Week 1 Day 2 Discussion Question 2

According to George Dvorsky, Freud’s continuing influence on American ideas is partly attributable to his insight about the role that early childhood experiences play in shaping social and psychological identity.  How might Freud’s conception of early childhood development inform the practice of woman-blaming in mid-20th-century texts by Lundberg and Farnham, Wylie, Bundeson, and others?

5 thoughts on “Week 1 Day 2 Discussion Question 2

  • February 16, 2022 at 1:19 pm
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    While it can be inferred that Freud’s work acknowledges the importance of a mother figure in a child’s life, the theory that accompanies it is outdated and delusional at best. At the center of Freud’s work is the theory of ‘penis-envy’, in which that young girls desire male genitalia and the lack of said genitalia is the fault of the mother. This then ties in with the ‘Oedipus Complex’ where a child of a certain sex will be attracted to the parent of the opposite sex, especially during adolescent years. With these two theories in mind, Freud arrives to a conclusion of hatred towards mothers and separately that the desire for women to have a penis starts from a young age and is often repressed. It makes perfect sense as to why Dvorsky acknowledges that these ideas are most certainly false, but offensive at the same time. Furthermore, in the excerpt of Freud’s work that we read, the scientific element was lacking. No hypothesis, no evidence, no experimentation and no proof make it very easy to throw Freud’s work out the window. Dvorsky agreed that most of Freud’s work should not be taken seriously; however, his relevance can be attributed to his other psychological ideas and foundation work on concepts such as memory and consciousness. So while Freud may have been wrong and (very) offensive about his views on women and matriarchy, it would be unfair to say that all of his ideas and theories are as such. To consider his modern relevance, Wiley’s work of the ‘common women’ stood out most to me. I enjoyed how Wiley used humour and comedic undertones to not only show how Freud was outdated and misogynistic, but that the role of mother’s in modern American society is important and has laid the foundation for a lot of our personal accomplishments and success.

  • February 16, 2022 at 11:33 am
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    Much of Freud’s work is centered around the effects of parent/child relationships (particularly between mothers and children), and how they present in adult life. Freud examines much of female behavior as the result of penis envy which comes from noticing their own “castration” from an early age. In response to this so-called penis envy, he claims that women have children and become mothers as an attempt to obtain a penis, but also blames a mother’s penis envy as something that ruins children. This phallocentric mindset is evident in many women blaming texts where they blame mothers for any negativity in childhood development. The texts we read suggest that penis envy causes mothers to fail their children by either pursuing a career (which is masculine) or by smothering their child – both of which damage children. She is either depriving the child because of her lack of a penis, or she is smothering a child (particularly sons) to the point in which they become too feminine, or “sissies”. Either way, the Freudian thought frames mothers as only being as good as their ability to teach young girls to be wombs, and not feminize young boys. The texts hardly incorporate the impacts of a father in the family setting, putting the entire responsibility of childcare onto the mother and ignoring the consideration that an absent father might also affect a child’s development. In any case, the father is rarely to blame whether he is around or not, and the mother is failing the majority of the time regardless of what she does. So when a child is “temperamental” or “difficult”, these mid-20th-century texts place the blame onto women, influenced by how Freud reduces them to being wombs and mothers with little other purpose than to obtain a penis.

  • February 16, 2022 at 11:19 am
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    Freud’s work was largely dominated by the anatomical differences between men and women. Freud argued that women’s lives were practically completely dominated by their sexual reproductive functions. He further asserted that girls hold their mother’s responsible for their lack of a penis and fail to ever forgive their mother for being inherently put at a “disadvantage” in the world in comparison to their male counterparts. This is the concept of “penis envy” that much of Freud’s work centers around. He believed that once young girls saw and recognized a penis of their brother or father or other male counterpart that they viewed their penis as superior to their clitoris and in turn become extremely envious of men. He then goes on to assert some of the consequences of this so called “penis envy” on girls which include jealousy, the loosening of their relationships to their mothers as a love object, along with less frequent masturbation due to the belief that masturbation was seen as a masculine activity that needed to be suppressed in order to make room for femininity. Ultimately Freud argued that due to a women’s lack of a penis and in turn having an inferior sexual organ that they are unable to compete with men.

    Freud’s work in turn had huge impacts on future works that tended to blame and criticize women for pushing against their traditional roles in the home and as a mother. As Dvorsky wrote much more recently, that despite most of Freud’s work being utterly incorrect, his work has had an influence that has been profoundly long lasting. Freud’s concept of “penis envy” had huge impacts on Farnham and Lundberg’s work where they denounced feminists who wished to free themselves from their household roles due to extreme discontentment for being aggressive and unable to just accept that a women’s fundamental role is to be a wife and a mother. In their work, they use Freud’s idea of “penis envy” directly in their book by saying that when a woman is unsatisfied with their role in the home that they are simply just struggling from “penis envy” and this is the sole reason for why they are unsatisfied and have no reason not to be. In his work, Freud also delineates certain qualities to be explicitly masculine or feminine in nature. Farnham and Lundberg use this piece of Freud’s work by defining the desire to pursue a career as being masculine and that women should of course not be living one part of her life as masculine and the other as feminine. They then go on to argue that masculine women in the end become unhappy and actually neurotic. It is very evident in Farnham and Lundberg’s work that many of their ideas stem from Freud’s work.

