Chapter 5: Theories of Gender Development
Headline: “Girl Gone Bad?” Many parents are worried about the Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan's of
the world affecting how their young daughters will act when they are older i.e. panty-less partying.
Gender Role: A set of socially significant activities associated with being male or female
Gender Identity: Individual identification of self as female or male.
The Psychodynamic Approach to Personality Freud’s theory of personality, developed in the late 19
century, was controversial and remains so because it cast women as inferior to men. Karen Horne
proposed an alternative theory and Nancy Chodorow and Ellyn Kaschak have devised cotemporary
Freud’s Theory of Personality Unconscious: In Freudian Theory, a region of the mind functioning
beyond a person’s conscious awareness. The basic energy for personality development normally
translated to “instinct” but can also be translated into drive or impulse.
Instincts: In Freudian theory, the forces or impulses that underlie action, thought, and other aspects of
personality functioning which include the life, or sexual, instinct and the death, or aggressive, instinct.
Freud’s View of Gender Identity Development Freud’s biological background led him to accept that
these instincts were biological. The role of biology also played an important role in his theory of
Psychosexual Stages: In Freudian theory, the series of stages ranging from birth to maturity through
which the individual’s personality develops. These stages are the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital
stages. Starting at birth these stages continue through to adulthood in a sequence named avoiding tho the
regions of the body that were most important for sexual gratification.
Oral stage: starts at birth, babies gain sexual gratification from oral activities.
Anal stage: child receives pleasure from excretory functions.
Phallic stage: begins in children 3-4 year old and is Freud’s first psychosexual stage that describes a
different course of personality for boys and girls. During this stage sexual pleasure shifts from the anal
region to genitals; children focus on their genitals, and gain pleasure from masturbation. Parents are often
disturbed by this and discourage it which is one source of frustrated development during this stage.
Oedipus Complex: In Freudian theory, the situation that exists during the phallic stage in which the child
feels unconscious hostility toward the same-sex parent and unconscious sexual feeling for the opposite-
sex parent. Freud used the story of Oedipus as an analogy for the family dynamic that occur during the
phallic stage. He used the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex as an analogy for the interactions that occur within
a family during this stage.
Castration Complex: in Freudian theory, the unconscious fear that the father will castrate his son as a
punishment for the son’s sexual longings for his mother. The boys in the phallic stage prize their penises
and begin to notice that girls don’t have them; this is shocking to boys and they begin to reason their
penis is removable thus leading them to bond with their father. Boys believe girls have suffered this
punishment and are thus mutilated and inferior creatures.
Boys now vicariously get their sexual gratification from identifying from their fathers because their
fathers have a sexual relationship with their mother. Girls also notice anatomical differences during this stage, aware of the penises they don’t posses girls
become envious of boys and experience penis envy. Girls see their clitoris and inferior to a boy’s penis
and see their vaginas as wounds from when they were castrated. Girls also hold their mothers responsible
for their lack of penises and develop hostility towards them. Fathers become the object of their affection
and girls with to have sex with them and have babies. Freud saw both the wish for sex and the want to
have babies as results from penis envy.
Girls do not feel the trauma of the phallic stage as strongly as boys because they have no penis to lose
therefore they are less likely to resolve this stage.
Latency stage- occurs after the resolution of the phallic stage; little overt sexual activity occurs
Genital stage- starts at puberty; individuals will desire a genital relationship of pole of the opposite sex.
The regions of the body that furnished sexual pleasure in childhood are now secondary sources of sexual
Freud believed that women who couldn’t achieve sexual pleasure though the vagina hadn’t reached the
final stage. Women who couldn’t redirect their sexual desire from their clitoris to their vagina were still in
the phallic stage.
Gendered Voices: Big Guns There are two types of men at gun clubs, the kind that prefer lightweight
guns with scopes that aid accuracy and the kind that prefer big guns with lots of firepower. All the latter
group talks about is the size of their guns, they aren’t worried about shooting their target.
