Book Reviews -- the Mismeasure of Women by Carol Tavris

By Freud, Sophie | American Journal of Psychotherapy, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- the Mismeasure of Women by Carol Tavris


Freud, Sophie, American Journal of Psychotherapy


The subtitle of this elegant book, Why women are not the better sex, the inferior sex, or the opposite sex, instantly conveys its major themes and main message. While Carol Tavris would like to eschew all "oversimplified" dichotomies, including the maximalist/minimalist differences controversy (p. 288) that divides the feminist community, she takes the firm position that the psychosocial political context is the most powerful, albeit not the only, explanation for the behavior of both women and men. It is the context of oppression, poverty, and multiple frustrations, rather than female hormones, she suggests, that explains the higher rates of depression among women--although she even questions the actuality of such differences, given men's own different style of expressing despair. It is power imbalance, rather than women's "natural" speaking styles, that creates the popular "two-cultures theory of miscommunication" (p. 297). She insists that differences between moral reasoning, the need for love and attachement, the need for achievement, capacity for empathy or pacifist leanings are trivial at best, while the true differences lie in the division of labor at home and in the workplace, in the different ways that universal emotions are allowed to be expressed by each gender, and in the different gendered life stories that our culture offers women and men for making meaning out of their life experiences.

The second organizing thread of The Mismeasure of Women is Tavris's ever-present voice, arguing her positions carefully and convincingly, leaning on a large body of empirical research, and taking clear and open sides on every issue. The author addresses many of the myths that have shaped the post-Freudian psychology of women, and comes down equally hard on myths of denigration as on myths of glorification, confronting them without asperity, yet with forthrightness and courage, at the risk of stepping on many feminist political toes. Tavris is concerned that cultural feminists' and other feminist movements' emphasis on differences even when they entail female superiority, ends up with a focus on human nature rather than on sociopolitical power arrangements. Concerned with the admittedly thorny issue of the sexual survivor syndrome that has been taken up with such enthusiasm by many powerless women caught in bad relationships Tavris asks: "How does a woman come to focus exclusively on past sexual abuse as the major reason for her unhappiness, when many other current factors are often involved as well" (p. 316) and she wonders about the wisdom and usefulness, for women, of adopting victim identities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Book Reviews -- the Mismeasure of Women by Carol Tavris
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.