‘GYNOCENTRISM’ – a review by Aman Siddiqi

The following review of the concept gynocentrim is excerpted from A Clinical Guide to Discussing Prejudice Against Men, by Aman Siddiqi:

Gynocentrism

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.

Positive Female Stereotypes

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.

Terminology

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 Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act 1983, 1860 Indian Penal Code § 498A (1983). http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex4.detail?p_lang=en&p_isn=93631

The Trudeau Follies. (2018, February 3). It’s Peoplekind… Not mankind says Trudeau [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cR9MuNnznFU&feature=emb_logo

UNGEI. (2007). United Nations girls’ education initiative. United Nations.

United Nations Human Rights. (2019). Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtocolTraffickingInPersons.aspx

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2019a). Labor force statistics from teh current population survey. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm

Violence Against Women Act of 1994, 34 U.S.C. § 12291-12512 (1994).

Wirkola, T. (2017, August 18). What Happened to Monday [Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller]. Vendome Pictures, Nexus Factory, Raffaella Productions.

Wright, P. (2014). Gynocentrism: From feudalism to the modern Disney princess. Amazon Digital.

Wright, P., & Elam, P. (2017). Red pill psychology: Psychology for men in a gynocentric world. Amazon Digital.

Zakaria, F. (2019, April). Hillary Clinton on how women lead differently. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/tv/2019/04/12/exp-gps-0414-hillary-clinton-on-women-leadership.cnn

*The above excerpt republished with permission of the author.

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See also: Gamma bias in the maintenance of gynocentrism

The Tradwife Revisited

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.

Modwives

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:

  1. Historically men and women adhered to strict gender roles for the sake of survival.
  2. Women chose to “liberate” themselves from their role to gain more freedom.
  3. Men have responded to women’s “liberation” by proposing they too might be liberated from some traditional gender roles.
  4. Ideally this unfolding process can culminate in a gender liberation movement for both sexes.1

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.

Philosophical outlook of the modwife

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.

References:
[1] Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power
[2] Warren Farrell, ‘Toward A Gender Transition Movement,’ in Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?

Jordan Peterson’s Map For Oedipal Men

To understand Jordan Peterson’s prescription that young men become heroes in service to the maternal principle, especially within the context of marriage, we must turn to his ideological pedigree in the formulations of Carl Jung. Jung characterized the hero archetype as bound up with what he called ‘the Great Mother archetype,’ believing that male heroism rests on either resisting the negative mother archetype or, alternatively, acting as servant to a positive mother. Jung’s mother-linked concept of the hero is laid out in his Symbols of Transformationan idea that Peterson reiterates when he treats motherly women as an axis mundi who provide the necessary meaning to male striving, a position I touched on in a 2017 article titled The Gynocentrism of Jordan Peterson

Peterson refers to Freud’s claim that the Oedipus myth is a “failed hero story,” but he proposes, following Jung, that relationships men have with mothers or other feminine figures might be more positive and more inspirational than the taboo interpretation insisted upon by Freud. Whether such relationships with inspiring or nurturing female figures be positive or negative, Peterson appears to miss Freud’s point that both of these options still belie an incestuous entanglement with mother imagos.

In this video for example, Peterson claims that positive mothers give birth to heroes.  He illustrates this point by reference to an image of Hercules who floats on a chaotic ocean in what he refers to as a “feminine boat,” which is a metaphor for an uplifting, positive mother. In this lecture he reminds his female students of their role in creating and sustaining heroes: “That’s what you’re trying to produce if you’re a good mother, it’s this figure that can go out into the unknown armed, accurate and able to pay attention,” and he adds that mothers create male heroes who “can take on the troubles of the world.”

Might this be why Peterson places such strong emphasis on women becoming mothers – that they might breed and nurture the next generation of male heroes? That male heroes might then have a female boat to float their heroic mindset? Further, what might happen if replaced all of Peterson’s inspiring female figures with inspiring male figures?

There is no way, at least in my reading, of understanding Peterson’s kind of feminine-tied heroism as anything other than a mother fixation. The archetypalist James Hillman agrees that “contrary to the classical analytical view, we would suggest that the son who succumbs and the hero who overcomes both take their definition through the relationship with the magna mater… When mother determines the role, then regardless how it is played its essence is always the same: a son. And, as Jung says of assertive heroism:

“Unfortunately, however, this heroic deed has no lasting effects. Again and again the hero must renew the struggle, and always under the symbol of deliverance from the mother”1

What we are dealing with by over-emphasizing the role of mothers is the creation of two male archetypes: Mother’s son (Oedipus), and Mother’s hero (Hercules). Readers will be aware that Hercules’ relationship with female figures leaves him riddled with guilt and pathology, and Oedipus is the ultimate example of malignant, incestuous heroics who is unable to enact his heroism as anything but the result of his relationship with female figures. But the Oedipal path is not the only way to view the male hero, as Hillman describes;

The [maternal] dragon demands battle and the hero myth tells us how to proceed. But suppose we were to step out altogether from the great mother, from Jocasta and Oedipus and the exhausting, blinding heroics…. If Freud was right that Oedipus is the stuff of neurosis, then the corollary follows that Oedipus-heroics are the dynamism of neurosis. Heroism is thus a kind of neurosis, and the heroic ego is neurotic ego. Creative spirit and fertile matter are there embraced and embattled to the destruction of both.2

So far I’ve been referring only to a classical Jungian concept of the male hero, and to Jordan Peterson’s reliance on same.3 The hero archetype in Jung’s writings is intimately bound up with the mother archetype (being a hero for mother / or fighting against the dragon mother), or otherwise tied up with feminine figures (inspiratress, or muse). These are archetypes that can be contrasted with other kinds of male hero who have zero entanglement with feminine figures.

