In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development

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Revolutionary in 1982 and still necessary and relevant today, Gilligan points out massive flaws in psychological study which has focused solely on the male experience/lens for much of its 20th century existence. Women have been critiqued as being morally inferior since they don’t have the same cut-and-dry logic bound way of making judgements; however, Gilligan demonstrates through interviews with children of both sexes how girls reason their way to a decision with reliance on the network and making sure the most people are cared for while boys apply cold reasoning that strips away meaningfulness in relationships. What I was looking for, but missed, in this book was a deeper dive on the whys of what she was bringing up—are girls more nurturing due to the sociological pressures that are attendant from early ages to become so? Dolls thrust into their hands to care for while boys clomp and argue among themselves outside.

The crux of her argument is set forth in the 1993 Letter to Readers at the beginning of the book:

…the relational crisis which men typically experience in early childhood occurs for women in adolescence, that this relational crisis in boys and girls involves a disconnection from women which is essential to the perpetuation of patriarchal societies, and that women’s psychological development is potentially revolutionary not only because of women’s situation but also because of girls’ resistance. Girls struggle against losing voice and against creating an inner division or split, so that large parts of themselves are kept out of relationship. Because girls’ resistance to culturally mandated separations occurs at a later time in their psychological development than that of boys, girls’ resistance is more articulate and robust, more deeply voiced and therefore more resonant; it resonates with women’s and men’s desires for relationships, reopening old psychological wounds, raising new questions, news possibilities of relationships, new ways of living. As girls become the carriers of unvoiced desires and unrealized possibilities, they are inevitably placed at considerable risk and even in danger.