A New Psychology for Men

Violent Mind
By Peter Wright (first published in 2015)

Psychology clings to a universal model – that men are incorrigibly flawed and require a dismantling of their identities, habits, and preferences before being reconstructed according to a feminist model of masculinity. All modern therapies have this basic premise in common.

For example, one of the more popular models of men and masculinity to emerge in the last 20 years, promoted as A New Psychology of Men, is described in the following terms by one of its founders:

The new psychology of men has emerged over the past 15 years within the larger fields of men’s studies and gender studies. Informed by the academic breakthroughs of feminist scholarship, the new psychology of men examines masculinity not as a normative referent, but rather as a problematic construct. In so doing, it provides a framework for a psychological approach to men and masculinity that questions traditional norms of the male role and views some male problems as unfortunate byproducts of the male gender role socialization process.1

Since it’s inception this “new” psychology of men has restated traditional gender stereotypes about men; that they are flawed, violent, emotional primitives in need of reconstruction. This supposedly “new” model has also been developed into a training course teaching therapists how to effectively work with men.

The course, designed by former American Psychological Association President Ronald Levant, is based on two principles held almost universally by therapists working with men; a) that patriarchy theory represents the real world, and b) that males are stunted in their emotional processing abilities. Let’s look at these two pillars of therapy.

Patriarchy theory

As with most psychologists and therapists today, Levant is informed by feminist-inspired patriarchy theory which posits that all men have power over all women and that such power is enforced by men’s violence. The theoretical vision, trumpets Levant, provides a “new” way of looking at men:

What scholars in the area of men’s psychology have attempted is nothing less than a reconstruction of masculinity. It starts from the recognition that there is a problem, and locates the roots of that problem in the male gender role… The new psychology of men strives to address the feminist critique of patriarchy while remaining empathetic to men.2

As many readers will know there is nothing “new” in this characterization of men, which we can summarize with the phrase, ‘Women have problems, and men are the problem.’ As Levant stresses, the primary approach to therapy with men is first to problematize them; “It starts from the recognition that there is a problem.”

Jigsaw puzzle pieces forming a human head. Conceptual piece

In this model men are viewed as being problems before they even meet the therapist, who ignores the possibility that men’s problems may lie outside themselves in a world of grief they did nothing to deserve.

In other words, whatever the presenting complaints of the client they are immediately dismissed by the practitioner in order to coerce the client into an ideological mold of manhood. The practitioner, depending on their degree of indoctrination, may actually believe this will address the client’s issues but even a cursory examination of the “masculinity as identified problem” approach reveals numerous, deep flaws. In fact, this approach proves to be abusive in any reasonable interpretation of the word.

As I explain below there are other approaches to working with men that don’t presume they are flawed and need fixing. That approach begins with asking men what they experience in life, and what they might want to achieve in therapy, and actually listening to their answers. Therapists may be interested to hear men speak of a range of experiences and goals wholly unrelated to patriarchal domination of women and children.

Men as emotionally dumb

Referring to men as dumb has the double-meaning of both lacking in intelligence and being mute. This forms the basis of Levant’s theory that men possess little emotional awareness about themselves or others, that they are lacking in emotional intelligence, and that even were they to discover some emotional awareness they would not know how to express it in words, such is the depth of male lacuna. He refers to this problem in men as alexithymia – a Greek term meaning no words for emotions, insisting that most North American males suffer from this syndrome.

Levant states that “it is so very widespread among men that I have called it normative male alexithymia,”3 a syndrome that by definition only men and boys can be labelled with. There even exists a Normative Male Alexithymia Scale used to assess the depth of men’s need for therapeutic correction. Levant states,

One of the most far-reaching consequences of male gender-role socialization is the high incidence among men of… the inability to identify and describe one’s feelings in words… men are often genuinely unaware of their emotions. Lacking this emotional awareness, when asked to identify their feelings, they tend to rely on their cognition to try to logically deduce how they should feel. They cannot do what is automatic for most women -simply sense inwardly, feel the feeling, and let the verbal description come to mind.4

This claim, that men are “unaware of their emotions,” an assumption so typical of psychology’s view of men, has been a cornerstone of the therapeutic world for the last 40 years. And it is demonstrably wrong.

Dementia and aging as memory loss concept for brain cancer decay or an Alzheimer's disease with the medical icon of an old rusting piece of painted metal in the shape of a human head with rust as losing mind function.

According to the vast majority of studies on emotional processing, men and boys are able to identify emotional arousal in themselves and others equally to women, emotions like jealousy, love, anger, sadness, anxiety, etc. But men and boys choose to regulate that emotional arousal not by verbalizing it so much (women’s preferred method) but by taking intelligent action. A woman for example might talk with her melancholic friend about what is worrying her in order to cheer her up; the man may invite the same melancholic friend to the movies; both responses -talking, or acting- serve to intelligently modulate emotions.

What Levant has failed to discriminate are 1. recognizing emotions, and 2. verbalizing them. He, and so many psychologists who came before and after him, assume that by not verbalizing emotion males must also have failed to recognize emotions. Countless studies however show this to be a false conclusion.5 Men, like women, can sense the full range of emotions – but they may choose to respond to that knowledge in a different manner to women.

Breaking with the past – starting afresh

Repackaging patriarchy theory is a move we no longer wish to make – at least not if we wish to genuinely help men. Increasing numbers of men are tired of waiting for the psychotherapeutic industry to drag its collective ass out of gynocentrism-land to develop a genuine new model for tackling male psychology.

To attain that model there has to occur a break with patriarchy theory and assumptions that men and boys are emotional dummies. As in a court of law we begin the new therapy with an assumption that men are not only innocent until proven guilty, but that ‘men are good’ to use Tom Golden’s iconic phrase.

Nor will work with men be savvy until it admits the realities of cultural misandry, gynocentrism and their undeniably crushing effects on modern males. The daily assaults on men and boys from advertizing, mental health services, media, family courts, pharmaceutical companies, education from grade school to grad school, anti-male bigots and ideologically driven governance must be included in the picture.

These are problems which are deleterious to all aspects of men’s lives, including mental health. The mental health industry is a huge part of that problem, not a part of the solution.

A sane alternative to all this must disabuse men, women and society of the following myths:

● men belong to a patriarchy and take that model as their life script;
● men are emotionally inept;
● men are default potential sexual predators;
● men are violent and uncaring;
● men are not necessary as parents;
● men are unable to commit;
● men are emotionally unavailable;
● men are not as human or deserving as women.

The things we do want to include in a new mental health model are:

● enhanced understanding of misandry, gynocentrism and their consequences;
● recognizing and honoring men’s emotional acumen;
● recognizing and combating misandry and gynocentrism in the mental health industry;
● professional understanding of the ways men differ from women in how they cope with life;
● a prohibition on the practice of expecting men to emulate women’s emotional processes;
● an allowance of men’s legitimate anger without infecting them with ideological shame;
● the steadfast belief that men’s issues, pain and needs are as important as anyone else’s.

These points alone are sufficient to create a revolution in the way we work with men. As a truly new approach to men’s welfare and psychological health, An Ear For Men has been launched and the coming Men’s Mental Health Network will be promoting these principles and providing a range of specialized services from professionals who have been thoroughly vetted in their knowledge of men’s issues, and in their compassion for the same.

