Not All Is Great in the World of Men: A Reference Book of Men's Issues

The idea that “men have it great” is often treated as self-evident or undeniable, but in reality the condition of men in our society is just not that simple. Men are doing better in some areas, but they’re doing worse in some very important areas too. For example, men:

Many men’s issues interact with issues for racial minorities. The result is that minority men are doing the worst of any race/gender combination in numerous areas (including homelessness, life expectancy, and incarceration).

Table of Contents

Introduction

This page is intended to be a comprehensive and reliable resource detailing the major gender issues and negative attitudes facing men in the Western world. My goal is not to compare men’s and women’s issues and decide who has it worse, but I do want to show that men’s issues are serious enough to warrant being more than an afterthought.

I’m also not interested in addressing questions of ideology or movements here (feminism, the men’s rights movement, MGTOW, the red pill, etc.). Those questions are important because they involve how to solve the problems facing men, but for now I’m only interested in establishing what the problems are.

This project was started in January 2015 by /u/dakru, with input and suggestions from many others since then. Its home is on /r/rbomi, but it’s also shared with /r/MensRights. It has been hosted here with permission from the original author. For more information on men’s issues beyond this page, consider the following.

  1. The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys (by David Benatar: professor of philosophy and head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa)
  2. The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are the Disposable Sex (by Warren Farrell: activist, men’s movement icon, former member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Women in New York City, and former professor)
  3. Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters (by Helen Smith: psychologist specializing in forensic issues and men’s issues)
  4. Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men (by J.R. Macnamara, adjunct professor in public communication at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia)
  5. Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men (by Roy F. Baumeister: professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA)
  6. Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised as a Man (by Norah Vincent: writer who has had columns on Salon.com, The Advocate, the Los Angeles Times, and the Village Voice)
  7. Spreading Misandry, Legalizing Misandry, & Sanctifying Misandry (by Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson: both professors of religious studies at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
  8. Gendercide and Genocide (edited by Adam Jones: professor of political science at University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada)
  9. The Red Pill Documentary (directed by Cassie Jaye)

Section 1: Male disposability

Overview: Male disposability is our society’s tendency to have a greater concern for the well-being of women than the well-being of men. Simply put, women’s suffering is considered more tragic and worthy of action than men’s suffering. It produces a stronger emotional response in us. Having greater compassion for women is so deeply-ingrained in our culture that it seems natural and unremarkable. Not only does male disposability cause many issues for men, it also leaves people less likely to care about men’s issues.

Male disposability has many parallels in the realms of class, race, and nationality (e.g. citizens of non-Western countries are often seen/treated as more disposable than Westerners).

Examples/evidence: There has been enormous public outcry over the issue of “missing and murdered Aboriginal women” in Canada[1]. Aboriginal people do get murdered and go missing at disproportionate rates, but it’s the men, not the women, who are victimized more. Aboriginal men are murdered more than twice as often in Canada[2], and 4-5 times more of them have gone missing in the Northwest Territories and the province of Ontario[3]. Despite this, it is the women who are the focus of the public outcry.

A second example is Western coverage of Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist group. It received widespread attention for its kidnapping of 200+ schoolgirls. The gender of the victims was a major focus of the coverage.

The numerous other incidents where the group spared the women/girls and targeted the men/boys for murder (often brutally, including burning alive) received less attention in general, and much less focus on the gender of the victims[4].

A third example comes from the research of Adam Jones, genocide researcher and political science professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. In Western coverage of the Kosovo War, he found that male victims are seen as “unworthy” and marginalized as victims in comparison to “worthy” victims like women, children, and the elderly[5].

A fourth example comes from Portland, Orgeon. Although the homeless population there is 64% male[6], the mayor has expressed that one of his priorities is to “house all homeless women by the end of the year”. He commented that “when I see a homeless woman on the street, or in a doorway, my heart is touched, and I know Portlanders’ hearts are touched”. Another individual in the newscast asks “do we want any women sleeping on the street when the weather gets bad and it’s cold?”[7]. These quotes illustrate male disposability because although men are doing worse, women garner more sympathy.

One statement from former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is especially interesting in light of the concept of male disposability. According to her, “[w]omen have always been the primary victims of war” because they “lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat” and because they are “are often left with the responsibility, alone, of raising the children”[8]. The idea that men aren’t even the primary victims of their own deaths seems to be a particularly insensitive application of male disposability.

A phenomenon likely linked to male disposability (and a similar attitude to racial minorities) is missing white woman syndrome: “when a young white girl goes missing in America, it immediately becomes a national story”[9].

TVTropes identifies male disposability in the media with a trope called “Men Are the Expendable Gender”: “A female character can lose that some or even all of the audience’s sympathy if they are manipulative, somehow ‘immoral’, ugly, or just plain evil. Male characters on the other hand have to earn the audience’s sympathy by entertaining or interesting us with their actions. If they don’t, we either don’t care what happens to them or want them to suffer for failing to entertain/interest us.”[10]

In his book The Second Sexism (chapter 3), David Benatar mentions the fact that men are overwhelmingly the ones sent to war as an example of male disposability. He quotes a politician in the U.S. House of Representatives who spoke in favour of exempting/excluding women from combat roles in the U.S. military: “We do not want our women killed”. This attitude, he says, “partly explains why societies have been prepared to send males to war but have been extremely reluctant to send females”.

