Culture and our world are gynocentric, women centred. It sounds crazily counterintuitive but I hope to show you why it is so and why it’s life-serving, loving, and valuable to know it. Gynocentrism refers to a deep biological imperative for men to serve women. Men submit to this willingly and overwhelmingly.
But why, why would we do that?
Because it’s nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the species. Men and women prioritize woman’s health and well-being in order to bring up children. We don’t do this knowingly perhaps, or consciously. But instinctually, at an unconscious level, we do.
Our own inner drive is to be loved and approved of by women. Most men do everything and often anything for this. For example we willingly fight and die for our families. The compulsion even supersedes the instinct for survival.
Men are the way they are and women are the way they are in obedience to the deep need to establish a loving pair-bond with the opposite sex. It’s the foundation of culture. Since ancient times, the roles of women and men evolved to complement each other for the success of the family. Bodily and psychically, men are the way they are because of their relationship to women. Women are the way they are because of their relation to men.
The key to understanding men is that, with rare exceptions the successful contract between women and men is a critical pillar of our identity. The other critical pillar is our skill in the world, the ability to shape and make things.
Traditionally men and women each had a place of respect and value in the world. They also had a balance in the inner world of the psyche. Between the two, amid love and pain, a current of energy continually flowed. There was a rough and dynamic equality with each sex’s light and dark sides acknowledged.
It’ll be no surprise to know that the man-woman contract has suffered a serious blow over the last several generations.
Why a serious blow?
Boiled down to its essence, it’s this: The vital need for the male contribution disappeared because survival needs for women could be met without men. The pill meant that sex didn’t necessarily mean a family. As Warren Farrell has pointed out in depth, women’s survival needs were being met so they began to look for fulfillment while men continued working.. Men were apparently superfluous. A famous saying from the 70s was that a woman needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle.
The dynamic equilibrium between women and men ruptured. And this changed everything for men and for women. It may end up changing things for fish.
Without the context of woman and family and the resulting worth, men’s sense of identity and self-worth weakened profoundly. Women assumed an ascendancy and men a fallen state, both in his sense of self and outside in the world. This imbalance quickly became institutionalized. It pervades government, all levels of education, official journalism and everyday speech. Successive generations of men and women have been born into this now imbalance and know nothing else.
The Consequences of Men’s Fall
The weight of this imbalance is felt by all men, but different men experience it differently. There are at least three different ways we respond. Men who are still able to be valued and useful to women do so and keep the traditional role alive. Today these are generally high achieving men, high income or otherwise recognized.
Another group of men are those who have been wounded in the sexual arena. They don’t see a winning role for themselves as married men or committed partners. A third group are in the middle. No one can say how many men fall into each of these three camps; there can be no statistics or science since these categories aren’t socially visible or recognized. A rough guess is that a third of men are available for a dedicated and trusting relationship with their partners and another third are resolutely averse. A third group swings between the two in turmoil, shaking and uncertain what to think.
Men continue to want women’s love and approval. But there’s a strong disincentive for committing. Women have a trump card in that the state will back her up in multiple ways – and even reward her – if she wants out. One result of this is that in today’s legal climate, if a man continues in the husband role he does so at the woman’s discretion. Not every woman will use her trump card, but courts and protocols are in place so that, as men’s rights activist Karen Straughan says, if she chooses to, any woman can.
Most men have little awareness of the dynamics involved. The sense of obligation we feel to find our value through approval from women is intense and mostly below consciousness where it can’t be worked on. Breaking out of it, is emotionally painful. It may be the hardest thing he’ll ever do. It upsets a profound instinctual impulse to find identify through being loved for a role, rather than for himself.
Many men have some conceptual knowledge of this. But that won’t support them in the love battle. He’ll be tempted to give himself up. Coaches and therapists often can’t help because speaking to the imbalance can swiftly result in their unemployment and ruined reputation. The gynocentric impulse is deeply guarded and few can see it clearly.
There’s a battle afoot. The future is to wake up from this and take our place. First as individual men and then as a community. We’ll do it, but it’s going to take everything we’ve got.