The argument goes like this: since mothers, for the most part, are the primary caretakers of young children, issues of identity formation are different for boys than they are for girls. Female identity formation takes place in the context of an ongoing relationship in which a girl can continue to think of herself as like her mother.
Boys, on the other hand, sense from early on that they must separate or differentiate from their mother to find their gender likeness. It is in their father that they can identify most strongly with.
Thus, separation is critically tied to masculinity, while femininity does not depend on the achievement of separation from the mother to discover likeness.
This makes sense. Sons leave, and daughters are given (Genesis 2). “A daughter is a daughter all her life; a son is a son until he marries a wife.”
The conclusion, of some, is that this explains why men fear intimacy, and women separation.
“Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment,” Carol Gilligan concludes, “male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation.” Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), pp. 7-8.
What do you think?