Our society’s particular concern for the well-being of women can be seen in the common practice of newsmedia and human rights groups mentioning the total number of victims of an event or tragedy and specifically singling out the number of women or girls. The BBC reported on successful efforts to save children who had been forcibly recruited for a militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: “[the United Nations Mission] said that since the beginning of the year, 163 children, including 22 girls, have been removed from the militia”[11]. The International Business Times reports on ISIS executions: “The Islamic State has executed 1,362 civilians, including 9 children and 19 women, since it declared a Caliphate last year in the regions under its control, a Syrian human rights monitor said on Tuesday.”[12] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on a 17-month period of airstrikes that killed (in its words) “7902 civilians, including 1121 women, and 1679 children”. The title of the the article was “More than 3500 children and women killed during 17 months of aerial bombardment”[13].

The fact that women’s suffering is seen as more tragic and worthy of action is also evident in the statistics showing that crimes with women as victims receive harsher sentences than crimes with men as victims (including a greater use of the death penalty), after controlling for legally relevant factors. More detail can be found in the section on the criminal justice system.


  1. Including from Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau http://globalnews.ca/news/1523596/harper-on-wrong-side-of-history-in-opposing-aboriginal-inquiry-trudeau/, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tom-mulcair-vows-aboriginal-women-inquiry-within-100-days-if-ndp-elected-1.2748280, and former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mulroney-says-he-d-have-royal-commission-into-murdered-aboriginal-women-1.1991674.
  2. http://on.thestar.com/1nnaQ29 (Toronto Star article “Aboriginal men murdered at higher rate than aboriginal women”)
  3. https://archive.is/3CiRr (CBC article “Missing aboriginal men need more attention, too: N.W.T. mother”), http://www.opp.ca/media/mumip/files/report-mumip.pdf (“Missing and Unsolved Murdered Indigenous People” from the Ontario Provincial Police)
  4. http://bit.ly/1uISTeE (Mediaite article “Why Did Kidnapping Girls, but Not Burning Boys Alive, Wake Media Up to Boko Haram?”), https://redd.it/259wev (Reddit post documenting incidents)
  5. http://adamjones.freeservers.com/effacing.htm (Adam Jones’ article “Effacing the Male: Gender, Misrepresentation, and Exclusion in the Kosovo War”)
  6. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/phb/article/532833 (“2015 Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness in Portland/Gresham/Multnomah County, Oregon”)
  7. https://archive.is/4DIXa (Huffington Post article “Portland, Oregon, Mayor Wants To House All Homeless Women By End Of Year”)
  8. https://archive.is/TB5RC (Hillary Clinton’s speech at the First Ladies’ Conference on Domestic Violence in El Salvador, 1998)
  9. https://archive.is/mRIJL (The Huffington Post article “How Trayvon Martin Became a Missing White Girl”)
  10. https://archive.is/O2ljL (“Men Are the Expendable Gender” on TV Tropes)
  11. http://bbc.in/1AqRhd5 (BBC article “DR Congo unrest: Children freed from militia, says UN”)
  12. https://archive.is/EaWCB (IBTimes article “Isis has Beheaded, Stoned and Shot 1,362 Civilians, including 9 Children: Report”)
  13. http://archive.is/jOMgd (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights page “More than 3500 children and women killed during 17 months of aerial bombardment”)

Section 2: Issues of life, death, well-being, and safety

Homelessness

Overview: Men consistently make up a majority of the homeless population. They’re especially common among the long-term homeless, the homeless living on the street (instead of a shelter)[1], and the homeless deaths. Despite this, we’re actually less eager to support homeless men[2].

Approximately 70 per cent of Canada’s homeless are male. Dion Oxford of Toronto’s Salvation Army Gateway shelter for men tells us it is harder to raise funds for men’s shelters. “Single, middle-aged homeless men are simply not sexy for the funder,” he says.

This is likely related to male disposability. This can also be seen in an article from the British newspaper The Independent on the “growing problem” of homelessness among women[3]. The author calls it “distressing” that 14 homeless people in shelters and 110 homeless people on the street are women.

Examples/evidence: One study conducted in New York City and Philadelphia found that those who are chronically homeless are overwhelmingly male (and black). 82.3% were male in New York City, and 71.1% were male in Philadelphia[4]. UK homeless charity St Mungo’s Broadway found that men made up 87% of rough sleepers in London (those on the street instead of in shelters)[5]. Another UK homeless charity provides a break-down of homeless deaths by age and gender[6].

For more, compare the number of instances of “John Doe” to “Jane Doe” in the Toronto Homeless Memorial (it’s 135 to 13)[7].

One survey of homeless people in the United States found that homeless men were less likely to have access to health insurance and government benefits[8].


