power and arrogantly
dominate women; indeed, according to Farrell (1993), many men are
dominated by "the system" and considered disposable. Also, women
are given certain advantages and "protected" in many ways that men
do not enjoy. Farrell contends that believing (falsely) that men have all
the power and advantages leads to women feeling oppressed and
angry. As a result of women's unhappiness and criticism, men feel
unappreciated. Altogether, the misunderstandings between the sexes
are keeping the sexes apart. This is an important thesis. Clearly, each
sex has and utilizes power in certain ways and we are getting more
equal, but, clearly, the sexes aren't equals yet. 
Four major areas of fascinating research highlight male-female
differences in dominance or striving for superiority (and the inevitable
feelings of success or failure). First is Gilligan and other's work,
discussed in chapter 3, showing how women's values differ from
men's. Women are concerned with developing personal relationships
and helping others; men compete for powerful positions. Second is
developmental psychology, showing boys' aggressiveness and
resistance to control by females. Third is linguistics, showing how
women's fundamental purpose is different from men's when they
converse. Men are always "proving themselves;" women are always
trying to be liked (excuse my over-generalizations). Fourth is in
learning, showing that women attempt to learn in different ways than
men. Women try to identify with the person expressing a different
opinion so they can see the reasoning and new perspective involved;
men almost immediately start to question and argue with the different
view. These four aspects of living are worth a little more discussion in
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