Magoosh GRE

Patriarchal (sexist) society oppresses women: Women sexuality is marginalized

| February 2, 2017

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The Oedipus complex is a name coined from the notorious Kind Oedipus, a Greek legend, who kills his father so that he can marry his mother. The term denotes the notions and emotions that the mind keeps in the unconscious condition, through the dynamic repression that concentrates on the desire of a child to sexually possess the parent. This paper describes the Oedipus complex in detail and discusses how the beliefs influence women by discussing how the sexist society oppresses women. A summative paragraph is then provided to offer an overview of the discussions.


The Oedipus complex gets its name from notorious Kind Oedipus, a Greek legend, who terminates the life of his father so that he can marry his mother. This is an act of incestuous ferocity that is predicted that he would commit by an oracle early in his life. Frightened, he tries to use everything at his disposal to run away from his destiny, but he unavoidable fails and consequently tears his eyes out, and then blinds himself the despicable actions he had committed. Freud adopts the Kind Oedipus’ Greek Legend to illustrate the perverse bond that children of opposite sex and their parents take part. Fortifying the early children’s developmental years, positive passage through the period can be determined by whether the risk of castration encourages or enhances the formation of the conscience of a child and hence entrance into the consequent ‘period of latency.’ All these stages of development have varying and inexplicable effects on the psychological development of a person. A critical point of view consists just in perceiving the Oedipus Complex as the focal point or hinge of humanization, as a change or development from the natural life register to a cultural one of group exchange and thus of legislations, organizations and symbols. However, Freud brings about the irony that due to the lack of penis, the risk of castration does not hurt a young girl to the same level as a male child and hence the formation of the conscience is frail (Bloom, 2003).

