The following articles define the tradwife along with other relationship templates:
- Anti-gynocentrism is the only anti-feminism that matters
- Tradwives, Modwives and Feminists
- The Tradwife Revisited
The following articles define the tradwife along with other relationship templates:
Below is a brief comment on Don A. Monson’s study Why is la Belle Dame sans Merci? Evolutionary Psychology and the Troubadours
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In Don Monson’s paper we read:
While I reject Monson’s presumption that psycho-sexual power of women was given natural expression in courtly-love language (actually the complete reverse is the case), he nevertheless outlines features of a psychological trope that still guides sexual relations in many countries today, as embedded in the European-derived tradition of chivalry and romantic love.
Monson’s belief arises from a blue-pill habit among evolutionary psychologists that places exaggerated emphasis on the Males Compete/Female Choose (MCFC) model of evolution. Steve Stewart-Williams’ challenged that Evopsych fixation and introduced the more human concept of Mutual Mate Choice (MMC) – a concept that supports my contention that the courtly love trope was responsible for exaggerating women’s sexual status.
Its almost as if Monson is asking us to amend C.S. Lewis’ famous characterization ‘The feudalisation of love’ to a reductionist evolutionary formula of ‘A love of feudalisation’ – ie. a formula assuming that males are simply designed to compete for women’s ultimate sexual choices. I reject this narrow explanation and hope that Monson doesn’t repeating it in his forthcoming book Eros and Noesis: A Cognitive Approach to the Courtly Love Literature of Medieval France.
– Is Romantic Love a Timeless Evolutionary Universal, Or a Creation of The Middle Ages? (Peter Wright, 2022)
– A brief commentary on Jankowiak & Fischer’s misuse of the term ‘romantic love’ (Peter Wright, 2022)
– Challenging The Claim That Romantic Love is Universal: Excerpt from William Reddy’s The Making Of Romantic Love
The following elaborates on a common misrepresentation of what romantic love is. – PW
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It’s amazing to observe how many academics have adopted a flawed idea of what romantic love is – all because Jankowiak & Fischer1 claimed to both define, and then find evidence of romantic love in 147 out of 166 cultures. However their definition does not match the romantic love construct from Europe which rested squarely on a feudal template of men serving elevated ladies – a template that is missing from Jankowiak & Fischer’s definition. As the most popular kind of love in the world today, this is no small oversight.
Romantic love is, in fact, different from the more generic form of love they describe.
Even the great Steve Stewart-Williams uncritically accepts Jankowiak & Fischer’s romantic love construct which omits the feudal template (ie. man as vassal, woman as lord), an omission that results in their construct not being romantic love at all because it is lacking its most definitive element.
Jankowiak & Fischer defined romantic love as based on intimacy, passion, commitment, idealization, limerence, and so on, and omitted the central relevance of the feudal template. But no feudal metaphor = no romantic love. Academics relying on such misinformation overlook the novelty of romantic love as does Stewart-Williams in his otherwise wonderful book on evolutionary psychology titled ‘The Ape Who Understood The Universe.‘ There he writes:
The question all these findings raise is a straightforward one: If romantic love is an invention of Western culture, why is it found in every geographical region, historical period, and ethnic group? The simplest and most plausible answer is that romantic love is not an invention of Western culture. Instead, the idea that romantic love is an invention of Western culture is itself an invention of Western culture, and a rather
implausible one at that. Human beings were falling in and out of love for hundreds of thousands of years before we ever had Hollywood blockbusters or knights in shining armor. We’re just that kind of animal – the kind that falls in love from time to time.
Its clear that some academics are attempting to universalize a medieval phenomenon that is not, in fact, universal. And many subsequent academics are simply quoting, without checking, the robustness of the earlier study by Jankowiak & Fischer. Have they never read pre-medieval European literature, or perhaps Chinese history for alternative descriptions of love?
For example, the following quote is from the book Love and Women in Early Chinese Fiction By Daniel Hsieh (2009),2 which describes an absence of the European template in China:
The idea of a purely romantic hero, a man as both an amorous and exemplar figure, is almost unknown. Most modern readers would react to the Chinese romances with sentiments akin to E. D. Edwards who declared, “Of all characteristics of Chinese fiction which are foreign to European ideas none is more striking than the inadequacy of the hero of love stories. The nominal hero is generally a quite unheroic person….”. Given the norms of the culture this was inevitable. Romance ordinarily had little place in the life of a wenren, and any attempt to raise its position is problematic. A “real” man was not a lover. Earlier we saw an example from the Shishou xinyu where an individual was laughed at for his excessive devotion to his wife. In “Diao Wei Wudi wen”, Lu Ji (261–303) writes, “As for entangling one’s emotions on extraneous objects or setting one’s thoughts on women (gui fang), these are things that a wise and outstanding man had best avoid.” In a Confucian world, feelings for the opposite sex were sublimated. It is not that women were necessarily seen as “evil.” Rather, having little place in moral and philosophical realms, they threatened to hinder a person from higher pursuits. One’s “passion” should be for ruler and state, and very early there evolved the model of the wenren official assuming the role of lover with the ruler being the object of his devotion. Some of the most passionate poetry in the tradition – Qu Yuan’s verse in Chu ci – is based on this idea. As Arthur Waley noted when discussing the “Li sao” (Encountering Sorrow), “In this poem, sex and politics are curiously interwoven, as we need not doubt they were in Chu Yuan’s own mind. He affords a striking example of the way in which abnormal mentality imposes itself.” In the West there occurred an interesting reversal of this notion. The rise of courtly love involved a kind of “feudalisation of love” in which man devoted himself to a lady in the way a vassal devoted himself to his lord.
