Over a decade ago I was impressed with an article whose author claimed that the Women's Movement was losing ground because it had become just another pressure group lobbying for a bigger slice of the capitalist pie, or just another pressure group within the heavily male-dominated socialist movement. Her lament was over the apparent loss of the original issue that fired the radical women's groups of the late sixties: men and male dominance. It is not enough, the author said, for feminist analyses to blame women's situation on "social forces" or "the family" or "the economy" when the problem comes from fathers and men.
Since this indictment there has been a rich flowering of feminist analyses, but it remains true that, with some notable exceptions, the radical core of feminism keeps getting lost. As analyses become more intellectually sophisticated and bring in more variables and sources of variation based on class, race, and cultural differences, the complexities grow and the focus on male dominance and men themselves is buried in diversity. One trend initiated within feminism in the 1970s that did focus on male dominance, most directly by Nancy Chodorow and Dorothy Dinnerstein, emphasized women's hegemony over early child care. Unintentionally, this had the effect of blaming men's misogyny and male dominance more on women's mothering than on men.
This book is not a diatribe against men either. Not all men are to blame for the persistence of male dominance, nor are all aspects of any man, nor men only. I argue, however, that the reproduction of male dominance is something that men themselves are far more
responsible for than women, and I show specifically how this is so—yet need not be. This system of male dominance that defines women from a more typically male point of view and affects the gender development of girls has more to do with male peer groups and men as fathers than it has to do with mothers. The evidence for this connection is not obscure; it is just a matter of allowing ourselves to see it.
Feminism and Social Science
Sociologists Judith Stacey and Barrie Thorne in an article on the state of feminist theory in sociology lament that feminism has failed to radically transform paradigms in sociology. They are especially discouraged about sociology as compared to anthropology, about whose progress they are more optimistic than I. They contend that feminism has been somehow contained or coopted by either functionalist or Marxist traditions within sociology and that feminist thinking has been more successful in changing interpretive rather than positivist traditions.
It is unrealistic to expect feminist approaches to effect anything like a total transformation in the positivist tradition in social science. Perhaps some of the "empirical" analyses we as feminists are so afraid of are "telling it like it is" but interpreting it wrongly. In my view, empiricism can be used in the service of a radical critique of "the way things are." Beyond this, it is essential that feminists also use empiricism to help in understanding why we see things as we do. Feminism itself could not have been "invented" in other times and places.
While Audre Lorde is probably correct to contend that one cannot use the masters tools to dismantle the masters house, the tools of social science do not belong just to the master. A better analogy is that social science tools are knives that can cut both ways. It is neither possible nor necessary to start from scratch and dismantle the edifice. This is not to deny the pervasiveness of male bias in the social sciences, but science itself is not totally a male construction nor has it been impervious to feminist input. I believe feminist scholars (and I include myself here) are emerging from the era of the global critique of "man-made" science and are being more selective in their criticism. We really do not want a women's so-
ciology, or a women's anthropology, or, for that matter, a women's "science."
Feminism's contribution to "social science" could be to encourage a broader focus and to discourage disciplinary parochialism. Feminism itself is interdisciplinary, and we need to make connections between disciplines that will shift and merge paradigms but not totally destroy them. In this book I discuss data from many different disciplines and various feminist perspectives. The feminism that informs my approach is one that applauds women's less hierarchical ways of thinking and women's ability to see connections instead of conflict. I try in this book to demonstrate the value of applying this approach to an examination of women's situation and to feminism itself. I hope that my analysis will help bridge some of the failures of communication between disciplines, between feminists, and between feminists and social scientists.
This is a book not of discovery but of interpretation. Much of what I do is to take an analytical approach to what radical feminists have been saying about heterosexual relations all along. I differ from many radical feminists, however, in my more positive view of "the maternal" and in my belief that inequality is not inherent or inevitable in heterosexual relations. I have no particular quarrel with many Marxist-feminist analyses, and my focus on ideological factors and noneconomic structures is done in the spirit not of minimizing material factors but rather of balancing the account.