  1. http://bit.ly/1wQy1zt (coursepage for Sociology 498G at the University of Maryland)
  2. http://bit.ly/105BHF7 (Globe and Mail article “Should universities be opening men’s centres?”)
  3. http://ind.pn/1csgMuD (The Independent article “Homeless and broken: how women are catching up with men”)
  4. http://1.usa.gov/1E4g0lv (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration document “Current Statistics on the Prevalence and Characteristics of People Experiencing Homelessness in the United States”)
  5. http://bit.ly/1EY5Ve4 (St Mungo’s Broadway “Street to Home Bulletin 2013/14” report)
  6. http://bit.ly/1wd4hkF (document on mortality among homeless people from Crisis, a UK charity for the homeless)
  7. http://bit.ly/13TY55G (Toronto Homeless Memorial’s list of deaths from homelessness)
  8. http://bit.ly/1GGYLhO (Healing Hands article “Single Males: The Homeless Majority”)

Homicide, robbery, and physical assault

Overview: Although women are more often the victims of sexual assault, men are more often the victims of homicide, robbery, and the more injurious types of physical assault. Some dismiss this by noting that men are also more likely to commit these crimes, but a murder victim doesn’t receive any solace from his murderer being the same gender as him. (This argument is also often applied to dismiss higher victimization rates among other groups like racial minorities: “that’s just blacks killing other blacks, who cares”.)

Examples/evidence: The following table includes numbers on the gender of perpetrators and victims of homicide (using statistics from the United States[1]) and assault (using statistics from Norway on the more serious incidents requiring a visit to an urban accident and emergency department[2]).

Genders Homicide (USA) Assault (Norway)
Male → Male 65.3% 74%
Male → Female 22.7% 21%
Female → Male 9.6% 2%
Female → Female 2.4% 4%

Gender patterns in different types of violence can be seen in the 2008 data from Canada. Women are 1.2× more likely than men to be the victims of common assault, which is the less serious and less injurious form of physical assault. Men on the other hand are more often the victims of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (1.9× more likely), aggravated assault (defined as being wounded, maimed, disfigured, or having your life endangered: 3.6× more likely), robbery (1.9× more likely), and homicide or attempted murder (3.5× more likely)[4].

An even bigger disparity is visible in the Chicago Tribune’s page documenting victims of shootings in the city. Of the 100 shootings in a one-month period in early 2015 (January 20th to February 16th), 93 had male victims—and the other 7 were listed as “unknown gender”[4].

Some studies look specifically at rates of violence victimization by strangers. In Canada in 2008, men were 80% of all reported attacks by strangers[5]. In the United States in 2010, men were twice as likely to suffer violence from strangers[6].


  1. http://bit.ly/14Scr7r (“Homicide trends in the U.S.” from U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  2. http://1.usa.gov/14SpK81 (“Gender and physical violence” by Steen and Hunskaar)
  3. http://bit.ly/1BeU619 (“Gender Differences in Police-reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008” from Statistics Canada)
  4. https://archive.is/WZvvK (Chicago Tribune page “Chicago shooting victims”, last updated 2015/2/19)
  5. https://archive.is/qB16e (“SNAPSHOT: Male Victims of Violent Crime” from National Victims of Crime Awareness Week)
  6. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs9310.pdf (“Violent Victimization Committed by Strangers, 1993-2010” from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Drug addiction and alcoholism

Overview: Women are by no means immune, but statistics do show that addiction affects men disproportionately. This should raise questions about what’s pushing men to substance abuse. Are they dealing with traumatic events, harmful attitudes and expectations, or a lack of social support?

Examples/evidence: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence (which is a higher standard than simply binge-drinking) at some point in their lives. They also note that men “consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women”[1]. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States found that rates of current illicit drug use to be 11.6% for men and 6.9% for women[2], and the 2009 New Jersey Household Survey on Drug Use and Health found that “[m]ales (14%) were significantly more likely than females (5%) to abuse or be dependent on alcohol, drugs or both alcohol and drugs in the past year”[3].


  1. http://1.usa.gov/1guimo6 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Fact Sheets - Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health”)
  2. http://1.usa.gov/1y5QAqF (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration “Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings”)
  3. http://bit.ly/1C0Qca7 (New Jersey Department of Human Services “2009 New Jersey Household Survey on Drug Use and Health”)

Suicide

Overview: Like drug/alcohol addiction, there are many women who commit suicide but the fact is that men still kill themselves at disproportionately high rates.

One study reports that although rates of fatal suicide behaviour are higher among men, rates of nonfatal suicide behaviour are higher among women. It says that women have higher rates of suicidal thoughts while there was no gender difference in suicide planning or suicide attempts[1]. The implications of this are not clear, but it is relevant to mention. Do men choose different, more deadly methods? Are they more “certain” or hopeless when engaging in suicidal behaviours, resulting in higher fatality rates? Either way, the end result is more dead men than dead women.

