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It is known from psychology that “masculine” and “feminine” are the names applied to the behaviors due to the features of anatomy and convention. Being ‘active’ is referred to masculinity while we use the term ‘passive’ for femininity. However, in Freud’s ‘psychoanalysis’, to take equal femininity with passivity is an error, also it is valid for masculinity and activity. Freud (1932) claims that sometimes a great deal of activity is needed to obtain certain passive aims or behaviors. In my opinion, we must beware in this of underestimating the influence of social customs, which similarly force women into passive situations.

Freud argues that there is nothing inevitable about the development of sexual object choice, and in addition to this there is no innate femininity or masculinity. According to him: “We are potentially bisexual, active or passive, variable contrary and not just genital. How any woman or man understands, fantasizes about, symbolizes, internally represents, and feels about her or his physiology is a developmental product, and these feelings and fantasies may be shaped by considerations completely apart from biology.”( Mitchell: 1978).

In my point of view, Freud wanted to tell us woman is made by our personalities, she’s not born as having a feature of femininity. In the same perspective, we can also say that both homosexuality and heterosexuality are products of development process of the individual for both sexes. Various people or a person in different cases may be either masculine or feminine in their preference for activity or passivity due to the sexual aims. After reading Freud’s works about femininity, I also discover that gender does not determine the nature or acceptance of a sexual role or a preference for activity or passivity with respect to the sexual aims. His theory allows us to explain the broad difference between men and women based on the repression of the unacceptable half of their identity and sexuality in order to conform to cultural expectations.
To understand the femininity from psychoanalytic perspective clearly, we should firstly know or define the opposite thinkers’ view about what psychoanalysis is. In my opinion, Michael Brearly is one of the fair critics, because he is also a member of a ‘British Psychoanalytical Society’. According to his experiences with his patients, he concluded some results that is found very absurd by the other psychologists who are in favor of psychoanalysis. He claims that psychoanalysis is said to be elitist, that is, in seeing itself as superior to other psychotherapies. It is also dangerous and radical and it brainwashes. For instance, take the issue of child abuse where it is accused both of denying the facts of abuse and of implanting false memories. In addition, psychoanalysis is conservative and it spreads a propaganda of anti-homosexuality to people’s unconcsious. I cannot decide that he is telling the truth, in fact, he may be right in some conditions. However, in reality, these views are all about the methods of psychoanalysis which are operated only on the patients of him.

In psychoanalytic theory, even though the girls are less aggressive and more dependent than the boys, they go through the first stages of their development in exactly the same way as boys do. This stage is called the ‘phallic’ stage. In this period, little girls behave physically exactly like little boys. Both boys and girls take the mother as the object of desire and in addition, they see the father as a rival. Girls feel inferiority to the boys because of the sight of boy’s penis in this stage.

After the ‘phallic’ phase, which is called the ‘oedipal’ crisis, the girl turns to the father and admires by seeing him as her love object. According to Freud’s view, this turning point is the result of the aim that replacing the penis by a child from the father. In most cases, the girl does not entirely deny the fact of the loss of the penis, but she tries to compensate for her bodily inferiority in a non-sexual field, for example, by being in competition with the boy. It can be thought that this behavior may cause homosexuality in these girls. However, girls remain frigid as the true object is still the mother although they may turn towards men. For Freud, true femininity is associated with identification with the mother and the want of a baby. Women as very young children have to transfer their affections from their mother to their father, unlike boys who are not constrained to make the same kind of the dramatic shift in their desires in order to achieve their gender identity ( Williams:1993). However, Freud also suggests that ‘feminine’ women never arrive at the ideal situation of feeling the equal of men because they never lose their unconscious desire for a penis.

Women’s sexuality normally requires passivity that their aggressive instincts are turned in a masochistic way. For instance, the women’s life has the sexual events of defloration or giving birth which give them pain. A feminine woman’s attitude towards men does not include activity, therefore we can define feminine love as passive and narcissistic. In the same logic, the women who are definitely feminine does not love, they can only be loved by men. In other words, women who love men are masculine in psychoanalytic theory.