Aside from mother’s heroes described above, there are a number of variations detailed by Joseph Campbell in his famous work The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell wasn’t a Jungian, and he was suspicious of some Jungian dogmas, claiming “I’m not a Jungian! I’m much more interested in diffusion and relationships historically than Jung was, so that the Jungians think of me as a kind of questionable person.”4  Likewise, Campbell’s conceptions of the hero are not beholden to Jungian or Freudian orthodoxies.

Campbell paints the hero’s journey as a stepping off into the unknown, into a more gutsy hero’s journey as compared with stepping out into the world as ‘mother’s hero’ to do her bidding. As Campbell characterized it, a more masculine hero’s journey might entail leaving the mother-world behind and seeking atonement with the father, which Campbell describes; “When the child outgrows the popular idyl of the mother breast and turns to face the world of specialized adult action, it passes, spiritually, into the sphere of the father—who becomes, for his son, the sign of the future task… Whether he knows it or not, and no matter what his position in society, the father is the initiating priest through whom the young being passes on into the larger world.”

As one facebook poster put it;

“The hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell begins by ‘Separation,’ the departure from the status quo. To me this personally I associate this to stepping out of and leaving the gynocentric view of the status quo.”

Leaving behind the gynocentric world is precisely what is entailed. To whit, Campbell writes:

This first stage of the mythological journey—which we have designated the “call to adventure”—signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves, or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delight. The hero can go forth of his own volition to accomplish the adventure, as did Theseus when he arrived in his father’s city, Athens, and heard the horrible history of the Minotaur; or he may be carried or sent abroad by some benign or malignant agent, as was Odysseus, driven about the Mediterranean by the winds of the angered god, Poseidon.5

For the mother-bound hero, however, this broader journey is renounced in favor of remaining within the family complex and enacting a pale heroism on its behalf;

Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered… The literature of psychoanalysis abounds in examples of such desperate fixations. What they represent is an impotence to put off the infantile ego, with its sphere of emotional relationships and ideals. One is bound in by the walls of childhood; the father and mother stand as threshold guardians, and the timorous soul, fearful of some punishment, fails to make the passage through the door and come to birth in the world without.5

Campbell entertained a few gynocentric beliefs of his own that were popular in academia in his time. Mercifully, he formulated the hero’s Journey on the principle of men stepping out into new horizons without the need for maternal or feminine fixations, and on that journey he said it is frequently male figures who serve to encourage, inspire and guide the male hero – fathers, brothers, ancestral spirits, male mentors and guides. Campbell’s hero provides a welcome change from Oedipal hero which sees men going from enmeshment with mothers straight into the married arms of a maternal wife. In other words Campbell’s hero template for men is explicitly Red Pill, as contrasted with gynocentric fixation on parental figures and roles.

Paul Elam, who has devoted much of his life to imparting the wisdom of self-determinism to men, made this incisive response regarding the comparison of Campbell’s and Peterson’s concepts of the hero:

After floating a description of this ‘Campbellian’ kind of hero on Twitter and describing his more masculine pedigree, a few people asked whether this path was suitable for all men; eg., straight, gay, soft, hard, nerd or Canadian lumberjack. The answer is yes, because we all have maternal influences dominating our childhood and have a choice to move into adult life remaining enmeshed or obsessed with feminine forces (Peterson), or otherwise to place the accent on atonement with the world of men and with adventure (Campbell). The choice, as always, is yours.

References:

[1] James Hillman, ‘The Great Mother, Her Son, Her Hero, And The Puer,’ in Fathers and mothersfive papers on the archetypal background of family psychology, Spring Publications (1973)
[2] Karl Kerenyi, James Hillman, Oedipus Variations: Studies in Literature and Psychoanalysis. Spring Publications (1995)
[3] Note: As well as deriving inspiration from Jung’s conception of the hero, Peterson leans heavily on the work of Jungian Erich Neumann (The Great Mother, and The Origins And History of Consciousness) whose writings display an obsession with mother imagery. For readers wanting to investigate how irrational Neumann’s ideas are, see the excellent critique by Wolfgang Giegerich titled ONTOGENY = PHYLOGENY? A Fundamental Critique of Erich Neumann’s Analytical Psychology (1975).
[4] Joseph Campbell. An open life: Joseph Campbell in conversation with Michael Toms. Larson Publications (1988)
[5] Joseph Campbell, The hero with a thousand faces (rev. ed.). Bollingen Series17. (1990)

The Open Court on ‘American Gynocentrism’ (1898)

The following is an excerpt from The Open Court 1898 (pp. 575):

The cause of the new woman has found an enthusiastic champion in M. Jules Bois, who has recently published a very readable book on the subject, L’Eve nouvelle. (Paris: Leon Chailley, 41 Rue de Richelieu. Pp., 381. Price, fr. 3.50.) M. Bois is unstinted in his praise and admiration for the inexhaustible potencies of the fair sex, and reviews their anthropology, or rather, if we may use the word in its literal sense, their gynaecology, less with the eye of the scientist than with the aim of the passionate special pleader.

With many sound and common sense claims he has mingled a few very doubtful sociological theories, evidently at second hand. He proclaims the judgment day of social anthropocentrism, the overthrow of the femme-poupee, the femme-reflet, the femme-victime, above all of that monstrum ingens the femme-homme, and hails the advent of the femme-femme. “Woman, before being a wife, a sweetheart, or a mother, is and should be first a woman. Her full freedom must be conserved.”