My goal is to be sensitive to the diversity of women's experience but not to give up on the possibility of making meaningful generalizations by following through on a few simple distinctions. I try to maintain a focus on the problem of male dominance while locating this dominance more specifically in heterosexual interactions rather than in women's mothering.
Structural Points of Reference
Women and men are not just biological creatures; they are social actors who play, indeed live, many roles connected with the differing groups in which they interact and with which they identify. The patterning of relations between women, men, and children is not fixed by biology; rather, it is socially organized by institutions and roles. Every child has two biological parents, but this does not di-
rectly dictate the social structuring of the relationship among them nor their relationships with other kin. In spite of enormous cross-cultural variations, however, there are some socially constructed regularities in the patterning of reproductive relationships. These regularities are not directly determined by biology; they result from biological cues interacting with socially constructed patterns. I use these structural regularities as points of reference to analyze the developmental events that are involved in the social generation of male dominance.
One structural regularity is women's early caretaking of both male and female children, which means both male and female children's first attachment and identification figure is likely to be a female. Women's mothering gives women power over children of both genders when they are most malleable and the mother-child relationship constitutes the first step in both female and male children's induction into organized social life. In contrast to Chodorow and Dinnerstein, who in somewhat different ways stress the negative aspects of women's power as mothers and its relationship to male dominance, I point out the positive aspects and focus on other developmental factors that are more directly involved in the production of male dominance.
Another regularity, gender segregation of children's play groups, also seems to characterize all societies. This segregation, among other things, serves to support male gender identity and male feelings of difference from and superiority to females. Feminist thinking has not dealt with this aspect of the development of male dominance, partially, I suspect, because of the distinctly antifeminist uses to which discussions of male peer groups have been put. I am thinking particularly of books such as Lionel Tiger's Men in Groups that attempt to explain, and to justify, male dominance on the basis of male bonding. I begin with the argument that males tend to be more concerned than females with preserving gender distinctions and male superiority, and I maintain that these tendencies are more likely to develop in separate male groupings than in any direct early interactions with females.
My focus here, however, is on heterosexual marriage, which is another structural regularity. Marriage makes women into wives and gives adult men (not necessarily the biological or social "fathers" of a woman's child) a measure of control over mothers and
children and over women's early primacy in children's lives. I argue that the structure of the husband-wife relationship, considered apart from other contravening sources of power, tends to define wives as lesser partners in any marriage. From an individual psychological standpoint, this can serve as a defense against the power of women as mothers. From a structural standpoint, marriage institutions tend to be controlled by men and serve to control and organize women's mothering.
Although conservative antifeminists and radical feminists might be willing to countenance these generalizations as true, liberals of various sorts might dispute any transhistorical or cross-cultural generalizations. I too am suspicious of "universals," but these cross-cultural regularities of which I speak are empirically established on a general level. Few anthropologists would dispute that heterosexual marriage and the social assignment of early child care to women are generally found to be normative in all societies. The ubiquitousness of gender segregation in childhood is perhaps less clearly established, but recent work tends to suggest that this too is found to characterize all societies. I use these "universals" not to support any argument about the inevitability of male dominance but merely to provide points of orientation for examining historically and culturally specific situations and their implications for gender asymmetry.
Men's "fathering" as a social role is less of a structural constant than women's mothering and is on a different level than the other three structural regularities I described above. Women "mother" but men do not necessarily "father." Indeed, in this culture "to father" a child means to impregnate a woman and implies nothing about the nature of the social relationship between father and child. Moreover, there is no generally understood social relationship of men to children cross-culturally. In this book, I especially analyze men's fathering as it is now constituted within nuclear families.