References:

[1] Ronald F. Levant, ‘The new psychology of men,’ in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 27(3), Jun 1996, 259-265
[2] Ronald F. Levant, Men and Emotions: A psychoeducational approach – course material, Newbridge Publications, p.4, 1997
[3] Ronald F. Levant, Men and Emotions: A psychoeducational approach – course material, Newbridge Publications, p.9, 1997
[4] Ronald F. Levant, William S Pollack, A New Psychology of Men, pp.238-239, 1995
[5] For example, this Finnish study shows that while women were more proficient at verbalizing feelings, men and women were equally proficient at identifying feelings: Salminen, J. K. ‘Prevalence of alexithymia and its association with sociodemographic variables in the general population of Finland,’ Journal of psychosomatic research, vol. 46, no1, pp. 75-82, 1999

See also: Narrative Therapy with Men by Paul Elam and Peter Wright

Gynocentric Feminism – by Iris Young

Below is an excerpt from a 1985 paper entitled “Humanism, Gynocentrism, and Feminist Politics” by feminist Iris M. Young – PW.

iris20marion20young

Iris M. Young

Gynocentric feminism defines the oppression of women very differently from humanist feminism. Women’s oppression consists not of being prevented from participating in full humanity, but of the denial and devaluation of specifically feminine virtues and activities by an overly instrumentalized and authoritarian masculinist culture. Unlike humanist feminism, gynocentric feminism does not focus its analysis on the impediments to women’s self-development and the exclusion of women from the spheres of power, prestige, and creativity. Instead, gynocentric feminism focuses its critique on the values expressed in the dominant social spheres themselves.

The male-dominated activities with the greatest prestige in our society — politics, science, technology, warfare, business — threaten the survival of the planet and the human race. That our society affords these activities the highest value only indicates the deep perversity of patriarchal culture. Masculine values exalt death, violence, competition, selfishness, a repression of the body, sexuality, and affectivity.

Feminism finds in women’s bodies and traditionally feminine activity the source of positive values. Women’s reproductive processes keep us linked with nature and the promotion of life to a greater degree than men’s. Female eroticism is more fluid, diffuse, and loving than violence-prone male sexuality. Our feminine socialization and traditional roles as mothers give us the capacity to nurture and a sense of social cooperation that may be the only salvation of the planet.

Gynocentric feminism thus defines the oppression of women quite differently from the way humanistic feminism defines it. Femininity is not the problem, not the source of women’s oppression, but indeed within traditional femininity lie the values that we should promote for a better society. Women’s oppression consists of the devaluation and repression of women’s nature and female activity by the patriarchal culture.

♦ ♦ ♦

Gynocentric feminism has received a number of expressions in the United States women’s movement in recent years. Artists and poets have been among the leaders in developing images of celebration of this more positive understanding of women’s history and contemporary self-understanding. Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, for example, laboriously and beautifully recovers whole aspects of women’s history and locates them within images of female genitalia and objects that rely on traditionally female arts.

Within the sphere of political activism, gynocentric feminism perhaps is best represented in the feminist antimilitarist and ecology movements of the past five years. In the Women’s Pentagon Action or the action at the Seneca Army Depot, for example, a major aspect of the political protest has been the use of symbols and actions that invoke traditional labor, such as weaving, spinning, birthing, mothering. Feminist antimilitarist and ecological analysis has argued that the dangers to the planet that have been produced by the nuclear arms race and industrial technology are essentially tied to masculinist values. The burgeoning movement of feminist spirituality entails a similar analysis and promotes values associated with traditional femininity.

A number of prominent recent theories of contemporary feminism express a gynocentric feminism. I see Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature as one of the first written statements of gynocentric feminism in the second wave. It shows that one of the first steps of gynocentrism is to deny the nature/culture dichotomy held by humanists such as Beauvoir and to affirmatively assert the connection of women and nature. Daly’s Gyn/Ecology I see as a transition work. In it Daly asserts an analysis of the victimization of women by femininity that outdoes Beauvoir, but she also proposes a new gynocentric language.

Carol Gilligan’s critique of male theories of moral development has had a strong influence on the formation of gynocentric analysis. She questions dominant assumptions about moral valuation and affirms forms of moral reasoning associated with traditional femininity. Following Chodorow, she argues that gender socialization creates in women a relational communal orientation toward others, while it creates in men a more oppositional and competitive mode of relating to others. These gender differences produce two different forms of moral rationality: a masculine ethic of rights and justice, and a feminine ethic of responsibility and care.

Traditional moral theory has ignored and repressed the particularistic ethic of care as being pre-moral. Women’s moral oppression consists of being measured against male standards, according to Gilligan, in the silencing of women’s different voice. The dominance of those male centered values of abstract reasoning, instrumentality, and individualism, moreover, produce a cold, uncaring, competitive world. Both the liberation of women and the restructuring of social relations require tempering these values with the communally oriented values derived from women’s ethic of care. While Gilligan herself would reject the label of gynocentric feminist, her work has exerted an enormous influence on feminists in fields as diverse as mathematics and philosophy, providing the foundation for a revaluation of attributes associated with femininity.

Mary O’Brien articulates a gynocentric critique of traditional political theory starting from the bio-logical fact that the reproductive process gives women a living continuity with their offspring that it does not give men. Women thus have a temporal consciousness that is continuous, whereas male temporal consciousness is discontinuous. Arising from the alienation from the child they experience in the reproductive process, masculine thought emphasizes dualism and separation. Men establish a public realm in which they give spiritual birth to a second nature, transcending the private realm of mere physicality and reproduction to which they confine women.

Patriarchy develops an ideology of the male potency principle, which installs the father as ruler of the family and men as rulers of society, and substitutes an intellectual notion of creativity for the female principle of life generation. The contemporary women’s movement has the potential to overturn such a conception of politics that is separated from life continuity because out of female reproductive consciousness can come a politics based on women’s experience of life processes and species continuity.

Nancy Hartsock’s theory of the feminist stand-point from which she analyzes patriarchal culture is a more sweeping version of gynocentric feminism. She argues that the sexual division of labor provides men and women with differing experiences that structure different standpoints upon nature and social relations. Based on Chodorow’s theory of the development of gender personalities, Hartsock argues that men experience the relation of self and other as one of hostility and struggle.

The sexual division of labor also removes men from the needs of the body, from the vulnerability and basic demands of children and the aged, and provides men with an instrumentally calculative reltion to nature. This division of labor, she argues, produces a way of thinking about the world that Hartsock calls abstract masculinity, which organizes experience and social relations into binary oppositions in which one term carries greater value than the other.

This standpoint of abstract masculinity has determined the primary structure of Western social relations and culture. This male dominated culture’s values are both partial and perverse. It embodies sexuality where desire for fusion with the other takes the form of domination of the other. Masculine consciousness denies and fears the body and associates birth with death. The only sense of community generated by abstract masculinity, moreover, is the community of warriors in preparation for combat.

From women’s experience, Hartsock claims, we can both criticize masculinity values and conceptualization and develop a better vision of social relations. The gender personalities women develop in relation to their mothers give them a propensity to feel more connected with others than men do. The experiences of menstruation, coitus, pregnancy, and lactation, which challenge body boundaries, give women a greater experience of continuity with nature.

Women’s labor in caring for men and children and producing basic values in the home, finally, gives them a greater rootedness in nature than men’s work gives them, a more basic understanding of life processes. These attributes of women’s experience can ground, Hartsock argues, a form of conceptualization that does not depend on dichotomous thinking and that values connections among persons more than their separation, as does abstract masculinity.

While Sara Ruddick is careful to claim that any recovery and revaluation of traditionally feminine attributes must be infused with a feminist politics, her notion of maternal thinking provides another example of a gynocentric feminist analysis. She argues that the specific daily practices of mothering generate specific modes of thinking motivated by the interests in preservation, growth, and the acceptability of the child to the society. Maternal practice is not restricted to mothers, but exists wherever such nurturing and preservation interests prevail. She suggests that maternal thinking provides antimilitarist values that feminists can use in promoting a politics of peace.

Writing within a very different intellectual current from American feminists, using rather different assumptions and style, several women in France in recent years have developed distinctive versions of gynocentric feminism. I shall mention only Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva. Like a number of other contemporary French thinkers, Irigaray describes phallocentric culture as preoccupied by a meta-physics of identity dominated by visual metaphors. Male thinking begins by positing the One, the same, the essence, that generates binary oppositions in which the second term is defined by the first as what it is not, thus reducing it to its identity.

