Dorothy Dinnerstein

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Dorothy Dinnerstein
Born (1923-04-23)April 23, 1923
The Bronx, New York, USA
Died December 17, 1992(1992-12-17) (aged 69)
Englewood, New Jersey, USA
Fields Psychology
Institutions Rutgers–Newark
Alma mater New School for Social Research
Brooklyn College
Known for The Mermaid and the Minotaur (1976)
Influences Melanie Klein

Dorothy Dinnerstein (April 4, 1923 – December 17, 1992) was an American feminist academic and activist, best known for her book The Mermaid and the Minotaur (1976), published in the UK as The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World (1987). Using some elements of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, particularly as developed by Melanie Klein, Dinnerstein argued that sexism and aggression are both inevitable consequences of childrearing's being left more or less exclusively to women;[1] the issues intrinsic to a child's engagement with and separation from its mother, Dinnerstein thought, end up being conflated with gender relations. As a solution Dinnerstein proposed that men and women share equally in infant and child care.[2]


Born in The Bronx, Dinnerstein went to Brooklyn College for her undergraduate degree and earned the Ph.D. in psychology from the New School for Social Research in 1951. A resident of Leonia, New Jersey, she taught at Rutgers–Newark in New Jersey from 1959 until three years before her death in Englewood, New Jersey after an automobile accident. She was survived by a daughter and two step-daughters.[3]


  1. ^ Dinnerstein, Dorothy (1987). The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World (trade paperback) (Reprint with new introduction ed.). London: The Women's Press. p. 26 and 33–34. ISBN 0-7043-4027-5. What is important is the effect of predominantly female care on the later emotional predilections of the child. The point of crucial consequences is that for virtually every living person, it is a woman—usually the mother—who has provided the main initial contact with humanity and with nature. 
  2. ^ Dinnerstein, Dorothy (1987). The rocking of the cradle and the ruling of the world. London: Women's Press. ISBN 0-7043-4027-5. 
  3. ^ "Dorothy Dinnerstein; Feminist Writer Was 69" (OBITUARY). The New York Times. December 19, 1992. Retrieved April 2, 2011. 


  • The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise Open Press, 1999. ISBN 1-892746-25-5
    • With introduction by Vivien Bar, The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World, Women's Press (1987), trade paperback, 288 pages, ISBN 0-7043-4027-5

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