Readings on the Psychology of Women

Readings on the Psychology of Women

Readings on the Psychology of Women

Readings on the Psychology of Women


Feminine rage and accusations--and occasionally the backlash of traditionalists--dominate the media. Book stores suddenly have new collections of Women's Liberation books and Sex Role has hit the best seller list. This is a different book: it is an academic's collection of theory and research papers from the professional literature of psychology, sociology, anthropology, endocrinology, obstetrics, and psychosomatics. This collection is primarily intended to generate discussion in class and research in the professions.

The impetus for organizing this collection came, largely, from my feeling that in my book Psychology of Women I omitted topics that would distract from the theory I was trying to develop. But in a collection of papers one is not so restricted; one can range widely and need not be so constrained. These papers range from abstract theoretical analyses to clinical observations, to experimental reports, and to a few more personal statements. I have enjoyed the luxury of including things we really don't know very much about--but should.

A book of readings doesn't have the clear organization and obvious unifying theme of a book written by a single author. This is especially true when the papers were not initially written for the collection. I have tried to provide some unity through the introductions that precede each section. In preparing the introductory essays I was stunned to discover how thematically unified these papers are. Probably a reflection of our current preoccupations, all of these papers bear upon questions of contemporary role expectations, conflicts, and status.

Questions like these never have definitive answers. Even in science, answers always reflect the expectations of scientists of some particular persuasion in a specific era who are using the methodologies available and acceptable to them. The answers, like the questions of science, change as method and theory evolve. Only if one recognizes the tentative nature of a "fact" can approaches to answers be beneficially derived from data.

Because rhetoric, passion, and extremism characterize most of what has been recently published, this is, at first glance, a duller book, an academician's book. Though quieter, I think in the long run this is the more enduring and the more fascinating approach.

Judith M. Bardwick . . .

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