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Androcentrism (Ancient Greek, ἀνήρ, "man, male"[1]) is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing a masculine point of view at the center of one's world view, culture, and history, thereby culturally marginalizing femininity. The related adjective is androcentric, while the practice of placing the feminine point of view at the center is gynocentric.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term androcentrism was introduced as an analytic concept by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in a scientific debate. Perkins Gilman described androcentric practices in society and the resulting problems they created in her investigation on The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture, published in 1911.[2] Because of this androcentrism can be understood as a societal fixation on masculinity whereby all things originate. Under androcentrism, masculinity is normative and all things outside of masculinity are defined as other. According to Perkins Gilman, masculine patterns of life and masculine mindsets claimed universality while female patterns were considered as deviance.[2]


In the past boys and men were expected to have better formal education than girls and women. Girls and women were less frequently able to read and write than boys and men were; thus, written material tended to reflect the male point of view. Well into the second half of the 20th century young men entered university far more frequently than young women.[citation needed] Some universities such as the University of Oxford consciously practiced a numerus clausus and restricted the number of female undergraduates they accepted.[3] Therefore, "educated opinion" risked being androcentric.


In the majority of societies today, books, magazine articles and book reviews are written predominantly by men and therefore may privilege a male viewpoint. For instance, in 2010 only 37% of the books published by Random House were written by women, and only 17% of the books reviewed by The New York Review of Books were written by women.[4] Research conducted by VIDA in 2010 found that men wrote the vast majority of articles and book reviews in leading magazines in the United States and the UK.[5]

Research by Dr. David Anderson and Dr. Mykol Hamilton has documented the under-representation of female characters in 200 top-selling children's books from 2001 and a seven-year sample of Caldecott award-winning books.[6] There were nearly twice as many male main characters as female main characters, and male characters appeared in illustrations 53 percent more than female characters. Most of the plot-lines centered on the male characters and their experiences of life.

TV and film[edit]

The vast majority of films are written and directed by men. This may result in an androcentric bias, with most films (and film characters) being created from a male perspective. Of the top 250 grossing films in 2007, 82% had no female writers and only 6% had a female director.[7] 70% of all film reviews published in the USA are written by men.[8] Therefore, not only do men have more influence than women over the storyline and characters of most films but also they have the most influence when it comes to publicly reviewing them. Because most film reviewers are male, androcentric films (films from a masculine viewpoint) may tend to receive more glowing reviews than female-centric films.[citation needed]

A 2009 study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute analyzed 122 children's films (released between 2006 and 2009) and found both a male bias 'behind the scenes' of the films as well as a male bias in the content of the films.[9] Of this sample, 93% of directors, 87% of writers, and 80% of producers were male. Therefore, an androcentric (male) perspective was dominant in most of the films. The report argued that the male dominance behind most of the films was connected to a male bias (an androcentric bias) in the content of the films themselves. For instance, the majority (70.8%) of the speaking characters in these films were also male, and female characters were much more likely than male characters to be portrayed as beautiful. The report argued that "cinematic females are valued more than cinematic males for their looks, youthfulness, and sexy demeanor".

The arts[edit]

In 1985 a group of female artists from New York, the Guerrilla Girls, began to protest the under-representation of female artists. According to them, male artists and the male viewpoint continued to dominate the visual art world. In a 1989 poster (displayed on NYC buses) titled "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" They reported that less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections of the Met Museum were women, but 85% of the nudes were female.[10]

Over 20 years later, women were still under-represented in the art world. In 2007, Jerry Saltz (journalist from the New York Times) criticized the Museum of Modern Art for undervaluing work by female artists. Of the 400 works of art he counted in the Museum of Modern Art, only 14 were by women (3.5%).[11] Saltz also found a significant under-representation of female artists in the six other art institutions he studied.[12]

Generic male language[edit]

In literature, the use of masculine language to refer to men, women, intersex, and non-binary may indicate a male or androcentic bias in society where men are seen as the 'norm', and women, intersex, and non-binary are seen as the 'other'. Some examples are forms of address (such as "Hey guys" or "Dear Sirs") and masculine nouns and pronouns (such as 'mankind', 'man' or 'he') to refer to men, women, intersex, and non-binary. Philosophy scholar Jennifer Saul argued that the use of male generic language marginalizes women, intersex, and non-binary in society.[13] In recent years, some writers have started to use more gender-inclusive language (for instance, using the pronouns they/them, and using gender-inclusive words like humankind, person, partner, spouse, businessperson, fire-fighter, chairperson and police-officer).

Many Latin-based languages in the world are also male-centric. For instance, in Spanish the word padres (plural of 'father') means 'parents', abuelos (plural of 'grandfather') means 'grandparents', and chicos means either 'boys' or 'children'. Pluralized nouns are, if describing a mixed-gender group, assigned male word-endings, pronouns, and adjectives. This dominance of the masculine grammatical form in formation of the plural is a property also of Italian, Portuguese and French.

Many studies have shown that male generic language is not interpreted as truly 'gender-inclusive.'[14] Psychological research has shown that, in comparison to unbiased terms such as "they" and "humankind," masculine terms lead to male-biased mental imagery in the mind of both the listener and the communicator.

