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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973

Men & Women Complementary

Men & Women Complementary

Dear Sir,

Cathy Wylie's comments in the last Salient on Evelyn Reed's talk 'Is Biology Woman's Destiny?' amounted to the most reasoned and accurate statement on Women's Liberation I've recently seen.

Particularly well founded was Cathy's assertion that males and females, with their different qualities complement each other.

In the past opinion had it either that the differences between the sexes were wholly conditioned by society, or that women were just innately inferior. Psychologists and anthropologists today however, agree that certain biological differences result in character differences between the sexes. But they stress that 'differences' do not mean 'deficiences'. Although these experts find the sexes not the same in certain areas of psychology and behavioural patterns, they, in no way, mean there is inequality between the sexes. There is no case for inferior-superior talk.

The eminent American psychologist, Eric Fromm, for instance states that the character typical of men and women in Western culture is determined by their respective social roles but there is a 'Colouring' of character which is rooted in sexual differences. This colouring is insignificant in comparison with socially rooted differences but should not be neglected. This is what Cathy Wylie was getting at surely.

When a man responds to the distinctly male fear of sexual failure and his need for prestige, he can develop the positive attributes of initiative, activity, courage. The woman's characteristics arising from her main fear — sexual frustration and dependency — can, and often does result in her inability to 'stand on her own feet', practically, emotionally and intellectually; but given the right conditions she becomes the source of patience, erotic charm, reliability, intensity of love. The woman, therefore, has the same emotional, intellectual, and cultural abilities as a man while possessing the previously mentioned special qualities.

Deeper than any differences is the equality between woman and man. So these differences affords no basis for casting men and women in different roles in any society. Some people can see differences only in terms of inferiority and superiority. But this is not the case here. Our case is that the differences of each sex, by colouring the personalities of men and women, enrich and broaden human culture. Having such unique characteristics does not mean for the sexes, social, economic and political differentiation.


Jane Olsen.