basic relationship still remains in force today. The "domesticated
animal" has acquired a longer leash, but the legal chains have
yet to be broken. Common Law practices, assumptions, and attitudes
still dominate the law. The property, real and personal, brought by
the woman to the marriage now remains her separate estate, but such
is not always the case for property acquired during the marriage.
are two types of property systems in the United States -- common law
and community. In the nine community property states (Arizona, California,
Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington),
all property or income acquired by either husband or wife is community
property and is equally divided upon divorce. However "the general
rule is that the husband is the head of the 'community' and the duty
is his to manage the property for the benefit of his wife and family.
Usually, as long as the husband is capable of managing the community,
the wife has no power of control over it and acting alone, cannot
contract debts chargeable against it."10
Included in the property is the income of a working wife which, under
the law, is managed by the husband with the wife having no legal right
to a say in how it shall be spent.
common law states each spouse has a right to manage his own income
and property. However, unlike community property states, this principle
does not recognize the contribution made by a wife who works only
in the home. Although the wife generally contributes domestic labor
to the maintenance of the home far in excess of that of her husband,
she has no right to an allowance; wages or an income of any sort.
Nor can she claim joint ownership upon divorce.11
incurs a few other disabilities as well. A married woman cannot contract
on the same basis as her husband or a single woman in most states.
In only five states does she have the same right to her own domicile.
In many states a married woman can now live separately from her husband
but his domicile is still her address for purposes of taxation, voting,
jury service, etc.12
with the domicile regulations, those concerning names are most symbolic
of the theory of the husband's and wife's legal unity. Legally, every
married woman's surname is that of her husband and no court will uphold
her right to go by a different name. Pragmatically, she can use another
name only so long as her husband does not object. If he were legally
to change his name, hers would automatically change too, though such
would not necessarily be the case for the children. "In a very
real sense, the loss of a woman's surname represents the destruction
of an important part of her personality and its submersion in that
of her husband."13
we move out of the common law and into the statutory law we find an
area in which, until recently, the dual legal status of women has
increased in the last seventy years. This assault was particularly
intense around the turn of the century, but has solidified considerably
since then. Some of the earliest sex discriminatory legislation was
against prostitutes; but this didn't so much prohibit the practice
of their profession as regulate their hours and place of work. The
big crackdown against prostitutes didn't come until World War I when
there was fear that the soldiers would contract venereal disease.14
was also a rise in the abortion laws. Originally abortion was illegal
only when performed without the husband's consent and the only crime
was a "wrong to the husband in depriving him of children."15
Prior to passage of the nineteenth century laws which made it a criminal
offense it was largely regarded as a Church offense punishable by
most frequent new laws were sex specific labor legislation. Under
common law and in the early years of this country there was very little
restrictive legislation on the employment of women. It was not needed.
Custom and prejudice alone sufficed to keep the occupations in which
women might be gainfully employed limited to domestic servant, factory
worker, governess, and prostitute. As women acquired education and
professional skills in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, they
increasingly sought employment in fields which put them in competition
with men. In some instances men gave way totally and the field became
dominated by women, losing prestige, opportunities for advancement,
and pay in the process. The occupation of secretary is the most notable.
In most cases men fought back and were quick to make use of economic,
ideological, and legal weapons to reduce or eliminate their competition.
"They excluded women from trade unions, made contracts with employers
to prevent their hiring women, passed laws restricting the employment
of married women, caricatured working women, and carried on ceaseless
propaganda to return women to the home or keep them there."17
restrictive labor laws were the main weapon. Among the earliest were
those prohibiting women from practicing certain professions, such
as law and medicine. But most were directed toward regulating work
conditions in factories. Initially such laws were aimed at protecting
both men and women workers from the sweatshop conditions that prevailed
during the nineteenth century. The extent to which women, and children,
were protected more than men varied from state to state, but in 1905
the heated struggle to get the state to assume responsibility for
the welfare of workers received a major setback. The Supreme Court
invalidated a New York law that no male or female worker could be
required or permitted to work in bakeries more than sixty hours a
week and in so doing made all such protective laws unconstitutional.18
years later the court upheld an almost identical Oregon statute that
applied to females only, on the grounds that their physical inferiority
and their function as "mothers to the race" justified special
class legislation.19 With this
decision as a precedent, the drive for protective legislation became
distorted into a push for laws that applied to women only. It made
some strange allies, who had totally opposing reasons for supporting
such laws. On the one hand social reformers and many feminists were
in favor of them on the principle that half a loaf was better than
none and the hope that at some time in the future the laws would apply
to men as well.20 Many male union
leaders were also in favor of them, but not because they would protect
women. As President Strasser of the International Cigarmakers Union
expressed it, "We cannot drive the females out of the trade but
we can restrict this daily quota of labor through factory laws."21
soon proved to be right, as the primary use of "protective"
laws has been to protect the jobs of men by denying overtime pay,
promotions, and employment opportunities to women. The Supreme Court
has long since rejected its ruling that prevented protective legislation
from applying to men, yet there has been no move by male workers to
have the laws extended to them. Most of the real benefits made available
by such laws have been obtained through federal law or collective
bargaining, while the state restrictive laws have been quoted by unions
and employers alike to keep women in an inferior competitive position.