This new woman is not a new creation, moreover, but existed in the old woman, who was her undeveloped Platonic archetype. All the sides of her life M. Bois considers in brief, outspoken terms and shows great knowledge of her condition in all countries. We Americans have not so much need to take his admonitions to heart as need Continental Europeans, seeing that captious critics are prone to regard us as suffering rather from gynocentrism than anthropocentrism.

Be that as it may, and sticking still to the geometrical metaphor, what we have both to look forward to in the new dawning millennium is an anthropic, gynecic bifocism, preferably of curves with vanishing ellipticity; when which consummation has been reached, the eternal problem will be solved.

See Also: Historical quotes about USA as champion of extreme gynocentrism

Sexual Dimorphism Vs. Monomorphism in Humans

By Greta Aurora

Studying Sex Differences

When studying sex differences in animals, biologists divide species into two categories: sexually monomorphic and sexually dimorphic. In monomorphic species, males and females can be difficult to tell apart. In dimorphic animals, on the other hand, the sexes differ considerably in terms of size, colour or other physical characteristics. It’s possible to infer a lot of information about the mating behaviour of a species by determining whether it’s sexually monomorphic or dimorphic.

Most animals fit clearly into one of these two categories – but humans do not. We possess both monomorphic and dimorphic features. But before I talk more about humans, let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of monomorphic and dimorphic species.

Sexual Monomorphism

Sexually monomorphic species

When males and females are roughly the same size, it is safe to assume males don’t routinely fight each other to gain access to females. If males actively competed with each other physically, a larger size would be an advantage, so they would’ve evolved to be bigger than the females.

Monomorphic animals are generally monogamous and display long-term pair-bonding. If neither sex is much more colourful than the other, then sexual selection based on physical traits probably doesn’t play a huge role in their mating. Behavioural traits are a lot more important, and females prefer to mate with males who have proven they are willing to share parenting responsibilities.

Females expect to be courted by delaying mating, in order to assess potential mate’s dedication and paternal instincts. Female birds often act helpless to see how the male reacts.

Twin births are common in monomorphic animals, because the two parents can work together to look after more than one offspring at a time. Also, due to monogamous pair bonds, the majority of males get a chance to reproduce. But females do sometimes abandon their long-term mate and form a bond with another.

Some examples of sexually monomorphic species are wolves, gibbons, beavers, swans, penguins and bald eagles.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually dimorphic species

In dimorphic species, two sexes vary physically quite significantly. In many mammals, males are bigger than the females. In some spiders, on the other hand, females are a lot larger than the males. In a lot of birds, males are much more colourful and sing to attract females.

In some species, males have not only evolved to be noticeably larger and stronger than females, but they may also have unique body parts meant to be used as weapons when they fight each other for dominance. These males are also a lot more aggressive than their female counterparts, due to their higher testosterone levels. That’s why these animals are often referred to as tournament species.

In dimorphic species, females are attracted to physical signs of male health and strength. The largest male in the group is often the most desirable partner, because he is able to provide physical protection. These dominant males usually have a number of sexual partners, but they abandon their mates and offspring. Therefore, females tend to be the only parent looking after their young, and therefore they rarely give birth to twins.

Because a minority of dominant males has access to a majority of females, physically weaker males don’t get to reproduce. Wherever polygamy is practiced, there’s going to be a lot of incels.

In these species, the life spans of males and females tend to differ significantly, too, with females living longer than males.

Where Do Humans Fit in the Picture?

Humans may seem monomorphic in some ways and dimorphic in other ways. Of course, in most cases, it’s easy to tell men and women apart. But we don’t look as different from one another as, for instance, male and female deer, lions or peacocks do.

Although the average man is larger than the average woman, the difference in size is not as significant as in many dimorphic species. The most noteworthy physical sex difference in humans is in upper body strength: the average man has 75% more arm muscle mass than the average woman. The overlap between male and female distributions of upper body strength is less than 10%. This has some crucial implications in everyday life, especially with regards to physically demanding professions.

Men also tend to have higher bone density, which makes them less vulnerable to injury. This difference may not matter much at an everyday setting, but it could be a matter of life and death in the battlefield.

Muscle mass and bone density are largely influenced by testosterone. This hormone also has a significant effect on behaviour, and men clearly have a lot more of it than women do. This fact alone could possibly tilt the scale towards dimorphism in humans, but it’s not quite that simple.

It is true that the average man is more aggressive than the average woman, and testosterone is to blame for this. However, some women are actually more aggressive than the average man, despite having nowhere near the same testosterone levels. It has been established that more testosterone doesn’t make a woman more aggressive. In fact, it’s not clear what causes aggression in women. There are a few theories, centred mostly on brain function. One of the most likely candidates is the amygdala, but no one knows for sure.

This example illustrates that biological differences don’t necessarily make a species dimorphic, because biology doesn’t always translate clearly into behaviour.

Let’s examine some personality traits to see if we can identify any obvious differences in behaviour! Looking at the Big Five personality traits is a good starting point. These are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The Big Five personality traits

Numerous psychologists have replicated the same results when studying gender differences in these five traits. No one has found any significant differences in conscientiousness. In openness, some differences arise only if we break this trait down into several constituent parts. For example, women tend to score higher on their appreciation for aesthetic experiences, while men are more drawn to intellectual experiences. But the sexes don’t differ in their overall levels of openness.

Women tend to score slightly higher on extraversion than men do, but again, this is not a very pronounced difference. Women also score higher on neuroticism, which is the amount of negative emotions experienced. This probably results from women spending all their time with their infants after giving birth. In order to protect a tiny, very vulnerable baby from harm, women have to be incredibly cautious and protective. That’s why women generally worry more than men do. To paraphrase Jordan Peterson, the feminine unit is not woman by herself, but woman and child. The female nervous system is that of a mother.