Three studies by Mykol Hamilton show that there is not only a male → people bias but also a people → male bias.[15] In other words, a masculine bias remains even when people are exposed to only gender neutral language (although the bias is lessened). In two of her studies, half of the participants (after exposure to gender neutral language) had male-biased imagery but the rest of the participants displayed no gender bias at all. In her third study, only males showed a masculine-bias (after exposure to gender neutral language) — females showed no gender bias. Hamilton asserted that this may be due to the fact that males have grown up being able to think more easily than females of "any person" as generic "he," since "he" applies to them. Further, of the two options for neutral language, neutral language that explicitly names women (e.g., "he or she") reduces androcentrism more effectively than neutral language that makes no mention of gender whatsoever (e.g., "human").[16][17]

Feminist anthropologist Sally Slocum argues that there has been a longstanding male bias in anthropological thought as evidenced by terminology used when referring to society, culture and humankind. According to Slocum, "All too often the word 'man' is used in such an ambiguous fashion that it is impossible to decide whether it refers to males or just the human species in general, including both males and females."[18]

Generic male symbols[edit]

The default images in Western society for 'man' and for 'human being' are usually the same. For example, the 'walking person' light (that indicates when it is safe for pedestrians to cross the road) looks the same as the symbol for 'man' on the door of a male restroom. The typical symbol for 'woman' looks quite different (with long hair and a triangle body to indicate she is wearing a dress).

On the Internet, many avatars are gender-neutral (such as an image of a smiley face). However, when an avatar is human and discernibly gendered, it usually appears to be male.[19][20] This indicates that the image of a man (but not that of a woman) is considered to be a normative representation of humankind in general.

Politics and the law[edit]

In 2008 Rwanda became the first country in the world to have a female-majority parliament (56% of seats).[21] As of March 2011, Rwanda remains the only country in the world to have a female majority parliament. As of 2015, the global average of women in parliament is 22.1%.[22] In the Nordic countries the proportion of females in parliament is high, about 41.5% on average,[22] but the representation of women in parliament in many other Western countries is much lower (for example, the proportion of women in Congress in the United States of America is 19.6%,[23] and in the United Kingdom it is 32%).[24]


Sports media channels such as ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as sports magazines like Sports Illustrated, are assumed to appeal to a predominantly male audience. This is reflected by its advertisers who almost exclusively target men. Men are also most likely to stimulate the sporting economy whether the advertising is targeted non-gender specifically.[citation needed]analysis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liddell, Henry G.; Scott, Robert; Stuart Jones, Henry (1940). A Greek–English Lexicon. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press. OCLC 499596825.
  2. ^ a b Perkins Gilman, Charlotte (1911). The man-made world: or, Our androcentric culture. New York: Charlton. OCLC 988836210.
  3. ^ Frances Lannon (30 October 2008). "Her Oxford". Times Higher Education.
  4. ^ Franklin, Ruth (February 7, 2011). "A Literary Glass Ceiling? Why magazines aren't reviewing more female writers". The New Republic. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  5. ^ VIDA (May 16, 2011). "The Count 2010". VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Mykol C.; Anderson, David; Broaddus, Michelle; Young, Kate (December 2006). "Gender stereotyping and under-representation of female characters in 200 popular children's picture books: a twenty-first century update". Sex Roles. Springer. 55 (11&ndash, 12): 757&ndash, 765. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9128-6.
  7. ^ Lauzen, Martha M. The celluloid ceiling report: behind-the-scenes employment of women in the top 250 films of 2007 (PDF). Center for the study of women in television and film, San Diego State University. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  8. ^ Lauzen, Martha M. (2008). "Thumbs down - representation of women film critics in the top 100 U.S. daily newspapers". Archived from the original on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  9. ^ Smith, Stacy; Choueiti, March (23 December 2010). "Gender on screen and behind the camera in family films: an executive summary" (PDF). Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  10. ^ Guerilla Girls poster 1989. Guerrilla Girls. Archived from the original on 25 November 2013. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  11. ^ Saltz, Jerry (18 November 2007). "Where are All the Women? On MoMA's Identity Politics". New York. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  12. ^ Saltz, Jerry (17 November 2007). "Data: Gender Studies. Is MoMA the worst offender? We tallied how women fare in six other art-world institutions". New York. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  13. ^ Paul, Jennifer (2004). "Feminist philosophy of language". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online). Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  14. ^ Studies:
  15. ^ Hamilton, Mykol C. (November 1991). "Masculine bias in the attribution of personhood: people = male, male = people". Psychology of Women Quarterly. Sage. 15 (3): 393&ndash, 402. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1991.tb00415.x.
  16. ^ Khosroshahi, Fatemeh (December 1989). "Penguins don't care, but women do: A social identity analysis of a Whorfian problem". Language in Society. Cambridge Journals. 18 (4): 505&ndash, 525. doi:10.1017/S0047404500013889.
  17. ^ Bailey, April H.; LaFrance, Marianne (June 2017). "Who counts as human? Antecedents to androcentric behavior". Sex Roles. Springer. 76 (11&ndash, 12): 682&ndash, 693. doi:10.1007/s11199-016-0648-4.
  18. ^ Slocum, Sally (2012) [1975], "Woman the gatherer: male bias in anthropology", in McGee, R. Jon; Warms, Richard L. (eds.). Anthropological theory: an introductory history. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 399&ndash, 407. ISBN 9780078034886.
  19. ^ Wade, Lisa (4 May 2009). "Default avatars: a collection". The Society Pages | Sociological Images. University of Minnesota. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  20. ^ Bailey, April H.; LaFrance, Marianne (2016). "Anonymously male: Social media avatar icons are implicitly male and resistant to change". Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace. Masaryk University. 10 (4): 8. doi:10.5817/CP2016-4-8.
  21. ^ McCrummen, Stephanie (27 October 2008). "Women run the show in a recovering Rwanda". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
  22. ^ a b Women in Parliament: 20 years review (PDF). Geneva, Switzerland: Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2015. OCLC 918988163. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2017.
  23. ^ "Women in the U.S. Congress 2017". Center for American Women and Politics (Rutgers). January 2017. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Women in national parliaments (as of 1 September 2017)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1 September 2017. Archived from the original on 11 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.


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