It’s revealing to contrast the Chinese position that, quote “a real man was not a lover” with the opposite convention coming out of 12th century Europe where, “Here the truest lovers are now the best knights.”3
This error of claiming romantic love as universal is akin to saying all four-legged animals are horses because horses have four legs. This kind of logic is relevant to hippophiles, but it isn’t science……. even if horses do, in fact, have four legs. Same with romantic love – it needs to be differentiated from more generic love constructs and not blurred together.
C.S. Lewis rightly defined courtly & romantic love as “a feudalisation of love.” Again, if there’s no feudal template (eg. is absent in many other cultures’ version of love), there’s no romantic love. So-called research that omits this point is an attempt to universalise a novel social construct. The feudal factor permeates the phenomenon of romantic love, and must be included as a guiding factor in any attempts at a cross-cultural study on romantic love. However, because this factor was omitted by Jankowiak & Fischer it renders their study misleading if we consider that the Europe-derived model has become the dominant format in many cultures today; if we are going to use the exact phrase romantic love it deserves a more detailed description.
The kind of love that Jankowiak & Fischer do end up describing and then sampling in 166 cultures is more accurately phrased as pairbonding love, which does indeed exist in all cultures. To (mis)use the European phrase romantic love leads to confusion; so I would recommend they, and all researchers who have followed them, consider making this terminology change.
Addendum: Since writing the above commentary, I have communicated with both Jankowiak and Fischer who inform me that the above terminology problem has been recognized and addressed by them some time ago, leading to the dropping of the phrase romantic love and replacing it with the more suitable designation passionate love in subsequent publications.
The following excerpt from William Reddy’s The Making of Romantic Love, elaborates on the conflation of romantic love with more universal forms of love. – PW
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The English word love can mean so many different things that, by convention, one adds the word “romantic” to distinguish those types of love that include a sexual component from all other types of love. This is the sense of “romantic love” deployed by William Jankowiak and Edward Fischer in a widely cited study published in 1992.1 The authors presented evidence that romantic love was present in 147 out of 166 cultures, or 88.5 percent. Their definition of romantic love was very broad. Evidence of any one of five criteria was regarded as sufficient: (1) accounts of personal anguish and longing, (2) love songs or folklore “that highlight the motivations behind romantic involvement,” (3) elopements due to mutual affection, (4) native accounts of passionate love, and (5) ethnographers’ affirmations. The authors believed their findings disproved a view expressed by a number of scholars that romantic love was found only in modern individualistic societies. The evidence, they concluded, strongly supported the universal occurrence of romantic love. Jankowiak subsequently edited an anthology of essays by ethnographers presenting evidence for the existence of romantic love in a variety of cultural settings from West Africa to Polynesia.2
In a 1998 essay, Charles Lindholm rejected Jankowiak and Fischer’s conclusion, however, on the grounds that their definition of romantic love lacked sociological and cultural specificity.3 […] Lindholm’s observations strongly indicate the need for a more nuanced vocabulary. After all, his objection to Jankowiak and Fischer’s conclusions may be the result of a terminological confusion. Jankowiak and Fischer cast the widest possible net that the term “romantic love” permits.
In this study, the term “longing for association” will be used to refer to that wide net that Jankowiak and Fischer cast, and the term “romantic love” will be reserved to refer to those forms of the longing for association that have emerged in Western and Western-influenced cultural settings where one or another of the historical versions of desire-as-appetite is accepted as common sense.
To illustrate the importance of this distinction, consider a case mentioned by Leonard Plotinicov in the 1995 anthology edited by William Jankowiak. Plotinicov reports on a Nigerian informant who became fascinated, even obsessed with his third wife the moment he saw her. Although he already had two wives, he said, “I told her I wanted to marry her. She said she had nothing to say about that, and directed me to her parents.” He immediately went to negotiate with the parents and soon married her.4 Whatever this man’s emotion was, to equate it with “romantic love” as practiced in certain Western settings is to ignore the centrality of reciprocal feeling and of exclusivity in Western norms for love partnerships.
. William R. Jankowiak and Edward F. Fischer, “A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Romantic Love,” Ethnology 31 (1992): 149–55.
. William R. Jankowiak, ed., Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).
. Charles Lindholm, “Love and Structure,” Theory, Culture & Society 15 (1998): 243–63.
. Leonard Plotinicov, “Love, Lust and Found in Nigeria,” in Romantic Passion: A Universal Experience? ed. William Jankowiak (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 128–40, quote from p. 134.
– Is Romantic Love a Timeless Evolutionary Universal, or a Frankenstein Creation of The Middle Ages?
