Dragon-slayers and Jealous Rats: The Gendered Self in Contemporary Self-help Manuals

Rebecca Hazleden

Abstract

This article traces two broad discourses concerning gender in a selection of relationship manuals from 1974 to 2004. On the one hand are manuals promoting traditional gender roles, and on the other are those that promote financial and emotional independence for women. In contrast to other analyses, I argue that these approaches cannot be categorised into a simplistic dichotomy of ‘feminist’ and ‘patriarchal,’ but that they are better understood as being bound up with conservative and liberal discourses of the self. I further demonstrate that these approaches both assume and require types of self that are somewhat removed from their historical antecedents and should be understood as neo variants.

Keywords

Self-help; self; gender; psy expertise; liberalism; conservatism

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