Feminism: gynocentric or egalitarian?

Editor’s note: The following post appeared on the ‘Alas‘ blog in 2009 and is repeated here as a qualifier of the difference between gynocentric and egalitarian feminism. The definition is a good first attempt to capture the essence of something which is pervasive within feminism. It is hypothetically possible to eschew all of the gynocentric criteria, while still being a feminist recognised by other feminists, though their number, if they exist, must be very small indeed.

Feminism: gynocentric or egalitarian?
By Ballgame (2009)

Superiority of women

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clear up what I’m guessing is probably a common misconception about the terms, “gynocentric feminist” and “egalitarian feminist.” The terms are not intended as descriptions of the particular feminist’s focus of discussion or activism. A woman could be focused entirely on preserving women’s right to access abortion … and be an egalitarian feminist. A man could be focused on male bonding a la Robert Bly and yet still be a gynocentric feminist.

The terms actually get at the principles of the feminist in question. If a feminist believes that men are universally privileged by gender and women are not, or that women have inherently superior insights into questions of gender than men, or that women are entitled to define the terms of gender discussions and that men must ‘check their privilege’ before entering into those discussions (and women don’t have to check theirs), or believes that men oppressing other men is an example of men ‘oppressing themselves’ (or other similar ‘men are Borg’ type notions), or has a habit of vilifying reasonable and respectful critics of feminist misandry, then that person is a gynocentric feminist.

If, on the other hand, a feminist believes that both men and women are oppressed by gender, and believes that everyone struggling against gender oppression deserves respect (regardless of which gender’s oppression they’re working against), then that person would more likely be an egalitarian feminist. (I say “more likely” because I’m tired and I suspect my ‘egalitarian’ definition here is probably pretty incomplete.)

4 thoughts on “Feminism: gynocentric or egalitarian?

    • Very true. A person in favor of equal treatment for all would never identify as a feminist; they would simply fall under egalitarian or something similar. There are no “egalitarian feminists”, as there is nothing egalitarian about the act of further promoting an already-favored class of people in western society (women) over men while ironically playing the victim.

      • Agreed. Any truly egalitarian philosophy would call itself humanism or something along those lines to make clear that it honors both polarities of human being.

        Saying you believe in equality and then calling yourself a feminist is like saying you believe in equality and calling yourself a Germanist, or an Anglicist.

        Fact is feminists try to make the claim that men are intrinsically violent, domineering and threatened by equality and for that reason the feminists say they are justified in using an intrinsically unbalanced term to attain balance. In other words you cannot claim that feminism, which is inherently one-sided, represents a balanced approach unless you have already assumed that the other side is inherently evil. Any attempt to say that feminism is compatible with equality or equal rights takes it for granted that a humanism that includes both male and female cannot be fair to females because men are so rotten.

        Only a movement that assumes men are intrinsically bad could come up with some of the ludicrous claims that feminism has come up with to slander men. Claims such as Beethoven’s fifth symphony is secretly a celebration of a male desire to dominate others. I am not making that up.

  1. “…some people are surprised to learn that the practice of distributing compassion equally is an important way in which egalitarianism differs from feminism. …Unlike egalitarian reasoning, feminist ideological assumptions lead to diminished compassion for the suffering of non-women, including men and children, because of how ideology subconsciously affects judgement.” – http://ultimatemanbuilder.com/feminism-vs-egalitarianism-how-can-we-cultivate-a-safer-society/