Horney Feminist Psychology and Humanism

Although Horney is most often associated with the psychology of feminism, by the mid-1930s, she had evolved into a more general humanist. She became interested in the liberation of both sexes and less concerned with the study of their differences. In 1935, she delivered the following public lecture:

First of all we need to understand that there are no unalterable qualities of inferiority of our sex due to laws of God or nature. Our limitations are, for the greater part, culturally and socially conditioned. Men who have lived under the same conditions for a long time have developed similar attitudes and shortcomings.

Once and for all we should stop bothering about what is feminine and what is not. Such concerns only undermine our energies. Standards of masculinity and femininity are artificial standards. All we definitely know at present about sex differences is that we do not know what they are. Scientific differences between the two sexes certainly exist, but we shall never be able to discover what they are until we have first developed our potentialities as human beings. Paradoxical as it may sound, we shall find out about these differences only if we forget about them.

In the meantime what we can do is to work together for the full development of the human personalities of all for the sake of general welfare. (as cited in Paris, 1994, p. 238)

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