Freud is Not Sexist
Many feminist critics have perceived Freud to be an active force in Victorian gender politics that claim women's inferiority. His attitudes towards women, as reflected in his psychoanalyses, consciously reflect the patriarchal assumptions of Victorian society, but unconsciously reject gender roles and stereotypes about women. Freud is therefore complicit in accepting sexist perceptions of women, but is not a perpetrator who attempts to entrench patriarchy by portraying women as inferior. Because Freud is a victim of the prevalent stereotypes of society, feminist critics are unwarranted in characterizing him as an instigator of female degradation. Rather, his skewed perceptions reflect the male-chauvinist
…show more content…
The gender roles that prevailed in Victorian society were reflections of science and nationality. The nuclear unit was a microcosm of "factual" thoughts at that time. Darwin's theory of evolution and superiority of the species, not only led to European Imperialism and subordination of "inferior" races but male subordination of the "inferior" sex. Whereas the Victorian man was dominant, strong, rational and intellectually superior, the Victorian woman was characterized as submissive, weak, indecisive and emotionally expressive. Like Darwin's belief that each species' particular qualities provide it with a unique niche to fulfill, men and women, because of their contrasting characteristics, encompass distinct and separate functions. A man's strength and intellect allow him to provide for his family. Conversely, a woman's sphere of influence belonged in the household where her nurturing character appropriates her to raise children while being protected by the harsh elements of the outside world. A man's reserved nature would result in destructive child rearing and a feeble woman could not survive in the ruthless competition of the job force. Because Darwin's theory of evolution was scientifically confirmed as "fact," the encompassed gender roles were therefore unquestionable.
Freud's "unquestionable" role in society is fulfilled by psychoanalysis because his masculine intellect allows him to cure and consequently protect his emotional