Phallogocentric discourse defines the opposition male/female in just this way—woman is only not a man, a lack, a deficiency. Preoccupied with the straight, the true, the proper, men establish relations of property and exchange in which accounts are balanced. Women in the phallocentric system have been silenced and separated, exchanged as goods among men. Irigaray pro-poses that women must find and speak the specificity of female desire, which has completely different values from those of phallic thinking.

Women’s eroticism is neither one nor two but plural, as women’s bodies themselves experience arousal and pleasure in a multiplicity of places that cannot all be identified. Touch, not sight, predominates, the autoeroticism of vaginal lips touching clitoris, of intimate bodies touching. A genuinely feminine language moves and twists, starts over again from different perspectives, does not go straight to the point. Such a language can displace the sterility and oppressiveness of phallogocentric categorization.

Kristeva also focuses on language and the repression of specifically female experience. Language has two moments: the symbolic, the capacity of language to represent and define, to be literal; and the semiotic, those elements of language that slip and play in ambiguities and nuance. Certain linguistic practices, such as poetry, make most explicit use of the semiotic, but for the most part the playful, the musical in language is repressed in Western culture and the symbolic, rational, legalistic discourse rules.

For Kristeva this repression concerns the repression of the body and the installation of order, hierarchy, and authority. Repression of the body and the semiotic entails repression of the pre-oedipal experience of the maternal body before the subject emerges with a self-identical ego, as well as denial by the culture of the specificity and difference that the female body exhibits. Challenge to the dominant oppressions, to capitalism, racism, sexism, must come not only from specific demands within the political arena, but also from changing the speaking subject.

Kristeva finds in the repressed feminine the potential for such change, where feminine means at least two things: first, women’s specific experience as female bodies, the daughters of mothers, and often mothers themselves, an experience of a decentered subject; second, the aspects of language and behavior Western culture has devalued and repressed: the poetic, rhythmic, musical, nurturant, and soothing, but also contradictory and shifting ways of being, that fickleness that women have been accused of. This revolution of the feminine Kristeva finds in anumber of male avant-garde writers. The women’s movement, however, also carries the possibility of displacing the rigidity of a subject that loves authority, provided that women do not fall into that humanist feminism by which they simply demand to get in on the masculinist power game.

To summarize, humanist feminism defines femininity as the source of women’s oppression and calls upon male-dominated institutions to allow women the opportunity to participate fully in public world-making activities of industry, politics, art, and science. In contrast, gynocentric feminism questions the values of these traditional public activities that have been dominated by men. Women’s oppression consists not of being prevented from participating in full humanity, but of the denial and devaluation of specifically feminine virtues and activities by an overly instrumentalized and authoritarian masculinist culture. Femininity is not the problem for gynocentric feminism, and indeed is the source of a conception of society and the subject that can not only liberate women, but also all persons.

Gynocentrism Theory Lectures (Peter Wright)

The following selection of Gynocentrism Theory Lectures were published during 2012 – 2019 by Peter Wright. For the full collection see Amazon title on right-hand sidebar.

Greek goddess

GYNOCENTRISM THEORY ARTICLE SERIES:

1. Introduction to Gynocentrism
2. Gynocentric Culture
3. Gynocentric Culture Complex (GCC)
4. Timeline of Gynocentric Culture
5. The Sexual-Relations Contract
6. The Birth of Chivalric Love
7. What Ever Happened to Chivalry?
8. Gynocentric Marriage
9. Damseling, Chivalry and Courtly Love (Part 1)
10. Damseling, Chivalry and Courtly Love (Part 2)
11. Sporting Tournaments: A Gynocentric Tradition
12. The Evolution of Gynocentrism Via Romance Writings
13. Why Is It Always About Her? Gynocentrism As a Narcissistic Pathology

Why is it always about her? Gynocentrism as a narcissistic pathology

narcissism

In this article I set out to show that gynocentrism is a gendered expression of narcissism, and that it operates in the limited context of heterosexual relationships.

To make a case that gynocentrism is narcissism we first have to define what narcissism is, which can be done by recounting the original Greek myth of narcissus, followed by an overview of how the concept was taken up by the field of psychology and elaborated into a diagnostic entity. Finally this article will take the diagnostic entity of narcissism as described by psychologists and compare its criteria with those typically applied to the notion of gynocentrism to discover how closely, and in what ways, the two concepts align.

Narcissus myth

One day the handsome youth Narcissus became thirsty after a day hunting in the mountains with his companions. After discovering a pool of water he leaned upon its edge to drink and saw himself reflected in the water. Narcissus did not realize it was merely his own reflection and fell deeply in love with it, as if it was somebody else. Here is the account of his ordeal as told by Ovid:

While he seeks to slake his thirst another thirst springs up, and while he drinks he is smitten by the sight of the beautiful form he sees. He loves an unsubstantial hope and thinks that has substance which is only shadow. He looks in speechless wonder at himself and hangs there motionless in the same expression, like a statue carved from Parian marble. Prone on the ground, he gazes at his eyes, twin stars, and his locks, worthy of Bacchus, worthy of Apollo; on his smooth cheeks, his ivory neck, the glorious beauty of his face, the blush mingled with snowy white: all things, in short, he admires for which he is himself admired. Unwittingly he desires himself; he praises, and is himself what he praises; and while he seeks, is sought; equally he kindles love and burns with love. How often did he offer vain kisses on the elusive pool. How often did he plunge his arms into the water seeking to clasp the neck he sees there, but did not clasp himself in them!

What he sees he knows not; but that which he sees he burns for, and the same delusion mocks and allures his eyes. O fondly foolish boy, why vainly seek to clasp a fleeting image? What you seek is nowhere; but turn yourself away, and the object of your love will be no more. That which you behold is but the shadow of a reflected form and has no substance of its own. With you it comes, with you it stays, and it will go with you — if you can go.

No thought of food or rest can draw him from the spot; but, stretched on the shaded grass, he gazes on that false image with eyes that cannot look their fill and through his own eyes perishes. Raising himself a little, and stretching his arms to the trees, he cries:

“Did anyone, O ye woods, ever love more cruelly than I? You know, for you have been the convenient haunts of many lovers. Do you in the ages past, for your life is one of centuries, remember anyone who has pined away like this .” I am charmed, and I see; but what I see and what charms me I cannot find — so great a delusion holds my love. And, to make me grieve the more, no mighty ocean separates us, no long road, no mountain ranges, no city walls with close -shut gates; by a thin barrier of water we are kept apart. He himself is eager to be embraced. For, often as I stretch my lips towards the lucent wave, so often with upturned face he strives to lift his lips to mine. You would think he could be touched — so small a thing it is that separates our loving hearts. Whoever you are, come forth hither! Why, O peerless youth, do you elude me? or whither do you go when I strive to reach you? Surely my form and age are not such that you should shun them, and me too the nymphs have loved.

Some ground for hope you offer with your friendly looks, and when I have stretched out my arms to you, you stretch yours too. When I have smiled, you smile back; and I have often seen tears, when I weep, on your cheeks. My becks you answer with your nod; and, as I suspect from the movement of your sweet lips, you answer my words as well, but words which do not reach my ears. — Oh, I am he! I have felt it, I know now my own image, t burn with love of my own self; I both kindle the flames and suffer them. What shall I do. Shall I be wooed or woo. Why woo at all? What I desire, I have; the very abundance of my riches beggars me. Oh, that I might be parted from my own body! and, strange prayer for a lover, I would that what I love were absent from me! And now grief is sapping my strength; but a brief space of life remains to me and I am cut off in my life’s prime. Death is nothing to me, for in death I shall leave my troubles; I would he that is loved might live longer; but as it is, we two shall die together in one breath.”

