The Mismeasure of Women


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