The most significant personality difference between the sexes is in agreeableness. But even here, there is a great overlap, and the differences only become evident at the extremes of the curve. What we see here is that the most agreeable people are likely to be women, and the most disagreeable people are likely to be men. Combined with high testosterone levels, this is the reason most violent criminals are male. But the majority of men and women don’t diverge very much in terms of agreeableness.

Distributions of agreeableness in the sexes

Those who are following my work will know that I’m fascinated by evolutionary psychology. But the more research we read from this field, the more we’re going to find ourselves focusing on the differences between the sexes, especially with regards to mating. Evolutionary psychologists tend to think in terms of extremes: they represent men as highly aggressive and competitive in their pursuit of professional and reproductive success, and desiring not much more than youth and beauty in a woman. And they represent women as desperate to secure a successful partner, despite knowing he won’t be faithful. In this hugely simplified world, men and women both want one thing, albeit a different one: men only want sex, and women only want a family.

Although evolutionary psychologists like David M. Buss, Geoffrey Miller and Robert Wright have made significant contributions to our understanding of human nature, they often fail to look at the larger picture. They tend to apply the male competition – female choice model to human mating, which is generally true for sexually dimorphic species. But human mating actually resembles that of monomorphic animals is various ways.

Human males have traditionally been involved in parenting, and they are therefore a lot more selective about their long-term mates than the males of dimorphic species. That’s why women make such a great effort to look desirable.

Also, women tend to choose their partner more on the basis of their personality, as well as their ability to provide resources and their inclination to commit long-term. Women still carry the heavier reproductive burden, but they are not necessarily choosier than men are – they just take different considerations into account.

Proponents of sexual dimorphism in humans will point out that women generally live longer than men, and polygamy has been common throughout our history. It is true that men have traditionally died younger, but that used to be mostly due to fighting in wars and working in dangerous environments, such as mines. The life expectancy gap has been consistently narrowing. For example, in the UK between 1991 and 2014, it shrunk from 3.8 to 2.4 years.

As far as polygamy is concerned, it’s true that it had been permitted through most of history, in many different cultures. There were times when it was necessary, exactly because so many men had died in war. But, for the most part, monogamous relationships are the norm, even in societies that allow polygamy.

It’s important to note that our species is highly adaptable to extreme conditions. For instance, if needed, we can survive on an exclusively carnivorous or herbivorous diet for a long time. Thanks to our creativity, we can survive in a desert, as well as in Antarctica. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that our mating strategies are not carved in stone, either.

We don’t have to commit ourselves to being just one thing. We must accept that we have some monomorphic and some dimorphic characteristics, and we can express these in various combinations, depending on the challenges we face.

As neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky said,

“We are not a classic pair-bonded species. We are not a polygamous, tournament species either… What we are, officially, is a tragically confused species.”

We are not necessarily confused, though… We have a lot of potential, and we are the masters and mistresses of adaptation.

Frau Minne: Originator of Today’s Gender Roles

Gendered customs come in a variety of different models, and tend to have variance from culture to culture, and era to era. Each mythological representation of a god or goddess, for example, shows a different slant on gendered behavior; there’s no ‘one gendered model fits all.’

In the context of mythology I like to cite the example of Frau Minne, a medieval personification or ‘goddess’ as she has been called, who offers a template for gender roles in the context of romantic love – with romantic love being our most popular trope for organizing sexual relationships today.

Frau Minne likes men to look up to women as pure and transcendent creatures, encouraging men to serve them from a more humble position. In the words of Irving Singer,

Courtly love is often said to have placed women on a pedestal and to have made men into knights whose heroic lives would henceforth belong to elevated ladies. The idea arises from the fact that men frequently used the language of chivalry to express their servile relationship to whatever woman they loved, and sometimes they described her as a divinity toward which they might aspire but could never hope to equal… that he must prove himself worthy of her and so advance upward, step by step, toward a culminating union at her level; that everything noble and virtuous, everything that makes life worth living, proceeds from women, who are even described as the source of goodness itself. But though the lady now discourses with her lover, the men frequently cast themselves into the typical posture of fin’amors. On their knees, hands clasped, they beg the beloved to accept their love, their life, their service, and to do with them as she pleases.1

What sociologists like to refer to as “respectful relationships” can be seen a euphemism for Frau Minnie’s call to establish a gender hierarchy where women are cast as ‘nobles of love’ in relation to chivalric males – with women being spoken of with classist characterizations such as “esteem,” “respect,” “dignity,” “worth,” “praise” and “status.”

It would be a brave person who would attempt to count how many Offices for the Status of Women exist throughout the Western world today.

A man’s role, according to Frau Minne, is to “place a Lady on a pedestal” and to offer himself to her in a position of sacrifice and service. Minne’s archetypal formula constitutes the heart of romantic love, all three waves of feminism, and the Jungian infatuation with the notion of “the feminine” (which is the Jungian counterpart of feminism). These systems of devotion to women’s esteem each point back to the vision of Frau Minne whose religion, according to Joseph Campbell, triumphed over Christianity during the late Middle Ages to become our dominant worldview — which is why today the romantic love literary genre outsells all of the world’s holy books *combined*.

In summary, Frau Minne provides an example of how gender concepts are a result, to some extent, of the archetypal imagination.