Wives versus Mothers
Throughout this book I maintain an analytical distinction between "mother" and "wife," viewed as both a role and an idea. I mean by role the system of expectations shared to some degree within a given
group for the behavior of a person in a particular status. By idea I refer to the cultural image attaching to a certain status. Thus we have images of mothers and notions about what mothers' "roles" are, and we also have images of wives and what the "roles" of wives are.
The first step is to distinguish between mother and wife social roles, or between the "maternal" and male-dominant "heterosexual" components of "femininity," with femininity itself being viewed as a cultural construct that emphasizes women's weakness as wives and ignores women's strength as mothers. I argue that it is the wife role and not the mother role that organizes women's secondary status. Although both women's mothering and heterosexual marriage are structural universals, they are best seen as constituting separate systems that may be related to each other and to the wider social system in a variety of ways. Using this distinction may help to reconceptualize how women's and men's relations in the world at large might be.
If one looks at concrete relationships, one may not always find husband dominance, but at an analytical level, holding constant other cross-cutting relationships, husbands are expected to be dominant over wives. Worry in our own society over hen-pecked husbands, battleaxes, and castrating bitches reinforces the point that husband-dominated marriages are the norm that these epithets help enforce. Some may argue that egalitarian marriages are the norm, but language usage tends to belie this. There are expressions suggesting that husbands may abuse their power and that wives may exert power, but the underlying assumption is that a husband should have the edge over his wife. To say a wife "puts in her two cents' worth" is common. We rarely hear this said of husbands, since two cents is not worth very much.
Some mothers are not wives, some wives are not mothers, some women are neither wives nor mothers, often women are both. I make this analytical distinction to show that heterosexual marriage can be viewed as a system separate from women's mothering and that the husband-wife relationship is male-dominated. This is a major theme underlying every chapter in the book.
In my view, male dominance cannot be totally explained by or reduced to material, economic, or demographic factors. By male dominance I mean the tendency in societies to assign the highest value to roles played or skills exercised by men. Although the con-
tent of the roles assigned to women and men varies considerably from society to society, whatever roles carry the most prestige are felt to be something that only males are able to do, or that males do better than females. Male dominance is also reflected in the tendency for males to hold more positions of overriding authority in a society. Women are not necessarily less powerful than men, but men tend to hold the kind of power that is considered legitimate, or by Max Weber's definition, "authority." Male dominance is also expressed in expectations that in a marriage the husband should exercise authority over his wife. Assumptions of male dominance underlie and explain why we perceive the same acts and positions differently depending on whether we are judging wife or husband. For example, the structure of marriage itself helps explain why women in the labor force outside the home do not insist that their husbands take greater responsibility for household work. Acting as a wife and assuming her duties is seen as demeaning for a man, while "wearing the pants" does not demean a woman in the same way. Thus when a husband acts as a housewife, he requires compensation, special appreciation, and praise; otherwise, his superiority is endangered. Against this backdrop the wife prefers to do the extra work herself rather than to be further beholden to her already "superior" husband.
Husband-wife relationships are clearly not the only place male dominance shows up—indeed for some, marriage provides an oasis from this dominance—but, even though marriage provides women a measure of protection from other forms of exploitation by men, the relationship is expected to be male-dominant. Women are constrained to marry to avoid greater problems. Moreover, all males are not dominant over all females. Class and race privilege can overcome gender disadvantage in some instances, but heterosexual marriage is located in every class and race group. Perhaps this is another way of saying that marriage organizes gender relations in ways that are connected to but cannot be deduced from economic or political relations.
In the United States in spite of our lip service to egalitarian marriage, our psychological constructs as well as the organization of work and the male provider role push women to both need and want their husbands to be superior to them. Thus women are constrained to "choose" an asymmetrical relationship, which in fact re-
inforces the societal expectation that husbands be dominant. Many feminist analyses leave marriage ties unexamined, yet the marriage relationship is a fundamental organizer of gender relations and of women's mothering itself. This unequal marriage situation has implications for any serious analysis of the "equal parenting solution" to male dominance that many feminists advocate. In this society equal parenting will solve nothing; indeed it will reinforce male dominance unless husband and wife are more truly equal.
