Androcentrism and Androgyny in the Methodology of History of Religions

Rita M. Gross

in A Garland of Feminist Reflections

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520255852
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943667 | DOI:
Androcentrism and Androgyny in the Methodology of History of Religions

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This chapter focuses on the questions that a feminist scholar asks of her discipline when she is a historian of religions. This can be understood within the context of the paradigm shift that feminist thought requires of all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The basic paradigm shift is the transition from an androcentric methodology to an androgynous methodology. The unconscious androcentric presuppositions undergirding almost all work done to date in the history of religions cause serious deficiencies, especially at the primary level of data-perception and gathering, and this deficiency in turn generates serious deficiencies at the level of model-building and theorizing whenever any hint of sexuality or sexual imagery is present in the data being analyzed. The scope and the limitations of the feminist critique and reformulation of history of religions methodology are dealt with as answers to two frequent, somewhat defensive questions asked by those who want history of religions methodology to be adequate, but also wish to assert that the feminist critiques that can be leveled at other disciplines in religious studies do not apply to history of religions. The three central propositions that characterize the general ideology of androcentrism contain an interior contradiction that makes androcentrism glaringly inappropriate as a mind-set for long cross-cultural or historical research.

Keywords: paradigm shift; androcentric methodology; androgynous methodology; feminist critique; androcentrism

Chapter.  4039 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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