The dislike of these laws felt by the women they affect can be seen
in the numerous cases challenging their legitimacy that have been
filed since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed (prohibiting
sex discrimination in employment).
laws do more than restrict the hours which women may work. An examination
of the state labor laws reveals a complex, confusing, inconsistent
chaos. As of 1970, before the courts began voiding many sex specific
labor laws on the grounds they were in conflict with Title VII, thirteen
states had minimum wage laws which applied only to women and minors,
and two which applied only to women. Adult women were prohibited from
working in specified occupations or under certain working conditions
considered hazardous in twenty-six states; in ten of these women could
not work in bars.22
restricting the number of hours a woman may work --generally to eight
per day and forty-eight per week -- were found in forty-one states
and the District of Columbia. Twenty states prohibited night work
and limitations were made in twelve on the amount of weight that could
be lifted by a woman. These maximums ranged from fifteen to thirty-five
pounds (the weight of a small child).23
"weight and hours" laws have proved to be the most onerous
and are the ones usually challenged in the courts. In Mengelkoch
et. al. v. the Industrial Welfare Commission of California and North
American Aviation, Inc., the defending corporation has admitted
that the women Were denied overtime and promotions to positions requiring
overtime, justifying their actions by the California maximum hours
law. In Roig v. Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Co.,
the plaintiffs are protesting that their current job is exempt from
the Louisiana maximum hours law but that the higher paying job to
which they were denied promotion is not. One major case which challenged
the Georgia weight lifting law is Weeks v. Southern Bell Telephone
and Telegraph. It received a favorable ruling from the Fifth Circuit
Court but the plaintiff has yet to be given the promotion for which
perhaps most illustrative of all is an Indiana case,24
in which the company tried to establish maximum weight lifting restrictions
even though its plant and the plaintiffs were located in a state which
did not have such laws. By company policy, women were restricted to
jobs whose highest pay rate was identical with the lowest pay rate
for men. Many of the women, including the defendants, were laid off
while men with less seniority were kept on, on the grounds that the
women could not lift over thirty-five pounds. This policy resulted
in such anomalies as women having to lift seventeen and a half tons
of products a day in separate ten-pound loads while the male supervisors
sat at the head of the assembly line handling the controls and lifting
one forty-pound box of caps each hour. "In a number of other
instances, women were doing hard manual labor until the operations
were automated; then they were relieved of their duties, and men were
employed to perform the easier and more pleasant jobs."25
In its defense, the company claimed it reached this policy in accordance
with the union's wishes, but the Seventh Circuit Court unanimously
ruled against it anyway. This is only one of many instances in which
corporations and unions have taken advantage of "protective"
legislation to protect themselves from giving women equal job opportunities
and equal pay.
the passage of Title VII, the restrictive labor legislation is slowly
being dissolved by the courts. But these laws are just vestiges of
what has been an entirely separate legal system applicable particularly
to women. At their base lies the fact that the position of women under
the Constitution is not the same as that of men. The Supreme Court
has ruled several times that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits any
arbitrary class legislation, except that based on sex. The last case
was decided in 1961, but the most important was in 1874. In Minor
v. Happerset26 the court
first defined the concept of "second-class citizenship"
by saying that some citizens could be denied rights which others had.
The "equal protection" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
did not give women equal rights with men.
groups in society have also had special bodies of law created for
them as a means of social control. Thus an examination of the statutes
can clearly delineate those groups which society feels it necessary
statutes do not necessarily indicate all of the groups which a particular
society excludes from full participation, but they do show those which
it most adamantly excludes. In virtually every society that has existed,
the caste cleavages, as distinct from the class lines, have been imbedded
in the law. Differentiating between class and caste is often difficult
as the two differ in degree that only at the extremes is seen as a
difference in kind. It is made more difficult by our refusal to acknowledge
that castes exist in our society. Here too we have allowed our thinking
to be subverted by our national ideology. Our belief in the potentiality,
if not the current existence, of high social mobility determined only
by the individual's talents, leads us to believe that mobility is
hampered by one's socio-economic origins but not that it is made impossible
if one comes from the wrong caste. Only recently have we reluctantly
begun to face the reality of the "color line" as a caste
boundary. Our consciousness of the caste nature of the other boundaries,
particularly that of sex, is not yet this high.
law not only shows the caste boundaries, it also gives a fairly good
history of the changes in boundaries. If the rigidity of caste lines
fades into more permeable class lines, the legislation usually changes
with it. The Middle Ages saw separate application of the law to the
separate estates. In the early years of this country certain rights
were reserved to those possessing a minimum amount of property. Today,
nobility of birth or amount of income may affect the treatment one
receives from the courts, but it is not expressed in the law itself.