Fathers versus Mothers
My view differs from those who argue that male misogyny and male dominance are a result of men's absence from early child care. Although the initial impulse behind these arguments was to move us away from Freud's phallocentric vision, the practical result has been to lay the blame for male dominance at the feet of mothers. Making the distinction between mothers and wives avoids this implication and allows us to see that although male dominance is contradicted in the relationship between mothers and sons, it is clearly expressed and even exaggerated in the relationship between fathers and daughters. It is this latter relationship that trains daughters to be wives who are expected to be secondary to their husbands.
My work has been about gender development in the nuclear family (a type of family that is by no means universal), especially the ways that fathers, or children's images of fathers, affect children's personality orientations. In this book I contend that although girls and boys get mothering capacities and their general human orientation from their mothers, girls learn to be wives, to look up to men, from their fathers, especially in a nuclear family. This phenomenon is related to husbands' dominance over wives and to husbands serving as a link between the domestic unit and the "outside world." Boys encounter male dominance in connection with their fathers, whose stance toward their sons is partly that of a caretaker mother and partly that of a representative of the adult male peer group. As representatives of the latter, fathers, not mothers, have been the focus of "sex typing" in the sense of fostering a male-oriented dependence in girls and a male-oriented independence in boys. Chodorow and Dinnerstein and any number of other feminists concerned with the psychological aspects of gender inequality
have contended that male misogyny and male dominance might be ended if males contributed equally to childcare. In my view, this "solution" is premature and may prevent us from taking a closer look at male dominance within marriage and how it tends to reproduce orientations conducive to male dominance in children.
Male-defined Sexuality versus Gender
I also argue that in order to understand male and female parenting and the impact of men's fathering, it is necessary to distinguish between gender and sexuality. Our society (and Freud) tends to define men as sexually active and women as sexually passive or as objects of male sexuality. In my view both women and men are sexual creatures, capable of sexual pleasure and of playing an active or a passive role in sexual encounters. I disagree with those who assume that the difference between men and women is one of "sexuality." I use gender to remove connotations of superior and inferior, active and passive, more sexual and less sexual from the differences between females and males. These kinds of distinctions reproduce male dominance in a narrowly sexual context, using a paradigm of sexual intercourse in the missionary position to depict the "proper"—or worse, the "true"—relation between "the sexes." The whole arena of sexuality has become permeated with male dominance, thus erasing the active sexuality of women. Empirically, gender difference would seem to rest less on sexual activity, in which both men and women participate, than on gestation and lactation, which are functions of women only. Women's biological connection with childbearing, or any other biological fact, does not in itself, however, explain gender inequality, which in the last analysis is a social and cultural phenomenon, or, under modern conditions, partially a political decision.
Feminists, especially middle-class white liberal feminists, have been far more likely to criticize the mother role than the wife role. I argue, however, that it is not women's mothering but the constraint on women in this society to define themselves in terms of their relationship to men that lies more directly behind male dominance as manifested in this society. By definition, now, women as wives are not of comparable worth to their husbands. This is not necessarily "normal" in heterosexual relationships, but heterosex-
ual relationships have been socially constructed to be this way. "Giving up on men," in my view, offers no large-scale solution for women; however, women are not going to be empowered so long as they are culturally defined and define themselves primarily as wives.
The overarching process in contemporary society is individualism, which has deep ideological roots in America. This individualism is the basis for the feminist claim that a persons gender should not be allowed to limit who and what a person can be. Although this trend is on the whole desirable, in practice it has often worked to the detriment of women as mothers. Rather than arguing that women cannot achieve equality until they give up "mothering" or until child care is shared equally with men, I argue that we should accept the facts that women are going to have babies and that women will tend to be more responsible for early child care than men, and, by deliberate social policy, we should keep these facts from being the impediment to women's equality that they have been made to be in this society.
