Parenting and the Human Malaise

Barbara Bick, Nancy C. M. Hartsock
1980 Monthly review  
Dorothy Dinnerstein's The Mermaid and the Minotaur is a fascinating and forceful presentation that attempts to give us an answer both to women's historic oppression and to the general malaise of our civilization. Her thesis is that both stem inevitably from the same root system-single-sex, female parenting. Dinnerstein employs a psychoanalytic approach to examine how these child-rearing arrangements have infantilized both men and women and cast the female as victim. She is the latest in a line
more » ... f feminists who see psychoanalytic theory as fundamental to an understanding of historical processes. Her contribution is to go beyond the conventional acknowledgement of the importance of early parenting in personality formation and to make it instead the fulcrum upon which the history of homo sapiens has turned. The Mermaid and the Minotaur contains many rich and important insights and is a major contribution to feminist theory and politics. It develops, in an extremely well reasoned case, one major factor in the riddle of women's oppression and the tenacity of patriarchy. Her explanation of how and why patriarchy is both a material institution and a living, vital force in the formation of
doi:10.14452/mr-031-08-1980-01_5 fatcat:cn5fp4xuyzfzbh4f6lbltyoka4