Gynæcocentric Theory (Articles & Essays 1888 to 1930)

The importance of Lester F. Ward’s ‘Gynæcocentric Theory,’ presented first as a speech to a group of feminists in the year 1888, and subsequently as an essay in 1903, cannot be overstated. There were numerous writers promoting gynocentric ideology prior to Ward’s effort, however it was he who first used the term and crystalized a complex theory that has generated thousands of subsequent academic and newspaper articles promoting female superiority, and likewise many protests against the incoherence of his theory – including by early men’s human rights activist Ernest B. Bax (see below).

Ward’s gynocentric theory exerted a major influence on feminist thought, while also circulating in popular culture and in universities where, as one account from 1920 reveals:

“While a comparatively small number of people read this theory from the original source, it is still being scattered far and wide in the form of quotations, paraphrases, and interpretations by more popular writers… College reference shelves are still stocked with books on sex sociology which are totally oblivious of present-day biology. For example, Mrs. Gilman (Man-Made World), Mrs. Hartley (Truth About Woman) and the Nearings (Woman and Social Progress) adhere to Ward’s theory in substantially its primitive form, and not even sociologists like Professor Thomas (Sex and Society) have been able to entirely break away from it.”

The following selection of articles directly mention Ward and/or his gynæcocentric theory.

Our Better Halves, by Lester F. Ward (1888)
The Gynæcocentric Theory, by Lester F. Ward (1903)
‘Gynæcocentricity’ Poem from the London Punch (1903)
The Evolution of Sex According to Lester F. Ward (1909)
The Future of Women – by D. M. N. (1909)
Ernest B. Bax Responds to Lester Ward’s ‘Gynocentric Theory’ (1909)
“The Evolution of Sex” – A Protest Against Ward’s Gynæcocentric Theory (1909)
The Book of Women’s Power – edited by Ida M. Tarbell (1911)
Woman and Gynæcocentric Social Progress – by S. Nearing (1912)
Ernest B. Bax: Examines Lester Ward’s ‘Gynœcocentric Theory’ Fallacy (1913)
Some Biological Aspects of Feminism – by R.E. Ryan (1914)
Race Motherhood: Is Woman The Original Human Race? – by D. Montefiore (1920)
Book Review of D. Montefiore’s ‘Race Motherhood’ by D. M. N (1920)
‘Gynocentric Theory’ in Colleges and Popular Culture, by M. M. Knight et.al (1920)
The Lure of Superiority: ‘Gynæcocentric Feminism’ by W.F. Vaughan (1928)

Contemporary articles deconstructing gynocentric theories:

How Lester F. Ward Developed a “Patriarchy Theory” – by M. Muscolino (2019)
Lester Ward’s Gynocentrism & The Deification of Women – by Peter Ryan (2020)
Briffault: Rules for the Rational Simp – by Peter Wright & Paul Elam (2021)
Eight Traits of the Bio-Gynocentrist – by Vernon Meigs (2022)
Bio-gynocentrism: Turning Science Into Goddess Worship – by Peter Ryan (2022)

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