    Freud’s ideas also permeated deeply into the work of Wylie and Bundeson’s. Freud largely equated femininity with passivity in all of his works. This idea of femininity being passive is prominent in Wylie’s work where Wylie criticizes moms to an extreme extent, by even going so far as to assert that they know absolutely nothing about anything (e.g. medicine, art, law, etc.), but rather only know how to be moms. Another center concept of Freud’s work is the impact that mother’s and father’s have on their children. Both Wylie and Bundeson touch on the idea of “mommy and daddy issues” in their pieces. Wylie asserts that mothers emotionally castrate their male children and this turns them into corporate drones, while Bundeson asserts that overprotective mothers can cause abnormal antisocial behavior in their children. Bundeson goes on to say that a mother can dominate her child to such a point that the child is unable to develop normally and the mother’s anxiety essentially deprives the son of any sort of normal childhood experiences.

  • February 16, 2022 at 8:58 am
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    Sigmund Freud’s work largely depended on the anatomical differences between males and females. In his theories about early childhood experiences and development, Freud explains female behavior through the concept of penis envy and castration complex – females feel inferior for not having penises and thus, strive to be equal to men and let go of femininity (5). To his work, females realize they cannot compete with males and thus, give up their desires to be male to adopt their femininity through childbirth (6).

    The misogyny embedded in Freud work lends itself to post-war woman blaming. Gratification, penis envy, and reproductive function justify arguments for blaming women, specifically mothers. Farnham and Lundberg blame the post-war female deviation from traditional domestic work on mothers having penis envy and striving to leave the households for work, a masculine striving. They suggest that for femininity to be passed on to the next generation, it must be learned from mothers. Farnham and Lundberg also suggest that young girls adopt their post-war mother’s strive to masculinity, which will encourage the trend of women leaving domesticity. Bundesen also uses the idea of gratification and penis envy to blame women for naughty kids. He says that a mother’s helicopter parenting – which Farnham and Lundberg may disagree and praise her domesticity – hinders children from social development. Mid-20th century texts from Farnham and Lundberg and Bundesen argue that the women’s relentless strive to be equal to men cause the apparent deterioration of traditional or expected societal workings.

    Additionally, Freud’s reduction of women to their reproductive functions informs the texts of Farham and Lundberg and Wylie on woman blaming. Pregnancy, as Freud explains, serves as the woman’s mechanism of regulating her penis envy. Farhman and Lundberg encourage pulling post-war women back into domesticity and traditional motherhood. They suggest that a woman’s purpose is to gratify men and get pregnant; and, the means towards this goal is to be passive. In contrast, Wylie uses the idea of childbirth to denounce the grueling labor of childbirth and as a result, disempowering women. Deducing women to their reproductivity, a concept fueled by Freud and other mid-20th century writers, serves as another tool to blame women and justify their role in domesticity.

    Freud’s findings on early childhood development of women depended on the anatomical differences between men and women. His work placed men superior to women on the basis of men having larger genitals than women. He disparaged women through his confidence in the women’s penis envy and the female life purpose of childbirth , which motivated mid-20th century texts of woman blaming.

  • February 15, 2022 at 7:22 pm
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    Freud introduced the impact one’s childhood can have on their identity later on in life. His idea known as the Oedipus complex enforced his belief that a boy first shows affection for his mother, whereas girls first show affection for their father. Freud preached the idea of “penis envy”, where through their development stages of life girls became conscious of their lack of penis. He believed that this would inevitably create jealousy from young girls. And so, Freud preached the idea that the girl would withhold resentment towards her mother. Freud believed the daughter would view it as her mother’s fault that she lacks a penis. All of these beliefs all tie into his idea of psycho development, wherefrom the ages 3 to 6 years old young girls distance themselves from their mothers and show affection to their fathers. Freud’s ideas that women see the penis as superior, and suffer from “penis envy”, has enhanced the spread of woman-blaming throughout the 20th century. For instance, Lundberg and Farnham went off on Freud’s idea in their text Modern Woman: The Lost Sex. They wrote about the so-called consequences that can occur if a woman does not accept their role in society. They believed that for a woman to have a role in the workplace, and outside their homes, they will lose their femininity. Therefore, this will result in an increase in a woman’s aggression and independence. Farnham and Lundberg talked about this “masculinization” in women and highlighted the consequence of a woman not being able to access their femininity. These consequences included physical and emotional illnesses that can affect a woman throughout her life. These are just some examples of how Freud has impacted ideals and works throughout the mid 20th century, which remain centered around woman-blaming.

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