– A comment on Don Monson’s ‘Why is la Belle Dame sans Merci? Evolutionary Psychology and the Troubadours’
There are countless definitions of what ‘feminism’ is, with feminists themselves pointing to glib dictionary definitions, and antifeminists preferring to define it as a female supremacy movement. A hundred other definitions could easily be offered, but the more important question is what (if anything) do all these different definitions hold in common?
Below, Adam Kostakis answers this question in the affirmative with an elegant definition that most would agree with. – PW
Even essentially contested concepts, as W. B. Gallie referred to them, must have meanings which are greater than normative, else communication about them would be rendered impossible. That is – there must be some amount of general consensus over what feminism is, between feminists and anti-feminists, or we would not be able to argue about it! Even despite the differences between a feminist’s view of feminism and of our own, some shared content must exist at some level, or we would be talking about entirely different things. They might be talking about the feminist movement, while I am talking about horse-rearing, although we both refer to our respective subjects as ‘feminism’ – but we wouldn’t have much to say to each other, would we, if this were the case?
So, I shall posit the following as a universally applicable definition of feminism; that is to say, it must fit everyone’s criteria for what feminism is, in spite of the different perspectives that different people hold on its nature. It is a suitably limited definition, since it can encompass only those parts of feminism which all definitions hold in common. So, here it is: feminism is the project for increasing the power of women.
That, then, is what everybody who discusses feminism holds in common regarding the concept, whether they are supportive, skeptical, or nihilistically indifferent. No feminist, I think, would deny that this is, at the very least, the ‘bare bones’ of feminism, even if she would prefer to flesh it out in a lot more detail. But that will not do, for beyond this narrow inference, we disagree with each other. To be as objective as possible, then, we must take only that which everybody agrees upon, and that is our universally applicable definition.
Note that there is no mention of equality. This is because there are a number of feminists who explicitly did not pursue equality, but supremacy. So, equality cannot fit into the universal definition of feminism, since certain feminists themselves – who were very famously, unequivocally feminist – disavowed it. To say that feminism is ‘about equality’, then, would be to place oneself in diametrical opposition to several extremely influential feminists! And why, that would be … misogynistic!
Nor can feminism be said to be the project for increasing the power of women relative to men, since, in this counter-feminist’s view, feminists are often quite content to increase the power of women in an absolute sense. That is, they endeavor to grab all they can for women, without reference to the status of men. The phrase ‘relative to men,’ then, only serves to imply that women are power-less relative to men at present, thus casting feminism in an unfairly favorable light. In reality, once women do achieve power which is at an equal or equivalent level to that of men, the demands of feminists do not stop. What we find is that female power becomes entrenched, and extended, and when it surpasses male power, this is simply referred to as ‘parity’ and ignored by feminists – at least, when they are not gloating over men’s newfound powerlessness.
Nor are we able to list, in our universal definition, the specific areas of life, or spheres, in which the feminist project applies. This is because feminism is inherently universalizing; it seeks to colonize and dominate every single facet of life where men and women meet. It aims for domination in every sphere of life, actual and potential.
You may disagree with some of the points above, particularly if you are supportive of feminism. But this does nothing to change our universal definition, because all we can say about those points is that they are contentious. That is, feminists and non-feminists, who are educated about feminism, disagree about these aspects of feminism, and it would simply be biased to take one or the other view for granted. That would be like consulting only Jacobins on the historical accomplishments of the Jacobin Club, or like canvassing only conservatives to explain modern liberalism. It would be a good example of poor methodology, and would help us very little in our search for truth. Right? So then, our universally applicable definition cannot be expanded beyond that which we stated before: feminism is the project for increasing the power of women.
Source: The above excerpt is from Adam Kostakis’ essay Pig Latin.
The following review of the concept gynocentrism is excerpted from A Clinical Guide to Discussing Prejudice Against Men, by Aman Siddiqi:
Gynocentrism refers to an exclusive or predominant focus on women or women’s interests (Wright, 2014; Wright & Elam, 2017). It is a form of positive prejudice towards women that results in negative consequences for men. Gynocentrism encourages male gender blindness by focusing attention and concern onto women, causing men and the issues they face to be overlooked or minimized. This, in turn, reinforces the gender disparity illusion. Since men’s issues are rarely discussed in the media or highlighted by organizations, the public assumes they do not exist. While addressing women’s issues is also meaningful, gynocentrism refers to the tendency for academia, the media, government and non-profit agencies to focus all, or nearly all, attention for gendered issues on women and girls.
First, issues that impact women occupy the majority of gendered discussions. They are discussed by the media and investigated by academics. The public is inundated with examples of issues women face. This disproportionate attention keeps the public unaware of men’s issues. In addition, instances of prejudice that are known by most people may be assumed to be of little importance because they are rarely discussed. Exclusionary attention to women’s issues also reveals that those in positions of authority do not deem instances of male suffering worthy of attention. This discourages the general public from paying those instances attention themselves. For example, ignorance of the issues men face has been suggested as one reason for the decline in male psychologists (Bottom et al., 2014).
Second, government agencies, academic research, and non-profit agencies dedicate the majority of their resources on gendered issues to women and girls. Numerous government and non-governmental agencies, such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, have divisions devoted to ending violence, improving health, encouraging education, and sponsoring entrepreneurship, exclusively for women. These agencies are replicated in countries around the world. In addition, innumerable non-profit organizations are either dedicated exclusively to women, or the gendered programs within larger organizations are dedicated to women.