He spoke and, half distraught, turned again to the same image. His tears ruffled the water, and dimly the image came back from the troubled pool. As he saw it thus depart, he cried: “Oh, whither do you flee? Stay here, and desert not him who loves thee, cruel one! Still may it be mine to gaze on what I may not touch, and by that gaze feed ray unhappy passion.” While he thus grieves, he plucks away his tunic at its upper fold and beats his bare breast with pallid hands. His breast when it is struck takes on a delicate glow; just as apples sometimes, though white in part, flush red in other part, or as grapes hanging in clusters take on a purple hue when not yet ripe. As soon as he sees this, when the water has become clear again, he can bear no more ; but, as the yellow wax melts before a gentle heat, as hoar frost melts before the warm morning sun, so does he, wasted with love, pine away, and is slowly consumed by its hidden fire.1

Unable to leave the allure of his own image, he came to realize that his love could not be reciprocated. Unable to eat, his body slowly wasted away from the fire of passion burning inside him, eventually disappearing entirely and turning into a golden narcissus flower that still grows along the water’s edge today.

Narcissism as a psychological designation

Artist’s impression of Princess Cottongrass

Twentieth century psychiatrists saw in the Narcissus fable a useful metaphor for behaviors they were documenting in some of their patients, and so chose to refer to those behaviors as narcissism. As the symbolic figure for representing narcissism was male, it may have helped to birth an assumption that it’s a mostly male pathology, which is misleading as both men and women suffer from narcissism. Those early psychiatrists might just as easily have chosen a female character to symbolize the self-absorbed personality, such as Little Princess Cottongrass of fable who, like Narcissus, became fixated ‘with her own heart’ by a pool of water.2 Little Princess Cottongrass Personality Disorder however doesn’t quite have a clinical tone to it.

The development of narcissism as a psychological concept has a long and complex history, covering ideas like primary narcissism which is viewed as a healthy ingredient of childhood development, through to pathological manifestations that cause personal and interpersonal suffering, such as narcissistic neurosis or narcissistic personality disorder.

For the purpose of this article we will turn to the DSM-5 which includes one of the best descriptions of pathological narcissism, which it describes as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.”3 The DSM’s nine diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder will be given below and compared point-by-point with typical attributions made of gynocentrism by key/relevant writers and scholars.

Acquired Situational Narcissism

Robert B Millman, Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University, coined the phrase, “acquired situational narcissism” (ASN).4 It is narcissism that is brought about or “triggered” by an experience of celebrity status that manifests the same symptoms as narcissistic personality disorder. Millman suggests that it can also be triggered by an experience of power that comes with any favored or privileged social status or occupational position. In that sense it is the environment that facilitates the exaggeration of narcissistic traits that may have only existed previously in the individual as a mild trait and as latent potential.

Some possible examples of acquired situational narcissism are;

Cultural narcissism (A culture-specific manifestation of narcissism)5,6
Ingroup narcissism (Ingroup-specific manifestations of narcissism)7
Medical narcissism (Narcissism among medical professionals)8
Celebrity narcissism (Narcissism among individuals achieving fame)9
Leadership narcissism (Narcissism among leaders and CEOs)10

And, following these examples, I include gynocentrism as a situational manifestation of narcissism, i.e.;

Gynocentric narcissism (Narcissism displayed by women/girls in intimate relationships with men/boys).11

Gynocentrism

Before going on to compare gynocentric narcissism with the DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, we will need to isolate a consensual understanding of gynocentrism from historical texts and modern theory. We will start with two key historical texts, the first being from Lester F. Ward who was the first person to propose a general theory of gynocentrism, and the second from Irish author George A. Birmingham;

In 1903 Lester F. Ward defined gynocentrism this way:

“The gynæcocentric theory is the view that the female sex is primary and the male secondary in the organic scheme, that originally and normally all things center, as it were, about the female.”12

In 1914 George A. Birmingham wrote:

“American social life seems to me — the word is one to apologize for — gynocentric. It is arranged with a view to the convenience and delight of women. Men come in where and how they can.”13

In these pithy definitions gynocentrism frames women as superiors in their relation to men who are positioned to support women’s ‘convenience and delight’ where and how they can.

In her 1988 paper feminist Iris M. Young confirms the gynocentric principle of “superiority” of female values over male values, suggesting the superiority continues to rest on a biological basis as it did for Lester F. Ward back in 1903. Young states;

“Gynocentric feminism… argues for the superiority of the values embodied in traditionally female experience and rejects the values it finds in traditionally male dominated institutions… Gynocentric feminism finds in women’s bodies and traditionally feminine activity the source of positive values. Women’s reproductive processes keep us linked with nature and the promotion of life to a greater degree than men’s. Female eroticism is more fluid, diffuse, and loving than violence-prone male sexuality. Our feminine socialization and traditional roles as mothers give us the capacity to nurture and a sense of social cooperation that may be the only salvation of the planet… within traditional femininity lie the values that we should promote for a better society.”14

Note here the biological essentialism appearing from Ward through to Young who states that “Gynocentrism’s most important contribution is its affirmation of difference”14 Young clarifies that the superiority of “women’s bodies” and associated values are central tenets of both gynocentrism and third wave feminism, a fact that students of gender politics appear not to have noticed in their rush to denounce the ‘gender is an arbitrary social construct’ stance of second-wave feminists.15

Since the 1970s most exploration of gynocentrism has been carried out by feminists from the perspective of what it means to or feels like for women – i.e., they ask how does the practice of gynocentrism serve to strengthen women’s ego-identity and improve their sense of dignity and wellbeing. No equivalent discussion of men and boys has taken place in terms of their experience of gynocentrism, thus the female-biased examination of gynocentrism calls for the inclusion of male, and also neutral, perspectives in order to give a more complete overview of the topic.

Since the turn of the millennium new research into the nature and dynamics of gynocentrism – from male-inclusive, and humanist points of view – has provided a more detailed understanding of gynocentrism. The following presents a synopsis of eight of these contributors: Alison Tieman, Paul Elam, Paul Nathanson & Katherine Young, Adam Kostakis, Peter wright, Dennis Gouws, and Peter Ryan.

Alison Tieman
“In my opinion – and this is just from observing the social systems as they play out – I would say that gynocentrism prioritizes women’s protection and provision.”16

Paul Elam
“For me gynocentrism is simply the ingrained human tendency to prioritize the needs and wants of women over the needs and wants of men. In its development culturally its not near that simple, and its development biologically its not near that simple. But as it manifests itself in the realm of sexual politics I do call it the tendency in human beings to prioritize the needs and wants of women over the needs and wants of men… The reason I like to frame it in terms of needs and wants is because in this gynocentric milieu, the gynocentric landscape in which we live, its not just protection and provision that women have the demand of the culture around them, it is everything. Its protection, its provision, its privilege, its power, its believe the woman, its, ynow, if I say something I don’t want to be questioned; this goes way beyond protection and provision. 16

“How did chivalry go from being a military code to being a codified standard for men to meet in their protective treatment of women? The answer to that is a matter of historical record; it was through manipulation of the gynocentric instinct. In the twelfth century Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie de Champagne engaged in an intensive campaign to popularize the idea of courtly or romantic love… Eleanor, a woman of serious means and influence, sort of like a supersized Betty Friedan of the high Middle Ages saw an opportunity in this to promote a connection between men and women inspired by passion and infatuation and driven by a model of service – particularly of service to women. She and her daughter commissioned troubadours who borrowed from the ethics of military chivalry to write books and songs that carried this message to all the European courts. Even though the message was meant primarily for the aristocracy it eventually filtered down into the general population and quickly grew in popularity… The advent of romantic chivalrous love took the naturally occurring tendency in men to take care of women and made the first great leap toward a gynocentric society that would tolerate and indeed encourage all manner of insanity in the name of putting women first.”17

Paul Nathanson & Katherine Young
“Gynocentrism is a form of essentialism – as distinct from scholarship or political activity on behalf of women – to the extent that it focuses on the innate virtues of women. But this worldview is explicitly misandric too, because it not only ignores the needs and problems of men but also attacks men. Misandry is a form of dualism that focuses on the innate vices of men. In this moral or even ontological hierarchy , women are at the top and men are at the bottom.”18

