Comparative Literature and Culture 2125A/B Chapter Notes -Castration Anxiety, The Feminine Mystique, Toilet Training

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The feminine mystique derived its power from Freudian thought
No one can question the basic grnius of Freud’s discoveries nor the contribution he has made to
our culture
But I do question the application of the Freudian theory of femininity to women today
I think much of the Freudian theory about women is obsolescent, an obstacle to truth for
women in America today
Yet Freudian thought helped create a new superego that paralyzes education modern American
women a new tyranny that should which chains women to an old image, prohibits choice and
growth and denies them individual identity
Freudian thought has become the ideological bulwark of the sexual counter revolution
He was a prisoner of his own culture. As he was creating a new framework for our culture, he
could not escape the framework of his own
A fundamental statement about truth to say that no social scientist can completely free himself
from the prison of his own culture; he can only interpret what he observes in the scientific
framework of his own time
Much of what Freud believed to be biological, instinctual and changeless has been shown by
modern research to be a result of specific cultural causes
His attempt to translate all psychological phenomena into sexual terms, and to see all problems
of adult personality as the effect of childhood sexual fixations
The whole superstructure of Freudian theory rests on the strict determinism that characterized
the scientific thinking of the Victorian era
Child specialists today confirm Freud’s observation that problems between mother and child in
the earliest of stages are often played out in terms of eating; later in toilet training
Freud didn’t see this attitude as a problem, or cause for any problem in women. It was women’s
nature to be ruled by man and her sickness to envy him
In his own life, he was relatively uninterested in sex
He was too rigid a moralist to seek sexual satisfaction outside of marriage
Freud’s deviation from the average in this respect, as well as his pronounced mental bisexuality
may well have influenced his theoretical views to some extent
Freud’s love could be set free and displayed only under very favorable conditions, Martha was
probably afraid of the masterful lover and she would commonly take refuge in silence
The limitless subservience of woman taken for granted by Freud’s culture, the very lack of
opportunity for independent action or personal identity, seems often to have generated that
uneasiness and inhibition in the wife, and that irritation in the husband which characterised
Freud’s marriage
Sex was completely divorced from his human passions
Despite the importance of sex in Freud’s theory one gets from his words the impression that the
sex act appeared degrading to him
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