The gynocentric view that only women deserve assistance is a consequence of the gender disparity illusion and the compassion void. Men’s suffering is either minimized, reframed to appear nongendered, or blamed on men themselves. The biased allocation of resources impacts the necessary services men and boys require, such as domestic violence shelters, health and wellness centers, educational programs and scholarships, and economic development programs. Similarly, academic research primarily focuses on gendered issues that women face. Dozens of journals are dedicated exclusively to women, and most gendered topic publications focus on women’s issues. Even publications in the journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity often focus on women, such as male sexual objectification of women (Mikorski &Szymanski, 2016) and male perpetrated dating violence (McDermott et al., 2017). Issues that men face are often ignored, even by those in the field of the psychology of men.
Third, gynocentrism results in the gendering of non-gendered issues. While some issues affect men or women disproportionately, many issues are non-gendered. In this case, there is no meaningful differentiation based on gender. However, an issue may be framed in a manner so it appears to disproportionately affect women. This serves to indirectly deny the equal suffering men experience by focusing all, or the majority, of resources and awareness on women’s experience of a non-gendered issue.
Gynocentrically gendering a nongendered issue may be facilitated by highlighting relevant statistics regarding only female victims. Even though the number of men and women impacted by an issue may be roughly the same, some publications only describe the impacts to women. This may cause the public to assume women are disproportionately impacted and deserve the majority of resources, even if it is not explicitly stated. The public may also assume men are not harmed by the issue simply because only the experiences of women are discussed. This is enabled by the male gender empathy gap. The suffering men experience through a non-gendered issue may be disregarded by researchers, so only the female victims are recognized.
An issue may also be gendered through gynocentric reframing. Women who experience a phenomenon may be described using positive terminology while men, impacted by the same issue, are described negatively. For example, female prisoners were referred to as “victims” of their environment, while male prisoners were called “violent” in the same article (Kearns, 2019). Attributions of malicious intentionality have been projected onto male perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault, while female perpetrators are described as being compelled by external forces into their actions (M. P. Johnson, 1995). This is an example of the ultimate attribution error, in which negative in-group (female) behaviors are attributed to external factors, but negative out-group (male) behaviors are attributed to personal characteristics (Pettigrew, 1979). This form of gynocentric reframing encourages the denial of victimhood, since causality for negative male behaviors is not linked to the social environment.
The dedication of public and private agencies to women, described in item two above, also encourages the gynocentric use of statistics. For example, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women may feel justified in only publishing data regarding female victims of domestic violence and sexual assault since their mandate is to focus on women. This creates an “echo chamber” in which only statistics on women are published, leading people to believe an issue exclusively or predominately impacts women. This, in-turn, encourages resources and agencies be designed disproportionately for women, such as the Office on Violence Against Women.
Similarly, the United Nations’ Girls’ Education Initiative published a report detailing various barriers to girls’ education around the world (UNGEI, 2007). Items in the report include: poverty, social exclusion due to ethnicity, poor school conditions, overcrowded classrooms, and a lack of qualified teachers. The report claims that textbooks that promote gender stereotypes, inadequate water and sanitation, and violence near schools “are barriers that affect girls’ education in particular” (UNGEI, 2007, p. 3). However, these are all general barriers to education that impact boys and girls equally. The male gender empathy gap may cause the authors to disregard their impact on boys.
Fourth, gynocentric laws solidify institutional prejudice into society by creating differing requirements and protections for male and female citizens of the same country. For example, in the United States, the mandatory registration for selective service applies exclusively to men (Selective Service Registration, 2019). Furthermore, the male-only military draft is actively enforced in other countries around the world. As discussed further in the section entitled, “Examples of Prejudice Against Men,” numerous U.S. States, as well as foreign countries, specifically define rape as requiring a female victim. Laws, such as the Violence Against Women Act, provide government resources for women (Violence Against Women Act of 1994, 1994) and laws, such as the Female Genital Mutilation Act, define criminal actions as illegal only if the victim is female (Female Genital Mutilation Act, 1996). Similarly, the Indian penal code provides protection to wives that is not afforded to husbands (The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983, 1983). This is only a sample of gendered laws that do not offer the same protection to, or enforce the same requirements on, all citizens equally.
Fifth, a gynocentric perspective may be used when interpreting gendered issues. When attributing meaning to events, evaluating the costs and benefits of gendered norms, or deciding who has control or agency in a situation, the perspectives of men are often overlooked or openly denied. While female perspectives are also meaningful, they may be taught in a manner which precludes any other views. A gynocentric bias has also been pushed onto descriptions of men’s own actions and desires. In this way, men’s own intentions, beliefs, and feelings are replaced with what others claim they intend, believe, and feel. This is an example of “speaking for men,” described in the section entitled, “Maintenance of the Acceptability of Prejudice Against Men.”
