Tag Archives: feminism

The Anti-Feminist Reconstruction of the Midlife Crisis: Popular Psychology, Journalism and Social Science in 1970s USA

A new article in Gender & History will interest AHPer readers: “The Anti-Feminist Reconstruction of the Midlife Crisis: Popular Psychology, Journalism and Social Science in 1970s USA,” by Susanne Schmidt. No abstract.

As Schmidt writes early in the piece,

…the historical story about the feminist origins and chauvinist appropriation of the midlife crisis points to the relations between the ‘change of life’ and social change. Historians, historical anthropologists and literary scholars have drawn attention to the social, economic and cultural functions of concepts of the life course and their important roles in making and changing social structures.6 Here, I show that the midlife crisis has historical roots in debates about gender roles and work and family values, and the shape these took in the United States in the 1970s. Thus, ‘midlife crisis’ turns from an anthropological constant or platitude and fabrication into a historically, culturally and socially specific concept for negotiating changing gender relations and life patterns. (p. 154)

Special Issue: Histories of Women, Gender, and Feminism in Psychology

Elizabeth Scarborough

The Summer 2017 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is a special issue devoted to “Histories of Women, Gender, and Feminism in Psychology.” Guest edited by Alexandra Rutherford, the issue both celebrates the intellectual legacy of Elizabeth Scarborough (1935-2015) and marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Scarborough and Laurel Furumoto’s seminal volume Untold Lives: The First Generation of American Women Psychologists. Full details below.

“‘The difference being a woman made’ Untold Lives in personal and intellectual context,” by Alexandra Rutherford and Katharine Milar. Abstract:

To mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of Scarborough and Furumoto’s classic work Untold Lives, and to honor the intellectual legacy of Elizabeth Scarborough (1935–2015), we introduce this special issue devoted to the histories of women, gender, and feminism in psychology. We provide a short biographical sketch of Elizabeth, highlighting her own marriage-career dilemma, then contextualize the publication of Untold Lives within the historiography on women in psychology at that time. We conclude by discussing intersectionality as an analytic framework for the history of psychology as a way to extend and enrich this historiography.

“‘Making better use of U.S. women’: Psychology, sex roles, and womanpower in post-WWII America,” by Alexandra Rutherford. Abstract:

The relationship between American psychology and gender ideologies in the two decades following World War II was complicated and multivalent. Although many psy-professionals publicly contributed to the cult of domesticity that valorized women’s roles as wives and mothers, other psychologists, many of them women, reimagined traditional sex roles to accommodate and deproblematize the increasing numbers of women at work, especially working mothers. In this article, I excavate and highlight the contributions of several of these psychologists, embedding their efforts in the context of the paradoxical expectations for women that colored the postwar and increasingly Cold War landscape of the United States. By arguing that conflict was inherent in the lives of both women and men, that role conflict (when it did occur) was a cultural, not intrapsychic, phenomenon, and that maternal employment itself was not damaging to children or families, these psychologists connected the work of their first-wave, first-generation forebears with that of the explicitly feminist psychologists who would come after them.

“Balancing life and work by unbending gender: Early American women psychologists’ struggles and contributions,” by Elizabeth Johnston and Ann Johnson. Abstract: Continue reading Special Issue: Histories of Women, Gender, and Feminism in Psychology

Reflecting on “Sandra Bem: Revolutionary and Generative Feminist Psychologist”

The May 2017 issue of Sex Roles is a special issue on “The Past, Present, and Future of Masculinity, Femininity and Gender: Honoring Feminist Scholar Sandra L. Bem (1944 – 2014), Part 1.” Details on contributions that may interest AHP readers follow below:

“Sandra Bem: Revolutionary and Generative Feminist Psychologist,” by Emily Keener and Clare Mehta. Abstract:

This introduction to The Past, Present, and Future of Masculinity, Femininity and Gender: Honoring Feminist Scholar Sandra L. Bem (1944–2014), Part 1 briefly highlights Sandra Bem’s career and provides an overview of each paper included in the first of two special issues. In doing so, we highlight how Sandra Bem’s works changed the way scholars understood gender and how much of Bem’s work continues to influence current day scholarship on gender.

“The Personal, Political, and Professional Life of Sandra Bem,” by Carla R. Golden and Maureen C. McHugh. Abstract: Continue reading Reflecting on “Sandra Bem: Revolutionary and Generative Feminist Psychologist”

Special Issue: “Feminism and/in/as Psychology: The Public Sciences of Sex and Gender”

Feminists form Division 35 of the American Psychological Association in 1973, now the Society for the Psychology of Women.

The August issue of History of Psychology is now online. Guest edited by Alexandra Rutherford and Michael Pettit, this special issue explores “Feminism and/in/as psychology: The public sciences of sex and gender.” As Rutherford and Pettit write in their abstract,

In our introduction to this special issue on the histories of feminism, gender, sexuality, and the psy-disciplines, we propose the tripartite framework of “feminism and/in/as psychology” to conceptualize the dynamics of their conjoined trajectories and relationship to gender and sexuality from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries. “Feminism and psychology” highlights the tensions between a political movement and a scientific discipline and the efforts of participants in each to problematize the other. “Feminism in psychology” refers to those historical moments when self-identified feminists intervened in psychology to alter its content, methodologies, and populations. We propose, as have others, that these interventions predate the 1970s, the period most commonly associated with the “founding” of feminist psychology. Finally, “feminism as psychology/psychology as feminism” explores the shared ground between psychology and feminism—the conceptual, methodological, and (more rarely) epistemological moments when psychology and feminism made common cause. We suggest that the traffic between feminism and psychology has been persistent, continuous, and productive, despite taking different historically and geographically contingent forms.

Full titles, authors, and abstracts for articles in this special issue follow below.

“The personal is scientific: Women, gender, and the production of sexological knowledge in Germany and Austria, 1900–1931,” Kirsten Leng. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Feminism and/in/as Psychology: The Public Sciences of Sex and Gender”

Video: Jill Lepore’s “How Wonder Woman Got Into Harvard”

In the above video Jill Lepore, Professor of American History at Harvard University and staff writer for the New Yorker, discusses her work on the history of Wonder Woman before Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman was recently released by Random House. (For more on Lepore’s work on Wonder Woman see here.)

Tip o’ the hat to Ben Harris for alerting us to this video.