Androcentrism: what it is and how it affects women
Androcentrism is the tendency to position the experience of man in the center of explanations about the world and about individuals in a generalized way. It is a practice that often goes unnoticed and through which the perspective of men is assumed as the universal gaze, and even the only valid or possible one.
This has been a very present trend in the development of Western societies, likewise it has been questioned in an important way by different people, with which, it is worth reviewing what androcentrism is and where it has been most present.
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The philosophy of who we put in the center
Something that philosophies and contemporary sciences have taught us is that there are many ways of looking at and explaining the world. When we perceive and interpret what surrounds us, and even ourselves, we do it based on a certain knowledge framework .
We have built this framework of knowledge throughout our history and largely through the stories we have heard about ourselves and others. In other words, the knowledge we have acquired has to do with the different perspectives that have been placed, or not, at the center of the same knowledge.
Thus, for example, when we speak of anthropocentrism, we refer to the tendency and philosophical conception that positions the human being at the center of knowledge about the world , a question that began formally with the modern era, and that replaced theocentrism (the explanations that put God in the center). Or, if we speak of "Eurocentrism" we refer to the tendency to look at and build the world as if we were all Europeans (experience is generalized).
These "centrisms" (the tendency to put a single experience at the center and use it to explain and understand all other experiences), includes both daily and specialized knowledge. While they are at the base of our knowledge and practices in both areas, they easily go unnoticed.
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What is androcentrism?
Returning to the previous section, we can see that "androcentrism" is a concept that refers to the tendency to explain the phenomena of the world based on the generalized experience of a single subject: man. This phenomenon consists of incorporate in the scientific, historical, academic and daily accounts, the masculine experience in the center (That's why it's "andro", which means masculine gender, and "centrism": in the center).
Consequently, all other ways of knowing and living the world are incorporated into these stories only peripherally, or even not incorporated. This applies to many fields. We can analyze, for example, androcentrism in science, androcentrism in history, in medicine, in education, in sports, and many others.
It is a phenomenon that has emerged largely as a result of the fact that in our societies, men are the ones who have occupied most of the public spaces , and it is fundamentally in the public sphere where those practices and discourses have been developed that allow us to know the world in one way or another.
These practices are, for example, science, history, sports, religion, etcetera. In other words, the world has been constructed and perceived fundamentally by men, with which, it is their experiences that have become historically extensive: much of how we see the world and how we relate to it, is made from their perspective , interests, knowledge, and general readings of all that compose it (that is, from its worldview).
Where can we see it?
The above is finally related and is visible in the most everyday, in the rules that tell us how to relate, how to behave, how to feel and even in the stories that we tell about ourselves.
The latter means that, far from being a phenomenon that is located and caused specifically by the masculine gender, it is a process that we have incorporated all of us as part of the same story and the same society . And its consequence has mainly been that the experience of women and those who do not identify with the hegemonic model of "male" is hidden and invisible, and therefore difficult to incorporate under equal conditions.
For the same reason there have been several people (mainly women) who have asked, for example, Where have the women who made science been? Why do they practically only teach us the biographies of men? And the women who made history? Where are the stories of women who have lived through wars or revolutions? In fact, who have finally gone down in history? Under what models or imaginaries?
The latter has allowed it to recover more and more, and in different areas, the heterogeneity of the experiences that we share the world , and with this, we also generate different ways of relating, of perceiving and interpreting both what surrounds us and ourselves.
- Falcó, R. (2003). The archeology of the genre: Spaces for women, women with space. Center for studies on women: Universitat d'Alacant.