Similarly, a gynocentric perspective can bias the judicial system, resulting in unequal application of the law. For example, studies have shown men are given longer sentences for the same crime (Crew, 1991; Curry et al., 2004) and following a divorce, men are only made the custodial parent 17.5% of the time (Grall, 2016, p. 2013). The gynocentric perspective also impacts the mental health field. For example, Zander Keig is a transgender male who transitioned at age 39 (Bahrampour, 2018, Para. 15). Even though he is a clinical social worker, he admits that prior to his transition, he never considered men’s experiences or thoughts. He interpreted every case from a female perspective.
Sixth, a gynocentric viewpoint may give some women a feeling of superiority to men. They may begin to view themselves as deserving of preferential treatment. This can contribute to the belief in the transfer of hardship onto men. Psychological entitlement includes the belief that one deserves valuable possessions, praise, and is superior (W. K. Campbell et al., 2004). A study utilizing a nationally representative sample of 2,723 women and 1,698 men in New Zealand found that women’s endorsement of “benevolent sexism” was correlated (r = .41, p < .01) with psychological entitlement (Hammond et al., 2014). Described further in the section entitled “Maintenance of the Acceptability of Prejudice Against Men,” benevolent sexism is the term used to gynocentrically reframe prejudice in which men are compelled to serve women. Therefore, women who endorse the belief that men should provide them with preferential treatment were more likely to feel entitled. This was also described by Zander Keig, the transgender male mentioned above. He is in a position to compare his treatment by other women for the first 39 years of his life as a woman, to his treatment after transitioning to a male (Bahrampour, 2018). He states that now that he is a man, some women expect him to acquiesce and concede to them by letting them speak first, board a bus first, and let them sit down first. (Bahrampour, 2018).
Gynocentric social norms are still prevalent in modern society. For example, in some communities within the U.S., men are still expected to give up their seats to women, allow them to go before them in line, or provide other forms of preferential treatment. In some countries, this bias is solidified into law. For example, in India the front seating area on some public buses is reserved for women only, while the remaining are general seating. Men are forced to stand while seats are available because they are deemed unworthy of the right to rest. In addition, the general seating area is often occupied by female passengers, since the social norms upon which the regulation is based compel men to give up their seats to female passengers. Bus segregation was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1956 and is considered a quintessential example of Jim Crow segregation (Browder v. Gayle, 1956). However, men face similar discrimination to this day. While not mandated by law in the U.S., these types of expectations still occur. For example, a video was recorded of a woman shouting and berating men on a subway train for not “being a gentleman” and giving her preferential treatment (Diinodiin Edits, 2019), and a similar incident was portrayed on an episode of Seinfeld (Cherones, 1992).
In contemporary society, gynocentrism has made romantic and sexual service to women expected of men. Some television, film, and academic publications teach or imply that it is men’s responsibility to provide romance and sexual satisfaction to a female partner. Men who do not provide romance to women may be portrayed as lazy and self-centered. For example, in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, the character Penny complains that her husband Leonard doesn’t “do anything for her anymore” and has “completely stop[ped] giving a crap” (Cendrowski, 2017). She states he “used to do all these things, like bring me flowers.” Later, she starts an argument with him and states, “since we got married you seem to think you don’t have to try anymore.” At this point, Leonard points out that he has provided all the romantic gestures in their relationship in the past, while she was mainly a recipient. In response, Penny decides to punish Leonard by canceling her vacation with him and taking her friend instead. This sends a message that not only are men obligated to provide romance to women, but if they point out the inequity of their situation, they should be punished.
Similarly, in an episode of Chuck, some characters become suspicious that a woman is cheating on her husband (Chandrasekhar, 2010). They confront the man and state, “I feel that if there is something wrong, it’s your fault.” The man then proceeds to list for them an average day in his life, in which he serves his wife, proving he is a good husband.
Most mornings, I wake up around 6. I pop a towel in the dryer so it’s warm when she gets out of the shower. I’ll whip her up a Belgian waffle or, you know, a goat-cheese omelet. Something easy. After Ellie’s foot rub, I’ll bike to the farmers’ market pick up fresh blueberries, or whatever’s in season. Come home, make her a smoothie. Organic nonfat milk, flaxseed oil. Something to give her a real midday kick-start. Once we’re in bed, post-lavender bath I spend about 20 minutes just watching her sleep.
He does all this while also being an emergency room physician. While the episode may be portraying an exaggerated view of the ideal husband, the premise is based on the overall assumption of romantic service to women. The episode sends the message that if a man does not serve his wife enough, she is justified in cheating on him.
Contemporary media also portrays men as owing sexual service to women. As an example of the agency bias, responsibility for a woman’s sexual enjoyment is attributed to her male partner, while his enjoyment is paid little attention and assumed to be his own responsibility. This expectation is demonstrated most clearly by the term “perform,” used to describe a man’s sexual relations with a woman. Men and women are not described as jointly participating in sexual relations. Instead, men are evaluated on their “performance,” defined by the degree to which they satisfy a female partner. The book She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman is a best-selling book that teaches men their job during sexis to satisfy women and provide them pleasure (Kerner, 2009). The author encourages men to derive their enjoyment from the act of serving their partner. He states, “What greater reward could a man ask for?” (Kerner, 2009, p. 20). A man experiencing pleasure himself is framed as selfish.
