Gynocentrism

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Gynocentrism (Greek, γυνή, "woman", or "female") is the ideological practice, conscious or otherwise, of asserting a female-centered point of view on a wide range of social issues.[1][2][3] The perceptions, needs, and desires of women have primacy in this approach, where the female view is the point of departure or lens through which issues are addressed or analyzed.[4]


Description[edit]

Ideologically, gynocentrism prioritizes females hierarchically as the overriding focus, at the exclusion of all else; and as a result emulates or may be interpreted as misandry, the hatred and prejudice towards men. Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson claim that gynocentrism is a worldview based on the implicit or explicit belief that the world revolves around women, and is a cultural theme so well entrenched that it has become 'de rigueur' behind the scenes in law courts and government bureaucracies, which has resulted in systemic discrimination against men.[5]

Etymology[edit]

The term gynocentrism is derived from Ancient Greek, γυνή and κέντρον. Γυνή can be translated as woman or female,[6][7] but also as wife.[6][7] In Ancient Greek compounds with γυνή, the stem γυναικ- is normally used.[7] This stem can be spotted in the genitive case γυναικός,[6] and in the older form of the nominative case γύναιξ.[6] In Ancient Greek, no compounds are known to exist with γυνή that start with γυνο- or γυνω-.[7] From a classical point of view, the term gynOcentrism might be considered as an odd compound.

The Ancient Greek word κέντρον can be translated as sharp point,[7] sting (of bees and wasps),[7] point of a spear [7] and stationary point of a pair of compasses,[7] with the meaning centre of a circle related to the latter.[7] The meaning centre/middle point (of a circle) is preserved in the Latin word centrum,[8][9] a loanword from Ancient Greek.[8][9] The English word centre is derived from the Latin centrum.[10] The word κέντρον is derived from the verb κεντεῖν,[7][9] meaning to sting (of bees),[7] to prick,[7] to goad,[7] and to spur.[7] When trying to explain etymologically the term gynocentrism, it is important to consider the Ancient Greek κέντρον, with the signification middle point/centre, and not the more obvious Ancient Greek word κεντρισμός (mirroring -centrism). The Ancient Greek word κεντρισμός actually means stimulation,[7] and can be considered as derivation from the verb κεντρίζειν, to stimulate.[7] In κεντρισμός as well as κεντρίζειν the specific meaning middle point seems to be absent. In case κεντρισμός would be included in the etymological analysis, the term gynocentrism would be faulty rendered as stimulation of or by women, instead of the intended meaning.

Criticism[edit]

Some post-modern feminists such as Nancy Fraser question the assumption of a stable concept of 'woman' which underlies all gynocentrism.[11] Scholars Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young make a comparable claim that 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. Nathanson and Young add that "This worldview is explicitly misandric too, because it not only ignores the needs and problems of men, but also attacks men."[12]

Christina Hoff Sommers has argued that gynocentrism is anti-intellectual and holds an antagonistic view of traditional scientific and creative disciplines, dismissing many important discoveries and artistic works as masculine. Sommers also writes that the presumption of objectivity ascribed to many gynocentrist theories has stifled feminist discourse and interpretation.[13]

Feminist writer Lynda Burns emphasises that gynocentrism calls for a celebration of women's positive differences – of women's history, myths, arts and music – as opposed to an assimilationist model privileging similarity to men.[14] However observed in practice, the preeminence of women associated with gynocentric narratives is often seen as absolute: interpersonally, culturally, historically, politically, or in broader contexts socially (i.e. popular entertainment). As such, it can shade into what Rosalind Coward called “womanism...a sort of popularized version of feminism which acclaims everything women do and disparages men”.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 2010
  2. ^ http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gynocentrism Wiktionary Gynocentrism
  3. ^ Gynocentrism and its cultural origins
  4. ^ Nicholson, Linda J. The second wave: a reader in feminist theory Routledge, 1997 ISBN 978-0-415-91761-2 p147
  5. ^ Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Legalizing Misandry, 2006 p.309
  6. ^ a b c d Kraus, L.A. (1844). Kritisch-etymologisches medicinisches Lexikon (Dritte Auflage). Göttingen: Verlag der Deuerlich- und Dieterichschen Buchhandlung.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Liddell, H.G. & Scott, R. (1940). A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  8. ^ a b Lewis, C.T. & Short, C. (1879). A Latin dictionary founded on Andrews' edition of Freund's Latin dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  9. ^ a b c Saalfeld, G.A.E.A. (1884). Tensaurus Italograecus. Ausführliches historisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Griechischen Lehn- und Fremdwörter im Lateinischen. Wien: Druck und Verlag von Carl Gerold's Sohn, Buchhändler der Kaiserl. Akademie der Wissenschaften.
  10. ^ Klein, E. (1971). A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language. Dealing with the origin of words and their sense development thus illustration the history of civilization and culture. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science B.V.
  11. ^ Burns, p. 160-1
  12. ^ Katherine K. Young and Paul Nathanson, Sanctifying Misandry, 2010 p.58
  13. ^ Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (1994) p. 64-73
  14. ^ Lynda Burns, Feminist Alliances (2006) p. 153
  15. ^ Rosalind Coward, Sacred Cows (1999) p. 11

External links[edit]