The measurement of masculinity and femininity: Engendering categorical realities


Requests for reprints should be sent to J G Morawski, Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT 06457


The study of gender attributes, masculinity and femininity, has comprised a major research program in twentieth-century psychology Historical examination reveals that this research program has produced not cumulative discovery but a pattern of repetition and reification Researchers have repeatedly attempted to ensure the reality of masculinity and femininity, and have even introduced methodological techniques that privilege their observational statements on that reality Similar patterns have occurred in the case of androgyny research, despite expectations that the androgyny construct would remedy the shortcomings of masculinity and femininity concepts When analyzed in historical context, these gender concepts are found to share ethnopsychological origins—roots in social practices and prescriptions Contextual analysis also provides telling details about researchers normative interests If we choose to terminate such fruitless ventures and to generate novel understandings of the social world, then we must undertake critical self-appraisal and adopt a new metatheoretical grounding