Freud’s Theory of Femininity


Freud was one of the great modernist theorists of his time. He broke through conventional ideas that seemed concrete at the time. He brought ideas about the human subconscious to the forefront. Freudian vocabulary and ideas are a part of our everyday lives as is the idea of psychoanalysis and therapy. These days the concept of therapy is evident in almost all areas of our lives. Human beings encounter different forms of therapy such as play therapy, music therapy and talking therapy as a regular part of our culture. It comes up in the music we listen to, the TV programmes we watch, the books we read and even in our everyday learning.  The fact that the term Freudian slip is often used in everyday language shows that Freud for better or worse has had a significant impact on society. One of the difficulties people have with Freud seems to be in relation to his theories of femininity and his views on women in general. Many feminists discredit Freud’s theories due to these opinions. However it would be over simplifying matters if we were to disregard all of Freud’s findings and observations because of his attitudes to women.

When dealing with the issue of sexuality Freud regularly related it to gender. No thinker can avoid tackling the subject of gender because everyone is invested in the structures of gender being themselves either male or female. Freud believed that gender values are set down in early infancy without our awareness. However he also believed that human beings have aspects of male and female in us, the male being active and the female being passive. Freud also believed in the idea of infantile sexuality. This means that all creatures are sexual beings from the start. Even innocent infants begin as sexual beings. Freud did not believe that sexuality was something that could be kept from children until they are older. Freud saw the child as being “polymorphously perverse”. This means that the small infant has not yet separated its sexual desires and wishes from its desire for food, warmth and comfort. The infant is he said “a bundle of appetites” All Freud’s further findings on the development of the child derive from these beliefs. Many people did not agree with Freud’s theories of infantile sexuality because they were not in line with the positive era of the time. His teachings were banned from many institutions and universities including UCC because people felt they threatened their belief system. Continue reading