Examples/evidence: Suicide is the single biggest cause of death for men aged 20-45 in England/Wales[2]. In Canada in 2011, the rate of suicide among men was three times higher than among women[3]. In the United States in 2012, men were almost four times more likely to kill themselves. The graph below provides historical data on suicide in the United States[4].

Middle-aged men and poor men are especially at risk, according to the Department of Health in England[5]. Unfortunately, many people’s response to the issue of male suicide is to be more critical than supportive[6].

The Samaritans report says most people have no idea what they can do to combat male suicide. Too many they say, simply “ ‘upbraid’ men for being ‘resistant to help-seeking’ or ‘not talking about their feelings.’ ”

Mental-health specialists especially, says the Samaritans report, “need to move from ‘blaming men for not being like women,’ ” to designing projects and public services that can help them.


  1. https://archive.is/ExTKL (“Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years — United States, 2008-2009” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  2. https://archive.is/qwkgF (“More Statistics, Yet Still No Strategy…” from CALM: Campaign Against Living Miserably)
  3. http://bit.ly/1u1g1mf and http://bit.ly/1BVOxVx (“Suicides and suicide rate, by sex and by age group” from Statistics Canada)
  4. http://bit.ly/1rKWJ4R (from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2012)
  5. https://archive.is/vjgx1 (The Guardian article “Suicide numbers rise sharply, especially among middle-aged men”)
  6. https://archive.is/jXt36 (Vancouver Sun article “Men and suicide: The silent epidemic”)

Life expectancy gap

Overview: Men’s health is lagging behind women’s health according to many metrics. The most important of these is life expectancy, where men are losing out on an average of 4-5 years of life compared to women. Part of the gap (1-2 years) seems to be biological, but there are cultural/social factors (which we can fix) as well.

Examples/evidence: My two main sources are an article “Mars vs. Venus: The gender gap in health” from a 2010 edition of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch[1] and the series of papers by Barbara Blatt Kalben called Why Men Die Younger: Causes of Mortality Differences by Sex for the Society of Actuaries[2].

One piece of evidence for why only part of the gap is biological is that it has actually grown over the past 100 years. The table is from the United States, and the chart is from Canada (measured from the age of 7 to take infant mortality out of the picture).

Year Females Males Gender Gap
1900 48.3 46.3 2 Years
1950 71.1 65.6 5.5 Years
2000 79.7 74.3 5.4 Years
2007 80.4 75.3 5.1 Years

The German-Austrian Cloister Study provides interesting insight onto how much of the life expectancy gap is biological. Monks and nuns have similar lifestyles, and so their life expectancies are less influenced by the behavioural/social factors that exist in the general population. As it turns out, nuns live just one year longer than monks[3].

The Harvard Men’s Health Watch article provides various non-biological reasons for the gap.

  1. Men experience more work stress/hostility, which can increase the risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
  2. Men have less social support. Social support has been shown to protect against the common cold, depression, heart attacks, and strokes.
  3. Men are more likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs.
  4. Men are less likely to go to the doctor and make use of health-care (and actually less likely to have access to it). From the article: “Women are more likely than men to have health insurance and a regular source of health care. According to a major survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, three times as many men as women had not seen a doctor in the previous year …“.

Although that article does not mention it, differences in awareness, attention, and funding between men’s health and women’s health could also be part of the gap[4].

There are at least 7 new agencies and departments devoted solely to women while there is not one office for men or male specific ailments. Men’s health advocates long have pushed for an Office of Men’s Health to act as a companion to the Office on Women’s Health, established in 1991. Instead of rectifying that disparity, the new health care law intensified it.


  1. http://bit.ly/1vvKc7x or https://archive.is/3roDD (“Mars vs. Venus: The gender gap in health” from the Harvard Men’s Health Watch)
  2. http://bit.ly/1lDnXeg (Why Men Die Younger: Causes of Mortality Differences by Sex from the Society of Actuaries)
  3. http://bit.ly/1vBZeMo (“Causes of Male Excess Mortality: Insights from Cloistered Populations” by Marc Luy), http://www.klosterstudie.de/ (German-Austrian Cloister Study homepage”)
  4. https://archive.is/OSCMy (The Daily Caller article “Does Obamacare discriminate against men?”)

Workplace injury and death

Overview: Men are quite a bit more likely than women to get injured at work, and they’re overwhelmingly more likely to die at work.

Examples/evidence: In the United Kingdom in 201011, the rate of major injuries was almost twice as high for men as it was for women (130.5 compared to 68.8 per 100,000 workers)[1]. The difference in workplace deaths is even more stark. A study of workplace deaths in Canada from 1993 to 2005 found that the number of male deaths in 2005 alone was more than double the total number female deaths in the whole 22 year period from 1993 to 2005[2]. In the United States in 2006, men were 54% of the workforce but 92% of workplace deaths[2].


