WSTA03 Lec 8.docx

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Women's and Gender Studies
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

WSTA03 Lec 8  Psychoanalytic and cultural feminism o Feminist theories often use other theories and incorporate  E.g. liberal feminism - using philosophy of equality and applying it to feminism  E.g. MR/MEF - use concepts of race/culture  E.g. postmodern feminism - used concepts of fluidity, multiple perspectives  Feminism  theory that is in dialogue with other philosophies  What is psychoanalysis? o Freud - major figure in this field o Psychoanalytic theory - it is a theory that critiques another theory  What does psychoanalytic and cultural feminism tell us about gender inequalities? o Gender inequalities are rooted in our consciousness - psychological process o When looking at inequalities, they are not just happening in society (they are not only socio-cultural); they are happening in our psyche - deeply rooted in our mind  E.g. anorexia - internalized by our psyche  affects how our body reacts  E.g. body shape - we are taught to look a certain way through media and this becomes internalized • Amanda Todd - committed suicide because photos of her were circulating and she was being bullied o Does not just affect women, it also affects men  E.g. Tyler Clementi - killed himself after pictures of him and his boyfriend were circulated o Gender is not just about being able to access work, opportunities, it is about the processes going on in our psyches  Why is it important to examine our psyche? o Gender identities are made of interactions between ourselves and outside world. These involve conscious and unconscious processes o To understand society, we must understand our psyche; need to examine and uncover what lies here o Psychoanalytic feminists took Freud and put in a social context o Freud:  Theories mainly about the psyche and the unconscious  Psyche: site of unconscious, repressed feelings  What is psychoanalysis? o Gender identities derive from psychological and unconscious identification o Not just about Freud, other important figures:  Carl Jung - looked at male/female principles in our psyches  Jacques Lacan - looked at how we identify with our parents through language  Sigmund Freud o First to come up with idea of the unconscious o VIDEO:  1. Psychoanalysis is a theory about human mind • Alot of what we learn happens out of awareness  2. Therapeutic process  Freud - first listened in that way - developed process of listening and connecting the dots  Dreams are “the royal road to the unconscious”  The couch - Freud suggested lying down on the couch  let them free associate  Going beyond symptoms - look at symptoms as a developmental, internal struggle. Don’t see symptoms as the problem itself • Want to help person that is stuck  3. Aform of research - psychoanalysis is an old, vast field that keeps growing  Goal: freedom; to help realize the potential for happiness, success, intimacy to give people changes they’ve never had o From video: How relevant are Freud’s ideas in feminism?  Traditionally, emotion was in the realm of women; repressing emotion is traditionally masculine  To uncover the unconscious and try to identify the oppressive parts • E.g. internet - people go online to do things they cannot do in real life - they repress these thoughts which then resurface when they are under anonymity • E.g. children receiving hand-me-downs - children receiving old clothes feels inadequate and unimportant because they are getting old clothes and their sibling is getting new clothes. When they first receive the clothes they are happy, but years later they might look back and realize they were unhappy because they felt they did not receive the same attention as their siblings  Things that are repressed get pushed to surface in surprising ways  Definitions: the unconscious and repression o Unconscious: things people do not know about themselves - is hidden most of the time but comes into our lives in surprising ways (dreams, slip of the tongue, etc.) o Repression: through repression, the unconscious is created  E.g. pressure cooker  Whatever is repressed, it comes back with a vengeance  Freud introduced the idea of people not being inherently good - everyone is made of conflicts • Lots of gendering and sexism is unconscious  Freud’s theory of gender identity formation (male) o Phallic stage or phase: o The way individuals become girls or boys happens around 6 months - process that involves being aware of one’s sexuality:  Boys realize they have a penis around this time and identify with the father and separate from the mother (vice versa for girls)  Oedipus complex: (In Greek mythology:) boy is in love with mother (doesn’t know it’s his mother), murders his father (doesn’t know it is his father), marries his mother. When he finds out that he killed his father and married his mother, he plucks his eyes out • Freud saw this as a pattern - said boys are in love with their mother and gets in competition with the father  Castration anxiety - when the boy realizes the father can castrate him, he feels anxiety thinking about it. In order not to be castrated he identifies with his father.  Freud’s theory of gender identity formation (female) o Penis envy - girls realize that they are lacking something (penis), and because of that, they feel inferior and develop an inferiority complex o As a result of the inferiority complex, they become mothers as a way of compensating with that thing (penis) that is missing in their life  Motherhood (as compensation)  2. Problems with Freudian theory? o Gender bias: masculinity (phallus) is described as central; female is constructed as a lesser being  Female is defined in relation to men  To acquire penis is assumed as the way to exist or motherhood o Freud was describing what was happening in society and made it into a truth o Assumes motherhood as something that was prescriptive; women “have” to be mothers o Heteronormative - assumes that there is a father and a mother (excludes families with same-sex parents)  Assumes monogamy o Male/female is seen as a fixed boundary  Postmodern feminism highlighted the difference o E.g. Fast - said children can conceive sometimes of fathers as being able to have babies  Feminist critique of Freud o Nancy Chodorow (p. 170): One of the theorists who questioned all the ideas of psychoanalysis and Freud  Says Freud’s theory presents masculinity as desirable  Said Freud wasn’t wrong but he forgot to contextualize his theory  Freud presented it as science but he really described how patriarchy is dev
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