From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Male chauvinism is a term used to describe the belief that men are superior to women. It is often used interchangeably with "sexism" and is closely associated with misogyny and perceptions of women as inferior to men, especially intellectually. The unqualified term "chauvinism" is far more likely to refer to a male chauvinism than female chauvinism in the context of chauvinism as sexism.
An oft cited study done in 1976 by Sherwyn Woods, Some Dynamics of Male Chauvinism, attempts to find the underlying causes of "male chauvinism."
- Male chauvinism was studied in the psychoanalytic therapy of 11 men. It refers to the maintenance of fixed beliefs and attitudes of male superiority, associated with overt or covert depreciation of women. Challenging chauvinist attitudes often results in anxiety or other symptoms. It is frequently not investigated in psychotherapy because it is ego-syntonic, parallels cultural attitudes, and because therapists often share similar bias or neurotic conflict. Chauvinism was found to represent an attempt to ward off anxiety and shame arising from one or more of four prime sources: unresolved infantile strivings and regressive wishes, hostile envy of women, oedipal anxiety, and power and dependency conflicts related to masculine self-esteem. Mothers were more important than fathers in the development of chauvinism, and resolution was sometimes associated with decompensation in wives.
Female chauvinism is a less commonly used term used to describe the symmetrical attitude that women are superior to men. The term female chauvinism has been adopted by critics of some types or aspects of feminism; leading second-wave feminist Betty Friedan being a notable example. Ariel Levy used the term in similar, but opposite sense in her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she argues that many young women in the United States and beyond are replicating male chauvinism and older misogynist stereotypes.