  1. https://archive.is/uj0nC (“Reported injuries to employees by age and gender” from the UK Health and Safety Executive)
  2. http://www.csls.ca/reports/csls2006-04.PDF (“Five Deaths a Day: Workplace Fatalities in Canada, 1993-2005” by Andrew Sharpe and Jill Hardt for the Centre for the Study of Living Standards)
  3. http://1.usa.gov/1pvu0Ch (“Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Hate crimes targeting gay men

Overview: Hate crimes based on sexual orientation disproportionately target homosexual men, with homosexual women being the victims noticeably less often.

Examples/evidence: Here’s the break-down of sexual orientation motivated hate crimes in the United States in 2012[1]:

  1. Anti-male homosexual bias — 54.6%
  2. Anti-homosexual bias (i.e. gender-neutral homophobia) — 28.0%
  3. Anti-female homosexual bias — 12.3%
  4. Anti-bisexual bias — 3.1%
  5. Anti-heterosexual bias — 2.0%

In Canada in the same year, 80% of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation targeted men[2]. Among all hate crimes, those based on sexual orientation were the most likely to involve assault and physical injuries.

The targeting of gay men (over lesbian women) for hate crimes is not unexpected, considering the history of state repression of homosexuality targeting gay men. In the United Kingdom, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (also known as “An Act to make further provision for the Protection of Women and Girls, the suppression of brothels, and other purposes”) recriminalized male homosexuality as “gross indecency”. Until decriminalization in 1967, 50,000 gay men were convicted, including author Oscar Wilde (sentenced to two years of hard labour in 1895) and mathematician Alan Turing (who accepted chemical castration as an alternative to prison in 1952; he killed himself two years later). Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Home Secretary 1951-54) talked of a “new drive against male vice” to “rid England of this plague”[3][4][5].

A similar targeting of gay men was found in Nazi Germany, although with even more severe consequences. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “[t]he vast majority of homosexual victims were males; lesbians were not subjected to systematic persecution”. Many survivors have testified that in concentration camps, homosexuals were treated especially harshly (compared to other inmate groups), not only by guards but also other inmates. Victims of the homosexual holocaust were widely refused both recognition and reparations after the war. Some even remained imprisoned by the post-war government[6][7].

Interestingly, according to the 2012 data from Canada, men are more likely than women to be the victims of all types of hate crimes, not just those related to sexual orientation (although those had the highest disparity at 80% male victims). The other four categories were race/ethnicity, religion, other, and unknown, and they ranged from 61% to 72% male victims[8].


  1. https://archive.is/uFuaI (FBI 2012 Hate Crime Statistics page “Incidents and Offenses”)
  2. https://archive.is/d62fo (Statistics Canada page “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2012”)
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Law_Amendment_Act_1885 (Wikipedia page “Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885”)
  4. http://archive.is/a2CQx (The Independent article “Gay men call for equity following Alan Turing pardon”)
  5. http://archive.is/IvGnv (The Daily Beast article “The Castration of Alan Turing, Britain’s Code-Breaking WWII Hero”)
  6. http://archive.is/OHMEA (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia page “Persecution of Homosexuals”)
  7. http://archive.is/0g9Y (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia page “Lesbians and the Third Reich”)
  8. http://archive.is/EMpR1 (Statistics Canada page “Characteristics of hate crime victims, by motivation, Canada, 2012”)

Sexual assault in prison

Overview: The fact that men make up such a large majority of the prison population means that the prevalence of rape and sexual assault in prison (and our culture’s attitude of indifference) is especially a concern for men.

Examples/evidence: Different studies report quite different numbers on sexual assault rates in prison. Here are three studies that provide a range of numbers, starting with the lowest.

  1. Finding: 1.91% of prisoners have experienced a completed sexual assault over their lifetime[1].
  2. Finding: 4.0% of prison inmates (and 3.2% of jail inmates) reported one or more incidents of sexual victimization (either by another inmate or by faculty staff) in the previous 12 months[2].
  3. Finding: 21% of inmates had experienced “pressured or forced sexual contact” since being incarcerated in their state[3].

The third study explains why findings differ so much. First, male inmates under-report sexual assault, so non-anonymous surveys give lower numbers. Second, different definitions of sexual assault change the numbers substantially. Completed rapes are much rarer than genital fondling and failed attempts at intercourse.


  1. http://1.usa.gov/17spDkI (“Prison Rape: A Critical Review of the Literature” by Gerald G. Gaes and Andrew L. Goldberg)
  2. http://1.usa.gov/1nHaS1N (“Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, 2011–12” from the Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  3. http://bit.ly/17sGrbg (“Sexual Coercion Rates in Seven Midwestern Prison Facilities for Men” by Cindy Struckman-Johnson and David Struckman-Johnson)

Gendercide

Overview: Gendercide (gender-specific mass killing) often targets men, although the gender of the victims generally receives less attention than when women experience gendercide. Adam Jones, genocide researcher and political science professor, points out that targeting men can seem so “natural” that “almost no media commentator bothers to mention it”[1]. In the opening essay of his compilation Gendercide and Genocide, Jones argues that the group most consistently targeted for mass killings throughout history has been non-combatant men between the ages of 15 and 55, as they are typically seen as the largest danger to the conquering force[2].

