22
Apr
05

A Topography of Gynocentrism

Anyone who has read more than a handful of posts at the Faith and Society blog has, no doubt, come across the term “gynocentrism.” Perhaps you are not certain just what “gynocentrism” means. You may be tempted to search the Internet and refer to a place like Dictionary.com. Unfortunately, Dictionary.com will not be helpful because, to date, it does not include “gynocentrism” among its entries. Ironically, it does include a rather ignorant and myopic definition of “sexism” from Princeton University’s WordNet: “a man with a chauvinistic belief in the inferiority of women [syn: male chauvinist]” (as if women cannot be sexists). At any rate, as far as the word “gynocentrism” is concerned, Wiktionary.org has a definition that I think is appropriate: “An ideological focus on females and women, and issues affecting them, possibly to the detriment of non-females. Contrast with androcentrism.” In short, it’s all about “herstory,” not history.

Feminism vis-à-vis Gynocentrism

You may be wondering why I don’t just use the word “feminism” instead of “gynocentrism,” since you may think that both words basically mean the same thing. The reason I don’t is because I have a definition of feminism that differs from that used by some other people. Perhaps I should explain up front that the word “feminism” has, over time, accrued to itself a set of connotations, and thus is undergoing a change in its meaning. Other words have done the same. Consider the word “fundamentalist.” Originally, it meant a Protestant who adhered to a set of principles (i.e. “fundamentals”) that separated one who believed in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, miracles, etc. from a religious modernist who did not. Now, it is often used as a blanket term for any religious extremist regardless of faith.

With that in mind, I find the standard definition of feminism, the one that feminists themselves ostensibly embrace, unsatisfactory. It supposedly denotes a belief in equality between the sexes, but in actuality this is not the case. I submit that increasingly in the minds of many, feminism denotes a zealous desire to see heterosexual men marginalized or eliminated from all important spheres of human enterprise. In my opinion, feminists want to economically disenfranchise men through affirmative action; destroy a man’s home through punitive family laws; and criminalize male identity by dosing boys up on Ritalin and loosely interpreting all sexual interest in women as harassment or worse, rape. A feminist’s revulsion to all things masculine is captured in the statement: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” In the minds of the feminists, men are disposable. Apart from this, it should be also noted that the political philosophy of the feminists is leftist in orientation and statist in execution.

Feminists will complain loudly that I have painted with too broad a brush stroke. I do not concern myself with exceptions, however. It is a moot point. A negligible amount of feminist apologists may bristle and demur, but they have not done much to counter the stereotype. Instead, they either sit by silently or tacitly support the mainstreaming of radicals in their midst. Thus the stereotype calcifies into a valid definition. I have said all this to make the following point: I concede all feminism is essentially gynocentrist, yet not all gynocentrism is feministic.

Quasi-Traditionalism (New Chivalry)

There is another form of gynocentrism. I call it quasi-traditionalism, or if you will, the New Chivalry. Who are the adherents of the New Chivalry? Most likely they are individuals who are more socially conservative than feminists. They frequently state: “I’m not a feminist but …” They wish to distance themselves from the current leftist connotations of feminism, and perhaps they even nominally oppose feminism. Indeed, quasi-traditionalists show an affinity for old-fashioned notions about how the sexes ought to relate to each other, but it is only in those circumstances where women are benefitted. A quasi-traditionalist would probably take little or no exception to the following statements:

1. Men should learn to cook for their girlfriends because it is romantic, but they should also show their leadership by picking up the tab for their dates.

2. A woman should have a right to compete with men in the workplace, but a man should still bear most, if not all, the responsibility for his family’s financial well-being.

3. A woman should have the right to stay at home while her husband works to support the family, but such a husband should still be considerate enough to help his wife with her domestic responsibilities.

4. A religious woman has a right to reinterpret the traditions of her faith community which stress the headship of men in the home and in the church, but also have a right to demand that men live up to those traditional teachings that stress the sacrificial love men must show their wives, etc.

5. A woman should be praised for being strong and independent when she displays traits usually regarded as masculine, but men should be condemned for showing emotional vulnerability or displaying other traits regarded as feminine.

Men have the misfortune of running into women of the quasi-traditionalist stripe all the time – the “riot grrls” who pine for the “knight in shining armor.” At school, church, and the workplace these ladies can be found. Unfortunately, there are also some men who claim to be opposed to feminism, who nonetheless fall for the quasi-traditionalist nonsense (usually in the name of “respecting women,” “chivalry,” being a “real man,” etc.).

Conclusion

Basically, I have shown that there are two kinds of gynocentrism: feminism (with all its leftist connotations) and the more mainstream quasi-traditionalism (the New Chivalry). Both kinds of gynocentrism are not mutually exclusive; rather, they form a continuum on which individuals and groups may be widely distributed. Undergirding the continuum are double-standards. Undergirding the double-standards is misandry. Even though gynocentrists may not be aware of how their standards and beliefs are misandrist, it is their conduct, not intentions, where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.”

The following is an illustration of what I have discussed thus far …

In closing, let me advise you to not take this matter as a mere academic exercise in semantical play. Men need to be aware of where the battle lines are drawn. Old left/right dichotomies will not serve men well. The problems they face are much more systemic. Therefore, it behooves men to have a broader understanding of their struggle, well beyond that of the politicized tunnel-vision to which they have often fallen prey in the past.

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