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Toward a Gendered Humanism

  • Lawrence Wilde

Abstract

From early in his career Fromm was a consistent critic of patriarchy and a supporter of women’s emancipation, but his position is based on a controversial assumption that there are distinctively male and female psychic structures. He was fully aware that the attribution of natural character differences between men and women had been used historically by men to justify the exclusion of women from public life and their subjugation. However, despite this historical abuse Fromm was convinced that gendered character differences could be discerned, and that, in asserting the merits of the female psychic structure, the conservative power of patriarchy could be undermined. His outlook has interesting similarities with modern “maternalist” feminism, though, in particular Carol Gilligan’s defense of a female ethics of care,1 and also with the French theorists Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva.2

Keywords

Female Quality Guilt Feeling Frankfurt School Oedipus Complex Maternal Function 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982); J Trebilcot (ed.), Mothering: Essays in Feminist Theory, Totowa (NJ: Rowman and Allanheld, 1984).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For introductions to their work see Toril Moi (ed.), The Kristeva Reader (Cambridge, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 1986) and Margaret Whitford (ed.), The Irigaray Reader (Cambridge, MA and Oxford: Blackwell, 1991).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Johann Jacob Bachofen, Myth, Religion and Mother Right: Selected Writings, Ralph Manheim (trans.) (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992)—there is a useful introduction by Joseph Campbell. Mother Right was originally published in German in 1861 and republished in 1926.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    August Bebel, Women Under Socialism, Daniel de Leon (trans.) (New York: Schocken Books, 1971) [originally 1879]Google Scholar
  5. Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (New York: Pathfinder, 1972) [originally 1884]. Engels’s contribution owed more to the work of the American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, whose Ancient Society was published in 1877. Morgan’s work among the Iroquois supplied independent confirmation of the existence of matrilineal society and was far more influential than Bachofen’s. They corresponded but never met.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    See Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 28–31.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Robert Briffault, The Mothers: The Matriarchal Theory of Social Origins (New York: Macmillan, 1931); Fromm’s review appeared in the first edition of volume three of the Zeitschrift in 1934 and it is published in the original German in volume one of Erich Fromm, Gesamtausgabe (Stuttgart and Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Deutscher Taschenbach Verlag, 1999), pp. 79–84.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    First published in English in Erich Fromm, The Crisis of Psychoanalysis: Essays on Freud, Marx, and Social Psychology (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1970), pp. 84–109.Google Scholar
  9. 32.
    Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom (New York: Henry Holt, 1994), chapter three.Google Scholar
  10. 43.
    Erich Fromm, Man For Himself: An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics (New York: Henry Holt, 1990).Google Scholar
  11. 46.
    Erich Fromm, The Forgotten Language: An Introduction to the Understanding of Dreams, Fairy Tales and Myths (New York: Grove Press, 1957), pp. 196–231.Google Scholar
  12. 60.
    On Fromm’s ethics see Rainer Funk, Erich Fromm: The Courage to Be Human (New York: Continuum, 1982), chapter 5; Lawrence Wilde, “Against Idolatry: The Humanistic Ethics of Erich Fromm,” in Marxism’s Ethical Thinkers (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2001).Google Scholar
  13. 61.
    Rainer Funk, Editor’s Introduction to Fromm, Love, Sexuality and Matriarchy, p. vii.Google Scholar
  14. 63.
    Erich Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (London: Random House, 1997), p. 127; see Donald W. Winnicott, The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1965).Google Scholar
  15. 64.
    Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (New York: Henry Holt, 1990), p. 45.Google Scholar
  16. 72.
    Carol Gilligan, In A Different Voice, and The Birth of Pleasure: A New Map of Love (London: Chatto & Windus, 2002).Google Scholar
  17. 73.
    Luce Irigaray, Je, tu, nous: Toward a Culture of Difference (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
  18. 74.
    Luce Irigaray, Democracy Begins Between Two (New York: Routledge, 2001), p. 54.Google Scholar
  19. 77.
    Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 29Google Scholar
  20. 81.
    Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference (London: Athlone, 1993), chapter 10, pp. 59–71.Google Scholar
  21. 85.
    Erich Fromm, Psychoanalysis and Religion (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 22.Google Scholar
  22. 87.
    Luce Irigaray, Sexes and Genealogies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 61.Google Scholar
  23. 89.
    Luce Irigaray, To Be Two (London: Athlone, 2000), p. 88.Google Scholar
  24. 98.
    Kate Soper, “Feminism, Humanism, Postmodernism” in Soper, Troubled Pleasures (New York and London: Verso, 1990), p. 233.Google Scholar

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© Lawrence Wilde 2004

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  • Lawrence Wilde

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