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Does androcentrism perpetuate gender roles?

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.

Yes, androcentrism perpetuates gender roles

Androcentric language perpetuates gender roles by making men and masculine speech the norm, using male generic language to limit female representation, perpetuating gender stereotypes, and setting a different standard for how men and women are described and defined.

Androcentric language shows men and masculine speech as the norm

Men being most often referenced first in conjoined terms such as men and women or kings and queens designates them as the norm. Additionally, masculine speech is viewed as the standard.

Male generic language impacts representation

Male generic language uses masculine pronouns to refer to anyone. When male generic language is used, people are far more likely to picture men instead of women. This results in a lack of mental and linguistic representation, which excludes women and limits women’s opportunities.

Androcentric language perpetuates stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are formed at an early age by what kids hear. Androcentric language such as some common colloquialisms (like be a man) and spotlighting (like a female lawyer) perpetuate gender stereotypes.

Androcentric language sets a different standard for men and women

Androcentric language sets a different standard for how men and women are described and defined. Men are described more by their accomplishments and women their appearance. Men are also more likely to be defined on their own while women often defined by their relationship to men.

No, androcentrism does not perpetuate gender roles

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.

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.

Efforts to dispel androcentric language go too far

Replacing words like "mankind" with "humankind" is simply a form of political correctness that censors people. There is no need to change anything because there are more important issues.

This page was last edited on Sunday, 6 Sep 2020 at 00:37 UTC


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