Chapter 4 begins with the observation that sexual frigidity in women is often connected to what Marie Robinson calls "personality distortions" in which there is a misunderstanding of reality and in which blame for one's own failures is externalised.
Robinson then goes on to explain different types of frigidity. She includes women who are able to orgasm normally, but who are psychologically unable to build relationships with men and who therefore usually live promiscuously.
Chapter 5 is an attempt to explain why frigidity should have become such an issue. Part of Marie Robinson's argument is an historical one. She argues that prior to industrialisation most men and women worked together as part of a cooperative effort based in the family home. Industrialisation sent the men off to work elsewhere, the children off to school; and outsourced much of the productive work traditionally undertaken by women, meaning that the family home was no longer the centre of all life as it had once been, meaning that a wife was no longer at the centre of all life as she had once been, no longer as profoundly needed in her social role:
As a woman she was profoundly needed, and as a woman reared to respond to this need she had no single occasion to question her worth or her abilities. And then one by one, slowly but surely, her responsibilities and her duties were removed from her; her close and equal working relationship with her husband was destroyed; her importance to her children was diminished sadly.
It's a reasonable argument. It is certainly true that feminism took off as a mass movement after the Industrial Revolution, though it seems to have been accepted most quickly in frontier/homestead states in Australia and the U.S. where women's work at home was still crucially important. An alternative argument is that it was only when the Industrial Revolution had created a significant economic surplus that some women turned more confidently against men, who formerly played a more critical and necessary role as their providers.
How did women react to their new situation? Not well, according to Marie Robinson:
Very slowly, too, but everywhere, women woke as if from a centuries-old dream of peace and happiness to ﬁnd themselves dispossessed. Gone was their central place in the family home, gone their economic importance, gone their close working partnership with their mate, their functions of teacher and moral guide to the children. The child himself was gone, to school, as the husband had gone to the mill or factory.
Yes, she was dispossessed, dispossessed of all those things that for centuries had deﬁned her womanhood for her, that had supported her ego, given her the certain knowledge that being a woman, however hard, was a wonderous and most desirable thing. She felt her womanhood itself devalued, the things it represented unwanted.
And then she reacted. She reacted violently and with rage at this depreciation of her feminine attributes, of her skills, of her functions. Unhappily this reaction was precisely the wrong one, the one from which no solution of a happy kind for her could be attained.
Here’s what she did. Looking about, she thought she spied a villain in the piece. Who was it? None other than her partner through the centuries, man. It was he who had deserted her, who was responsible for her loss of self-respect as a woman, a mother, an equal socially and mentally and morally. He despised women. Very well, she would show him. She would simply stop being a woman. She would enter the lists and compete with him on his own level. To hell with being a women. She would be a man.
In response Marie Robinson writes:
...in so far as the feminist movement pitted itself against the male, and at the same time advised woman to masculinize herself or divest herself of her feminine nature, it was dreadfully neurotic, and we have been reaping the whirlwind this movement started ever since.
Marie Robinson next argues that one reaction of Victorian era women to their loss of traditional role was, in a kind of revenge move, to deny their sexuality. This then meant that twentieth century women inherited a toxic culture from their nineteenth century foremothers:
This, then, is the heritage of woman today: On the one hand, from Victorian woman, a profound belief that she is and should be non-sexual, frigid, by natural law. On the other hand, from the feminists, that man is Woman’s natural enemy, that she should drop her femininity altogether, oppose man, supersede him, become him.
The feminist view became the dominant one after WWI:
The ﬂapper of the 1920’s represented the unintended ﬂower of the feminist philosophy of life, its deﬁnition of what constituted womanhood. As we know, the ﬂapper was a caricature of woman, a cheap and shoddy imitation of the opposite sex, a second-class man. Happily, she did not survive as a conscious national ideal, but the philosophy that created her did survive. The depreciation of the goals of femininity, biological and psychological, became part and parcel of the education of millions of American girls. Homemaking, childbearing and rearing, cooking, the virtues of patience, lovingness, givingness in marriage have been systematically devalued. The life of male achievement has been substituted for the life of female achievement. The feminist-Victorian antagonism toward men has survived too. It has been handed down from mother to daughter in an unbroken line for so many years now that, to millions of women, hostility toward the opposite sex seems almost a natural law. Though many a modern woman may pay lip service to the ideal of a passionate and productive marriage to a man, underneath she deeply resents her role, conceives of the male as fundamentally hostile to her, as an exploiter of her. She wishes in her deepest heart, and often without the slightest awareness of the fact, to supplant him, to exchange roles with him. She learned this attitude at her mother’s knee or imbibed it with her formula. Little that she learns elsewhere counteracts it with any great effectiveness.
Clearly, then, if this is the historical direction women have taken, the individual woman who wishes to become a real woman must change this direction. This she can do only by taking thought, long thought. For among the women around her she will not necessarily ﬁnd too much support for her wish to be entirely feminine.
For one hundred and ﬁfty years now women have blamed their problems on the outside world. They have used the very real diﬂiculties created by revolutionary social changes to avoid the task of looking within for the real problem and the real solution. They have indulged in an orgy of ﬁnger-pointing and self-pity. If the results had been different, if this attitude had brought them happiness and fulﬁllment, if feminism and Victorianism had made them good mothers and joyful wives, or even pleased them with their new place in industry, the game might have been worth the candle. But it hasn't been. The game has brought frigidity and restlessness and a soaring divorce rate, neurosis, homosexuality, juvenile delinquency—-all that results when the woman in any society deserts her true function.
Would you have expected this to have been written in 1958? It is a reminder of the influence of the long first-wave of feminism in the West. Even in 1958, Marie Robinson believed that many women had been brought up to see men as a hostile enemy and to resent a feminine role in society. Little wonder that second-wave feminism loomed on the horizon.