Adam Kostakis
“The traditional idea under discussion is male sacrifice for the benefit of women, which we term Gynocentrism. This is the historical norm, and it was the way of the world long before anything called ‘feminism’ made itself known. There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism, for instance. That the two are distinguishable is clear enough, but the latter is simply a progressive extension of the former over several centuries, having retained its essence over a long period of transition. One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures.19

“And what is the logical outcome – say, if tomorrow, feminists got everything they are advocating for today? We would be plunged immediately into a two-tier system of rights and obligations, where men and women form distinct castes of citizen, the former weighed down by the obligations that enable the latter to luxuriate in their total autonomy. Life for women would be a literal lawlessness, while men’s every move would be dictated from above, geared to the purpose of providing for all female needs and wants. It would not be inappropriate to call such a system sexual feudalism, and every time I read a feminist article, this is the impression that I get: that they aim to construct a new aristocracy, comprised only of women, while men stand at the gate, till in the fields, fight in their armies, and grovel at their feet for starvation wages. All feminist innovation and legislation creates new rights for women and new duties for men; thus it tends towards the creation of a male underclass.20

“So, here is the definition I offer up: feminism is the most recent, and presently the most culturally dominant form of Gynocentrism. It is a victim ideology which explicitly advocates female supremacy, at every facet of life in which men and women meet; it does so in accordance with its universalizing tendency, and so it does so in each sphere of life, including but extending beyond the political, social, cultural, personal, emotional, sexual, spiritual, economic, governmental and legal. By female supremacy, I refer to the notion that women should possess superiority of status, power and protection relative to men. It is the dominant cultural paradigm in the Western world and beyond. It is morally indefensible, although its adherents ensure that their hegemony goes unchallenged through the domination of societal institutions and the use of state violence.”21

Peter Wright
“[Gynocentric] chivalry is alluded to by alternative terms such as benevolent sexism, romantic love, gentlemanliness, courtesy, gallantry, heroism, or simply chivalry. The practice has roots in what some scholars have referred to as chivalric ‘love service,’ (Bennett, 2013) a ritualized form of devotion by men toward women popularized by troubadours in the Middle Ages. The earliest conceptualization of love service borrowed from the vocabulary of medieval feudalism, mimicking ties between a liegeman and his overlord; i.e., the male lover is referred to as homo ligius (the woman’s liegeman, or ‘my man’) who pledged honor, and servitium (service) to the lady via a posture of feudal homage. The lady was addressed as midons (literally ‘my lord’), and also by dominus (denoting the feudal Lady) (Alfonsi, 1986). These practices form the ideological taproot of modern romantic chivalry.

The conventions and indeed the lived practices of romantic chivalry celebrated first among the upper classes made their way by degrees eventually to the middle classes and finally to the lower classes – or rather they broke class structure altogether in the sense that all Western peoples became inheritors of the customs regardless of their social station. Today chivalry is a norm observed across the majority of global cultures, an explicitly gynocentric norm aimed to increase the comfort, safety and power of women, while affording men a sense of purpose and occasional heroism in addressing that same task.

C.S. Lewis referred to the growth of romantic chivalry as “the feudalisation of love,” (Lewis, 2013, p. 2) making the observation that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. He observed that European society has moved essentially from a social feudalism, involving a contractual arrangement between a feudal lord and his vassal, to a sexual feudalism involving a comparable contract between men and women as symbolized in the act of a man going down on one knee to propose marriage.22

“The dominant features of gender relations today come from old Europe in the forms of damseling, chivalry and courtly-love. Together they form the customs, in fact the essence, of modern gynocentric culture.23

Dennis Gouws
“This conservative approach to chivalry, one whose paternalism has surely outlived its usefulness in the twenty-first century, offers men little and confines them to a life of gynocentric pleasing and male disposability in the service of gynocentric chivalry. What this approach has in common with gender feminism is the way it suggests gynocentrism is essential and congruent with society—its natural and normal protocol—rather than being one philosophy among many. The second approach placed the onus on changing chivalry on women and their expectations. Ashley suggested that “It is women who need to figure out what roles they would have men perpetuate, and encourage those over the less-preferred actions.” This approach completely objectifies men and empowers women to dictate what they want men to do to please women. It is gynocentric, strategic, and impersonal; it is a gender-feminist approach. As much of this chapter has suggested, it is harmful to men and women who seek gender equity.

“Michael Kimmel (Kalish & Kimmel, 2010) popularized the concept of aggrieved entitlement which can succinctly be defined as “a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back” (p. 454). Because Kimmel’s sympathies lie with gender feminism, he is uninterested in how this concept might apply to women’s behavior. Women might express aggrieved entitlement when they experience what they perceive to be a humiliating loss of the gynocentric privilege to which gynocentric chivalry, gender feminism, and hegemonic gynarchy have entitled them. Self-righteous, angry expressions of personal offense and even violent acts might result from their perceived moral obligation to regain their sense of gynocentric privilege. A cursory internet search of gender-feminist responses to men’s-issues speakers on campus and to the establishing men’s groups or other male-positive spaces on campus will provide examples of this aggrieved entitlement.”24

Peter Ryan
I define gynocentrism as the following: The set of elements of society and relationships that are directed by the intent to prioritise female well-being over male well-being, based solely or partly on the sex of the intended beneficiary(ies) being female and for which there are no equivalent efforts made to provide corresponding commensurate benefits to males.

I define well-being as the quality of the overall condition of the life of an individual or group, that is based on taking their mental and physical health and life satisfaction into consideration.

The diagnostic criteria that must be met for an element of society or relationships to be considered gynocentric are the following: 1. The element must be driven by the intent to prioritise female well-being over male well-being. 2. This intent must be solely or partly based on the sex of the intended beneficiary(ies) being female. 3. There must be no equivalent efforts made to provide commensurate benefits to males for instances where female well-being is prioritised over male well-being.”25

♦ ♦ ♦

Lastly I will give two online definitions of gynocentrism before summarizing the material above; the first from Encyclopedia.com, and the second from the Oxford Online Dictionary:

Gynocentrism: Is a radical feminist discourse that champions woman-centered beliefs, identities, and social organization.”26

Gynocentric: Centered on or concerned exclusively with women; taking a female (or specifically a feminist) point of view.”27

Summary of descriptions of gynocentrism:

1. By definition males and females in gynocentric relationships are ‘woman-centered’ as per the suffix -centrism. In this respect gynocentrism is contrary to relationships that are centered in reciprocity between partners.
2. A gynocentric relationship requires specific gender roles: men are expected to behave benevolently sexist/chivalric toward women; and women are to assume a biologically and morally superior. (“pedestalized”) posture typical of the romantic love tradition, with an accompanying expectation of entitlement to benefits.
3. Gynocentrism is focused on maximizing the benefits of convenience, comfort, pleasure, needs, wants, protections, provision, power and self-esteem of women.
4. It takes place in heterosexual relationships, or by extension in relationships where stereotypical heterosexual roles can be mimicked. In this sense it is situational (heterosexual relationships) rather than universal and general.
5. It obliterates male humanity, and variety of potential masculinities, and replaces them with the singular masculinity of chivalric servant. Masculine variety of every non-gynocentric kind is viewed as a failure and affront to the gynocentric mandate.