Examples/evidence: In what the former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan called the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War, over 8,000 unarmed civilians[3] were massacred in the small mountain town of Srebrenica in Bosnia in 1995. Two characteristics united the victims: they were Muslim, and they were male[4].

Although Srebrenica had been designated a U.N. “safe area” three months earlier, “[t]housands of men and boys as young as 10 were rounded up and murdered … Serbian TV footage shows woman and children being separated from the men and put on buses”[5]. The busses were searched to make sure men weren’t on them[6]. According to the BBC, 23,000 women and children were allowed to leave while men aged 12-77 were taken “for interrogation”—two days later, reports of massacres started to emerge[7]. The “five-day orgy of slaughter” included 60 truckloads of male refugees being “taken from Srebrenica to execution sites where they were bound, blindfolded, and shot with automatic rifles”, and other victims being “hunted down like dogs and slaughtered” and pushed into mass graves with industrial bulldozers. It was described by a war-crimes tribunal as “truly scenes from hell written on the darkest pages of human history”[5].

David Benatar also gives the Rwandan genocide as an example of gendercide. In The Second Sexism (chapter 4), he explains that Hutus “were determined to seek out and murder Tutsi boys … They examined very young infants, even newborns, to see if they were boys or girls. Little boys were executed on the spot.”


  1. http://bit.ly/179RhTW (Adam Jones’ article “Terminal Sexism: Men, women and war in ex-Yugoslavia”)
  2. http://adamjones.freeservers.com/g_and_g.htm (Gendercide and Genocide book page)
  3. http://nyti.ms/1xG5lwY (New York Times article “Mladic Arrives in The Hague”)
  4. http://bit.ly/179Ro1H (Adam Jones’ article “Pity the Innocent Men”)
  5. http://cnn.it/1BuQbuE (CNN article “Srebrenica: ‘A triumph of evil’”)
  6. http://bit.ly/165HfD1 (document from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)
  7. https://archive.is/gLVGY (BBC article “Srebrenica massacre verdicts upheld at war crimes tribunal”)

Section 3: Legal, governmental, or institutional policies and practices

Discrimination in the criminal justice system

Overview: Men make up a large majority of the prison population: 93% in the United States (2006)[1] and 96% in England & Wales (2013)[2]. Men do commit more crime overall, but numerous studies show that even accounting for legally relevant factors (like crime and criminal history), men receive substantially harsher sentences. Crimes with women as victims also receive harsher sentences.

Examples/evidence: Sonja B. Starr of the University of Michigan controlled for legally relevant factors and found that men receive 63% longer sentences on average. In addition, women were more likely to avoid charges, convictions, and incarceration in the first place[3]. David B. Mustard of the University of Georgia controlled for similar factors and also found that men (and blacks) receive harsher sentences[4].

Last, blacks and males are also less likely to get no prison term when that option is available; less likely to receive downward departures; and more likely to receive upward adjustments and, conditioned on having a downward departure, receive smaller reductions than whites and females.

A group of researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso summarize previous research and explain that women receiving milder sentencing “may be one of the best established facts regarding criminal justice outcomes”. It has been found in a wide range of studies since the 1980s, and in numerous different jurisdictions in the United States. They add to the research by looking specifically into different types of crime, finding some differences[5].

For both property and drug offending, females are less likely to be sentenced to prison and also receive shorter sentences if they are sentenced to prison. For violent offending, however, females are no less likely than males to receive prison time, but for those who do, females receive substantially shorter sentences than males.

Cassia Spohn of Arizona State University provides an overview of many other studies showing similar sentencing disparities (in sentence length and likelihood of getting jail time in the first place)[1]. She also cites interesting work on the perception of gender by judges as the reason for these disparities.

The explanation offered by Spohn and Beichner (2000) also focuses on judges’ perceptions and stereotypes of men and women. They suggest that the findings of their study lend credence to assertions that court officials attempt to simplify and routinize the sentencing process by relying on stereotypes that link defendant characteristics such as race or ethnicity and gender to perceptions of blameworthiness, dangerousness, and risk of recidivism. They note that criminal justice officials interviewed for the study admitted that they viewed female offenders, particularly those with dependent children, differently from male offenders.

Another study from the group of researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso looked at the gender of the victim, finding that crimes against women receive harsher sentences than crimes against men[6]. Cassia Spohn cites Williams, Demuth, and Holcomb (2007) who controlled for legally relevant factors and found that offenders convicted of crimes against women were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to be sentenced to death[1]. Another study looked specifically at vehicular homicide and found gender bias[7].

In particular, victim characteristics are important determinants of sentencing among vehicular homicides, where victims are basically random and where the optimal punishment model predicts that victim characteristics should be ignored. Among vehicular homicides, drivers who kill women get 56 percent longer sentences. Drivers who kill blacks get 53 percent shorter sentences.

The harsher treatment of men in the justice system has effects on men long after they do their time. From The New York Times article “Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work”[8]:

The share of American men with criminal records — particularly black men — grew rapidly in recent decades as the government pursued aggressive law enforcement strategies, especially against drug crimes. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, those men are having particular trouble finding work. Men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll.


