Within the field of psychology, practitioners focus on various factors that can influence the individual and their overall functioning. In the specialty of feminist psychology, the focus is on gender and how it interacts with the various structures that exist within society. Broadly, this includes issues of how individuals identify their gender, including cisgender individuals and those who fall under the umbrella label of transgender, how gender impacts a person’s overall life, and how social structures related to gender influence a person and their role in society. Ultimately, the goal is to fully understand the complex relationship between gender, society, politics, and the individual, as each of these elements play a role in the successful, healthy functioning of the individual and of the collective.
Current researchers in the field of feminist psychology have turned their focus to a number of issues, including emotion, violence, and career development. The area of emotional research is of particular interest, particularly after recent events of mass violence carried out throughout the country. Emotions, at least in western society, are linked more closely to the female sex than to the male; as such, the female gender is often seen as the more emotional of the two. The gender roles and norms ascribed to individuals who identify as female include such things as being nurturing, sentimental, and sensitive. Conversely, the male gender is often discouraged from displaying emotion; boys are taught not to cry and grown men are stereotyped as stoic and cold, with close attention paid to even the smallest displays of emotion at the most heartwarming moments. The short- and long-term impacts this can have on males and females are profound; men can experience fits of anger stemming from bottled-up emotions, while women can be perceived as weak and unsuited for certain roles due to their “emotional nature.” Understanding, addressing, and working to curtail these stereotypes so as to prevent the negative consequences later is one of the foundational goals of current research in the field of feminist psychology. By working to help society understand the impact these gendered expectations can have on men and women alike, the field of feminist psychology hopes to improve relations between men and women at all ages and stages of development.