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Feminism and Psychology

Updated on June 17, 2015

Feminism : School Of Thought .

" I am a feminist " , this is a common statement which people use when stuck in some gender situation . But do we actually know what feminism is ? . To know what feminism actually is , we need to know its origin and how it become what it is today . Here , we will be talking about Feminism as ' The School Of Psychology ' .


Feminism as a school of psychology wants the subject of psychology to study men and women equally .Most of the early researches have focused upon men and the results have been applied on women . Naturally women feel ignored , dissatisfied , and wrongly represented as a result of this , Initially the feminist movement went through a lot of struggle but finally it achieved and retain its positive outlook by resolving conflict through consensus constructive actions towards social and personal change .In the early years , psychology was focused upon doing experiments on male subjects and applying on female . Psychology is a study of human mind and behavior in a variety of environment and therefore the only true way to understand persons mind and behavior is to make an attempt to understand the person in his environment . Feminists argued that , not studying women as a part of psychology , would do an injustice to the subject . Feminism aims to achieve equality and justice for all women .


It has 3 major goals :

  • To understand the imbalance of power and privilege for women in all societies.
  • To challenge the disadvantaged status of women in both public and private areas.
  • To advocate on behalf of empower girls and women of diverse social , national and ethnic identities .

In 1968 , Naomi Weissten stated " Psychology constructs the female " by saying this , she declared that psychology has neglected and omitted women from its data and knowledge .

The biggest goal for feminist psychologists is to uncover , reshape , rename , and transform the subject of psychology , in a way that it has connection to the real life of girls and women everywhere in the world . Feminists believe that when this happen and when women will be liberated and transformed , men will also became FREE FROM THEIR GENDERED LIVES .

In early 1970's , Feminist psychologist questioned the ' androcentric bias ' of psychology as they believed , it was a modal of reality . Feminists pointed out that researches and people they studied were aggressive ad achievement which reflected main concerns and the results of the research based on male samples were assumed to apply to women . Feminist psychologist began to challenge this androcentric perspective as it was biased against women.


In 1974 , Sandra Bens spoke about ' Psychological Androgyny ' . She said that both men and women posses feminine and masculine traits and they decide to both masculine and feminine depending upon the circumstances . Psychological androgyny understands that viable alternative to prior conceptions that men and women exists as opposite poles . However , androgyny eventually was attacked as it still somewhere differentiate between men and women and was stereotypical in its approach. it believed that men and women are different from one another .


Some areas where , feminist psychologist have brought about a change are :

  • Construction Of Ethical Behavior
  • Curriculum Development
  • Violence Towards Women
  • Women Sexuality
  • Well - Being
  • Effective Management And Leadership

However , many areas resist these changes . As a result of feminism movement , there was an establishment of feminist organisation and scholarly ( journals ) . The division of psychology of women was admitted to the APA and the journal by the name of psychology of women , quarterly was launched in 1974 . As a result of these developments the journal of psychology began to accept women .

One of the most important research in feminist research is that , the well being of women and families . Feminists therapy and counselling was established in 1890 and feminists therapy stated that personal distress is based inequalities in political , economical and legal and social structure of the society that dis empower women .


Feminist therapists typically view , women symptoms are their best attempt at coping with abnormal situations rather than as reflecting abnormality within the women . Feminist therapists explore women's distress from the following perspective :

  • Attention is directed to the external source of a women's problem as well as women's internal conflict . Thus , this position locates women's abnormality in a social and political context .
  • Power imbalance are acknowledged , this position acknowledges , women's lower status with respect to men .
  • Personal and social identity with respect to gender , race , sexual orientation , class etc are honored and explored.

By valuing womens perspective , feminist therapists validate women's lived experiences , identify personal strengths , encourages self care as well as caring for others and encouraging women to value themselves and one another .


The goal of feminist empowerment therapy are intended not only to decrease the symptoms of the stress but also to strengthen individual well - being and the ability to cope future stressful situations with effective interpersonal problems .

Socially relevant psychological reseach has been effective in fighting for womens right of abortion , freedom from marital rape , financial support following divorce , women health concerns etc .


However , this is a flip side only within feminist psychology , there are 3 areas of conflict or disagreement :


Psychology of women mostly imply study of women not men . By focusing only on women , feminism again creates the difference between men and women and therefore the difference between various kinds of women from different or diverse background became blur . Psychology of women is little different from traditional psychology with only the addition of women as only the topics to study where women are studied in social and political context . Sometimes being a feminist psychologist can give a lower status in academic community and the journal publications.


On one hand , are those who subscribe an essentialists view , take the position that women's development is uniquely different from that of a men , resulting in women being more intrinsically caring and relational than men .According to this perspective women are not only different from men , they are also much better humans than men because they care for others . These qualities enable women to achieve intimacy in relationships . On the other hand , a social constructivist view of gender takes the position that true natures of women and men are unknown . The characteristics that we attribute to females and makes are socially created than biologically .


As a result of controversy of these two perspectives a new area of research by the name of evolutionary psychology has come up .Evolutionary theorists declared that differences between men and women are based on principles of the ' Survival Of The Fittest ' , where biological behavior is determined , such that , males are considered being more dominating and female are more relation - oriented . Most of the feminists are against this view .

Out of all three perspectives , feminists identify with social construction view of gender.

Hope , this article helped you , to have a more clear view of ' Feminism ' .



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