July 24, 2012-Visions of maturity
Separation and attachment
In Gilligan’s last chapter she tries to digest the various theories of development that she looked at and then neatly wrap up her text.
She agrees that attachment and separation , “…anchor the cycle of human life, describing the biology of human reproduction and the psychology of human development.” (Gilligan, 1998, pg. 151). However; she admits that women are viewed differently because of their ways of modeling these processes.
She claims that it is a myth that male model of adult development is the right model. Instead, she says that it is just a different model. She looks once again at the works of Vaillant (1977) and Levison (1978) and remarks that because they studied males in their research, they built their theories on the male model being the correct model.
Erikson (1969) studied both Luther and Ghandi, two great male role models. He realized that, “…both men are compromised in their capacity for intimacy and live at great personal distance from others.” (Gilligan, 1998, p. 155). Because they were great men, this ideology of the sacrifice of relationships for greatness becomes the male model. In other words, to be truly great, one must stand alone.
When women (and there have been great women in society as well) make a choice between relationships (attachment) and greatness, they choose relationships every time. Very quickly they are viewed as compromised, weak or somehow less. Society views them as “… mired in relationships. “ (Gilligan, 1998, p. 156).
Finally, Gilligan informs the reader about her intent: to make clear not what is considered as missing in women’s development, but to make clear what is there. Gillgian (1998) believes that:
Thus women not only reach mid-life with psychological history different from men’s and face at that time a different social reality having different possibilities for love and for work, but they also make a different sense of experience, based on their knowledge of human relationships. Since the reality of connection is experienced by women rather than as freely contracted, they arrive at an understanding of life that reflects the limits of autonomy and control. As a result, women’s development delineates the path not only to a less violent life but also to a maturity realized through interdependence and taking care. (p.172)
As a result, she feels that the language that both sexes speak should be noted as a different one. The key word here is different, women’s voice is different based on her need to develop, keep and nurture relationships.
In conclusion, Gilligan (1998) states:
As we have listened for centuries to the voices of men and the theories of development that their experience informs, so we have come more recently to notice not only the silence of women but the difficulty in hearing what they say when they speak. Yet in the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection. The failure to see the different reality of women’s lives and to hear the differences in their voices stems in part from the assumption that there is a single mode of social experience and interpretation. By positing instead two different modes, we arrive at a more complex rendition of human experience which sees the truth of separation and attachment in the lives of women and men and recognizes how these truths are carried by different modes of language and thought. (p. 173-4).
For her, the communication between men and women is not as important as the way the sexes communicate and Gilligan makes it clear in her text that just because there is a difference in the ways of communication, women are not morally bereft or psychologically malformed just because they speak in a different voice.