Helene Deutsch (1925) states in ‘The Psychology of Women’: “The man attains his final stage of development when he discovers the vagina in the world outside himself and takes possession of it sadistically....the woman has to discover the new sexual organ in her own person, a discovery she makes through a masochistic submission to the penis, thus becoming also the guide to this new source of pleasure.” In her unconscious the little girl makes an association between breast and penis; this equivalence gives rise to the common oral theory of sexual intercourse at the fellatio stage. She believes heterosexual libido to have archaic oral roots. Either the little girl identifies with the active father, or masochistically with the mother.

Many feminine characteristics are according to woman’s original sexual inferiority, her genital deficiency and the need to overcome these realities and hide them as an instinctive behavior. In psychoanalytic theory, especially Freud and De Groot think that a woman is fully satisfied only when she has a son, thus compensating for her penis envy and her feeling of inferiority. Freud (1932) mentions that: “ A man of about thirty strikes us as a youthful, somewhat unformed individual, whom we expect to make powerful use of the possibilities for development opened up to him by analysis. A woman of the same age, however, often frightens us by her psychic rigidity and unchangeability....... There are no paths open to further development, it is as though the whole process had already run its course and remains thenceforward insusceptible to influence – as though, indeed, the difficult development to femininity had exhausted the possibilities of the person concerned."
To shorten all these views, we can say that Freud’s female development theory does not suppose a given gender organization, but instead of this, the theory determines sexual difference as something constructed through the processes of maturation and experience. His views are criticized especially by the feminists. This opposite thinkers against Freud note that he does not examine the social forces that contribute to the deficiency of women and the ideological links between femininity and passivity. I think the unconscious rejection of femininity by the both sexes in early childhood which is seen as the basic view of the patriarchal domination of women. Moreover, in both of the men’s and women’s imagination which comes from their unconscious, since they represent both what the mother wants and due to the sexual difference, it can be said that men are superior to women because of their physical differences in terms of sexual organs.

Femininity is continually derogated and the power of social construction repeatedly circumscribed by a biologism that seeks to sustain an image of male superiority, of masculine ‘activity’ and power. In this way, Freud’s biologism continually undermines his own constructionist insights. He rejects explanations which derive from the idea of innate biological or psychological characteristics. He raises the important concept of bisexuality and discusses the inadequacy of the terms ‘passivity’ and ‘activity’ and their equation within culture, with ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ respectively.

Lacan, who is an another psychoanalyzer, refers to femininity as ‘masquerade’, because he thinks that they are because of what a woman is not that she expects to be desired as well as loved. He states that: “There is woman only as excluded by the nature of things which is the nature of words, and it has to be said that if there is one thing they themselves are complaining about enough at the moment it is well and truly that – only they don’t know what they are saying, which is all the difference between them and me.”(Lacan, 1972-3, p. 144) Therefore, we understand that psychoanalytic theory utters the truth about the status of female sexuality and about the sexual relation, but it stops there. Lacan, in his development of Freud’s theory, claims that many women fetishise their entire body into a representation of the missing phallus through its adornment by making it attractive to men. Adornment means an ornament or decoration, which is called as vanity by Freud.

It is not my opinion that Freud’s analysis of female development should be rejected as a manifestation of anti-feminism. The absolutely unflattering description of typical female character traits must be seen in its historical context. It is a description of the housewife in a private class in a specific history period, and the analysis of her psychosexual life is the best beginning point from which both to criticize and change her situation. Even if the castration complex and penis envy theories are correct, it does not follow that the male sexual organ for all the times will symbolize activity and power.

When we look at the situation of understanding ‘femininity’ in Turkey, Freud’s ideas cannot be acceptable yet by the society. According to the majority, a woman should or in reality must be feminine and in the same manner, a man must be masculine in every situation of the life. Especially for men, masculinity is the vital feature for their beings. It is definitely true for most of the other societies too. In this perspective, we can conclude that psychoanalytic theory is the most radical approach in contrast to other theories, and therefore, to find supporters of this theory is more difficult, and will also be impossible to see the acceptance of psychoanalysis in the near future.

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