The author describes sexual intimacy as women receiving pleasure and men providing it. He goes as far as to justify the attack of Lorena Bobbitt against her husband by claiming that she cited his failure to sexually satisfy her as a reason. The gynocentric view of sexuality has become the norm for many in contemporary society. Men may be taught that they are selfish and unworthy unless they spend their sexual encounter focused exclusively on their female partner. On the other hand, women are taught that if they do not enjoy their experience or did not experience an orgasm, they should not look to their own absence of engagement. Instead, women should blame men for not serving them well enough. This was demonstrated by an Amazon reviewer who accused any man of not wanting to read, She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman as having too much “pride and ego” (Reviewer, 2018).
The gynocentric belief in male service to women has been enabled through the term chivalry. Historically, the term chivalry encompassed a variety of attributes such as bravery, loyalty, and generosity (Bax, 1913). However, over time chivalry was transformed into male service to women (Alfonsi, 1986). Men may also be shamed into service through accusations of not being a “gentleman;” therefore, equating being a gentleman with serving women. Prejudice against men is concealed by first reframing it as acts of chivalry, then attributing responsibility for the enforcement of chivalrous norms to men.
Gynocentrism also encourages the proliferation of positive female stereotypes. Positive prejudice is projected onto women through a gender-based halo effect. Women may be described as more empathetic, kinder, loving, elegant, honest, trustworthy, and peaceful than men. These stereotypes are used to deny instances of wrongdoing by women, at times shifting blame onto men. For example, domestic violence and sexual assault committed by women against men is often denied or trivialized, leaving male victims without help or recourse.
Studies have revealed that people hold a more positive view of women overall as compared to men. Attitude measures include variables such as how good vs. bad and valuable vs. useless men are compared to women (Eagly & Mladinic, 1994). Participants describe the percentage of each group they believe holds various characteristics, including their own views of how positive or negative those characteristics are. In addition, the affective responses that participants experience in response to men as compared to women are examined. Numerous studies have found that overall, participants hold more positive attitudes, stereotypes, and affective responses (i.e., feelings) towards women than men (Carter et al., 1991; Eagly et al., 1991; Eagly & Mladinic, 1989, 1994; Haddock & Zanna, 1994). This may be evidence of a global halo effect in which women are perceived as better people than men. This has been referred to as the “women are wonderful effect” (Eagly & Mladinic, 1994). This leads to implied negative stereotypes about men, resulting in bias and discrimination. For example, if people are unwilling to believe a woman is guilty of domestic violence, they may assume the victim is either lying or at fault themselves.
Positive prejudice may also be used to claim that women are superior to men in various ways. For example, Hillary Clinton stated that female leaders demonstrate more compassion and understanding than men because they lead “with the heart of a mother” (Zakaria, 2019). Similarly, President Obama explicitly stated that women are “indisputably” better leaders than men, and that the world would be a better place if only women were in leadership positions (Asher, 2019).
The belief in positive stereotypes about women can result in gynocentric projection, in which positive characteristics, or interpretations of actions, are projected onto women without evidence. This is demonstrated by entertainment media’s reluctance to portray evil female characters. Antagonist female characters are often provided a rationale to justify their behavior or are portrayed as a victim of circumstance. For example, in the film What Happened to Monday, the character named Monday is kidnapped in the beginning of the film (Wirkola, 2017). As the plot continues, each of her six sisters is targeted for murder one at a time by government agents. Eventually, the final two surviving sisters discover that Monday was not kidnapped, but in fact betrayed her sisters, allowing them to be murdered. However, instead of allowing a female character to be portrayed as evil or self-serving, the film provides her an excuse. The sisters discover that Monday was pregnant, and she chose to save her baby by having her six sisters murdered. This plot line demonstrates both the unwillingness of society to accept an evil female character, and purports that murdering six people is excusable since she is a mother.
Gynocentric projection is also demonstrated by researchers who project positive qualities onto women to explain negative behavior. For example, it has been alleged that female perpetrated domestic violence is motivated by a desire for “personal liberty” instead of controlling behavior, aggression, and impaired impulse control (Graham-Kevan, 2007b). Similarly, maternal filicide, mothers who kill their own babies, has been explained as either “altruistic,” for the betterment of the child, the result of psychosis, or unintentional (Friedman & Resnick, 2007). Any negative characteristics of the perpetrator herself are assumed to be absent. The only somewhat negative intentions suggested are the mother’s view of the baby as a hindrance, and the mother’s desire for revenge against the child’s father. However, these intentions can be justified respectively as a result of poverty, and the shifting of blame to alleged negative behaviors of the father.
As another example, a study was conducted to replicate Milgram’s famous study of obedience (Milgram, 1963). A sample of 13 men and 13 women were used to test their willingness to shock a puppy as a means of teaching it to solve problems (Sheridan & King, 1972). The voltage administered was increased with each successive incorrect solution. The participants were able to see the puppy’s reaction each time it was shocked. The problem was, in fact, unsolvable. The true purpose of the study was to see if the participants would continue shocking the puppy as the voltage and pain increased. Among the male participants, 7 of the 13 participants continued shocking the puppy until the completion of the experiment. The remaining 5 refused to continue at some point during the experiment. However, all 13 female participants shocked the puppy until the maximum setting.