  1. http://bit.ly/1MTUhRa (“Sentencing Disparity and Discrimination: A Focus on Gender”, chapter 4 of “How Do Judges Decide? The Search for Fairness and Justice in Punishment” by Cassia Spohn)
  2. http://bit.ly/1rZzdEZ (British House of Commons Library document “Prison Population Statistics”)
  3. http://bit.ly/1oQpDRS and http://bit.ly/1CeCy5Z (“Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases” (2012) by Sonja B. Starr)
  4. http://bit.ly/1pnZ2vD (“Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Courts” (2001) by David B. Mustard)
  5. http://bit.ly/1wygU9Y (“Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses?” (2006) by S. Fernando Rodriguez, Theodore R. Curry, & Gang Lee)
  6. http://bit.ly/1x9HxSs (“Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing Outcomes” (2004) by Theodore R. Curry, Gang Lee, & S. Fernando Rodriguez)
  7. http://bit.ly/1ElrYfa (“The Determinants of Punishment: Deterrence, Incapacitation and Vengeance” by Edward L. Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote)
  8. https://archive.is/llmfn (The New York Times article “Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work”)

Lack of reproductive rights

Overview: If a woman doesn’t feel she’s ready for the responsibilities of parenthood, she has various options after the act of sex (in most of the Western world). This includes the morning-after pill, abortion, adoption, and safe-haven laws. Men have no comparable legal rights. If you’re a man in the same situation and you’re not ready for the responsibilities of parenthood, you can only hope that the woman decides to take one of her options. As Karen DeCrow (previous president of the National Organization for Women) put it[1][2]:

The courts have properly determined that a man should neither be able to force a woman to have an abortion nor to prevent her from having one, should she so choose. Justice therefore dictates that if a woman makes a unilateral decision to bring pregnancy to term, and the biological father does not, and cannot, share in this decision, he should not be liable for 21 years of support. Or, put another way, autonomous women making independent decisions about their lives should not expect men to finance their choice.

Examples/evidence: The New York Times article “Is Forced Fatherhood Fair?” explains the problem[3].

Women’s rights advocates have long struggled for motherhood to be a voluntary condition, and not one imposed by nature or culture. In places where women and girls have access to affordable and safe contraception and abortion services, and where there are programs to assist mothers in distress find foster or adoptive parents, voluntary motherhood is basically a reality. In many states, infant safe haven laws allow a birth mother to walk away from her newborn baby if she leaves it unharmed at a designated facility.

If a man accidentally conceives a child with a woman, and does not want to raise the child with her, what are his choices? Surprisingly, he has few options in the United States. He can urge her to seek an abortion, but ultimately that decision is hers to make. Should she decide to continue the pregnancy and raise the child, and should she or our government attempt to establish him as the legal father, he can be stuck with years of child support payments.

[…]

The political philosopher Elizabeth Brake has argued that our policies should give men who accidentally impregnate a woman more options, and that feminists should oppose policies that make fatherhood compulsory. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Applied Philosophy she wrote, “if women’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a fetus, then men’s partial responsibility for pregnancy does not obligate them to support a resulting child.” At most, according to Brake, men should be responsible for helping with the medical expenses and other costs of a pregnancy for which they are partly responsible.


  1. http://theatln.tc/1qbiT1z (The Atlantic article “The Feminist Leader Who Became a Men’s-Rights Activist”)
  2. https://archive.is/Np7Jk (The New York Times, short statement from Karen DeCrow)
  3. http://nyti.ms/1FwTuIe (New York Times article “Is Forced Fatherhood Fair?”)

Discrimination in divorce/family courts

Overview: It’s hard to underestimate how scary divorce can be for men. This includes financial consequences (the chance of unreasonably high child support or alimony payments) and the personal/emotional consequences (the likelihood that you’ll see your children much less, and the possibility that you’ll hardly see them at all).

This is not to say that divorce is always a nightmare for men or sunshine and rainbows for women, but two factors suggest that divorce is overall harder on men. First, women initiate a noticeable majority of divorces, which would make sense if they have less to lose. Second, suicide rates for men jump after divorce in a way that we don’t see for women.

Examples/evidence: Chapter 6 (“Maternal Rights v. Paternal Rights: The Case of Children”) of Legalizing Misandry by Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson is a great resource on this subject. I’m providing a few quotes from it here. First we have a general quote on divorce from psychiatrist Robert Seidenberg that was featured in the book, and then some cases of unreasonable treatment of men after divorce.

But the largest part of this discrimination [racial discrimination against blacks] is subtle or hidden because no one today would want to be labelled a racist. The discrimination against men in divorce-custody proceedings, on the other hand, is blatant and shameless. Protective orders, which evict men from their homes at a moment’s notice, are issued without evidence; restraining orders are issued without testimony; at times custody is awarded without testimony; and false child abuse allegations against fathers are rampant.