For the past 150 years, the major caste divisions have been along
the lines of age, sex, and ethnic origin; these have been the categories
for which special legislation has existed.
law further indicates when restricted castes are seen to be most threatening
and the ways in which they are felt to be threatening. If members
of a group will restrict their own activities, or these activities
are inconsequential, law is unnecessary. No law need be made to keep
people out of places they never considered going. It is when certain
prerogatives are threatened by an outgroup that it must be made illegal
to violate them. Thus Jim Crow laws were not necessary during slavery
and restrictive labor legislation was not extensively sought for until
women entered the job market in rapidly accelerating numbers at the
end of the nineteenth century.
members of the lower castes are lumped together and the same body
of special law applied to all. Most of the labor legislation discussed
earlier applies to "women and minors." The state of New
York once worded its franchise law to include everyone but "women,
minors, convicts and idiots." When a legal status had to be found
for slaves in the seventeenth century, the "nearest and most
natural analogy was the status of women."27
But the clearest analogy of all was stated by the Southern slave-owning
class when trying to defend the system prior to the Civil War. One
of the most widely read rationalizations was that of George Fitzhugh,
who wrote in his 1854 Sociology for the South that "The
kind of slavery is adapted to the men enslaved. Wives and apprentices
are slaves, not in theory only, but often in fact. Children are slaves
to their parents, guardians and teachers. Imprisoned culprits are
slaves. Lunatics and idiots are slaves also."28
progress of "out castes," particularly those of the wrong
race and sex, also have been parallel. The language of the Nineteenth
Amendment was borrowed directly from that of the Fifteenth. The sex
provision of Title VII (only the second piece of corrective legislation
pertaining to women that has been passed)29
was stuck into the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a joke by octogenarian
representative Howard W. Smith of Virginia.30
of the same people were involved in both movements as well. Sojourner
Truth and Frederick Douglass were staunch feminists. Douglass urged
the first Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848 to demand the franchise
when many of the women were reluctant to do so. Similarly, the early
feminists were ardent abolitionists. The consciousness of two of the
most active is dated from the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London
in 1840 when Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were compelled
to sit in the galleries rather than participate in the convention.31
Many of today's new feminists also come out of an active background
in the civil rights and other social movements.32
Almost without exception, when one of the lower castes in our society
begins to revolt, the others quickly perceive the similarities to
their own condition and start the battle on their own grounds.
it is not surprising that these groups quickly find that they have
more in common than a similar legal situation. All of them, when comparing
themselves to the culture of the middle-aged white male,33
find that they are distinctly in the minority position. This minority
position involves a good deal more than laws and a good deal more
than economic and social discrimination. Discrimination per se is
only one aspect of oppression and not always the most significant
one. There are many other social and psychological aspects. Likewise,
being subject to separate laws and having poorer access to the socio-economic
system are only some of the characteristics of being in a minority
group. This point has been well explored by Hacker, who has shown
the similarities in the caste-like status of women and blacks.34
race analogy has been challenged many times on the grounds that women
do not suffer from the same overt segregation as blacks. This point
is well noted. But it is important to realize that blatant discrimination
is just one mechanism of social control. There are many more subtle
ones employed long before such coercion becomes necessary. It is only
when these other methods fail to keep a minority group in its place
that harsher means must be found. Given that a particular society
needs the subservience of several different groups of people, it will
use its techniques to a different degree with each of them depending
on what is available and what they are most susceptible to. It is
a measure of blacks' resistance to the definition which white society
has tried to impose on them that such violent extremes have had to
be used to keep the caste lines intact.
however, have not needed such stringent social chains. Their bodies
can be left free because their minds are chained long before they
become functioning adults. Most women have so thoroughly internalized
the social definitions which tell them that their only significant
role is to serve men as wives and raise the next generation of men
and their servants that no laws are necessary to enforce this.
