Gilligan suggests that there are gender differences, but these differences should result into misconception that women are inferior due to their gender.
She argues that the moral reasoning from the female point of view emphasizes the responsibility to others while Kohlberg’s model of moral reasoning from male point of view stresses individualism. Gilligan attributes her suggestion to the differences in matters of relationships and dependency.
Proper masculinity development in men and boys demands separation from maternal care in order to attain independence. Women and girls on the other hand require intimacy and attachment to their mother for them to develop their femininity.
Hence, masculinity is determined by the extent of the maternal separation and femininity is determined by the extent of maternal intimacy. The moral reasoning from female perspective shows responsibility while moral reasoning from male perspective shows individuation. I agree with the Gilligan’s argument that there is a gender disparity in the nature of the roles in the society in terms of educational achievement, morality development, and acquirement of independence and intimacy.
Role of Self in the Society
Educational achievement is a major disparity in the gendered role development in the society. According to Nicholas, Chodorow supports Gilligan’s views on the gender development, adding that there is gender based academic ethics and performance (39). Basing on Gilligan argument, I strongly agree that Girls assess and access education from sociological point of view in that, through socialization with their peers, family members, teachers, and the community, girls fulfill their educational achievement.
On contrary, the independence character of boys makes them concentrate on their education since they focus their independence on obtaining individual achievement (Gilligan 36). The inclination of the male identity to the independence, achievement, and individuation give boys an upper hand in their academic achievements.
I do agree with Gilligan that there are gendered differences in educational achievement because statistics has that boys perform better than girls do (39). This finding does not imply that girls are weaker educationally but rather differ in the perception and conception of education, thus Gilligan is very right when she recognizes the gendered difference.
The feminine inclination to the dependence, relationships, and socialization makes girls perceptions and conception of educational achievement to be based on the attitudes of the community and family (Lovinger 69). Thus, the educational achievement of a girl depends on the pressure from the surrounding peer, family, and community. The observational theory of Bandura suggesting that learning can occur by observing others reaffirm Gilligan perspective on the nature of feminine education (Chodorow Para. 6).
I support Gilligan’s feminist argument that dependence negatively influences the girls’ educational performance as educational achievement demands demonstration of self-reliance and originality of one’s ability. According to smith, Coleman on education introduced the concept of social capital as “what is embodied in the relations among persons” (Para. 2).
The social capital is important in building human Capital, which are the social connections that enhance education in women. Therefore, “combination with Chodorow’s and Gilligan’s explanations provides a viable explanation for the effect that social relationships have on students’ academic outcomes” (Smith Para. 2). Thus, I agree with Gilligan’s views on the gendered education, despite her criticism from male psychologists.
Development of morality begins right from childhood and develops gradually into adulthood where gender difference is reflected in the life of an adult. Due to the differences in the development of the gendered roles in the society, there is significance gender difference in the achievement of self and morality in the society.
The development and achievement of conventional morality requires system of learned attitudes from the society (Kolhberg 22). The gender differences in terms of orientation towards caring and relationships forms the divergent point in self and moral achievement. According to Gilligan’s hypothesis, during development and achievement of morality and self, boys are inclined to justice while girls are more inclined towards caring (39).
In adulthood, when faced with real-life moral dilemmas, men perceive the dilemma from justice point of view while women perceive the dilemma from caring point of view as they try to resolve (Kohlberg 24). This is quite practical because if one takes a case scenario of a real-life dilemma and demand possible solutions, the solution will be inclined to gender differences and this proves Gilligan’s argument that the role of self is gender-based true.
Gilligan further criticized psychological theories that try to describe woman from masculine point of view. Sigmund Freud’s Electra and Oedipal complexes describe the psychosexual development of a child but Electra complex portray woman as penile envy – describing woman in terms of masculine perception. According to the psychosexual theory, before the female child experience Electra complex, she has emotional attachment to her mother and this attachment is the cause of developmental failure in women.
The poor resolution of the penile envy conflict in the psyche results in the compromised ego development in women. This leads to Freud’s conclusion that, the moral judgment in women is significantly influenced by the conditions of affection and hostility (Cherry Para. 8). Freud is depicting women from male point of view instead of from feminine point of view hence Gilligan perspective is more plausible.
Independence and intimacy is one of the gendered roles in the society according to Gilligan. For instance, the development of femininity requires that girls form a very close and intimate relationship with the mother so that they can learn their feminine roles. The mother also has an emotional attachment to the girl as they are of the same gender and can freely interact sharing their intimate issues (McClelland 54).
Due to the intimate relationships, girls tend to spend more time with their mothers than boys, and this is where the divergent roles of gender occur. The resulting effect of the intimate relationships of girl-mother makes the girl more dependent and social because the relationships have been an integral part of her development. The weakness in the feminine development is the dependence character that makes her always be reliant on others in terms of socialization (Gilligan 31).
In contrast, according to Erik Eriksson, the extent of the masculinity development depends on the maternal separation of the boys and adoption of the independent life (Smith Para. 8). The independence character of boys is a virtue in the society that shows maturity, the quality even girls require in competing effectively with the boys and assert their quest for equality. Gilligan’s arguments are novel and I conclusively agree with them.
Gilligan explanation on the disparity of the gendered roles in the society in terms of moral development, educational achievement, and acquirement of independence and intimacy have greatly criticized and changed the psychological theories. Her arguments have provided a plausible explanation as to why there are gender differences in the roles and achievement of the roles in the society.
The conclusive findings is that male are inclined to independence, individuation, self-achievement and logical morality while female are inclined to intimacy, relationships, socialization and caring morality and this sums up my agreement on Gilligan’s view that the role self in society is based on gender.
Cherry, Kendra. “Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development.” Psychology. 2010. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.
Chodorow, Nancy. “Women’s Intellectual Contributions to the Study of Mind and Society.” Webster. 2002. Web. 15 Oct 2010.
Gilligan, Carol. “Women’s Place in Man’s Life Cycle.” Harvard Educational Review. 1979. 49(4); 31-46
Kohlberg, Lawrence. “Continuities and Discontinuities in Childhood and Adult Moral Development Revisited.” In Collected Papers on Moral Development and Moral
Education. Moral Education Research Foundation. 1973. Harvard University. Lovinger, Jane. “Measuring Ego Development.” 1970. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
McClelland, David. “Power: The Inner Experience.” 1975. New York: Irvington. Nicholas, Davidson. “Feminism and Sexual Harassment.” Society. 1983. 28(4); 39-44
Smith, Williams. “Gender differences in the academic ethic and academic achievement” Psychology. 2005. 15 Oct. 2010 .http:/wwwpsychology/p/articles/mi_m0FCR/is_3_39/ai_n15944508/pg_5/