DSM criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The DSM-5 states that narcissistic personality disorder is indicated by the presence of at least 5 of the following 9 criteria. For the purpose of comparing the DSM criteria with traits typical of the gynocentric woman [GW], I will place the latter in red font under each of the DSM points:

• A grandiose sense of self-importance (eg, the individual exaggerates achievements and talents and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
[GW] Sees self as ‘superior’ to males (eg. physically, morally, creatively, aesthetically, emotionally) based on the fact of being born female.12, 14
• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
[GW] Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, especially in the gendered context of the romantic love tradition.28
• A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
[GW] Gynocentric feminists have long celebrated women’s special and unique “ways of knowing,” along with the mystical association women share through these paths.29, 30
• A need for excessive admiration
[GW] Expects pedestalization of women by men. Pedestalization is defined by some authors as a synonym or central defining feature of gynocentrism.31, 32
• A sense of entitlement (ie, unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations)
[GW] Feels entitled to receive gestures of benevolent sexism/chivalry, and deferential behavior from intimate and familial males.33
• Interpersonally exploitive behavior (ie, the individual takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends)
[GW] Seeking, expecting, pressuring, or demanding benevolent sexism from men in order to secure benefits of comfort, pleasure, needs, wants, protections, provision, power and self-esteem, including the use of punishing gestures for failures or non-compliance, is sexually exploitative 22
• A lack of empathy (unwillingness to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others)
[GW] Women and men collude in squelching empathic recognition of men’s issues. This approach is actively promoted by gynocentric feminists who treat dispensation of empathy as a zero-sum activity and scarce resource reserved for women.34, 35
• Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her
[GW] Envy of other women’s beauty (competitive edge for securing male resources),36 and a potential for penis envy (a symbolic generalization representing male potency and provision).37
• A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
[GW] Displays an attitude and behavior of superiority over, and concomitant contempt for, men and boys.21, 38, 39

Gynocentrism can further be identified among items in the online narcissism lexicon:

Narcissistic supply is a concept introduced into psychoanalytic theory by Otto Fenichel in 1938 to describe a type of admiration, interpersonal support or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment and essential to their self-esteem. The term is typically used in a negative sense, describing a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration that does not take into account the feelings, opinions or preferences of other people. Self psychologist Heinz Kohut saw those with narcissistic personality disorder as disintegrating mentally when cut off from a regular source of narcissistic supply. Those providing supply to such figures may be treated as if they are a part of the narcissist, in an eclipse of all personal boundaries.40 These same motivations and behaviors can be readily seen in women’s search for, and expectation of, chivalric supplies from men.33

Narcissistic injury is a psychological wounding of the self through lack of ego-reinforcing supplies (narcissistic supplies). Such a blow typically lowers the narcissist’s self-esteem and produces feelings of humiliation, shame and rage.41 When it comes to narcissistic supplies women are often afforded priority over men, as we witness in common phrases such as “The wedding is her special day,” “Ladies before gentlemen,” “Aint nobody happy if mamma isn’t made happy,” “Women and girls first,” “Whatever she wants, she gets,” “Men must pay the bill for dinner,” etc. When denied the experience of such gynocentric entitlements women tend to experience injury and may express a sense of aggrieved entitlement.24

Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury, which is a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. It occurs on a continuum, which may range from instances of aloofness and expressions of mild irritation or annoyance to serious outbursts, including violent attacks and murder. For Heinz Kohut, narcissistic rage is related to narcissists’ need for total control of their environment, including “the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means.”42 It is an attempt by the narcissist to turn from a passive sense of victimization to an active role in giving pain to others, while at the same time attempting to rebuild their own (actually false) sense of self-worth.43 It may also involve self-protection and preservation, with rage serving to restore a sense of safety and power by destroying that which had threatened the narcissist. Viewed in the context of gynocentric relationships, the narcissistic rage, or rather gynocentric rage, is captured in the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” which indicates that a woman who cannot make someone love her can become extremely angry and vindictive.

In their paper aptly titled The Allure of Sexism, Matthew D. Hammond et.al. studied whether women’s feeling of entitlement to special treatments — which they emphasize is a central facet of narcissism based on feelings of superiority and deservingness — was linked with endorsement of benevolent sexism by women across time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that a psychological sense of entitlement in women does mediate endorsement of benevolent sexism. Moreover, the researchers theorized that characteristics of narcissistic entitlement – those which drive resource-attainment and self-enhancement strategies – are the same qualities that promote women’s adoption of benevolent sexism:

“First, benevolent sexism facilitates the capacity to gain material resources and complements feelings of deservingness by promoting a structure of intimate relationships in which men use their access to social power and status to provide for women (Chen et al., 2009). Second, benevolent sexism reinforces beliefs of superiority by expressing praise and reverence of women, emphasizing qualities of purity, morality, and culture which make women the ‘‘fairer sex.’’ Indeed, identifying with these kinds of gender-related beliefs (e.g., women are warm) fosters a more positive self-concept (Rudman, Greenwald, & McGhee, 2001).

Moreover, for women higher in psychological entitlement, benevolent sexism legitimizes a self-centric approach to relationships by emphasizing women’s special status within the intimate domain and men’s responsibilities of providing and caring for women. Such care involves everyday chivalrous behaviors, such as paying on a first date and opening doors for women (Sarlet et al., 2012; Viki et al., 2003), to more overarching prescriptions for men’s behavior toward women, such as being ‘‘willing to sacrifice their own well-being’’ to provide for women and to ensure women’s happiness by placing her ‘‘on a pedestal’’ (Ambivalent Sexism Inventory; Glick & Fiske, 1996). Thus, women higher in psychological entitlement should be particularly enticed by benevolent sexism because it justifies provision and praise from men as expected behavior and does not require women to reciprocate the reverence or material gains, which men provide.’ (Hammond, et.al., 2014, pp. 3-4).”33

Recognition of narcissism among feminist women is also not new. In her paper ‘Who Put The “Me” in Feminism,’ Imogen Tyler admits to the widespread recognition of narcissism in the feminist movement by wider society. Tyler attempts to put a positive spin on the practice, reframing the predilection among feminists as one of downtrodden women’s attempt to develop an independent, healthy narcissistic identity not tied to patriarchal demands. In her paper Tyler advocates what she views as the hidden benefits of female narcissism:

“Feminism exposes and challenges the sexual politics of narcissism both by making prevailing forms of narcissism visible (the homo-social bond) and by encouraging new self-conscious forms of narcissism amongst women to emerge.”

“In this article I have examined what is at stake in the attribution of narcissism to femininity and feminism, and the routes through which arguments about ‘feminist narcissism’ became central to the popular abjection of feminism… Despite the ways in which narcissism has been consistently employed as a rhetorical means of denigrating women and delegitimizing feminist politics, I have also demonstrated the central role of narcissistic theories of identity in enabling feminist theorists to prise open the mechanisms of feminine identity and critique the sexual politics of identity practices.”44

What has been men’s role in promoting gynocentric narcissism?

Firstly we can say that men have played a principle role in aiding and abetting the growth of gynocentrism among women, motivated in large part by a desire to form relationships with them. Secondly, as Paul Elam recently pointed out in an article Daddy’s Little Nightmare, men encourage narcissism in their daughters:

It’s quite ironic, listening to a man complain about how his wife has crazy unreal expectations. He bemoans the fact that she cannot be satisfied, no matter what he does. He claims that he pulls his hair out trying to figure out how to satisfy her endless demands only to be met with more disapproval and, of course, more demands. He wonders aloud how she ever learned to be such a bottomless pit, and such a bitch about it.

Then you go watch him interact with his four-year old daughter, whom he will endlessly coddle and for whom he will go to any measure to make sure she never lacks anything, no matter how trivial.

And it doesn’t stop when she turns five. Or fifteen, or twenty-five. When it comes to turning human females into paragons of pissy entitlement, the western father has few rivals.45

Suffice to say that many men are complicit in maintaining the status quo, creating a culture of exaggerated benevolent sexism in order to gain romantic access to women. The subsequent relationship dynamic is one they may come to find destructive to their emotional and physical wellbeing and thus unsustainable. Some of them adjust to a gynocentric relationship by resigning their dreams and emotional needs and playing the role of what is disparagingly referred to as a cuck or servile partner, perhaps rationalizing that gynocentrism is ‘the way of nature.’ Gynocentrism is likewise upheld at the social level, relying equally on a heterosexual compact between women and male politicians, for example, or women and male court magistrates who are eager to demonstrate their chivalric credentials.

Another group of men, however, are making a conscious decision to avoid gynocentric relationships by searching for a woman who does not subscribe to extreme gynocentrism, or alternatively by adopting the life of a confirmed bachelor or MGTOW and engaging in meaningful activities and relationships that can fill the breach.