Reference:
[1] Irving Singer, The Nature of Love: The Modern World, University of Chicago Press, 1984


For a longer exploration of this theme, see: ‘Frau Minne’ the Goddess who steals men’s hearts: a pictorial excursion

‘The Routledge Handbook on Identity in Byzantium’ offers critique of gynocentrism-theory

The following excepts are from The Routledge Handbook on Identity in Byzantium. The chapter (23), written by Adam J. Goldwyn is titled ‘Byzantium in the American Alt-Right Imagination: Paradigms of the Medieval Greek Past Among Men’s Rights Activists and White Supremacists.’


Despite this over-the-top title insinuating that all men’s issues groups are “alt-right” (a false claim) and that they are somehow aligned with “white supremacists” (also a false association), Adam has nevertheless utilized some valid source material for his critique of the theory that cultural gynocentrism emerged during the Middle Ages, and has presented it with some fidelity. I have limited the following excerpts to the author’s critique of material on this website – gynocentrism.com. At the Notes section at bottom, I provide a few corrections to the author’s comments.


* * *

The most detailed articulation of MRA views of the Middle Ages can be found in the work of Peter Wright, whose website gynocentrism.com exemplifies these trends of men’s gender based subjugation to women and the development of specialised pseudo-jargon for describing it.a Indeed, its tagline, “Gynocentric culture was born in the Middle Ages with the practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. It continues today relatively unchanged,”12 with its Greco Latinate title, reflects the importance of specialised pseudo-academic language to the formation of MRA ideology, while also providing the Middle Ages as the moment for the rise of this new system of male oppression.13

Wright’s “timeline of gynocentric culture” centres the medieval romance in this narrative of historical development. He begins by arguing that “Priοr to 1200 AD broadspread gynocentric culture simply did not exist, despite evidence of isolated gynocentric acts and events. It was only in the Middle Ages that gynocentrism developed cultural complexity and became a ubiquitous enduring cultural norm.”14 Indeed, Wright identifies 1102 as the year when “Gynocentrism meme first introduced,” ascribing the fault to William ΙΧ of Aquitaine, who, in addition to writing troubadour poetry, “part[ed] with the tradition of fighting wars strictly οn behalf of man, king, God and country,” as exemplified by his having “the image of his mistress painted on his shield.”15

The second entry in the timeline comes in 1152, when William’s granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine began to “utilise poetry and song for setting expectations of how men should act around them, thus was born the attitude of romantic chivalry promoting the idea that men need to devote themselves to serving the honour, purity and dignity of women.”16 Thus, medieval romance becomes the vehicle by which gynocentric values were spread. Other dates in the timeline also suggest the centrality of the medieval romance: Wright specifies 1180, when Marie de Champagne directs Chretien de Troyes to write “a love story about Lancelot and Guinevere elaborating the nature of gynocentric chivalry” and the 1188 publication of Andreas Capellanus’s The Art of Courtly Love as moments of particular importance.17 The twelfth-century origins of gynocracy from within the genre of the romance is also important for MRA use of Byzantine literature since the twelfth century saw a similar revival of romance writing in Constantinople.18

For Men’s Rights Activists, the past is not a thing that merits dispassionate study for its own sake; rather, its value lies in how their interpretation of it can reveal the ways in which society continues to empower women at the expense of men. Thus, the timeline’s concluding entry, “21st century: Gynocentrism continues,” makes explicit the connection between the deep history of gynocentrism and the influence of the medieval romance οn contemporary society:

The modern feminist movement has rejected some chivalric customs such as opening car doors or giving up a seat οn a bus for women; however, they continue to rely οn ‘the spirit of chivalry’ to attain new privileges for women: opening car doors has become opening doors into university or employment via affirmative action; and giving up seats οn busses has become giving up seats in boardrooms and political parties via quotas. Despite the varied goals, contemporary gynocentrism remains a project for maintaining and increasing women’s power with the assistance of chivalry.19

Ιn addition to giving examples of how the underlying principles of medieval chivalry manifest themselves in modern culture, Wright’s conflation of feminism with the Civil Rights movement is also a standard tactic in MRA rhetoric. Donna Zuckerberg refers to the transference of racial discourse to gender discourse as “the appropriative bait-and-switch” by which MRA members “appropriate to disastrous effect a topic that is about race and the legacy of slavery and use it to support an ideology that allows white men to restrict women’s reproductive freedom by limiting access to abortion and birth control.”20 Thus, in this instance, a historically informed reading would acknowledge that affirmative action and ending restrictions οn bus seating were not policies rooted in gender; rather, they were policies of racial desegregation. The language of civil rights is thus turned to the empowerment of MRA.

[…]

Ιn “The Birth of Chivalric Love,” for instance, Peter Wright defines several key terms, each of which has its own modern parallel. “Damseling,” for instance, “is a popular shorthand for women’s projection of themselves as damsels in distress. [ … W]omen have been taught from generation to generation to mimic juvenile characteristics via the use of makeup and vocal intonations, along with a feigning of distress typical of children–which collectively works to extract utility of men.”22 Having laid out the historical roots of damseling in the Middle Ages and in the medieval romance, Wright applies this paradigm to contemporary politics in a post entitled “Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part two).”23

Arguing that damseling has “been referred to as grievance feminism, victim feminism, and even fainting-couch feminism,” Wright offers the contemporary example of Anita Sarkeesian, who urged that game designers diversify the kinds of characters and plot arcs available to female characters in video games, concluding that “Sarkeesian’s case is particularly poignant because, from the many subjects she could have highlighted to damsel herself for attention, she chose to damsel herself over the very existence of damsels. This demonstrates that even when disavowing the medieval pageant of damsels in distress, feminists continue to enact it even while obfuscating their complicity in the tradition.”24 Thus, the medieval archetype of the damsel in distress becomes redefined in a way that actually gives the woman agency over the men in the medieval romance, and this then becomes the paradigm for modern ways of considering gendered power dynamics.

