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Freud's View of Women and Culture

Freud'a view of women. His view appears to be that women are not entitled to anger in the face of civilization that willy nilly must needs be ruled by men. In this regard, Gilligan comments that Freud makes mention of women's ability to experience love, however "narcissistic or . . . hostile to civilization," as an experience that "does not appear to have separation and aggression [ah, the bane of civilization's existence] at its base" (Gilligan 47). In other words, by Freud's lights, women behave as if they were separate from civilization but have the effrontery to experience life as if this were a fundamental reality for them. Women are excoriated for feeling alienated, and excoriated for experiencing that alienation through a filter of affection. How dare they find a way to make life tolerable! How dare they challenge the culture, and how dare they not! Perhaps feminists can be forgiven for wondering, after Freud: What do men want? Similarly, they be forgiven for seeking literary expressions of wonderment and possible answers to the question.

What is at work here is the response to the traditional rhetorical, aesthetic, and ethical analysis of the culture from the position of those who for myriad reasons find themselves able to analyze from an objectively acknowledged position of significant power. What Freud does not appear to acknowledge in his own analysis of alienation from the culture is that, objectively speaking, women are set apart from and profoundly and objectively inferior to the governing forces of civilization and that filtering such alienation through a screen of emotional fulfillment may be the best bargain they can make with the inexorable forces of the male-dominated culture. This is the same blindness in psychological theory that is absent in the criticism of Chopin's The Awakening. The irony multiplies when Freud gives brief notice of the fact that civilization itself, or more exactly what passes for civilizat...

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Freud's View of Women and Culture. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:56, May 26, 2020, from