result is that women, even more than other minority groups, have their
identities derived first as members of a group and only second, if
at all, as unique persons. "Consider the following -- When a
boy is born, it is difficult to predict what he will be doing twenty-five
years later. We cannot say whether he will be an artist or a doctor
or a college professor because he will be permitted to develop and
fulfill his own identity. But if the newborn child is a girl, we can
predict with almost complete certainty how she will be spending her
time twenty-five years later. Her individuality does not have to be
considered; it is irrelevant."35
until very recently, most women have refused to recognize their own
oppression. They have openly accepted the social definition of who
and what they are. They have refused to be conscious of the fact that
they are seen and treated, before anything else, as women. Many still
do. This very refusal is significant because no group is so oppressed
as one which will not recognize its own oppression. Women's denial
that they must deal with their oppression is a reflection of just
how far they still have to go.
are many reasons why covert mechanisms of social control have been
so much more successful with women than with most other minority groups.
More than most they have been denied any history. Their tradition
of subjection is long and even this history is purged from the books
so that women cannot compare the similarities of their current condition
with that of the past. In a not-so-subtle way both men and women are
told that only men make history and women are not important enough
the agents of social control are much nearer to hand than those of
any other group. No other minority lives in the same household with
its master, separated totally from its peers and urged to compete
with them for the privilege of serving the majority group. No other
minority so thoroughly accepts the standards of the dominant group
as its own and interprets any deviance from those values as a sign
of degeneracy. No other minority so readily argues for the maintenance
of its own position as one that is merely "different" without
questioning whether one must be the "same" to be equal.
Women reach this condition, this acceptance of their secondary role
as right and just, through the most insidious mechanism of social
control yet devised -- the socialization process. That is the mechanism
that we want to analyze now.
understand how most women are socialized we must first understand
how they see themselves and are seen by others. Several studies have
been done on this. Quoting one of them, McClelland stated that "the
female image is characterized as small, weak, soft and light. In the
United States it is also dull, peaceful, relaxed, cold, rounded, passive
and slow."36 A more thorough
study which asked men and women to choose out of a long list of adjectives
those which most clearly applied to themselves showed that women strongly
felt themselves to be such things as uncertain, anxious, nervous,
hasty, careless, fearful, dull, childish, helpless, sorry, timid,
clumsy, stupid, silly, and domestic. On a more positive side women
felt they were: understanding, tender, sympathetic, pure, generous,
affectionate, loving, moral, kind, grateful and patient.37
is not a very favorable self-image but it does correspond fairly well
with the social myths about what women are like. The image has some
nice qualities, but they are not the ones normally required for that
kind of achievement to which society gives its highest social rewards.
Now one can justifiably question both the idea of achievement and
the qualities necessary for it, but this is not the place to do so.
Rather, because the current standards are the ones which women have
been told they do not meet, the purpose here will be to look at the
socialization process as a mechanism to keep them from doing so. We
will also need to analyze some of the social expectations about women
and about what they define as a successful woman (not a successful
person) because they are inextricably bound up with the socialization
process. All people are socialized to meet the social expectations
held for them and it is only when this process fails to do so (as
is currently happening on several fronts) that it is at all questioned.
let us further examine the effects on women of minority group status.
Here, another interesting parallel emerges, but it is one fraught
with more heresy than any previously observed. When we look at the
results of female socialization we find a strong similarity between
what our society labels, even extols, as the typical "feminine"
character structure and that of oppressed peoples in this country
his classic study The Nature of Prejudice Allport devotes a
chapter to "Traits Due to Victimization." Included are such
personality characteristics as sensitivity, submission, fantasies
of power, desire for protection, indirectness, ingratiation, petty
revenge and sabotage, sympathy, extremes of both self and group hatred
and self and group glorification, display of flashy status symbols,
compassion for the underprivileged, identification with the dominant
group's norms, and passivity.38
Allport was primarily concerned with Jews and Negroes but compare
his characterization with the very thorough review of the literature
on sex differences among young children made by Terman and Tyler.
For girls, they listed such traits as: sensitivity, conformity to
social pressures, response to environment, ease of social control,
ingratiation, sympathy, low levels of aspiration, compassion for the
underprivileged, and anxiety. They found that girls, compared to boys,
were more nervous, unstable, neurotic, socially dependent, submissive,
had less self-confidence, lower opinions of themselves and of girls
in general, and were more timid, emotional, ministrative, fearful,
and passive.39 These are also
the kinds of traits found in the Indians when under British rule,40
in the Algerians under the French,41
of the most essential aspects of this "minority group character
structure" are the extent to which one's perceptions are distorted
and one's group is denigrated. These two things in and of themselves
are very effective means of social control. If one can be led to believe
in one's own inferiority then one is much less likely to resist the
status that goes with the inferiority.
we look at women's opinions of women we find the notion that they
are inferior very prevalent. Young girls get off to a very good start.
