Psychological Self-Help

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comply with the same suggestion from a female peer. This is especially
true if other males are watching (trying to build their status?). 
Radical feminists have contended that our society teaches males to
hate females. If so, exactly how is that done? We don't yet know. The
Psychoanalysts believe little boys 3 to 6 undergo great turmoil as they
must give up their identification with a close, nurturing mother and
switch it to a father. In this process, boys may be unwittingly taught to
dislike, even disdain female (mother's) characteristics in order to give
them up; thus, the "hatred" of women's ways (and little girls) may be
generated in little boys. Also, in this early process, boys may learn to
suppress their urges to show affection (to mother especially) but also
that loosing intimacy (with mother) can cause great pain; perhaps this
is the origin of some grown men's fear of intimacy (Hudson & Jacot,
1992). Girls, since they never have to give up their identification with
mother, tend to develop a fear of possible separation which results in
greater needs for intimate affiliation. On the other hand, girls do have
to shift their sexual orientation from a mother-like person to a father-
like person, and boys do not. This may help explain boys' greater focus
on the female body as a sexual object (more than male bodies being a
sexual stimulus for women), boys' greater homophobia, males' greater
emphasis on sex and less on closeness, and other differences between
male and female sexuality. So, according to Judith Viorst (1986) in
Necessary Losses, we all suffered a serious loss (boys giving up Mom
as identification and girls giving up Mom as a sexual object) that has a
permanent impact on our personalities. 
Male aggression and female loss of self-esteem
At this point, psychologists don't know for sure how little boys are
taught to disdain girls or why boys feel superior, are more aggressive,
and are especially uncooperative with females. We only have hunches,
but gaining more knowledge is critical. Males commit 90% of all violent
crimes; this violence needs to be stopped (Miedzian, 1991;
Stoltenberg, 1990). Neither do we know why the self-esteem of girls
drops markedly at ages 12 or 13 or why girls are more cooperative
and involved in relationships (Gilligan, Lyons & Hanmer, 1990). Before
puberty, girls do better than boys in school, have better social skills,
and have a lot of confidence. After puberty, girls do less well in school,
lose confidence, worry about their bodies and diets, get hurt in
relationships, and become more depressed. Actually, interesting recent
research indicates that the drop in math and science grades only
occurs in girls from traditional families in which gender roles are
emphasized and the mothers are assigned the child-rearing role.
(Good news! 2002 data indicate girls do almost the same as boys in
math.) Girls from egalitarian families (who divide the child-care duties
more or less equally) were apparently not taught that technical
subjects were too hard for them or inappropriate. Girls in egalitarian
families also spent seven more hours per week with their fathers than
girls in traditional families. These findings are reported in Psychology
Today, August, 1996, and based on Kimberly A. Updegraff's research
as a graduate student at Penn State. Good fathering is important. 
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