Similarly, Wright argues that “Courtly Ladies (= Feminists). Feminists today refer to courtly ladies of the late Middle Ages as the first feminists.”25 Having redefined a commonly understood medieval concept with a counterintuitive new definition, Wright then goes οn to make the connection between medieval and modern: “Not surprisingly this was the time [12th to 14th centuries] when powerful women were able to establish the female-headed “courts of love” which acted in a comparable way to today’s Family Courts in that both arbitrated disputes between couples.”26 The family court, as an institution in which women’s parental rights and bodily and economic autonomy are sometimes guaranteed by the force of the state, is a frequent target of Men’s Rights Activism. Parallel to the concept of the Courtly Lady as feminist is the Troubadour, further subdivided into Troubadour Ι and Troubadour ΙΙ. Troubadour Ι is a “PUA [pick-up artist] and Game promoter [ … whose] job was to spread the word about the virtues of chivalric love through music, song, poetry, and storytelling.”27

MRAs oppose this type of troubadour because, even though their behaviour is insincere in that they only perform chivalry as a way to “gain sex,” they nevertheless support the intellectual underpinnings of chivalry and thus gynocentrism.28 Troubadour ΙΙ is defined as “Protofeminist Men Sometimes derogatorily named ‘manginas’. Troubadour ΙΙ is a sincere believer in chivalric love, unlike Troubadour Ι, who uses the rhetoric of chivalry only to advance his own ends. Thus, where Troubadour Ι and Troubadour ΙΙ have the same function in supporting chivalry, Troubadour ΙΙ is a figure of greater scorn insofar as he voluntarily submits to this system: “Think of today’s version being the typical protofeminist men who work slavishly to pass οn the message of their feminist superiors, much as these troubadours slaved to advocate the narcissistic idiosyncrasies of their Ladies.”29

None of these figures is the subject of as much derision as the “White Knight,” whom Wright defines as “such heroic individuals, men who are gallant in so many ways, but mostly the wrong ways such as showing-off to undeserving women and concomitantly delighting in competing with and hurting other men.”30 Wright exemplifies this concept by comparing the ‘Έnterprise of the Green Shield with the White Lady … a chivalric order founded by Jean le Maingre and twelve knights in 1399 committing themselves to the protection of women” with the contemporary “White Ribbon Campaign in which male ‘ambassadors’ pledge an oath to all of womanhood to never condone, excuse or remain silent about violence against women, and to intervene and take action against any man accused of wrongdoing against a woman.”31

Wright here suggests that men who willingly submit to women are foolish and contemptible: these men abandon their own agency, believe all women who claim they have been the subject of violence, and, as importantly, pledge to fight other men. Such groups thus endanger men’s rights both by subordinating men to women and by acting violently against other men. This is particularly wrongheaded in that MRA ideology suggests that it is in fact men, not women, who are the object of gender-based violence and that men should never do harm to other men for the sake of women. From this, Wright again suggests the continuity between medieval and modern ideas of gynocracy: “The similarities in these gallant missions make clear that the lineage of white knights has progressed seamlessly into the modern era.”32 Taken together, these (and the many other instances of medieval redefinition) create a shared in-group idiolect that allows men to analyse both literary texts and contemporary behaviour.

Notes

12 “Gynocentrism and its Cultural Origins,” accessed August 20, 2019, http://www.gynocentrism.com/.
13 Zuckerberg notes that the “misuse of the language of scholarly interpretation” is also a key feature of MRA rhetoric (Dead White Men, 43).
14 Peter Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” October 11, 2013, accessed August 20, 2019, https://gynocentrism.com/2013/10/11/timeline-of-gynocentric-culture/. As a demonstration of the way that these ideas migrate around the manosphere, this timeline was also posted to avoiceformen.com, perhaps the main MRA site, accessed August 20, 2019, https://www.avoiceformen.com/gynocentrism/timeline-of-gynocentric-culture/.
15 For the significance of the figure of the troubadour to MRA thought, see below.
16 Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture.”
17 Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” also suggests, without any evidence, that “Chretien de Troyes abandoned this project before it was completed because he objected to the implicit approval of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere that Marie had directed him to write.”
18 Though the contextual nuances of the rise of romance writing and the classification of various texts within the Byzantine revival are subjects of much debate, the broad contours of the field as outlined in seminal work οn the subject, Roderick Beaton’s The Medieval Greek Romance (Cambridge: CUP, 1989), remain largely intact. The revival is broken down into roughly two periods: those of the twelfth century produced under the Komnenian dynasty in the twelfth century and hence called the Komnenian novels and those published under the Palaiologan dynasty from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. For translations of the three extant Komnenian novels, see Elizabeth Jeffreys, Four Byzantine Novels: Theodore Prodromos, Rhodanthe and Dosikles; Eumathios Makrembolites, Hysrnine and Hysminias; Constantine Manasses, Aήstandros and Kallithea; Niketas Eugenianos, Drosilla and Charikles (Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2012). For translations of three of the Palaiologan romances, see Gavin Betts, Three Byzantine Novels (London: Roudedge, 2019) and, more recently, Kostas Yiavis, Imperios and Margarona: Rhymed Version (Athens: Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece, 2019). For a recent scholarly overview of the Palaiologan romances, see Adam Goldwyn and Ingela Nilsson, eds., Reading the Late Byzantine Romance: Α Handbook (Cambridge: CUP, 2019).
19 For Zuckerberg’s broader analysis of this as it relates to the appropriation of race, gender, and classical literature, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 42.
20 Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 41.
21 Adam Kostakis, “Pig Latin,” May 24, 2014, accessed August 20, 2010, https://gynocentrism.com/2014/05/24/pig-latin/. For “frame theory” or “frame control” as an MRA rhetorical strategy, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 39.
22 Peter Wright, “Damseling, Chivalry and Courtly Love (Part One),” July 3, 2016, accessed August 20,
2019, https://gynocentrism.com/2016/07/03/damseling-chivalry-and-courtly-love-part-one/.
23 Wright, “Damseling (Part Two).
24 Wright, “Damseling (Part Two).
25 Peter Wright, “The Birth of Chivalric Love,” July 14, 2013, accessed August 20, 2020, https://gynocentrism.com/2013/07/14/the-birth-of-chivalric-love/.
26 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
27 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
28 For which, see Zuckerberg, Dead White Men, 2018, in which she notes that “Members of the men’s rights movement see pickup artists as participating in and contributing to gynocentrism; by placing so much value οn women as sex objects, they inadvertently afford women power over them. Pickup artists, meanwhile, believe that sexual success is a key element of being a true alpha male, and they believe those in the men’s rights movement channel their sexual frustration into social activism because they are unable to convince women to have sex with them” (17).
29 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
30 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.” “Gallantry” is another term of derision drawn from the Middle Ages to function in the present: gallantry is derided as a form of male acquiescence to gynocracy through which it lost its militaristic connotations and became associated with indulgent behavior towards women.
31 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”
32 Wright, “Birth of Chivalric Love.”

