"This dreadful word 'RESPECT'" ~ Richard Dawkins 

Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian

Growing up, I had to lean some disgusting words and behaviors that created terrible problems for me and for many of the hurting people with whom I worked during my career as teacher and counselor. Such words as respect, obedience, yield, pray, obey, turn the other cheek, love him/her to the Lord, submit, acquiesce, honor, defer, appeal to, give allegiance to, devotion, worship, etc .

How can one do any of these required behaviors when mother, father, preacher, teacher, doctor, lawyer, or soup Nazi behave as thugs, brutes, dominators, exploiters, manipulators? 

In 1974, I put my three children, four pillows and blankets, two cats and a crock pot in my car and ran from an abusive marriage. I wondered why it was so hard for my mother and grandmothers to escape abusive marriages and why they rebuked me for making that choice. "You are a Denoo and can take it," "You want to wear the pants in the family," "You castrate men," "You want power," etc., etc. I returned to college as a 38 year old college sophomore and completed my undergraduate studies.

In 1977 I completed a master's degree and my thesis was "Toward a theory of family violence, its antecedents, treatment and prevention." 

During the research for my master's degree there was not one book in all of Spokane on family violence. I had to send for books through inter-library loan. I also had to dig through stack and stacks of research abstracts and ran across the studies of  Broverman, Broverman, Clarkson, Rosencrantz and Vogel who started a series of studies involving sex-role stereotypes that lasted for several years.

~ "Sex-role stereotypes and clinical judgments of mental health",J Consult Clin Psychol. 1970 Feb;34(1):1-7.

They questioned professionals: physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, ministers and any profession that provided mental health services to conflicted families and found that those professional defined: 

a mentally healthy, mature adult male as independent, active, and dominant;

a mentally healthy, mature adult female as dependent, passive, and submissive;

A mentally healthy, mature adult sex unspecified as independent, active and dominant. 

Faced with real problems of raising three children I sought counsel from my minister, physician, psychologist, and they all gave me what I labelled "Passive Gospel" in my  master's thesis. 

The Broverman studies found that males who went to professionals because of dependent, passive and submissive behaviors were shaped into behaviors that reflected the professional's perception of how a male should behave. 

If a female who went to professionals because of independent, active, and dominant behaviors were shaped into behaviors that reflected the professional's perception of how a female should behave. 

If a female who had dependent children to raise, or who was a single woman and had to fend for herself, went to a professional because she had problems with "too much aggression", she was shaped into the female sex-role. 

Now, tell me, How does a mentally healthy, mature adult female who is dependent, passive and subordinate do the tasks of raising preteen children into mentally healthy, mature adults or has no one on whom to depend, how does she get the skills necessary for everyday life?

The Broverman studies reveal that men, in order to be considered "normal" had to suppress their female side and women had to suppress their male side. When suppression occurs, distortions in behavior also occurs. We are talking about how to be a mentally healthy, mature ADULT.

That led me to my doctoral studies at Gonzaga University. My dissertation was "A Splendid Heresy ©". I studied women, faced with The Passive Gospel, who survived and flourished under such influences. I completed my studies and attended my meeting in support of my dissertation. The priests denied my dissertation and told me I was biased. I replied, "How can you call me biased when you wear dresses and deny your sexuality?" Well, obviously, I did not get my PhD. 

A disgusting stereotype conjured up by the Abrahamic faiths, to the detriment of both men and women!  


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An absolutely terrific interview!  Thank you for posting this, Joan!

Thanks for the wonderful interview




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