Book Review On Tavris
’s The Mismeasure Of Women Essay, Research Paper
Carol Tavris s The Mismeasure of Women offers the reader insight into the inequality and problems women face in society. I approached this book with the assumption that it would glorify women and belittle men. I figured that the author would blame all the problems women face on men. After completing the book I had a very different opinion. The author looked to society for the actual source of women s inequality and never placed the blame on any one group of people. The book explains that although there are differences in the behavior of men and women in certain situations both types of behavior are equal and for the most part influenced by society. It is for that reason I recommend The Mismeasure of Women for both male and female readers. It offers a wealth of information and insight that would benefit society as a whole, as well as, the relationships between men and women.
To help explain my recommendation and reasoning it is necessary to take a short look at what the book is saying. The book starts off by talking about the various reasons society feels women to be inferior to men. It seems to be built into our modern society to view men as the norm. Tavris explains early in the book about the experiments that were set up to study the male and female brain. The scientist s were trying to prove that the male brain is superior to the female brain. The results were usually not what the scientist expected and were often never published. It was found in the study of the brain and almost all other areas where men and women are thought to differ that the male and female are alike in more ways that they are different. Tavris s The Mismeasure of Women shows that point very clearly, Thus, one must not overlook perhaps the most obvious conclusion, which is that basic patterns of male and female brain asymmetry seem to be more similar than they are different (Tavris 55).
The book points out that many of the stereotypes about women s behavior are untrue. One of the most important examples of this is the notion of PMS and other so-called women s disorders. Tavris points out that many of the normal body workings of women are now looked at as disorders needing treatment. The author feels that this further makes the male the norm of society because society fails to turn male behavior and body functions into disorders. PMS and menopausal symptoms are normal body responses to hormonal changes according to Tavris. However both those conditions are now treated with drugs like diseases.
The author also explains some of the other stereotypes associated with women. These include the ideas that women are the caregivers and men are the warriors. Tavris stresses this point throughout the entire book. This is a stereotype against both men and women. Tavris counters these stereotypes by bringing in facts from scientific studies. It turns out that women and men are generally the same in these two areas if they have to be. It depends on other stimuli such as money, power, and prestige. These stereotypes cause men and women to act in certain ways, and suppress certain emotions in order to comply with societies idea of normal behavior. Tavris points out that women s inequality has to do with inequality of power and money rather than gender.
Women are overlooked in medical studies according to Tavris. This occurs even when the medical study will mostly affect women. This further asserts the books point that men are the norm of society. The scientist s assume that the treatments that benefit men will also benefit women. Of course the above paragraphs only represent a portion of the books arguments but they all support the authors general point. That point is that women need to overcome differences in power and opportunity rather than in gender to obtain inequality. That change can only be accomplished when all of society is involved, because these problems and stereotypes affect all of us regardless of gender.
The author wrote this book for the purpose of explaining why women experience so much inequality in our society. The book explains a great deal of ways women are treated unfairly and the author s opinion of the actual cause. An example of one of these situations in which women are treated unfairly includes the minimal or zero use of women in medical studies. Tavris s looks to societies idea of the male norm as the true problem. That is one reason I recommend this book. The author does not in any way ever place the blame on one segment of the population. Tavris shifts the blame on all of society. I agree with her on this point. Society uses males in its definition of normalcy and according to the book that is the overall problem. The author stresses that this problem causes people in general to behave according to the way society feels is normal. This directly influences masculine and feminine type behaviors. Tavris states that most people have both masculine and feminine traits but society tells people how to act according to their gender. This is the problem according to the author. We see this point made by the author in the following quote, by regarding masculinity and femininity as polar opposites, with one side usually better than the other, we forget that, in practice, most of us “do” both . (Tavris 293) The author is not trying to say that there are zero differences between men and women. Of course there are differences such as women s ability to bear children. The author simply wants to do away with the many stereotypes regarding the behavior of women opposed to men s. The objective of this book is to explain the above argument that behavior is caused or influenced by society.