They begin speaking, reading, and counting sooner. They articulate
more clearly and put words into sentences earlier. They have fewer
reading and stuttering problems. Girls are even better in math in
the early school years. They also make a lot better grades than boys
do until late high school. But when they are asked to compare their
achievements with those of boys, they rate boys higher in virtually
every respect. Despite factual evidence to the contrary, girls' opinion
of girls grows progressively worse with age while their opinion of
boys and boys' abilities grows better. Boys, likewise, have an increasingly
better opinion of themselves and worse opinion of girls as they grow
distortions become so gross that, according to Goldberg, by the time
girls reach college they have become prejudiced against women. Goldberg
gave college girls sets of booklets containing six identical professional
articles in traditional male, female and neutral fields. The articles
were identical, but the names of the authors were not. For example,
an article in one set would bear the name "John T. McKay"
and in another set the same article would be authored by "Joan
T. McKay." Questions at the end of each article asked the students
to rate the articles on value, persuasiveness, and profundity and
the authors for writing style and competence. The male authors fared
better in every field, even in such "feminine" areas such
as art history and dietetics. Goldberg concluded that "Women
are prejudiced against female professionals and, regardless of the
actual accomplishments of these professionals, will firmly refuse
to recognize them as the equals of their male colleagues."43
unconscious assumptions about women can be very subtle and cannot
help but to support the myth that women do not produce high-quality
professional work. If the Goldberg findings hold in other situations,
and the likelihood is great that they do, it explains why women's
work must be of a much higher quality than that of men to be acknowledged
as merely equal. People in our society simply refuse to believe that
a woman can cross the caste lines and be competent in a man's world.
most women rarely get to the point of writing professional articles
or doing other things which put them in competition with men. They
seem to lack what psychologists call the "achievement motive."44
When we look at the little research that has been done we can see
why this is the case. Horner's recent study of undergraduates at the
University of Michigan showed that 65% of the women but only 10 %
of the men associated academic success with having negative consequences.
Further research showed that these college women had what Horner termed
a "motive to avoid success" because they perceived it as
leading to social rejection and role conflict with their concept of
has also shown that women students associate success in the usual
sense as something which is achieved by men, but not by women.46
Pierce suggested that girls did in fact have achievement motivation
but that they had different criteria for achievement than did boys.
He went on to show that high achievement motivation in high school
women correlates much more strongly with early marriage than it does
with success in school.47
immediate precedents for the idea that women should not achieve too
much academically can be seen in high school, for it is here that
the performance of girls begins to drop drastically. It is also at
this time that peer group pressures on sex role behavior increase
and conceptions of what is "properly feminine or masculine"
become more narrow.48 One need
only recall Asch's experiments to see how peer group pressures, coupled
with our rigid ideas about "femininity" and "masculinity,"
could lead to the results found by Horner, Lipinski, and Pierce. Asch
found that some 33% of his subjects would go contrary to the evidence
of their own senses about something as tangible as the comparative
length of two lines when their judgments were at variance with those
made by the other group members.49
All but a handful of the other 67% experienced tremendous trauma in
trying to stick to their correct perceptions.
experiments are suggestive of how powerful a group can be in imposing
its own definition of a situation and suppressing the resistance of
individual deviants. When we move to something as intangible as sex
role behavior and to social sanctions far greater than simply the
displeasure of a group of unknown experimental stooges, we can get
an idea of how stifling social expectations can be. It is not surprising,
in light of our cultural norm that a girl should not appear too smart
or surpass boys in anything, that those pressures to conform, so prevalent
in adolescence, prompt girls to believe that the development of their
minds will have only negative results.