This book, however, should not be taken as a recommendation for any specific policy or set of policies. Decisions concerning specific political stances involve a myriad of narrowly political and strategic considerations that cannot be dealt with "in general," and my analysis is general. My aim in writing this book is political only in the broadest sense; that is, I hope to bring into balance and perspective two concerns within feminism: the desire for greater equality and the desire that values more associated with maternal attitudes should govern the behavior of both women and men.
A Multilevel Approach
One of my aims is to bring social structural levels of analysis and understandings about personality development into better alignment with each other. One should not have to choose between personality explanations and social explanations; rather, we need to explore systematically how the two are related.
My focus is on social structural regularities, their interrelationships with each other, and their consequences for gender differentiated personalities. The regularities I discuss are in the domain of marriage, child rearing, and kinship rather than in the domain of
economic or political organization. Because of the sharp distinction we in this culture make between the public realm and the domestic realm, we tend to see family and kin as somehow individual and private or as "given" by biology. In fact, the organization of kinship is fully as structural as the organization of the economy. How the domestic and public domains are related, or if they even are separate domains in the first place, is an empirical question. Nevertheless, even in modern societies, the social organization of gender cannot be deduced simply from economic and political relations.
In assessing the consequences of social structural regularities for gender-differentiated personalities, I adopt an inclusive approach that is compatible with object relations theory within psychoanalytic theory, with cognitive developmental theory and social learning theory within psychology, and with those symbolic interactionist approaches that have developed out of the work of George Herbert Mead within sociology and social psychology. Much of the friction, or noncommunication, between these various schools is unnecessary and might be alleviated by taking a broader view. My approach is inclusive and in this way fits within Talcott Parsons's theory of social action, a theory that attempts to bridge disciplinary distinctions between biology, psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, and anthropology.
Although Parsons was neither analyzing nor criticizing male dominance and did not succeed in his own efforts to tie a theory of personality "need" structure to nuclear family structure, his overall approach, which attempts to take various levels of analysis into account, seems far more useful than those analyses whose main aim is to discredit the approach taken by another school of discipline.
Parsons's model puts Freudian and Meadian insights together and assumes that self-images develop as a result of acting in a physical environment and, far more importantly, that they develop from interacting in reciprocal role relationships with others. Parsons translates Freud's nascent ideas about the internalization of social objects, an approach far more fully developed by object relations theorists within psychoanalysis, into the language of social roles. Freud sees the personality as made up of precipitates of lost objects, that is, the internalized representations of what a relationship meant emotionally and cognitively to a child at a certain stage of development. Internal representations, or "objects," are neither
the real person nor the whole person but rather represent the meaning of a relationship to an individual at a particular time. Parsons uses the language of interaction in roles but understands that these internalized relationships are heavily laden with emotional meaning.
Parsons brings the Meadian, or symbolic interactionist, perspective into an analysis of earliest child development and claims that interaction from the very beginning of life is socially patterned and that an individual internalizes both sides of the interaction; that is, conceptions of self and other are formed simultaneously. Parsons makes links to classical drive-oriented psychoanalytic theory only in recognizing underlying biological propensities, but his concern is with how these vague organismic promptings are socially organized and given "meaning" in social interaction.
Parsons, then, treats the infant's first interactions with its caretaker as genuinely social, with both caretaker and child making adjustments to the other. This interaction is particularly significant for the infant because it is erotic, visceral, and total from the infant's standpoint, because of the diffuse pleasure of body contact and because of the infant's cognitive inexperience. The infant does not see beyond this relationship and its potential for pleasure or pain. But even in these earliest infant-caretaker interactions, social learning is taking place and mutual expectations are being established between "mother" and child.
