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Zuckerman, J.R. (2019). Nasty Women: Toward a New Narrative on Female Aggression. Contemp. Psychoanal., 55(3):214-251.

(2019). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 55(3):214-251

Nasty Women: Toward a New Narrative on Female Aggression

Janet R. Zuckerman

This paper addresses the complex relationship between women and aggression: one that is troubled by numerous cultural biases that pressure women to be nice, to avoid self-assertion, and to never get angry. These forces have silenced women throughout time, reflecting a powerful patriarchy that has existed for centuries. I begin with a personal vignette reflecting struggles with aggression, followed by two clinical examples in which my female patients were able to mobilize aggression for constructive use. I also explore cultural and developmental factors that inhibit women’s aggression and discuss the ways therapy can help women integrate a healthy aggression. References to the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh are included as examples of the powerful psychological and sociocultural factors that infiltrate women’s struggles with aggression. Integrating these elements tempers the tendency of psychoanalysis to separate the individual from the social, the intrapsychic from the political, and the private from the public.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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