process begins long before puberty. It begins with the kind of toys
young children are given to play with, with the roles they see their
parents in, with the stories in their early reading books, and the
kind of ambitions they express or actions they engage in that receive
rewards from their parents and other adults. Some of the early differentiation
along these lines is obvious to us from looking at young children
and reminiscing about our own lives. But some of it is not so obvious,
even when we engage in it ourselves. It consists of little actions
which parents and teachers do every day that are not even noticed
but can profoundly affect the style and quality of a child's developing
research has not yet been done which irrefutably links up child-rearing
practices with the eventual adult mind, but there is evidence to support
some hypotheses. Let us take a look at one area where strong sex differences
show up relatively early: mathematical reasoning ability. No one has
been able to define exactly what this ability is, but it has been
linked up with number ability and special perception or the ability
to visualize objects out of their context. As on other tests, girls
score higher on number ability until late high school, but such is
not the case with analytic and special perception tests. These tests
indicate that boys perceive more analytically while girls are more
contextual -- although the ability to "break set" or be
"field independent" also does not seem to appear until after
the fourth or fifth year.50
to Maccoby, this contextual mode of perception common to women is
a distinct disadvantage for scientific production. "Girls on
the average develop a somewhat different way of handling incoming
information -- their thinking is less analytic, more global, and more
perservative -- and this kind of thinking may serve very well for
many kinds of functioning but it is not the kind of thinking most
conducive to high-level intellectual productivity, especially in science.51
social psychologists have postulated that the key developmental characteristic
of analytic thinking is what is called early "independence and
mastery training," or "whether and how soon a child is encouraged
to assume initiative, to take responsibility for himself, and to solve
problems by himself, rather than rely on others for the direction
of his activities."52 In
other words, analytically inclined children are those who have not
been subject to what Bronfenbrenner calls "over-socialization,"53
and there is a good deal of indirect evidence that such is the case.
Levy has observed that "overprotected" boys tend to develop
intellectually like girls.54
Bing found that those girls who were good at special tasks were those
whose mothers left them alone to solve the problems by themselves
while the mothers of verbally inclined daughters insisted on helping
them.55 Witkin similarly found
that mothers of analytic children had encouraged their initiative
while mothers of non-analytic children had encouraged dependence and
One writer commented on these studies that "this is to be expected,
for the independent child is less likely to accept superficial appearances
of objects without exploring them for himself, while the dependent
child will be afraid to reach out on his own and will accept appearances
without question. In other words, the independent child is likely
to be more active, not only psychologically but physically, and the
physically active child will naturally have more kinesthetic experience
with spatial relationships in his environment."57
we turn to specific child-rearing practices we find that the pattern
repeats itself according to the sex of the child. Although comparative
studies of parental treatment of boys and girls are not extensive,
those that have been made indicate that the traditional practices
applied to girls are very different from those applied to boys. Girls
receive more affection, more protectiveness, more control, and more
restrictions. Boys are subjected to more achievement demands and higher
expectations.58 In short, while
girls are not always encouraged to be dependent per se, they
are usually not encouraged to be independent and physically active.
"Such findings indicate that the differential treatment of the
two sexes reflects in part a difference in goals. With sons, socialization
seems to focus primarily on directing and constraining the boys' impact
on the environment. With daughters, the aim is rather to protect the
girl from the impact of environment. The boy is being prepared to
mold his world, the girl to be molded by it."59
relationship holds true cross-culturally even more than it does in
our own society. In studying child socialization in 110
non-literate cultures, Barry, Bacon, and Child found that "pressure
toward nurturance, obedience, and responsibility is most often stronger
for girls, whereas pressure toward achievement and self-reliance is
most often stronger for boys."60
They also found that strong differences in socialization practices
were consistent with highly differentiated adult sex roles.
cross-cultural studies show that dependency training for women is
widespread and has results beyond simply curtailing analytic ability.
In all these cultures women were in a relatively inferior status position
compared to males. In fact, there was a correlation with the degree
of rigidity of sex-role socialization, and the subservience of women
our society also, analytic abilities are not the only ones valued.
Being person-oriented and contextual in perception are very valuable
attributes for many fields where, nevertheless, very few women are
found. Such characteristics are valuable in the arts and the social
sciences where women are found more than in the natural sciences --
yet even here their achievement is not deemed equivalent to that of
men. One explanation of this, of course, is the repressive effect
of role conflict and peer group pressures discussed earlier. But when
one looks further it appears that there is an earlier cause here as
several studies have shown, the very same early independence and mastery
training which has such a beneficial effect on analytic thinking also
determines the extent of one's achievement orientation61
-- that drive which pushes one to excel beyond the need of survival.
And it is precisely this kind of training that women fail to receive.
They are encouraged to be dependent and passive -- to be "feminine."
In that process the shape of their mind is altered and their ambitions
are dulled or channeled into the only socially rewarded achievement
for a woman -- marriage.