The experimenters asked a separate set of 45 participants to estimate how men and women would behave in the above experiment. When female participants were asked how far the “average woman” would continue, 86% of female participants said an average woman would not go beyond one-third of the maximum level, and no participants stated the average woman would shock until the maximum. This demonstrates an overly positive belief that women would not cause harm to others. This belief was further demonstrated when this experiment was described in this author’s university’s introductory psychology class. Upon hearing that all the female subjects shocked the puppy to the maximum setting, the class was audibly shocked, confirming the same belief in positive prejudice towards women. Furthermore, the professor offered an explanation for the results, which denied any wrongdoing by the female participants. He told the class that the female participants “felt pressured by the experimenters to continue shocking the puppy,” so it was not really their fault. He implied they were forced into their actions, so the class could maintain their positive prejudice towards women. However, he offered no empirical data to support his explanation. Furthermore, the male subjects would have been equally pressured by the experimenters, yet they resisted. His irrational explanation demonstrates the lengths to which psychologists may go to maintain their positive beliefs towards women.
Gynocentric terminology refers to gendered phrases which limit victimhood to women. The use of restrictive, exclusionary phrasing limits people’s empathy by referring to those in need of compassion and assistance as “women” instead of victims. For example, the major piece of U.S. legislation providing resources for domestic violence and sexual assault is named the Violence Against Women Act (U. S. Department of Justice, 2014). Similarly, the United Nations passed the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children” (United Nations Human Rights, 2019). The document specifically highlights women as more important victims than men eight times in the document, such as to “combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children” (United Nations Human Rights, 2019, Para. 1).
An article was written in Minority Nurse about microaggressions in nursing against “nontraditional” students. Nontraditional was defined as “over the age of 25, ethnic minority groups, speaks English as a second language, a male, has dependent children, has a general equivalency diploma (GED), required to take remedial courses, and students who commute to the college campus [emphasis added]” (Doctor, 2018, Para. 1). Since 88.6% of nurses in the U.S. are female (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019a), men are a minority group. However, later in the article the author utilizes an exclusionary definition of microaggressions from the book Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. The author defines microaggressions as “verbal and nonverbal snubs, insults, putdowns, and condescending messages directed towards people of color, women, the LGBTQ population, people with disabilities, and any other marginalized group [emphasis added]” (Doctor, 2018, Para. 2). This definition specifically lists women as victims of microaggressions and excludes men; even though one of the subjects of the article on nursing is microaggressions against men. When readers and students are taught about microaggressions, they may be primed to assume men will never fall victim to them, or to disregard microaggressions men face as insignificant.
Avoiding gendered terminology has been a major goal of gender studies for decades. For example, the term mankind is replaced with humankind or peoplekind, Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” award was changed to “Person of the Year,” and Cornell’s Society of Hotelmen was changed to the Cornell Hotel Society. Guidelines from the American Psychological Association now encourage the use of a singular form of “they” and “their” in place of “he or she” and “his or hers” (American Psychological Association, 2019). When gendered terminology contributes to excluding women, society makes a point to change it. However, when gendered terminology excludes men, it is often maintained or justified.
For example, at a town hall meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an individual raised a question about difficulties young people face who desire to volunteer through a charitable religious organization in Canada (The Trudeau Follies, 2018). At the end of her question she stated, “We cannot do free volunteering to help our neighbors in need as we truly desire. So, that’s why we came here today to ask you, to also look into the policies that religious charitable organizations have in our legislation so that it can also be changed, because maternal love is the love that’s going to change the future of mankind. So we’d like you to…” At this point Prime Minister Trudeau interrupted her and said, “We like to say peoplekind, not necessarily mankind;” which was followed by applause. The Prime Minister’s interest in gendered terminology is so strong, his first point when addressing her question about charitable volunteering was to point out her use of the term “mankind.” However, the questioner also stated that “maternal love” is the most important force for change. The use of this gendered phrase went undiscussed. This demonstrates a bias in which gendered terminology that positively impacts women is maintained.
Gynocentric terminology is also used to deny the existence of male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, excluding them from recognition and services. Victims may be referred to as “women” and perpetrators as “men.” This is often justified by claiming that the majority of those affected are female. However, this argument is based on two fallacies. First, the assumption that women are disproportionately impacted by these crimes is empirically false, described in the section entitled “Examples of Prejudice Against Men.” Second, and more importantly, the percentage of men and women who suffer from these crimes is irrelevant. All victims deserve concern and respect. Even if an individual believes more women are impacted, male victims should never be erased or overlooked. As described above, modern social standards have already determined that excluding a gender through exclusionary terminology is discriminatory. For example, even though 85% of the military is male (Coleman, 2014), and
97.6% of fatalities of active duty U.S. military personnel and Reservists in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been male (DeBruyne, 2019), we always use the term “men and women in the military.” Erasing male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault can never be justified by one’s belief that more women are impacted than men. Every individual knows that 100% of victims are not female. Persistence on using the term “women” in place of victims is a statement that male victims do not deserve recognition. This form of gynocentric terminology most clearly demonstrates how an overemphasis on women and women’s issues becomes a form of prejudice against men.
