The IPA’s Committee on Women and It’s Conference on Misogyny

To too many of us in North America, the IPA seems so distant and irrelevant to our everyday professional lives. I would like to call your attention to a fascinating conference on misogyny organized by the IPA in conjunction with IPA societies in Los Angeles. We are missing a lot by overlooking the many good things the IPA does for our profession. The IPA has to work harder to communicate with its members about existing programs and benefits as well as creating new ones. But here’s something terrific you should know about.

In November, the IPA Women and Psychoanalysis Committee (known as COWAP), under the leadership of chair Paula Ellman, had a very timely meeting entitled “Psychic Survival in the Face of Misogyny.” Andrea Kahn chaired the conference.  Virginia Ungar and Adrienne Harris presented papers as did Dana Calvo, creator of the TV show “Good Girls Revolt.”  Additional panelists were Maureen Murphy and Stephen Friedman, former president of MTV and creator of their social impact department which was responsible for the TV shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”

Virginia Ungar’s paper, entitled “From the Glass Slipper to the Glass Ceiling,” focused on the internal glass ceiling that creates internally imposed limitations and a realignment of a woman’s own desire in order to adapt to a hegemonic model of a woman in a state of submission. She also addressed cultural stereotypes, represented in fairy tales like Cinderella with her petite glass slipper, portraying a feminine woman who has to be rescued and is not able to make her way in life.

Harris’ remarks took off in analyzing the concept of “witch-hunt” and ranged widely over topics of envy, the melancholic male and hatred of the other.

Calvo told the story of her experience as a Hollywood writer.  She was the creator and showrunner of the Amazon series “Good Girls Revolt,” a fictionalized portrayal of real events in the late 1960’s culminating in a successful EEOC complaint against Newsweek magazine on behalf of 60 female employees.  Prior to the complaint, Newsweek had hired women as researchers but insisted their tradition was that “only men would write.”  Despite a strong performance, “Good Girls Revolt” was canceled off-handedly by the studio head who admitted he had never watched the show.  Calvo herself revolted.

I was one of the men in the audience.  On an intellectual level I was very interested in the topic, having written a paper on misogyny some years ago after stumbling across a horrifying fifteenth century document, Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’ Hammer), a book that provided a rationale and handbook for the persecution and torture of women accused by the church of witchcraft.  On an emotional level, listening at the conference, I felt that this was one of the best conferences I had ever attended. The topic was timely, the presentations of the analysts and the movie producers were very powerful and evoked strong feelings in me and in the audience. There was a camaraderie and a feeling of respect in the audience which was very rewarding.

Returning to the IPA, this great committee has a newsletter that keeps interested IPA members updated on its events.  To subscribe to the newsletter, write COWAP chair Paula Ellman (



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