“The Mismeasure of Woman” by Carol Tavris, focuses on a society where all standards of normalcy are set by men, thus women will always be considered abnormal. Tavris thesis, the model of men as the norm and women as the opposite, lesser, better, or equal causes change to be impossible. Where as if we look to social context modifying our behaviors, then change becomes possible. Tavris supports her thesis by presenting arguments on the standards of normalcy, the domain of love and also through the differences talked about between men and women.
“In western society today, there are three competing versions of the mismeasure of woman.”(p.21) The first view, man is the norm, and woman is lesser “the problem”. In this view they try to discover why women to not share the same behaviors as men. The study reveals that women have less confidence in their performance compared to men. The male ideal of seeming confident inhibits males from being unable to acknowledge help.
After years and years of women trying to measure up to the man it is finally over. This view suggest that women are better, here the female qualities and female life experiences have been revalued and commemorated. The idea of culture feminism is derived from this view. We are also able to see the “basic psychological difference between women and men.”(p.23) “This movement represented an important step forward in the study of gender.”(P.23) is noted in this view as well.
“To question the belief that men and women differ in profound and basic ways-their brains, capacities and abilities-is not to deny that men and women differ at all.”(p.28) Men and women differ quite a bit; this is shown by their emotions and reactions. There are obviously problems in studying gender that have been overlooked. Gender has been generalized to the white middle class male. Drug testing has now finally entered the feminine world, this used to be done just on males.
If American law is only based on the “reasonable man”(p.28), then law can never be able to interpret the female experiences. Medicine is based on the standards of the “masculine” rather than “human”(p.29). Robin West argues that the law is incapable of being able to reflect the female experiences: “Women are absent from jurisprudence because women as human beings are absent from the law’s protection.”(P.29)
There is domain where women set the standards of being the norm, and it is the domain of love. Women have the ability of emotional expression. Men and women have different definitions of love. Men tend to define love by doing things and being available for their love ones. Women tend to regard love as emotional expression of feelings.
“So, of course, women and men differ.”(p.29) Research shows that women have two basic roles, the home role and the work role. It has been shown that the amount of extra work women do compared to their spouse is about a one 24 hour a day month period. In some research studies it has been shown that women do even more work than that. So in fact women have a “second shift”(p.29) of managing the house and childcare.
The material in this article supports the course thesis that ‘gender is socially constructed’. The standards of normalcy are based on men and thus women are made to feel, as they don’t belong in their own society. The mismeasurement of women had made “sicknesses and syndromes of women’s normal bodily process”. The mismeasure of woman causes women to end up feeling unfit and incapable of doing anything correctly. Women are made to believe that they should measure up to man in all ways but society should be able to recognize that what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander.