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< Back to question Does androcentrism perpetuate gender roles? Show more Show less

Androcentrism refers to a worldview based on male perspectives and standards. Men and masculinity are viewed as the human norm and women and femininity are viewed as "other". Many languages--including English--have long used androcentric language. This can be seen by the use of spotlighting, order choice in conjoined terms, and male generic language which is the use of masculine pronouns and words like "man" or "mankind” to refer to both men and women, such as in Neil Armstrong's famous phrase "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Recently, though, many are arguing for more inclusive, gender-neutral language on the basis that androcentric speech ostracizes women and other genders.

No, androcentrism does not perpetuate gender roles Show more Show less

The language that is claimed to be androcentric is historically gender-neutral, and any attempts to eradicate this language is wasted effort at best and oppressive at worst.
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Language is already gender-neutral

Words like "mankind" and "man-made" have historically referred to all humans, so these terms are not gendered and therefore do not perpetuate any gender roles.
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The Argument

Throughout the history of English, the word "man" and words containing it ("mankind," "manpower") were used to refer to all human beings regardless of gender. Dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary, which trace the development of words throughout history, acknowledge that "man" means "human" or "person," not just "male individual."[1] Since words like "mankind" have already been gender-neutral for centuries, they do not perpetuate any gendered stereotypes or gender roles. They simply refer to human individuals. No change is necessary to get rid of the androcentric language because it is not inherently male-oriented.

Counter arguments

From an etymological perspective, this viewpoint is false. "Man" has never been exclusively gender-neutral in English. While the Oxford English Dictionary does include meanings of "man" that are gender-neutral, some of which now obsolete, it also shows that this same word has referred to male persons from the beginning, too.[1] Even in Proto-Indo-European, the ancient ancestor that gave English most of its words, the word for "man" refers mainly to a male person.[2] Words like "mankind" have thus never been completely gender-neutral, rendering this argument invalid.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Sunday, 6 Sep 2020 at 00:44 UTC

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