In the Crone Club Jan and Jess challenge Dr Alison Green to turn her feminist doctorate thesis into a book that even they can understand. The result is Snip! Snip! which is being issued in parts on the Crone Club website. This is an excerpt from the book.
The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud asserted that girls develop penis envy and this then leads to castration anxiety in boys.
In other words, men are living in terror that their women could be carrying a pair of scissors hidden behind their backs with intent on a certain part of their anatomy. Of course, unless his name happens to be John Wayne Bobbit, the man is unlikely worrying about her going for the penis – from her point of view, this seems to be a bit counter-productive. However, providing the man has already served his function and fertilised the female, then what men are probably meant to be so anxious about is a sharp pain in the groin and the sound of “Snip! Snip!”
This irrational, barely acknowledged terror, that women are going to suddenly reach out with the scissors to snip away two very important objects and thereby emasculate their men, has dictated relationships between the genders for at least the last two and a half thousand years. Obviously, the castration being imagined is symbolic in nature rather than literal, but men fear a loss of their virility, or sexual dominance, particularly in the eyes of other men. Their response is to assert their masculinity in every way possible and at the same time to try to control their women.
This theory explains why ‘traditional men’ and many young men, unsure of their masculinity, are homophobes and intolerant to being asked to do any job, or chore, which could be regarded as ‘feminine.’ Also why they are so quick to condemn any woman, who challenges, or strays too far from ‘the box’ they would like to keep her in.
In 1975 a British feminist film theorist called Laura Mulvey applied Freud’s theories to the study of films and their audiences. She came up with the notion of’The Male Gaze’ asserting that in films, at any rate, men objectify women, viewing them as either whores or madonnas. Of course, once have they turned women into sexual objects, men no longer need to worry about what their wives or girlfriends might be holding behind their backs.