Alfred Adler (1870-1937) was the doctor of the lower middle classes in Vienna at the beginning of the1900s.
He studied gender roles in this social layer which was characterized by complete family structure, classic male pattern, father as breadwinner.The mother looked after the family and brought up the children.
Carrying out social psychological research Adler came to the following intuitive idea: the personality form and behaviour characteristic of the genders is influenced by culture “a product of culture”.
By 1912 Adler completed his personality theory and put it into the larger context of social psychological research. He examined the view of his age concerning genders which said: women are of less value.
At the turn of the century most women realised their lower value status in society but they accepted it. In this acceptance they were helped by their typically feminine attributes such as gentleness, self-sacrifice and obediance. The mentally healthy women gave a feminine reaction to the criticism of the age and came to terms with the female role of their age. Thus society remained healthy as well. Women remained women and men remained men.
In the lifework of Adler’s contemporary, the other great analyst C.G.Jung (1875-1961) the word Role has a different meaning. In Jung’s analytical model the Role (=persona=mask) is the top of the personality pyramid, the top layer, which is in contact with the outside world. The Rolepersonality has a balancing function between the inside and outside world. It synchronises the expectations of the environment and the inner needs.
In Jung’s personality model the feminine anima and the masculine animus are parts of the individual unconscious. In the collective unconscious we can find the archetypes of the magna mater and the old wise.
Researching the structural forms of the female psyche Toni Wolf, Jung’s follower, described four female types: Amazon, Hetera, Mother and the Medial woman.
All four types have a cultural historical background. They can be identified with Greek goddesses. -Arthemis, Aphrodite, Demeter and Hestia- so they are probably archetypes. AMAZON: independent, efficient, success-oriented. She lacks patience and empathy. HETERA: ideal partner, inspirational woman. MOTHER: protects, supports, cares, helps THE MEDIAL WOMAN (medium) understands the subconscious background. She can play a mediator role in her environment and towards the transcendent.
According to Wolf every woman possesses these four basic structures. A woman will realize the structure which is most in accordance with her character. As her character matures she will integrate a second and a third stucture in her personality. The integration of the fourth structural form means the total approach towards Selbst. This fulfillment of the female role takes a lifetime.
Adler does NOT talk about roles but life tasks. In his finalist way of thinking the term task determines the goal better. Out of the three life tasks the male or female role of the person is fulfilled through the love relationship. Human relationships and career are effected and coloured by gender roles.
During the fulfillment of life tasks life periods follow. At the start of their CAREER, the young woman, the Amazon, functions independently, efficiently, ambitiously. At the beginning of the serious LOVE RELATIONSHIP, the marriage, the woman is a real partner. If she inspires her husband in all respects she is a Hetera. In later years of the marriage, at the birth of children she fulfills herself in her female role as Mother. As aging woman, who has cared for HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS all her life, she gathers and intertwines people with the help of her life experience. By her knowledge of people she reflects on the subconscious and towards the end of her life she mediates more and more towards the transcendent. She is the Medial woman.
The terminology of Jung’s and Adler’s analytical method is different but its ideas about the structural forms of the female role are the same. The psyche of the mentally stable woman develops throughout her life. Adler adds: it develops dinamically towards its personality ideal.
Opposed to the classical female roles we saw the start of the feminist movements. One of its leading personalities was Simone de Beauvoir French writer -Sartre’s follower and partner. In 1949 she published her book “The other sex” as a response to Freud’s teachings. Beauvoir was appalled by the fact that in psychoanalysis the woman is overshadowed by the man. In her view the female identity is not defined by birth but develops through outer influences. There is no difference originally between female and male personality. If it does appear it is only the impression of the education that the man forces on the woman. This picture becomes firmly rooted in women as a kind of stigma. This is the first violence against women.
Beauvoir’s statement makes the female identity conditional, she questions the female identity. This idea is subject to criticism today.
The categories of gender identity and gender roles become obvious if we look at the table compiled from the book “The modern theory of sexuality” by hungaryan Béla Buda.
TABLE in the view of modern social psychology
sexual identity = sexual conscious+ unconscious
sex role = sexual role
the behaviour attributed for sexes in a certain culture
gender role = the psychological features of the sociological gender role
pervasive role = sexual role + age role. All other human roles are based on it.
In the emancipation of women it is an extreme, wrong teaching that the harder, the more masculine a woman acts, the more valued she will be. Consequently the western emancipated woman got to her own exploitation. Amid the fast developing technical advances of our age the human mind aims to rule the world. Emotions and the soul become unnecessary on the labour market. Fortunately, feminism has changed a lot over 50 years. This is demonstrated by an Urugayan feminist’s speech from 1995 which I will cite from. (This speech was delivered in Libanon at an Arabian conference by Maria Teresa Bocile Santiso). There is a fundamental condition, valid for every woman, which is independent of culture, religion, social layer, age, or level of education. And this is the female body. The first experience in a woman’s life is that she possesses her female body. This is a woman’s life condition and attitude. Every woman possesses this special thing. They possess the inner and outer ability to carry life, feed and give birth. This identity which is deeply rooted in the female nature can be found in every culture. It is an anthropological originality, an ability for life. “
Henri Boulad ( Philosopher, theologian, teacher, psychologyst. Alexandria 1931-) says in his book : For the world the woman is a gift. But the “impolite” world only cares about the profit value of this gift.
This is what happens in Hungary at workplaces nowadays. How many points does a woman doctor/ psychologist make with her activity, what is its point/ forint value? The same thing comes into question in marriages . Who earns how much? It is prostitution where the woman can be best given a forint value.
Boulad defines a woman’s value by her existence. “The existence of mankind depends on women”-he says. The realisation of a woman’s basic value: the care which is so strong that it ties together every age and culture. A woman’s care spreads over the whole world. A woman hopes that the world will experience an intellectual deveopment and a strengthening of moral values. She wants the truth to reveal itself and good to manifest itself.
The traditional role of women is the most modern in our present and this is not a paradox. I’ll try to outline the traditional threefold role virgin-spouse-mother of a woman according to H. Boulad:
Virgin. Longing, waiting. Waiting for a man, the polarity of a woman’s personality
Spouse. Keeping the virginity of the heart: undivididness, total commitment to a man
In sex: the other person is in the centre of events all the time.
Loyality: Excluding everybody else. Getting from eternal love to the absolute, the eternal. This end feeds the previous values. It is the woman who understands this art, not the man. She teaches these things to him.
Mother. Every love must exceed itself. Duality must grow into a threefold, fourfold etc. relationship. Physical and psychological fertility perfects love.
In summary we can say:
For their healthy mental development children need male and female models which are transparent, easily recognisable due to their contrasting nature, and carry both the outer and inner signs of their gender.
The essence of the harmony of becoming a woman: to be aware of the high-ranking values of their own womanhood. To create a contrast to the male identity, but at the same time to complement the man. It is important for a woman to live out her being special, since she is capable of motherhood, of passing on life, of ensuring the continuity of human life. This idea is well expressed in an English proverb with which I would like to end my article:
” The hand that rocks the cradle is the one which moves the world.”
ADLER, Alfred: Co-operation between the sexes (1978.W.W Norton§Company , INC )
BOULAD,Henry:The suffering and mission of women (1997.Marton Aron Publishing House)
Budapest, 22 August 2005
HUNGARY, 1068, Budapest, Rippl-R.u. 27.