_______________________________________


Comments by Peter Wright

Paragraph 1. The author makes a claim that I use “pseudo jargon” and offers as the only example a google search byline: “Gynocentric culture was born in the Middle Ages with the practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. It continues today relatively unchanged.”

The words used here, such as ‘chivalry’ and ‘courtly love,’ hardly amount to pseudo jargon, nor does the proposition that courtly love entails a degree of pedestalization of women – a practice that can be fairly referred to as gynocentric. The only other word cited as pseudo jargon is “damseling” which is shorthand for the universally recognized trope of the “Damsel in distress” – which again hardly amounts to difficult, or esoteric pseudo jargon. I will leave it to the author to clarify whether there are more troublesome words that he didn’t mention in his critique, or perhaps by ‘pseudo jargon’ he is referring to common parlance unfamiliar in academic fields such as his own which are infected with gender-studies jargon?

Paragraph 3. Quote: “For Men’s Rights Activists, the past is not a thing that merits dispassionate study for its own sake; rather, its value lies in how their interpretation of it can reveal the ways in which society continues to empower women at the expense of men.” Could not the preceding charge be made of the feminist lens which has, over the last 50 years, completely dominated most academic readings of history? If the answer is reasonably a yes, then a dispassionate emphasis on the gynocentric facets of historical writings & societies is a necessary step to balance the academic ledger.

Paragraph 4. Quote: “Ιn addition to giving examples of how the underlying principles of medieval chivalry manifest themselves in modern culture, Wright’s conflation of feminism with the Civil Rights movement is also a standard tactic in MRA rhetoric…” I’m not aware that I have done this anywhere on this website nor in my published books, and in fact don’t remember using the phrase “civil rights movement” in relation to feminism anywhere. This charge appears to be a completely fabricated one, as applied to my work. Not to put too fine a line on this topic I have, nevertheless, lost count of the thousands of feminists (both obscure and prominent) who do compare the feminist movement with the civil rights movement for African Americans – and I could provide an extremely long list of citations for same.

The author continues, quote: “Thus, in this instance, a historically informed reading would acknowledge that affirmative action and ending restrictions οn bus seating were not policies rooted in gender; rather, they were policies of racial desegregation.” Again, the ‘bait-and-switch’ appears to be the author’s own, substituting a bizarre strawman in place of proper analysis of the written word. Perhaps the author can enlighten about which offending text he is referring to.

Footnote 17. Quote: Wright, “Timeline of Gynocentric Culture,” also suggests, without any evidence, that “Chretien de Troyes abandoned this project before it was completed because he objected to the implicit approval of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere that Marie had directed him to write.” – The source for this sentence was and remains hyperlinked in the original paragraph on gynocentrism.com (from its first publication date in October 2013). The sentence source is the Wikipedia article on Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart which reads in part, “Marie de Champagne was well known for her interest in affairs of courtly love, and is believed to have suggested the inclusion of this theme into the story. For this reason, it is said that Chrétien could not finish the story himself because he did not support the adulterous themes.” [Wikipedia citation for this claim is: Uitti, Karl D. (1995). Chrétien de Troyes Revisited. New York, New York: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-4307-3.].

*Errors like those detailed above are extremely common in gender-studies informed writers – writers who rush to the apriori goal of establishing non-feminist approaches to literature as a bogeyman. That said, Adam Goldwyn’s above piece, while carrying several flawed assumptions, provides a superior effort to that of Christa Hoddap whose book on men’s issues literature titled Men’s Rights, Gender, and Social Media is saturated with transliteration errors, errors of attribution (sloppily ascribing several texts to the wrong authors), citing of debunked and out-of-date assumptions from gender-studies writers, and ultimately offering conclusions that reaffirm misandric feminist fantasies about non-feminist, male-focused writings. In her favor Hodapp does, like Goldwyn, isolate some representative sources of literature to analyze (as compared with the standard feminist practice of citing unrepresentative, extreme, outlier texts) even as her conclusions amount to hyperbolic misrepresentations for the most part. I will provide a short review of Hodapp’s book in future, if time allows.

Women Viewing Men as Dogs: A Study in Gynocentrism & Misandry

The following book titles are all aimed at female readers and were collected from a cursory glance at Amazon. This sample is nowhere near the entirety of those available in this, er, genre – but they are sufficient to paint a picture of how millions of women around the world apparently view relationships with men as experiments in animal behaviorism and manipulation strategies, with the aim of controlling men.

The tables of contents reveal the books as patently disrespectful toward men, misandric and certainly repulsive for any self-respecting male. But for the adventurous reader who would like to look more closely at the content, each of the titles are searchable at Amazon.com.

Early Men’s Movement: 1810–1960

 

The following is a sampling of men’s human rights initiatives constituting the early men’s rights movement, a list that could be easily expanded into thousands of initiatives by the diligent researcher. Bear in mind that although we are talking of a single men’s movement, it is more accurately defined as the aggregate of separate initiatives in the same manner as separate feminist initiatives are spoken of as one movement:

1810 A network of meeting places under the collective name ‘Henpeck’d Husbands Club’ are established for men who were enduring abusive behavior from wives. The club set up dozens of chapters across Britain and in Europe, which offered support and advice for men enduring emotional or physical abuse. 

1856  A long newspaper article entitled A Word for Men’s Rights is published in Putnam’s Monthly, which discusses sexist laws that oppressed men and benefited women, including the practice of frivolous, unjustified lawsuits for supposed breach of marriage promise.

1857  A Mr. Todd proposes a “Men’s Rights Conference” be held in response to exaggerations of the women’s rights movement.

1875  Article entitled Women’s and Men’s Rights appeared in the 1875 volume Historic and literary miscellany by G.M.D. Bloss

1886  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes his first major commentary on gynocentrism and misandry, ‘Some Bourgeois Idols; Or Ideals, Reals, and Shams.’

1890s  New York Alimony Club (informal)

1896  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, co-authors book, The Legal Subjection of Men (Twentieth Century Press).

1896  Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band, Atlanta Georgia. Formed to fight against a national campaign headed by activist Charlotte Smith (Women’s Rescue League) to promote a tax on bachelors. Another, similar effort was made by the Hoboken Bachelor’s Club in Hoboken, New Jersey.

1898  League for Men’s Rights formed by Mr. William Austin in London. The movement is reported in newspapers of the time as a “Men’s Rights Movement”.

1908  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, republishes his 1896 book, The Legal Subjection of Men (New Age Press)

1911  Anti-Alimony Association, New York

1912  Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes a landmark book ‘The Fraud of Feminism’ in which he called feminism a fraud and discussed “female privilege”

1912  Anti-alimony leader: George Esterling – Denver, Colorado

1925  Samuel Reid, “Alimony Sam,” the “alimony martyr” of California

1926  Men’s Rights organizations formed Bund für Männerrechte, Vienna, founded by Sigurd von Hoeberth (Höberth) and Leopold Kornblüh in March 1926. In January 1927 the Bund split into two organizations circa: Aequitas (Hoeberth), Justicia (Kornblueh); journal “Self-Defense”

1926  Themisverbandes (Men’s Rights organization for female members, Sigurd Höberth von Schwarzthal). The founding of this organization led to a schism in Bund January

1927  Aequitas Weltbund für Männerrechte (Aequitas Word Federation for Men’s Rights) (international), Vienna, following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This was Sigurd Hoeberth’s new organization for men’s rights which welcomed female members.

1927  Justitia Verein für Männer und Familienrecht (Justitia Society for Men’s Rights and Family Rights), Vienna, founded by Leopold Kornblüh following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This group did not allow female members.

1927  Alimony Club of Illinois, Society of Disgruntled Alimony Payers, Chicago, founded by Dr. Vernon B. Cooley and second wife, Mrs. Bessie Cooley

1927  Alimony Payers Protective Association, led by Robert Gilbert Ecob

1927  Milwaukee Alimony Club, Wisconsin

1927  Fifty-Fifty League, London; manifesto “The Sex War”

1928  Tibet Men’s Rights organization (name of org. unknown), founded by Amouki

1929  World’s League for the Rights of Men’ formed in the UK, advocating for male issues, and holding an anti-“ultra-feminist” stance. The League had chapters in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, and other Continental centres.

1930  D. A. M. Association, Kansas City, Missouri, founded by French L. Nelson

1930  National Sociological League, Dr. Alexander Dallek, executive secretary

1931  Organization “The Modern Men’s Rights Movement” (formation date unknown) publishes broadsheet, The Gauntlet outlining goals for gender equality and “emancipation of man from feminist domination.”

1932  Alimony Club of New York County (Adolph Wodiska) (cited Jan. 9, 1932)

1932  Ohio Alimony Association, Cleveland

1933  National Divorce Reform League, Theodore Apstein (cited Feb. 14, 1933)

1933  Men’s rights” org ‘1933 Men’s Association’ started by lieutenant colonel R. A. Broughton, England

1935  Alimony Reform League, New York

1948  Society for Men’s Rights forms to address various forms of social and legal discrimination against men, London.

1948  Men’s rights magazine ‘Men’s Review’ launched in England, with at least two consecutive volumes circulated across the country.

1960 Divorce Racket Busters (incorporated 1961 as U.S.A. Divorce Reform, Inc.) – California – Reuben Kidd. This initiative continued to operate into the late 1960’s.

Feature image: Ernest Belfort Bax.

For a more detailed overview of the Men’s Human Rights Movement,
click on the following Amazon title:

BDSM/Masochism

The following articles explore the similarity of courtly & romantic love with the structural practices of BDSM.