Influence on women

There is no doubt that Freud is the most popular individual in the history of psychology. The theories that he created have influenced the field of psychology and are still influential even at present. Despite his several influential and important contributions to the field of psychology, his theories have faced several criticisms. One of the major criticisms is his views on women, or, more accurately, the huge gap in his theories about women (Gregory, 2005, p.68). In Freud’s early theories, he extended his beliefs of male sexuality to the women, regarding women as just men who lack penises. His male view of sexuality is comprehensible, even though problematic, since it marginalizes female sexuality.
According to the theory, female sexuality is exactly the same as the male sexuality until they reach the phallic phase of psychological development, as the women do not have penis. However, they experience the envy of penis, which is the possessiveness that young girls feel towards their male counterparts and the hatred towards their mothers, to whom they lay their blame for lack of penis (Gregory, 2005, p.74). Although he did not suggest the ‘Electra complex,’ it is possible to infer it from his theories that young girls shift their attractions to their fathers from their mothers in trying to obtain a penis. Since they are female, they are not in a position of identifying with their father, and then they come to the realization that gaining a penis is an impossibility, they decide to have children.
Freud, just as the early sexologists regarded women as sexually passive, where they only have sex for the purposes of having children. Since they lack a penis, they come to assume that they lost theirs, and then have male children in trying to obtain a penis. In women, penis envy is an issue that Freud thought could never be resolved completely, hence condemning all of them to the underdeveloped conscience, meaning that they will always be inferior to men morally (Gregory, 2005, p.76). According to Freud, men are able to have conscience that is fully developed. For an individual who has his theories focused on the subject of sex, he appeared satisfied to remain deliberately ignorant of the female sexuality and the way it might differ from that of the males.
The views of Freud on female sexuality and women were plainly phallic-focuses, which made his research and exploration into the sexuality of females very limited. It is very interesting to note that despite the fact that he worked with is theories on the sexuality of females remained limited and focused on males. He was also not left out by the general sexism of the period, stating that the sexual life, in men alone is accessible to investigation, while it is veiled in the impermeable darkness, in the women, partly as a result of the cultural stunting and on the traditional reticence and untruthfulness of women’s account (Gregory, 2005, p.79). It appears troublesome to dismiss the women together with their sexuality in such a manner not only because Freud treated several women, but because his beliefs still exist today, and continue to influence sexologists and psychologists in the same way.
Freud creates a paradigm in which the lack of a penis and the discovery of this fact plague a little girl in her youth, who views this absence as a weakness to the opposite sex. Freud, (3) explains that in trying to justify this absence, a little girl clarifies it by having an assumption that at one time she was having an equally large organ on her body, which she lost through castration. She goes further to claim that she will be able to acquire just as big organ as the one possessed by the boys when she grows older. She eventually adopts the mother’s attributes and ends a strong desire and lust for her father, with the hope of having her own child ne day to compensate for lack of a large organ as the one that boys possess (Glen, 2010, p. 66). In addition, Freud argues that a little girl is spared the cruel awakening, since it is not a social taboo for a girl to have a flirtatious yet less harmful connection with the father. Similarly, being the father’s favorite girl can be a long lasting relationship, as it is not necessarily regarded as improper. Due to the benevolent and kind nature of this experience, she is starved of the reconciliation with the social taboo and as a result renders the woman morally weaker as her conscience will never be as strong as that of a man (Anouchka, 2010, p.123).
In cases where mutual idealization and insensible shame have played a significant role in a marriage relationship, if it ends, the couples usually appear to fight each other to find who will win or lose the battle. They usually enlist their children’s loyalty against each other. The one that will succeed in turning the children against the other will always proclaim victory over the former partner. This is a heartbreaking case of the narcissistic requirements of that particular parent overriding their concern for the wellbeing of the children; that is the wish to revenge on the former partner forces them to sacrifice the fundamental needs of the children for a good and smooth relationship with both of them.
This is a dynamic that usually damage the children, even though it can be particularly harmful when it is added to the dynamic of Oedipus complex; this complex in such situations mostly influences women. For instance, here is a case that may be common to many individuals. It will be described in relation to the mothers who are divorced and their male children. In instances where the infidelity of the father caused the separation, the former wife might always have formal grounds or reasons to be angry, however, that would not be a justification to the type of tragic narcissistic behavior that is sometimes experienced (Glen, 2010, p. 67).
`The claim that Oedipus complex as it is perceived classically and applied in the practice of psychoanalysis comes from the situation of males both in the mythic expression and in its clinical extensions. However, it is a critical flow from the female experience’s point of view. When the Oedipus complex is applied to females, male desire and rivalry mediate it, and then clumsily appended to the development of female. The phallocentrism that is most clearly expressed by the declaration by Freud that the young girl is a young man (p118) has left its traces all through the vocabulary of the theories of psychoanalysis of development and no other place as evident as in the discussions about the female Oedipus complex.
Expectations and perceptions are shaped by language; that is, it organizes reasoning. When thinking about Oedipus, people think about ‘penis envy’ and ‘castration,’ but not about vagina or pregnancy. When talking about the stage of ‘phallic-Oedipal’ in the young girls, people distract themselves from the critical development need of the young girls to identify with the mother. The female triadic condition does not have its individual name, but rather floats like an incomprehensible ‘something that is not nothing’s’ signifier (Rosman, Paula, Rubel, and Maxine, 2009, p.152).
If a father gives a loving affection to the daughter, the little girl will be able to grow up more smarter and successful. She will also be les nervous, less immoral and also less likely to be a user of drugs. From the girl’s early years, they expect their fathers to provide love, reassurance and admiration. The response of a father greatly influences the ability of the daughter to have positive relationships and trust other men. The level of self-esteem of a girl is influenced to a great deal by the relationship with her father. So, what happens when there are no fathers? Or even they become too busy to have time for their daughters? Between the ages of three and eight, the young girl naturally abandons their attachment to their mothers and turn to the father. This is comparable to the Oedipus complex, which is used in the description of the competition between a girl and a mother to have the affection and love of the father (Butler, 2014, p.35-90).
It is part of a normal phase in the development of a girl. The changing of family configurations, where there are more relationship or marriage breakups than ever experienced before, has hampered normal development of a girl. About forty to fifty percent of first marriages break up after a short period of stay, which leads to more single parents. Whether the Oedipus complex actually exists or not is a subject to debate among academicians, but what appears to be clear is that the attachment of the girl to her father or mother is determined by the situational or cultural factors. The quality of attachments as such shapes the personality and results of the girl. Characteristically, the girl should have been given a clear directive by the father such as she should not order her father around or that she is supposed to shoe kindness to her mother and even love her (Lacan, 2012, p.97).
Without having to force the situation too much, it is apparent that there would have been restoration of the ‘order’ and the young girl could have known that the parents work together in a learning enterprise that includes boundaries and respect. Some men wrongly think that their wives are supposed to treat them just like their daughters, as ‘perfect heroes.’ They please and obey their daughters so that they cannot lose their respect. Early experiences shape the lives of individuals. Denial, abandonment and rejection in the people’s childhood might force them into a long lasting quest for healing their wounds. However, deficiencies in parenting also make a big score.


Freud’s beliefs in the psychoanalysis are greatly biased towards women as it views women as sexually passive, who just engage in it to have children. His view in Oedipus complex greatly influences the development of females in the way they live, as when it is applied to females, male desire and rivalry mediate it, and then clumsily appended to their development. Even the young girl is not fair to her mother whom she blames for her lack of a penis, thus the hatred. The beliefs are centered on males where it is believed the development of a female to a responsible and respectable person is associated with the father, as that is where they draw their inspiration, and that is why a young girl tends to fight off her mother in order to take her position as the father’s favorite. The changing of family configurations, where there are more divorces than ever experienced before, has hampers normal development of a girl.


Anouchka G, 2010, No More Silly Love Songs. London, p. 123

Bloom H, 2003, Sophocles. New York: Chelsea House.

Butler, J. 2014, Undoing Gender. London, England: Routledge: p 35-90.

Glen O. G, 2010, Long-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, London. p. 67.

Gregory, J, 2005, A Companion to Greek Tragedy, Oxford.

Lacan, J. 2012, Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Northon: p 97.

Rosman, Paula G. Rubel, Maxine W, 2009, The Tapestry of Culture: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Ninth Edition, Abraham, AltaMira Press, p. 101.

Freud S, 1965, The Interpretation of Dreams Chapter V “The Material and Sources of Dreams” New York: Avon Books.

Ian C, and Allen, A, 2005, A Guide to Greek Drama. London: Blackwell.

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Category: Psychology