we have come almost full circle and can begin to see the vicious nature
of the trap in which our society places women. When we become conscious
of the many subtle mechanisms of social control -- peer group pressures,
cultural norms, parental training, teachers, role expectations, and
negative self concept -- it is not hard to see why girls who are better
at most everything in childhood do not excel at much of anything as
one link remains and that requires taking a brief look at those few
women who do manage to slip through a chance loophole. Maccoby provided
the best commentary on this when she noted that the girl who does
not succumb to overprotection and develop the appropriate personality
and behavior for her sex has a major price to pay: the anxiety that
comes from crossing the caste lines. Maccoby feels that "it is
this anxiety which helps to account for the lack of productivity among
those women who do make intellectual careers -- because [anxiety]
is especially damaging to creative thinking." The combination
of all these factors tells "something of a horror story. It would
appear that even when a woman is suitably endowed intellectually and
develops the right temperament and habits of thought to make use of
her endowment, she must be fleet of foot indeed to scale the hurdles
society has erected for her and to remain a whole and happy person
while continuing to follow her intellectual bent."62
plot behind this horror story should by now be clearly evident. There
is more to oppression than discrimination and more to the condition
of women than whether or not they want to be free of the home. All
societies have many ways to keep people in their places, and we have
only discussed a few of the ones used to keep women in theirs. Women
have been striving to break free of these bonds for many hundreds
of years and once again are gathering their strength for another try.
It will take more than a few changes in the legal system to significantly
change the condition of women, although those changes will be reflective
of more profound changes taking place in society. Unlike blacks, the
women's liberation movement does not have the thicket of Jim Crow
laws to cut through. This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the
women's liberation movement lacks the simple handholds of oppression
which the early civil rights movement had; but at the same time it
does not have to waste time wading through legal segregation before
realizing that the real nature of oppression lies much deeper. It
is the more basic means of social control that will have to be attacked
as women and men look into their lives and dissect the many factors
that made them what they are. The dam of social control now has many
cracks in it. It has held women back for years, but it is about to
break under the strain.
Sandra and Daryl Bem, "We're All Non-Conscious Sexists,"
Psychology Today, Nov. 1970, p. 26.
Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Ancient Law (London: John Murray,
1905), p. 135.
Alvin W. Gouldner, Enter Plato (New York, London: Basic
Books), 1965, p. 10.
Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, The Ancient City (Garden
City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1959), pp. 126-128.
Richard B. Morris, Studies in the History of American Law
(Philadelphia: Mitchell & Co., 1959), pp. 126-8.
Mary Beard, Woman as a Force in History (New York: Macmillan,
1946), pp. 108-109.
Edward Mansfield, The Legal Rights, Liabilities and Duties of
Women Salem, Mass.: Jewett & Co., 1945), p. 273. The quote summarizing
Blackstone is in Justice Black's dissent in United States v. Yazell,
382 U.S. 341, 361 (1966), where he wrote that coverture rested "on
the old common-law fiction that the husband and wife are one...[and]
that...one is the husband."
Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, The Family and the State
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934), pp. 109-110.
Blanche Crozier, "Marital Support," 15 Boston University
Law Review 28 (1935).
Philip Francis, The Legal Status of Women (New York:
Oceana Publications, 1963), p. 23.
Citizens Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Report
of the Task Force on Family Law and Policy, 1968, p. 2.
Ibid., p. 39.
Leo Kanowitz, Women and the Law: The Unfinished Revolution
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969), p. 41.
George Gould and Ray F. Dickenson, The American Social Hygiene
Association, Digest of State and Federal Laws Dealing with
Prostitution and Other Sex Offenses, 1942.
Bernard M. Dickens, Abortion and the Law (Bristol: MacGibbon
& Kee, Ltd., 1966), p. 15.
Alan F. Guttmacher, "Abortion-Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,"
The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, Guttmacher, ed. (Berkeley:
Diablo Press, 1967), p.4.
Helen Mayer Hacker, "Women as a Minority Group," Social
Forces, Vol. 31, Oct. 1951, p. 67.
Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905).
Muller v. Oregon, 208 U.S. 412 (1908).
British feminists always opposed such laws for their country
on the grounds that any sex specific laws were fraught with more evil
Alice Henry, The Trade Union Woman (New York: Appleton
& Co., 1915), p. 24.
U.S. Department of Labor, Summary of State Labor Laws for
Women, Feb. 1967, passim.
Sellers, Moore and Case v. Colgate Palmolive Co. and the International
Chemical Workers Union, Local No. 15, 272 Supp. 332. 52 Minn.
L. Rev. 1091.
Brief for the Plaintiffs/Appellants in the Seventh Circuit Court
of Appeals, No. 16, 632, p. 5.
Minor v. Happerset 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 22 L.Ed. 627
Gunnar Myrdal, An America Dilemma (New York: Harper,
1944), p. 1073.
George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South (Richmond, Va.:
A. Morris, 1854), p. 86.
The first was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which took 94 years
to get through Congress.
Caroline Bird, Born Female: The High Cost of Keeping Women
Down (New York: David McKay Co., 1968), Chapter 1. [Note from
author: Further research proved this to be incorrect. See "How
Sex Got Into Title VII."]
Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle (New York, Atheneum,
1959), p. 71. They were joined by one white and one black man, William
Lloyd Garrison and John Cronan.
Jo Freeman, "The New Feminists," The Nation,
Feb. 24, 1969, p. 242.
Myrdal, p. 1073.
Hacker, pp. 10-19.
Bem and Bem, p. 7.
David McClelland, "Wanted: A New Self-Image for Women,"
The Woman in America, ed. by Robert J. Lifton (Boston: Beacon
Press, 1965), p. 173.
Edward M. Bennett and Larry R. Cohen, "Men and Women: Personality
Patterns and Contrasts," Genetic Psychology Monographs,
Vol. 59, 1959, pp. 101-155.
Gordon W. Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (Reading,
Mass.: Addison-Wesley Co., 1954), pp. 142-161.
Lewis M. Terman and Leona E. Tyler, "Psychological Sex
Differences," Manual of Child Psychology, ed. by Leonard
Carmichael (New York: Wiley & Sons, 1954), pp. 1080-1100.
Lewis Fisher, Gandhi (New York: New American Library,
Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove
S. Smith, "Age and Sex Differences in Children's Opinion
Concerning Sex Differences," Journal of Genetic Psychology,
Vol. 54, 1939, pp. 17-25.
Philip Goldberg, "Are Women Prejudiced Against Women?,"
Transaction, April, 1969.
Matina S. Horner, "Woman's Will to Fail," Psychology
Today, Vol. 3, No. 6, Nov. 1969, p. 36. See also: S. Horner, Sex
Differences in Achievement Motivation and Performance in Competitive
and Non-Competitive Situations, Ph.D. dissertation, University
of Michigan, 1968.
Beatrice Lipinski, Sex-Role Conflict and Achievement Motivation
in College Women, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cincinnati,
James V. Pierce, "Sex Differences in Achievement Motivation
of Able High School Students," Co-operative Research Project
No. 1097, University of Chicago, Dec. 1961.
Lionel J. Neiman, "The Influence of Peer Groups Upon Attitudes
Toward the Feminine Role," Social Problems, Vol. 2, 1954,
S. E. Asch, "Studies of Independence and Conformity: A
Minority of One Against a Unanimous Majority," Psychological
Monographs, Vol. 70, 1956, No. 9.
Eleanor E. Maccoby, "Sex Differences in Intellectual Functioning,"
in The Development of Sex Differences, ed. by E. Maccoby (Calif.:
Stanford University Press, 1966), p. 26ff. The three most common tests
are the Rod and Frame test, which requires the adjustment of a rod
to a vertical position regardless of the tilt of a frame around it;
the Embedded Figures Test, which determines the ability to perceive
a figure embedded in a more complex field; and an analytic test in
which one groups a set of objects according to a common element.
Eleanor E. Maccoby, "Woman's Intellect," in The
Potential of Women, ed. by Farber and Wilson (New York: McGraw-Hill,
1963), p. 30.
Maccoby, ibid., p. 31. See also: Julia A. Sherman, "Problems
of Sex Differences in Space Perception and Aspects of Intellectual
Functioning," Psychological Review, Vol. 74, No. 4, July,
1967, pp. 290-299; and Philip E.Vernon, "Ability Factors and
Environmental Influences," American Psychologist, Vol.
20, No. 9, Sept. 1965, pp. 723-733.
Urie Bronfenbrenner, "Some Familiar Antecedents of Responsibility
and Leadership in Adolescents," in Leadership and Interpersonal
Behavior, ed. by Luigi Petrullo and Bernard M. Bass (New York:
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1961), p. 260.
D. M. Levy, Maternal Overprotection (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1943).
Maccoby, "Woman's Intellect," p. 31.
H. A. Witkin, R. B. Dyk, H. E. Patterson, D. R. Goodenough,
and S. A. Karp, Psychological Differentiation (New York: Wiley,
James Clapp, "Sex Differences in Mathematical Reasoning
Ability," unpublished paper, 1968.
R. R. Sears, E. Maccoby, and H. Levin, Patterns of Child
Rearing (Evanston, Ill.: Row and Peterson, 1957).
Bronfenbrenner, p. 260.
Herbert Barry, M. K. Bacon, and Irving L. Child, "A Cross-Cultural
Survey of Some Sex Differences in Socialization," The Journal
of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 55, Nov. 1957, p. 328.
Marian R. Winterbottom, "The Relation of Need for Achievement
to Learning Experiences in Independence and Mastery," in Basic
Studies in Social Psychology, ed. by Harold Proshansky and Bernard
Seidenberg (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), pp. 294-307.
Maccoby, "Woman's Intellect," p. 37.