Marina Subirats


It is necessary to build a culture that is not androcentric

Teachings on the concept of coeducation

The first thing we need in order to change our mentality, which, today, is our main problem, is for people, women and men, to realize that androcentrism is not normal. It's not normal that, in a society in which there are two distinct sexes, everything is thought about in terms of men, and the norm is that the men are those who rule, that men are those who have, those who write, those who, in short, occupy the public world, and that women are at home. This belongs in the past. In the future and in the present, we need to completely change this mentality, and see that this is not normal.

A course on Education for Equality is absolutely necessary. But that is not enough. The problem is not everything that we acquire as knowledge. Since mixed gender schools, which have become widespread since the 1980s, have existed in Spain, women in Spain have taken an extraordinary leap in terms of educational attainment. And today, we have surpassed men in the number of university degrees, for example. Therefore, women are doing well in terms of what there is to be learned from books and subjects, and from courses. But there exists a whole other set of messages of which we are not as aware. These messages begin at the moment of birth. When someone says: “It's a boy” or “It's a girl”, they are projecting upon this infant that has only just appeared in the world a set of expectations, of behavioral models, of commands they will be given, which will differ depending on whether they correspond to a boy or a girl. Therefore, this is what we must modify, these messages. Against which an infant cannot defend itself at all, because it has just arrived, and does not know what the world is like.

This inequality is on an educational level. Right now, we should have more women at the top of companies, because that would correspond to the actual educational levels of society. This era has been outgrown. The era we are in now is a bit different. It's the era of the disappearance of genders and the construction of an androgynous culture. Not androcentric, androgynous. In other words, it unites everything that was attributed to men and everything that was attributed to women, and puts it all within everyone's reach. This is a complicated procedure because, for millennia, it has been believed that everything that had to do with men was more important. Women, when we want to progress, and to have more freedom, tend to imitate masculine behaviors. The trouble is that this imitation was not accompanied by men making the effort to learn everything that we used to do.

In the traditional world, at times when people didn't know how to read or write, culture and the rules of life were largely passed down through stories. And in the traditional world, it was very clear that women and men were totally distinct, that they had distinct roles, and that was the way things had to be. Therefore, stories were used to put to women in their place. In other words, your life does not start until you have been kissed by a prince.

We must open the feminine world to men. But, for that to be possible, we must first do something else, which is to value ourselves. If we are the first to devalue ourselves, then how will they learn to value us? But this feminine world has to be shown, not as a representation of the essence of women, a demonstration that all women are just so... it is something specific to human nature, an extraordinary treasure. That it is what allows us to live, enjoy, savor, that it gives meaning to our life, and that we want for men to also have access to this world, that which they have currently largely forbidden themselves.

More about Marina Subirats

An emeritus professor of Sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Marina Subirats is pacesetter for feminism and coeducation. Author of the books, 'Forge a man, shape a woman' and 'Coeducation, a bet for freedom', this sociologist bets decidedly in favor of the complete reform of the educational model.
What practical examples of coeducation are there in the classroom?

There are very many. First: language. We must revise all of the notices and posters at school, and, if they are used, the letters that are sent home to families. “Director's office”, “Faculty lounge” (phrases which, in Spanish, generally default to masculine nouns). Girls absorb this language, which doesn't include them. The pictures hanging in the classroom, how many boys, how many girls, how many men, how many women, their bearings, what they are doing… Then there are the schoolyards, which have been changing. More and more, schoolyards are transformed into sports fields. If there were gardens, the trees have been cut down. So, there is cement, there's a fence that almost looks like it belongs in a prison, and a sports field. Add some goals, and there you have it. Then, the ball comes out: the children play. The boys gather in the middle and play, and the girls don't have a place to play. They all stand around, watching. This has consequences. For the boy, you are encouraging movement. For the girl, the message is the opposite. We must gather up the games meant for girls, reinvent the games meant for girls, and universalize them. That is, once we have space for the girls to develop their game, then they will end up inviting the boys to share it with them. And thus, there will be a day for soccer, and a day for whatever game that might be.

"It is not normal that, in a society with two sexes, everything is thought out with men in mind."

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