ERIC Number: ED309336
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988
Reference Count: N/A
Reflections on Guilt, Women, and Gender. Working Paper No. 176.
Baruch, Grace K.
In the past, guilt has been seen primarily through male eyes and has been a neglected topic thus far in the renaissance of studies of women and gender. There may be a greater vulnerability to guilt in women as compared to men. Given childhood's influence on guilt and on the adult conscience, struggle, conflict, and uncertainty in adulthood seem inevitable. Guilt can be both valuable and destructive. Risk factors for guilt in women include: (1) women's socialization to take responsibility for the well-being of others; (2) women's dilemmas about balancing their own needs with their perceived responsibilities to others; (3) empathy; (4) withdrawal of love for girl children; (5) lower status and power of women; and (6) self-blame. Research data is lacking on men; men's socialization, too, needs to be understood. A preliminary study of women and their guilt is forthcoming. There is so little research on gender and guilt in adults that identifying various categories of guilt should help both women and men to better understand themselves and each other. Overall, guilt is a strong medicine that may maintain and heal bonds but may also sicken in overdose. Perhaps, especially for women, it can have dangerous side effects with respect to self-esteem and the sense of empowerment. (ABL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Wellesley Coll., MA. Center for Research on Women.