We are all astonished to see that the gains that women have made in the 20th century—beginning with the right to vote and including access to birth control, reproductive choices, job and educational opportunities and the like—are now on far shakier ground than they should be. But it is heartening to see that young women and men are taking up the fight to ensure that the women’s hard-won rights are not taken away. The battle for gender equality is not a relic of the last century but rather the reappearance of a crisis that threatens to bring us all back to the mind-numbing culture and customs of the 1950’s.
The struggle against oppression has been an ongoing struggle since time began. It started with an age-old need to mark our territory and thereby prove that we are better than someone else. Sadly enough, it is a phenomenon that we are seeing clearly in the current political environment. It also a hidden or not so hidden element in the battle of the sexes. But that battle is unique. We cannot eliminate either gender so we have come up with a hierarchy that establishes that men are “on top.” The patriarchal order has established men as first and women as second. But in the intimate relationship that exists between men and women, that model hasn’t really worked. Women have always resisted and there has been “trouble in paradise.”
Our book:http://www.routledge.com/9781138194960 is an effort to examine this resistance and bring it more clearly into the open, a necessary step toward establishing a model of equality between the genders. We have started out by giving a brief history of the feminist movement, going back to Bible times. In her commentary Dr. Kelly then continues with a summary of the topics that we cover, many of them being quite current in the present day.
Dr. Kelly states:
D r. Doris K. Silverman’s chapter begins with a summary of the ideas promulgated by French feminist Cixous four decades ago—ideas that ring as true today. Under a patriarchal society women are reduced to a subsidiary role, marginalized by the central androcentric culture. Cixous called for women to demonstrate their unique voices, to write their experiences, and to honor their bodies. Dr. Silverman’s sharing of her own experiences during the 1970s when women researchers began to focus on both sex and gender again resonated with my own. I was told in my senior year at Northwestern University, having been encouraged to apply for a Woodrow Wilson in History, that the only reason I didn’t win it was that I was a woman. In 1962, it never occurred to me that that was unfair; I decided I would get graduate training in English where my competition would more likely be other women.
D r. Silverman’s analysis of sexism in society today begins with her discussion of advertising, particularly ads for Cialis in which happily married heterosexual couples dramatically exhibit benevolent sexism. One could say the media greatly contribute to the perpetuation of our investment in patriarchy. As Dr. Silverman moves on to discuss the films, The Little Mermaid (1989) and Frozen (2013), she continues to illustrate both progressive and regressive pulls. Then in her discussion of sexting and hooking up, Dr. Silverman illustrates positive features in terms of females’ owning their bodies and gaining a sense of agency and an affirmation of their sensual–sexual selves. However, she also cites research claiming that “seventy-eight percent of unwanted intercourse takes place in hooking up”.
There is no more complicated relationship on the planet than that which occurs between men and women. It encompasses our deepest feelings—both positive and negative. Our best hope for establishing “peace” is to negotiate a “cease-fire” and bring those feelings into the open and see one another as we truly are.
Ellen Toronto is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Spring, Texas and has been practicing since 1980. In 2017, she was elected a Fellow in Psychoanalysis by the American Psychological Association. In 2016, Dr. Toronto's practice was recognized as one of the top Ann Arbor Psychology practices. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Toronto is married to Robert Toronto, Ph.D., and together they have four sons and eleven grandchildren.