From this general perspective, I argue that infants of both genders learn to become genuine "social actors," or to become "human," in interaction with a mother figure. This earliest interaction with a maternal figure (regardless of the persons gender) represents the common humanity that both genders share and lays down or consolidates the capacity to love and be loved, to care about as well as to be cared for, in both females and males. To the extent that women retain and elaborate this maternal orientation, they retain and elaborate qualities of caring and human connectedness. To the extent that males are constrained to differentiate "self" from "mother" because they are male, they gain a stake in emphasizing gender difference. This "difference" is reinforced by the idea that males are superior to females. But in so doing, men become less human in the sense that they are constrained to deny human con-
nectedness, and later, in a strange metamorphosis, may deny women's humanity by making them into "other" and "object" and representatives of "nature" outside of human culture.
Plan of the Book
This book is conceived in three parts. Chapters 1 to 3 introduce my general theoretical perspective, show how it fits into feminist concerns, and introduce some key distinctions and concepts. Specifically in Chapter 2, I describe an ongoing tension within the feminist movement between a focus on gender similarity and role assimilation and a focus on gender difference. In connection with the difference focus, I attempt to clarify thinking concerning women and the family by introducing the distinction between women as mothers and women as wives. I argue that women's secondary status ultimately lies more in the structure of marriage than in mothering itself. I introduce the idea that women's mothering provides a basis for women's solidarity and power, but women's being "wives" in the "modern family" separates women from one another in the pursuit of husbands and isolates women from one another in nuclear families.
In Chapter 3, I make a parallel distinction between women's orientation toward interdependence and the dependence that women are often accused of and accuse themselves of. In a rough way I connect the former tendency with women as mothers and the latter with women as wives. In preparation for a developmental account of these orientational differences, I argue that women's tendency to see themselves in relationship to others should not be viewed as a complement to some more desirable tendency males might be thought to have, but is rather the more basic and distinctively human orientation that both genders share but that men later tend to reject.
In Chapters 4 to 7 I give an account of gender development and differentiation as it takes place within a cultural framework that assumes male-headed nuclear families as the norm. These chapters analyze how male dominance is reproduced within this particular system. In contrast to the earlier feminist focus on the consequences of women's mothering for male dominance, I argue that
the male peer group and some aspects of men's fathering are more directly responsible for reproducing male dominance and the kind of gender differentiation that tends to keep women subordinate.
Chapter 4 gives my own version of the most important feminist work on the developmental consequences for males and females of women's hegemony over early child care. Chapter 5 describes the positive aspects of women's mothering and also how male peer groups affect male development and male self-images and stances toward females. In Chapters 6 and 7 I argue that the developmental consequences of men's fathering are quite different from those of women's mothering and tend to reproduce male dominance. There is another sense, however, in which individual fathers can temper this dominance. To show how fathers affect gender development, in Chapter 6 I use data from experimental and survey research and in Chapter 7 I use Freud's own account. I argue that it is the heterosexual aspects of gender development that fathers affect. In both these chapters on fathers I also discuss how homosexuality might logically be seen as a protest against the male-dominant aspects of the nuclear family system.
Whereas in Chapter 7 I point out those aspects of Freud's account of early gender development that are more or less accurate, in Chapter 8 I question the aspect of his work that conflates gender with male-dominated sexuality. I also begin the task of reconstructing from a perspective that does not assume male dominance our understanding of the bases for gender identity and how conceptions of gender develop. Chapter 9 provides a cross-cultural and historical analysis of women in the "modern family." I discuss matricentered "solutions" to male dominance in simple societies and in class societies and the effect of maternal orientations on modern Western individualistic societies. I then trace briefly the vicissitudes of middle-class women's efforts to gain a foothold in the public sphere in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Chapter 10, I examine women's present situation in an individualistic society and suggest that gender-blind assumptions are not always in women's best interest. Finally, I suggest that marriage is losing its former centrality in middle-class women's lives as they increasingly partake of the individualism that men in this society take for granted. The decreasing importance of mar-
riage is associated with much dislocation in the present but holds the possibility for constructive changes in the future. These changes must keep the differences that remain between women and men (women are mothers in a way that men are not) from hindering gender equality.