Summary

Most academic studies find males as a group score higher on narcissism scales than do females.46 However those findings may be misleading because the instruments used and their factor structures may be more effective at tapping male expressions of narcissism. Women’s narcissism may be less global in its expression because women might not feel entitled, for example, to special treatment by all non-intimate males nor by other women, whereas they may feel highly entitled to the same in intimate relationships with men and boys, as detailed above.

This essay demonstrates that the DSM-5 criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder is significantly correlated with behaviors and expectations of gynocentric women, which leads to the conclusion that gynocentrism is a gendered expression of narcissism operating in the limiting context of heterosexual relations.

 

References

[1] Ovid, Metamorphoses, Volume I: Books 1-8 Loeb Classical Library (1946)
[2] The tale of Princess Cottongrass and its utility as a metaphor of the narcissistic personality is elaborated by Nathan Schwartz-Salant in his book Narcissism and Character Transformation (1982)
[3] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.), Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing, pp. 669–72, (2013)
[4] Stephen Sherrill, Acquired Situational Narcissism, interview with Robert B. Millman, New York Times, (Dec 9, 2001)
[5] Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (1979)
[6] Jean Twenge, Generation Me (2006) and The Narcissism Epidemic (2009)
[7] Golec de Zavala, A, Cichocka, A., Eidelson, R., & Jayawickreme, N. Collective narcissism and its social consequences, in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97.6 (2009)
[8] John Banja, Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism (2005)
[9] Stephen Sherrill, Acquired Situational Narcissism, interview with Robert B. Millman, New York Times, (Dec 9, 2001)
[10] Linda McSweeny, It’s Official: Power Creates A Narcissist, Pursuit, Inside Business, University of Melbourne (May, 2018)
[11] Peter Wright, Bastardized Chivalry: From Concern for Weakness to Sexual Exploitation, New Male Studies, (Dec 2018)
[12] Lester Frank Ward, Pure sociology: A treatise on the origin and spontaneous development of society. (1903).
[13] George A. Birmingham, From Dublin to Chicago: Some Notes on a Tour in America. (1914)
[14] Iris Marion Young, Humanism, gynocentrism and feminist politics. Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol. 8. No. 3. Pergamon, 1985.
[15] Peter Wright, Feminism, sex-differences and chivalry (2016), and Gynocentrism’s love affair with gender differences (2017), published at Gynocentrism and its Cultural Origins (gynocentrism.com).
[16] Paul Elam and Alison Tieman, Discussing Gynocentrism | HBR Debate 7 | Youtube (March 2018)
[17] Paul Elam, Gynocentrism: The Root of Feminism, speech delivered to International Conference on Men’s Issues, London (2016)
[18] Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Sanctifying Misandry, [p. 58] (2010)
[19] Adam Kostakis, Lecture 2: The Same Old Gynocentric Story, Gynocentrism theory Lectures (2011)
[20] Adam Kostakis, Lecture 11. The Eventual Outcome of Feminism, Part II, Gynocentrism theory Lectures (2011)
[21] Adam Kostakis, Lecture 2. Pig Latin, Gynocentrism theory Lectures (2011)
[22] Peter Wright, Bastardized Chivalry: From Concern for Weakness to Sexual Exploitation, New Male Studies Journal, December 2018
[23] Peter Wright, Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part one), (2016) (Gynocentrism.com)
[24] Dennis Gouws, Not So Romantic For Men: Using Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe to Explore Evolving Notions of Chivalry, in Voicing the Silences of Social and Cognitive Justice, 167–178. (2018)
and Their Impact on Twenty-First-Century Manhood
[25] Peter Ryan, Diagnosing Gynocentrism (2018)(gynocentrism.com).
[26] Staff writer, “Gynocentrism”, in Encyclopedia.com. (2005)
[27] Staff writer, “Gynocentric”, in OED, ed. Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. (2010)
[28] Peter Wright, Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to the Modern Disney Princess, Amazon Books (2014)
[29] Mary Field Belenky, et al. Women’s ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. (1986)
[30] Carol Gilligan, In a different voice, Harvard University. (1984)
[31] Douglas Galbi, cultural construction of Reddy’s The Making of Romantic Love (2015), and Musa iocosa: vital medieval poetic medicine for pedestalizing women. at PurpleMotes.com (2018)
[32] Stephen Jarosek, Transcending Scientism: Mending Broken Culture’s Broken Science, (2017)
[33] Matthew D. Hammond, et.al. The allure of sexism: Psychological entitlement fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychological and Personality Science 5.4 (2014)
[34] William Collins, The Empathy Gap, article published at The Illustrated Empathy Gap. http://empathygap.uk (2016)
[35] Janice Fiamengo, The Empathy Gap – Fiamengo File Episode 4, YouTube. (2015)
[36] Nancy Friday, Chapter on envy in The power of beauty. London: Hutchinson, (1996).
[37] Gerald Schoenewolf, Feminism and ‘gender narcissism,’ published on A Voice for Men website (2017).
[38] Paul Nathanson, and Katherine K. Young. Spreading misandry: The teaching of contempt for men in popular culture. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP, (2001).
[39] Gerald Schoenewolf, Feminism and ‘gender narcissism,’ published on A Voice for Men website (2017).
[40] Narcissistic supply, entry in Wikipedia (2018)
[41] Arthur S. Reber. Narcissistic injury, definition in The Penguin dictionary of psychology. Penguin Press, 1995.
[42] Elsa Ronningstam. Identifying and understanding the narcissistic personality. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 86–87. (2005)
[43] Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury, entry in Wikipedia (2018)
[44] Imogen Tyler, ‘Who put the “Me” in feminism?’: The sexual politics of narcissism. Feminist Theory (2005)
[45] Paul Elam, Daddy’s Little Nightmare, published at A Voice for Men, (2019)
[46] Grijalva, E., Newman, et.al., Gender differences in narcissism: A meta-analytic review. Psychological bulletin, 141(2), 261. (2015).

Image: Edward Burne Jones ‘The Mirror of Venus’ 

A New Aristocracy

When Marxist activist Rudi Dutschke looked at ways to stage a neo-Marxist revolution he hit on the plan of “a long march through the institutions of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery.” His strategy was to work against the established institutions while working surreptitiously within them. Evidence of the attempt to implement his plan can be seen today through many levels of society – especially in universities.

Marxists however are not the only ones to use this strategy. In fact when we look at the numerous political forces attempting to infiltrate and influence our cultural institutions we see that another, much more influential candidate, has twisted its tendrils through every layer of society – and it existed long before Marx and Marxism was born. That force is political feminism,1 whose culture project has been in play now for several hundred years.

Protofeminists like Lucrezia Marinella, Mary Wollstoncraft, Margaret Cavendish, Modesta Pozzo, or Christine de Pizan were advocating a ‘long march’ through institutions for centuries before Marxism emerged and began its tragic experiment. Pizan’s main book for example titled A City of Ladies sketched an imaginary city whose institutions were controlled completely by women, and each of the protofeminists advanced some theory of female rule or ‘integration’ of women into governing institutions. Later feminists followed suit, such as Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote the famed book HerLand (1915) envisioning a society run entirely by women who reproduce by parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction), resulting in an ideal (utopic) social order free from war, conflict, and male domination.

A survey of protofeminist writings reveals consistent advocacy for the superior abilities of women as functionaries: women’s greater compassion, virtue, nonviolence, intelligence, patience, superior morality and so on, combined with a concomitant descriptions of male destructiveness, insensitivity and inferiority as we see continued in the rhetoric of modern feminists.

Via that polarizing narrative feminists sought to grab not just a big slice of the governance pie; as contemporary feminists have shown they would stop at nothing but the whole pie. Nothing but complete dominance of the gendered landscape would satisfy their lust for control, and it appears they have succeeded.

We see that dominance in women’s occupation of pivotal bureaucratic positions throughout the world, from the UN and World Bank all the way down through national governments, schools and universities, and HR departments in most medium to large workplaces. Feminists not only govern the world via these roles, but as surveyed in Janet Halley’s recent book Governance Feminism: An Introduction, that governance is far from the utopia early feminist promised.

