MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) often say that feminism and traditionalism (patriarchy) are the two gynocentrisms of our time. The implication seeming to imply that gynocentrism is a bad thing and that traditionalists are “just like feminists” because they both are “gynocentric.” I would agree that both feminism and traditionalism are gynocentric and that indeed MRAs are about the only men around who are not gynocentric. It should be understood however that for a man to not be gynocentric is a very strange thing and a very bad thing.
For there to be any kind of social movement actually opposed to gynocentrism in principle is an extreme deviation from the social norm and from cultural history. Of course feminism is gynocentric because any widespread cultural value system is going to be gynocentric. Yes, feminism is a perversion and distortion of what gynocentrism is meant to be which is the source of feminism’s bad and destructive characteristics but gynocentrism itself is perfectly healthy and perfectly natural. Traditionalism or patriarchy is most definitely gynocentric as traditionalism is “traditional” and therefore “normal” and gynocentrism in the society at large is definitely “normal.”
MRAs will often say that feminism in its modern form was only able to come about due to the underlying foundational gynocentrism that patriarchy already had within it. Again, I agree with this completely. Feminism is patriarchy with a twist; that twist being service to women under women’s control rather than service to women under men’s control. Feminists promoted the notion that “true service” to women had to be based on women’s demands and women’s preferences; that what a man offers a woman based on his own value system and his own initiative necessarily is contrary to what is best for the woman if what the woman herself demands and requests is something different. Feminism has never claimed that service to women is bad or undesirable, it has only claimed that service to women is only “true service” when the benefit to the woman is determined and controlled by the woman. Within patriarchy there is definitely the idea that men serving women is good, within feminism there is also the idea that men serving women is good; the difference between patriarchy and feminism is who decides in what way service to the woman should be provided. Under patriarchy the man decides while under feminism the woman decides.
Gynocentrism itself is not in doubt; only how gynocentrism should be expressed is in dispute. The man serving the woman based on the woman’s demands is female supremacy. This is why feminism is female supremacy. The man serving the woman based on the man’s own value system and goals, what patriarchy is based on, is not really male supremacy and is not really female supremacy either; it instead is based on a form of equality. The man is expected to give to the woman but the man is giving to the woman to further his own goals and his own purpose so that the man’s service to the woman is also service to himself.
You will notice looking around that there are many men who support feminism and shun patriarchy just like there are many women who support feminism and shun patriarchy. One might see the reason why a woman prefers the female supremacy of feminism to the more fair system of patriarchy that came before. What man in his right mind however would prefer feminism over patriarchy? This brings us to the other side of feminism. Feminism is not just women telling men how to best serve women, feminism is also “women’s liberation” or “sisters doing it for themselves” or more bluntly the end of male responsibility. This end of male responsibility is the male side of feminism, why “feminism is good for men to” as feminists often say.
No man in his right mind will place a priority on serving women based on what the woman dictates to him, this can be seen by everybody as being intrinsically unfair. Feminists’ claim to moral legitimacy is “gender equality” and “gender equality” necessarily implies an equality of both rights and responsibilities (as feminists define the concept). The men in a feminist system will definitely point out the equality of responsibilities part, you can count on that. So feminism has its own version of equality between the sexes, that being no more male power and no more male responsibility both. This is how feminism brings men on board its agenda. The power hungry woman and the irresponsible lazy man form an alliance with each other.
Looking at the MRAs, what the MRAs have against feminism is that they feel that feminists are trying to impose too much responsibility and obligation upon men; that feminists are not honoring the male side of the feminist bargain, the part where women absolve men of their responsibilities in exchange for men giving up their power. According to MRAs feminism is unfair in practice due to the continuing tendency of feminists to still seek to impose responsibilities upon men to some degree. What MRAs want is “true gender equality” where male responsibilities are reduced almost down to zero.
Both patriarchy and feminism therefore have their own versions of gender equality; have their own vision of fairness. In patriarchy men have high power and high responsibility; in feminism men have low power and low responsibility. This is the fundamental difference between the two and the way in which both systems make the claim of fairness and therefore moral legitimacy. Gynocentrism is a part of both patriarchy and feminism; in both social systems the tendency is to focus on women’s concerns first. Only under the radical vision of the MRAs where male responsibility is to be abolished completely is gynocentrism itself challenged.
So the question will come up; if both feminism and patriarchy are fair to both men and women in their own way which social system is better? Maybe both systems can work according to their own understandings of the good life?
First off; let’s go back to basics. Why do relationships between men and women exist in the first place? To create and provide a good environment for children. Men do not exist for themselves and women do not exist for themselves and the dynamic between men and women is not just for the purpose of providing entertainment and pleasure to the man and the woman. Men and women together exist to serve children and in particular the romantic relationship between men and women is most definitely for the purpose of providing to children what the child needs. So let’s look at the feminist form of gender equality and the patriarchal form of gender equality from the child’s point of view.
Feminism is low male investment, patriarchy is high male investment. From the child’s point of view are these two alternatives equal to each other or is one better than the other and if one is better than the other which one is better? Look at it this way. Does the child want their parents to put a high investment into them or a low investment into them or does the child not care one way or the other? Obviously the child is not indifferent as to whether they are given a high priority in their parents’ lives or a low priority; the child wants to be given the best, the child wants to be a high priority. So, working backwards, a high male investment in the woman means a high male investment in the child as men invest in women primarily as an indirect means of investing in the child. Men give to women so that women’s resources are freed up allowing the woman to invest in the child. High male investment in women then leads to high parental investment in children; this being what the child prefers, what is good for the child.
So male investment in women and in the family is not morally neutral; it is positive. This is why feminism is fundamentally bad and why patriarchy is fundamentally good and why the MRAs are even worse than the feminists. Feminism is a corrupt and immoral bargain where the woman is allowed to behave in an immoral way in exchange for the man being allowed to behave in an immoral way to. Yes feminism is fair between men and women in its own way but that is irrelevant regarding the moral character and nature of what feminism is. Both the man and the woman abusing each other is fair but it is not right.
Patriarchy is totally different from feminism because patriarchy is based on high male investment in women rather than low male investment in women. This makes the patriarchal form of fairness right and good because not only is it fair it is also moral. It is fairness derived from mutual generosity and virtue rather than fairness based on mutual selfishness as is the feminist way. Also under patriarchy everything is ultimately centered around the needs of the child while under feminism children are often viewed as a nuisance and an obstacle to the adult’s “freedom” and “fulfillment.”
Gynocentrism is based on male investment in women. Since male investment in women is good gynocentrism is also therefore good. Gynocentrism does not mean women above men; it means women at the center of attention. Since men are the dominant actors in shaping what society is like when men focus on women’s well being as they should the society overall will tend to focus on women’s well being.
Gynocentrism, fairness, and morality all go together under patriarchy; under patriarchy all three of these concepts are joined together to form a greater whole. First the man focuses on the well being of the woman; gynocentrism. This leads the man to be in service to the woman; what is fair considering what the natural relationship of the man to the woman is in the first place. Lastly this orientation of male service to women is moral, the man creating a moral good that is directed to the woman and in turn given to the child and to the society at large.
This essay was written in response to the below article:
Traditionalism is not Gynocentrism (and neither is Feminism)