The following Reddit discussion of the concept “gynocentrism” is one of the first to appear on social media among feminists. Seems they have figured out that the Men’s Human Rights community have a coherent psychosocial theory under the heading gynocentrism, and that the growing reach of the term has become unavoidable. Feminists discuss its implications and, as you will see from the Reddit comments, some are getting with it, and some are rejecting it.
There was a comment in this thread that I found very interesting. It was in response to the question “what do MRAs attribute men’s problems to?” It didn’t receive any replies and I can’t find a discussion specifically on the topic (although it does crop up here and there), so I’m highlighting it for comments here.
The more sophisticated among [the MRM] operate with a curious concept called “gynocentrism”. Essentially, they view feminism as ONE of the possible manifestations of “gynocentrism” (intended largely as society’s alleged prioritization of women over men, as an anthropological universal rooted in evo-psych) – and patriarchal societies as other possible manifestations of the same core phenomenon.
The basic idea goes something like this: feminism does not have the potential to “rework” the core psycho-social dynamic between the sexes and it, arguably, never wanted to do so. It is a sort of “more of the same, but vested differently” movement that, rather than addressing men’s issues as a part of an attempt to “rework” the system, has exacerbated them – and by design, exploiting society’s preexisting (evo-psych etc.) preference for women and “male disposability” that is closely tied into it. The latter concept is derived from Farrell to my knowledge.
So, they don’t actually claim that “feminism” (in “” because what they describe is a caricature – whether of feminism intended typologically or of feminism narrow-sense as in Anglo/American feminist movement spanning over the last century) is the source of all evil, but rather alleged universals of human psychology that got encoded in law and created social dynamics such as to prefer women at the expense of men, and this never changes, so “feminism” is more of the old presented as something new – and in many ways worse than the old it came to replace.
To refute this idea properly more than a forum-post space is needed (and I’m closing my account anyhow as soon as I finish the other post here – I won’t delete those); suffice to say that I find it reductive at best, and seriously misleading at worst.
[I would note that I disagree with the final concept in paragraph 2. I don’t think it’s necessary to suppose that feminism, as a movement, has deliberately, collaboratively exploited any societal preferences. Individual feminists, limited as we all are by our single viewpoint on life, may have unwittingly taken advantage of a societal preference for addressing issues with the wellbeing of women and this may have had a cumulative effect.]
I found this a very interesting comment, partly because I’m not familiar with the concept and I’ve not seen a thorough description of a core theoretical concept of the MRM, but also because I think the concept of gynocentrism does have some explanatory power. Incorporating it into historical theory explains why women and men have been treated differently. Women, whose wellbeing is key to the survival of any society, have been placed at its centre, sometimes in a fairly literal sense i.e., being surrounded by a protective circle of disposable men, but also metaphorically within the stratifications of society i.e., women are protected from dirty, dangerous jobs at the bottom, but also kept away from overt, outward-facing positions of power that expose them to external and political danger. They have instead been placed (or just ended up) at the centre of everyday life with great deal of influence/power over the day-to-day workings of society.
Importantly, the inclusion of gynocentrism explains the different treatment of men and women without having to resort to implausible degradations of the character of the majority of men throughout history as is required by misogyny-based explanations such as those summarised by “women have always been oppressed”, “society hates women” or “men have been raised to hate women”. This would make any movement that includes gynocentrism in its worldview much more attractive to men. Also note that gynocentrism isn’t a moral justification for the treating men and women differently, especially in modern western society, it is just an explanation for some consistent historical observations. Furthermore, including gynocentrism doesn’t deny the existence of misogynistic influences on society e.g., many religions have a deeply misogynistic message, so the two concepts can exist hand in hand.
So, I’d be interested in your views on the concept of gynocentrism. As I noted, I’m not so interested in the MRM’s view on feminism in relation to gynocentrism (although all comments are welcome), but on your opinions of the concept of gynocentrism itself. Do you believe that it has any validity or explanatory power? Do you think that it is a more valid concept than “benevolent sexism”? Do you think that it is compatible with feminist theory? Do you think that incorporating it into a social movement would give that movement more validity or broaden its appeal?