The long feminist tradition underlines the danger of viewing ‘the march through the institutions’ as a Cultural Marxism project, because it deflects us from the historically longer, more powerful, more dangerous and ultimately more successful project that is political feminism.

Moreover, the protagonists of Marxist and feminist worldviews are not one and the same; the former aims to dismantle social-class oppression, and the latter gender oppression. While there are some individuals working to amalgamate these two contrary theories into a hybrid of Frankenstein proportions, their basic theoretical aims remain distinct.

Like Marxism, feminism too can be imagined as a socio-political ideology, in this case modelling itself on a medieval feudalism which was structured with two social classes: 1. A noble class of aristocrats, priests, princes and princesses, and 2. a peasant class of serfs and slaves overseen by indentured vassals.

Stripped of its medieval context we see the purveyors of political feminism working to institute a new sex-stratified version of feudalism which serves to maximize the power of women. With this move we have seen an increased tendency to emphasize women’s “power,” “dignity,” “honor,” “esteem” and “respect” – descriptors historically reserved for dignitaries.

As in medieval times, the assets and wealth generated by the labour class – predominately men – are taxed and redistributed to the new quasi-aristocratic class via a plethora of social spending programs of governments, or alternatively via asset transfers like alimony, child support, divorce settlements and other court mandated conventions. Children themselves form part of that asset portfolio which men are often forced to relinquish to women in the event of divorce. In the face of such practices men are reminded that women’s “dignity” is very much at stake, and their acquiescence mandatory.

The push to establish a female aristocratic class has long been recognized, as mentioned by the following writer from more than a century ago (1896), who in his ‘Letter To The editor’ observed the granting of unequal social privileges to female prisoners;

“A paragraph in your issue of the week before last stated that oakum-picking as a prison task had been abolished for women and the amusement of dressing dolls substituted. This is an interesting illustration of the way we are going at present, and gives cause to some reflection as to the rate at which a sex aristocracy is being established in our midst. While the inhumanity of our English prison system, in so far as it affects men, stands out as a disgrace to the age in the eyes of all Europe, houses of correction for female convicts are being converted into agreeable boudoirs and pleasant lounges…

I am personally in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment, as I am of existing prison inhumanities, for both sexes, but the snivelling sentiment which exempts females on the ground of sex from every disagreeable consequence of their actions, only strengthens on the one side every abuse which it touches on the other. Yet we are continuously having the din of the “women’s rights” agitation in our ears. I think it is time we gave a little attention to men’s rights, and equality between the sexes from the male point of view.–YoursYours, &c.,, A MANLY PROTESTOR,”2

Another comes from a 1910 Kalgoorlie Miner which reported a push to set up a female aristocracy in America. It was entitled The New Aristocracy:

A question of deep human interest has been raised by The Independent.
 
“To be successful in the cultivation of culture a country must have a leisure class,” says the editor. “We Americans recognise this fact, but we are going about the getting of this leisure class in a new way.

“In Europe the aristocracy is largely relieved from drudgery in order that they may cultivate the graces of life. In America the attempt is being made to relieve the women of all classes from drudgery, and we are glad to see that some of them at least are making good use of the leisure thus afforded them. It is a project involving unprecedented daring and self-sacrifice on the part of American men, this making an aristocracy of half the race. That it is possible yet remains to be proved. Whether it is desirable depends upon whether this new feminine aristocracy avoids the faults of the aristocracy of the Old World, such as frivolousness and snobbishness.”3

Lastly a comment from Adam Kostakis who gives an eloquent summary of feminism’s preference for a neo-feudal society in his Gynocentrism Theory Lectures:

“It would not be inappropriate to call such a system sexual feudalism, and every time I read a feminist article, this is the impression that I get: that they aim to construct a new aristocracy, comprised only of women, while men stand at the gate, till in the fields, fight in their armies, and grovel at their feet for starvation wages. All feminist innovation and legislation creates new rights for women and new duties for men; thus it tends towards the creation of a male underclass.”4

By many accounts what we’ve achieved today under feminist modelling is the establishment of a neo-feudal society with women representing an aristocratic class and men the labour class of serfs, slaves and peasants who too often spend their lives looking up from the proverbial glass cellar. When men do rule, it is usually not with a life “free of drudgery” as mentioned above, but with hard-work as CEOs, executives and prime ministers in service of the ruling female class who are busy with little more than lifting their lattes.

This gendered enterprise is now several hundred years in the making, enjoying further consolidations with every passing year of feminist governance. That a widespread female aristocracy now exists is undeniable, at least in the Western world, although we remain reluctant to name it as such for fear of offending our moral betters. We can only hope that the recent petition to abolish the House of Lords becomes infectious and begins to tackle the unearned privileges of those new aristocrats who serve nobody but themselves.

Sources:

[1]. Ernest Belfort Bax coined the phrase ‘political feminism’ in his book The Fraud of Feminism. London: Grant Richards Ltd, 1913
[2] New Feminine Aristocracy; Narrowly Trained Men, Kalgoorlie Miner, Wednesday 5 January 1910, page 2 (3)
[3]. A Privileged and Pampered Sex, Letter to the Editor, Reynolds Newspaper, 1896
[4]. Adam Kostakis, Lecture 11: The Eventual Outcome of Feminism –II, Gynocentrism Theory Lectures, 2011

*An earlier version of the above article was published in my book Feminism And The Creation of a Female Aristocracy.

The Virgin Mary, chivalry, gynocentrism & feminism (1897)

Mary commons

In the below article penned in 1897, a Mrs. Marion Reedy held that widespread veneration of Mary encouraged the pedestalization of women, gave birth to the chivalrous gentlemen, and was responsible for the “New Woman” of feminism:

“The church it was that built up the modern ideal of woman. The church it was that cultivated, so to speak, chastity, by its insistence that the creature who had borne a God was worthy of veneration, and was not to be only an utensil in ministration to male passion. Not only was man indoctrinated with a higher idea of woman, but women became possessed of a higher, better sense of their own worthiness.

There is no love poem in the world that equals the Litany of the Virgin, composed by the celibates of the church, and all that is ethereal and spiritual in modem love’s expression is to be found in the beautiful titles whereby the Virgin Mother has been supplicated for centuries. This idealization, not to say idolization, of woman could not but have its effect upon men and women in a time when the church was supreme, and so we see, as woman is more and more recognized for her worth & her value in the scheme of things, coming down the centuries, woman’s ideas gradually changing the heart of the world. As civilization progressed, cruelty was put away. This was the influence of woman.

The gradual growth into life, out of religion, of the reverence for Mary manifested itself in the development of chivalry, and then, when chivalry, its ends accomplished, passed away, in the development of what we now know as the gentleman.
Pedestal
This Mariolatry, as some people call it, led to the modern gynolatry about which there is, now and then, much protest. Yes, the devotion to Mary is responsible for the New Woman, and the New Woman is only a distortion of the real woman as she will be when emancipated completely from the denomination of the ideas against which Mariolatry has been an age-long protest. If the church enslaved woman, it did so, in one way, only to give her greater power in another.

The nunnery up-held chastity in times when universal and continuous war ravaged the world ; for the Middle Ages were anarchy. The church maintained the indissolubility of marriage when every petty tyrant in Italy, Germany & France deemed himself a god, and thought to appropriate other men’s wives and daughters as he would their cattle. Churchmen at times were dissolute enough to convert unbelievers on the theory that an institution which could survive such infamies must be Divine, but the teachings of the church held the great body of men true to purity in woman, and to the sanctity of the marital relation.

The church has upheld Mary consistently as the type of sacred womanhood and, by its influence upon the minds of men, has brought about a general attitude toward all women as if they partake of some of her mystical attributes of worthiness and even of divinity.        Ave Maria!

Source: Mrs. Marion Reedy, published in The Philistine in 1897.

Further reading: ‘Mariolatry and Gyneolatry’