PSYCHOLOGY OF WOMEN: Behavior in a Biosocial Context by Juanita H. Williams
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PSYCHOLOGY OF WOMEN: Behavior in a Biosocial Context

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There is a fine steady hand on the tiller here, charting a straight course between the Scylla of biological determinism and the Charybdis of ultrafeminism. Juanita Williams has taught a course on the psychology of women at the University of Southern Florida for the past five years. In her preface she gratefully acknowledges the inspiration and support of four daughters and her husband. For once, such information is relevant since she can obviously combine the insight of her own biological and social experiences with her rich survey of the literature. The result is a stunning performance. Beginning with the polarized myths--woman as earth mother, woman as evil seductress--Williams explores the types and stereotypes generated by male-dominated schools of psychotherapy and patriarchal society. She is fair, explaining the cultural context, succinctly presenting and weighing the definitions of woman qua woman put forth by Freud or Erikson, Helen Deutsch, Karen Homey, and others. It will delight many who have long been unhappy with sexual generalizations to read that measurements of dependency, creativity, intelligence, fear, and cooperation, long polarized along sexual dimensions, are virtually all invalid--by reason of definition, bias, method, sample, and so on. The generalization that intersexual variability is greater than intersexual variability holds. The few exceptions--better judgment of spatial relations and more aggression in males, earlier developmental maturity and greater viability of females--are presented with a variety of explanatory hypotheses. But Williams' major point is that behavior is the result of dynamic interaction in a cultural extent, in relation to available choices and individual differences. In addition to the hotly debated issues of male-female differences, there is also massive information on women's physiology and sexuality from fetal development to old age. It is a stylish celebration of human individuality, eschewing the cliches of What All Women Are Made Of in favor of Which Women, in What Time and Place.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1977
Publisher: Norton