Freud and Women Freud viewed women as inferior to men in most ways but not all; he said intelligent
women were almost as good as men.
Freud held contradictory views on women, they were to be subservient to men as the Victorian era
dictated but he also admired intelligent “masculine” women. He also admitted women into the field of
psycho analysis when they were admitted into very few professions.
Horney’s Theory of Personality Horney studied psychoanalysis and even went under treatment for it, at
first she thought it was valid- she even wrote papers supporting it- she later criticized it especially the part
about women being inferior.
Masochism: Feelings of pleasure as a result of painful or humiliating experiences.
Although Horney differed in many ways from Freud’s original theory she stayed within the general
framework of psychoanalysis: emphasis on the unconscious, sexual feelings, early stages of development
being important ect.
Horney argued the penis envy wasn’t a wish for a larger clitoris but a wish for social prestige. She also
argued that men envy a women’s capability to reproduce calling it womb envy. She attributed the male
striving for achievement as overcompensation for being unable to reproduce.
She argued that men see women as evil because they envy their ability to reproduce and that some men
hold on to this as a result of noticing their small penis size during childhood thereby trying to mask
feelings of inferiority. As a result the female inferiority isn't resulting from females but males insecurities.
Concept Horney’s Theory Freud’s Theory
Existence of Unconscious Yes Yes
Importance of early childhood Yes Yes
experiences Gender differences in Yes Yes
Sources of differences Social Biological
Feelings of envy over gender Men envy women’s ability to Women envy men’s penises
Feelings of inferiority Constant need to perform Lack of penises leads women to
sexually leads men to feel feel inferior
Masculinity complex Driven by girls lack of Driven by girls feeling of
acceptance of femininity and inferiority
identification with their fathers
Machismo Socially determined art of Biologically determined.
development that is abnormal Inevitable part of feminine
for women as well as men development; abnormal in men
Contemporary Psychodynamic Theories of Personality Development Freud’s theory of personality
appeared during the early 19 century when women were viewed as passive, weak ect this was easy for
him to accept and incorporate into his theories because not only did his era reflect this his patients did too.
Most of these patients were bored upper-class women who were repressed and lived in a society built on
women’s inferiority. In the U.S. during this time a women’s movement had taken shape and Freud’s
theory was never popular among the men and women who fought for gender equality. Some reformulated
his theories (Nancy Chordow) and others moved away from it altogether
Chodrow’s Emphasis on Mothering Chodrow expressed pessimism about the possibility of gender
equality, like Freud, but her views were based on how children related to their mothers. Her theory of this
relates to the pre-oedipal period.
Pre-Oedipal Period: The time during early childhood, before the phallic stag and the Oedipus complex.
Some feminist psychoanalytic theorists, including Chodorow, have emphasized the importance of this
period for personality development. She acknowledged that women weren’t unique in their caregiving
skills but that they were usually the primary caregiver and thus this period of which much bonding takes
place between mother and child is extremely important for personality development. This relationship
differs for boys and girls. She also argued that babies are born a blank slate, having no sense of self. The
initial mother-daughter relationship is initially closer than the mother-son relationship because they are of
the same sex, the children don’t know this yet but the mother does. She also argued that when children
start to separate and develop separate senses of self it is easier for the girls because they have already
identified with their mothers and are likely to mimic her femininity. Boys have a more difficult time
because they have also identified with their mothers and have to reject her femininity to become
masculine. This rejection of femininity by boy’s results in fear and mistrust of it, the acceptance of it by
girls results in never full separating from their mothers and their close relationship. This results in men
devaluing women but women felling no need to devalue men.
Stages Gender Related Outcomes
Chodorow’s Theory Pre-oedipal Stages Boys work towards separation
from mothers, rejecting
femininity. Girls work towards
connectedness with mothers,
Oedipal Stages Gender differences have already
emerged Freud’s Theory Pre-oedipal Stages No gender-related differences