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*The above excerpt republished with permission of the author.
* * *
Having touched briefly on tradwives in the past, I though it was time to pen some matured thoughts on the subject – in particular the thought that there are actually two very different models of the tradwife.
The oldest, best, but apparently least appreciated kind of tradwife is the one who brings value to the table for men looking to pairbond or start a family with a woman – I’ll refer to her loosely as Tradwife-1. The other more popular conceptualization of a tradwife amounts to a shallow and performative grifter who spies an easy ride on some poor man’s goodwill and labor, whom I’ll refer to as Tradwife-2.
Tradwife-1 mirrors a pre Victorian-era model consisting of non-gynocentric forms of traditionalism. It advocates a mixture of separate gender roles mixed in with a significant amount of role-sharing as might have been seen on a traditional farm, homestead or ‘cottage industry’ of pre-industrialized Britain or United States. This model assumes a commensurate valuing, interpersonal devotion, and labor contribution from both husband and wife.
Tradwife-2 is different, and aligns more with the post Victorian-era model of family. She is promoted by advocates of a traditional gynocentrism which reached its apogee in the 1950’s housewife, and her needs, wants and comforts are generally prioritized over those of her husband. In this model, men and women are called to adhere to strict gender roles with husband functioning as symbolic ‘head of household’ who protects the wife and labors to earn all the money, while she makes babies, apple pies, keeps the house clean.
The model for the tradwife-2 is what many people refer to as the ‘two-spheres doctrine’ in which men and women are apportioned sovereignty over different realms – he over the political and labor realms, and she over the domestic and social realms. For the red pilled audience, this version of the tradwife sometimes appears as a parasite in an apron while contributing very little to the relationship, especially in the era of electrification and white goods.
These two tradwives are the traditional alternatives to feminist-inspired relationships. For men who can’t see value in older models, however, and who gravitate toward what Warren Farrell calls a “gender transition movement,” there’s a newer kind of a female companion we will refer to as the modwife.
Farrell’s proposed gender transition movement, and implied concept of a modwife, refers to greater role-sharing among men and women than has traditionally been the case. Farrell proposes, for example, that women may wish to contribute more labor and more income so that “neither sex is expected to pay more than half the income,”1 and that men may wish to spend more time with family so that “both sexes raise the children.” He states,
“Taking what had worked for most women traditionally and seeing it as a plot against them led us to see men as “owing” women. This created Stage II entitlement: women being entitled to compensation for past oppression. This prevented us from seeing the need to make a transition from Stage I to Stage II together : the need not for a women’s movement or a men’s movement, but for a gender transition movement.”1
He further adds,
“A gender transition movement will be the longest of all movements because it is not proposing merely to integrate blacks or Latinos into a system that already exists; rather, it is proposing an evolutionary shift in the system itself—an end to “woman-the-protected” and “man-the-protector.”2
Farrell’s proposed transition movement involves stages of a grand historical process, which are simplified as follows:
By this process modwives are born, whom I’ve referred to elsewhere as women who have embraced multi-option lives over more traditional roles, and who accept or encourage multi-option lives for their male partners. While containing the word ‘wife,’ the term modwife applies equally to non-married women who follow the principles being outlined here… so there’s no need to worry, men; this is not a Petersonian advert for marriage.
‘Modwife’ was coined as an alternative to the popular trend in tradwives outlined above. Both the tradwife and modwife eschew feminist prescriptions for relationships because they are geared toward female domination of men and not to partnerships based on reciprocal labor, value and devotion. A distaste for feminism, however, is where the similarities between tradwife and modwife end.
The unlikelihood that modern women will embrace tradwife roles of yesteryear with any consistent or genuine commitment underpins attraction to the modwife option. Thus, for a best-case scenario today’s multi-option women can support their male partners to embrace multi-option lives also. The modwife’s modus operandi is based on personal liberty within relationships, extending a freedom of opportunity to her partner such as society has championed for her.
Yet few multi-option women today are willing to extend such multi-option liberty to men, preferring instead to pocket the advantages extended by women’s ‘liberation’ while expecting their boyfriends and husbands to remain in the mismatched role of protector and provider. There are women however, very limited in number as they are, who lean toward the model of commensurate liberty for both men and women in relationships — some of them will be recognized among the supporters of the men’s rights movement.
That libertarian spirit is understood as belonging to the political sphere, but it is accepted by the modwife as a guiding principle in her relationship with men. It emphasizes individual choice, relative autonomy, voluntary association, individual judgement, free will, self-determination, and free labor-sharing arrangements and agreements. In a word; freedom. Is this a rare stance among women? Absolutely yes, but they may exist for the man who is discerning, patient, and willing to hold fast to his values.
To summarize, the more shallow version of the tradwife is gaining popularity among traditional conservatives who have little appreciation for, nor awareness of the older, pre-Victorian models for same. Alternatively we have the shaky concept of the modwife touched on by Farrell, myself and others which may be a viable alternative but such women are currently as rare as spotting a unicorn in the forest. These templates offer ways of navigating the available relationship territory, and as always the choice to explore them, or abstain completely remains yours.
 Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power
 Warren Farrell, ‘Toward A Gender Transition Movement,’ in Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?