Educating Women for a Changing World by Kate Hevner Mueller

By Kate Hevner Mueller

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These two nebulous concepts are gradually assuming more concrete shape, although in searching for more precise definition, psychologists still have recourse only to the opinions and attitudes of the tradition. Recall, for example, the most masculine person and the most feminine person you know, and list their characteristics. Out of such listings of subconscious and unverbalized impressions two psychological entities have emerged, with a surprising amount of agreement about them. The "masculine character" has more self-assertion, aggressiveness, hardihood, fearlessness, and also more bluntness of manner, language, and sentiment.

That it is not inevitably so, however, is made fairly clear by anthropological studies of primitive societies. If in these simpler cultures, where the biological sex function would be even more compulsive than in our own technically controlled society, one may find either man-dominated or woman-dominated societies, there is no reason to assume that the culture pattern must be entirely determined by human biological functions. For example, among the Tchambuli, as described by Margaret Mead, our own Western sex roles are reversed.

Experiments on human subjects are not possible, but evidence is frequently available from the analysis of social data. It is 37 Educating Women for a Changing World probable that the more emancipated attitudes in women tend to be associated with the trait of masculinity; both may develop through environmental circumstance, such as excessive growth, a broken home, or being the only child. Certainly even the most casual as well as the more pretentious polls will demonstrate the remarkable sex differences in the self-regarding attitudes.

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