Before reading this book I figured that this book was meant entirely for women. However, after reading it I feel that this book is for people in general. It is a human book for all humans regardless of gender or any other arbitrary division in the population. I most certainly recommend it for both men and women. The book allows women to feel better about themselves by doing away with the notion that their behavior or natural body functions are abnormal or disorders. It allows men to get more in touch with their inner-self by showing the many ways society influences behavior. It also shows men what women really want in relationships. I for one realized that men and women generally want the same things out of relationships but show these desires differently. These desires include stability and intimacy, both of which are grouped as women s emotions by society. Men and women both want them but seek them in different ways. Men and women, after reading this book, may be better able to express their feelings to each other. This is due to increased understanding that the opposite sex is not inferior or superior. There are just different ways people express themselves. The inequality of women arises when one gender is considered to be the norm. Both should be considered the norm. I feel the author wrote this book for both men and women to learn from.
Tavris s The Mismeasure of Women sets out to explain than although men and women may act a little different in certain ways, such as expressing feelings, one genders behavior is not superior to the other. The book says that masculine and feminine behaviors are placed upon people by society. The book accomplishes in an unbiased and straightforward manner what it intended to get across to the reader. As I said in previous paragraphs the author never points the finger at one group of people. That is the most important and strongest part of the book. Tavris makes the problem everyone s concern rather than only a woman s problem. This allows the reader to combat the problems relating to gender inequality whether the person is male or female. That in turn will create better relations between all people.
The author supports the arguments by explaining the source of the problem. Tavris places society as the source of women s inequality and mismeasure. Every one of the author s arguments is enough to convince me that she is correct in her reasoning. I am not a very easy person to convince. However, the author uses basic easy to understand ways of showing the reader that the source of the problem is the way society influences all of us. For example, the author s argument that masculine and feminine behaviors are created by society can be seen everywhere. Looking at your own behavior justifies that point. It is true that men generally act differently and more masculine when around all male friends. I know that I do and have seen it in many other people. Here is direct example of Tavris s reasoning, The powerful social norms for masculinity specify that men are not supposed to reveal their feelings directly, because to do so would be a sign of weakness (Tavris 265). That statement is clearly true. Just watch a sitcom to see it acted out before your eyes. Most of the author s arguments are presented with this easy to see type of reasoning. The reader can almost immediately see examples of the author s arguments in their everyday lives. It is for that main reason that I feel the author s arguments are persuasive.
The author s use of easy to see arguments also makes the book extremely easy to read. The reader does not need to hold a master s degree in English to read and fully understand this book. The book is written so that the majority of the population will be able to follow it with little or no problem. I have read many books that require the reader to reread paragraphs several times in order to simply understand the point the author is trying to make. This book was not at all difficult to follow. Even in the sections relating to medical subjects did not contain words that the average person would not be able to understand. I feel it was the author s intention to write the book in a simple to follow way. As I stated in a previous paragraph this is a human book, for the average human.
This book is not a revolutionary type book that brings to attention new ideas and arguments. I have heard in numerous sociology lectures about the problems women face. Women s inequality of power as presented in the book completely supports ideas presented in sociology lectures of the same nature. These topics include the fact that women are generally paid less that men are doing the same job. Generally the books arguments do not contradict arguments that I have heard in lectures. The book s very important point that masculine and feminine behaviors are influenced and created by society can also be backed up from sociology lectures I have attended. Overall the books arguments are consistent with many other arguments on the same general subject.
I spent a great deal of time looking for any point or idea the author left out that could be of vital importance for this book. I came up with nothing. The book presents all the information needed to effectively portray and defend the arguments. I found no area of the book that needed added support and/or thought. I found the areas dealing with women in the military and the workplace to be very well supported. I have known women in the military and they were very pro-war contrary to belief.
Carol Tavris s The Mismeasure of Women offers the reader insight in to the true cause of so-called women s problems. It provides both men and women with the information to improve relationships between lovers, co-workers, friends and family members of the opposite sex. It increases the awareness of societies influence of the behaviors of men and women without putting the entire blame on any one group of people. In general I recommend this book for all people.