[…]

Consider the case of a Canadian man. He had been married to his employer, a physician who had paid him a handsome salary and wrote off the expenses for tax purposes. When they divorced, he had to take an eight-dollar-an-hour job. Nonetheless, he was required to pay child support based on the much higher salary earned previously. He lost more money by trying to get the payment adjusted to his new circumstances. (Noncustodial parents are forced to spend a lot of money, by the way, if they decide to challenge court rulings.) Once, when he was two days late, his ex-wife tried to have him jailed. Forced to live in his car, he committed suicide in 1999 by inhaling the exhaust fumes.

[…]

Consider the following case, that of a well-to-do household. “Michael” goes to court in the hope of having the judge reduce his family-support payments. On the surface, his case seems preposterous. After all, he earns \$158,000. The judge rejects his plea, perhaps not surprisingly, and orders him to continue paying his former wife \$7,153 every month. But that amount represents 96% of his take-home pay; after deductions, he takes home \$7,455 every month. And after making his family-support payments, he has only \$302 on which to live. The fact is that even single men on welfare in his city actually receive more money: \$520. His son and former wife, on the other hand, are hardly living at the poverty line. Was Michael evil enough to have deserved this situation? Neither infidelity nor physical violence caused his divorce. Nor, for that matter, did “psychological violence.” It was caused, according to his wife, by the fact that he spent too much time at work. When the local newspaper ran a story on deadbeat dads, nevertheless, his sixteen-year-old son had this to say: “Dad, did you read that article in The Star? Well that’s what I think of you.”

One interesting fact is that women initiate a majority of divorces. According to the article “Why do women initiate divorce more than men?” in The Telegraph, women initiate 66% of divorces in the United Kingdom. It calls it a “popular misconception” that this is due to men cheating more, and instead points to custody and cost as the main reasons[1].

On the other hand, it’s possible that women are more likely to initiate divorce than men because in the divorce court, especially where children are involved, the odds are in the female’s favour. Married men who get divorced are generally afraid of losing their kids, with good reason: over 80% of children of separated parents live exclusively or mainly with their mother. Men, often the higher earners, fear the crippling costs of a split. Women raising children and without much income can use taxpayer funds (through Legal Aid – for example) to fight a divorce, only paying the Crown back if they get a sufficiently large settlement. Not to sound crude, but this is like going to the Divorce Casino and playing with the house’s cash.

Legalizing Misandry provides support for the idea that women initiate divorce more is that the process is harder on men. It cites economists Margaret Brinig and Douglas Allen, who conducted a large study of divorce that analyzed all 46,000 cases in the year 1995 in four states. It dismissed violence and adultery as the main reason for the gender disparity in initiating divorce, finding custody as the major factor.

The solution to the mystery, the factor that determined most cases, turned out to be the question of child custody. Women are much more willing to split up because – unlike men – they typically do not fear losing custody of the children. Instead, a divorce often enables them to gain control over the children.

“The question of custody absolutely swamps all the other variables,” Dr. Brinig said. “Children are the most important asset in a marriage, and the partner who expects to get sole custody is by far the most likely to file for divorce.”

Maternal preference in custody is widespread, despite generally no longer being official policy. Surveys of judges in at least six U.S. states have found that a preference for mothers is pervasive, and surveys of attorneys have found that they perceive it to be happening as well. One study found that 69% of male attorneys and 40% of female attorneys believe that judges “always or often” assume that children belong with their mothers. Almost all of them said that judges were prejudiced against fathers at least some of the time[2].

CNN commentator Jack Cafferty talks about the issue of suicide rates after divorce on his blog[3].

Experts say suicide rates are higher among divorced men - and lowest among those who are still married. Single men fall in between. One sociologist who studies family structure and suicide rates says divorced men are almost 40 percent more likely to commit suicide than those who are still married.

He includes the words of one of the divorced men who shared his story.

As a divorced man, I can honestly say I contemplated suicide for the first time in my life during the first year or two of my separation. It’s incredibly difficult to have your entire family life – children, home and even wife – pulled away from you. Prior to the divorce, I was very happy, making a good salary and living in a nice neighborhood. Soon after the divorce, I was saddled with very high child support payments, debt from legal fees and barely enough left over to pay the rent of my small 1 bedroom apartment.

The Second Sexism (by David Benatar, chapter 2) quotes an even higher figure:

While divorced women are no more likely to kill themselves than are married women, divorced men are twice as likely as married men to take their own lives.

The Vancouver Sun article “Men and suicide: The silent epidemic” gives various reasons that the disparity in suicide grows after divorce, including lack of access to children, financial difficulties, lack of social support, getting caught off guard by the divorce (since women initiate divorce more they have more time to process it), men feeling as if they were at fault for the divorce, and men self-medicating grief with alcohol and drugs[4]. An article from the Smart Marriages Archive mentions many of the same reasons for the increase in the suicide disparity[5].

“It’s still generally the case that when children are involved, the mother becomes the custodial parent,” said Hillowe. Generally speaking, “men lose the role of being a father in a way that women do not lose the role of being a mother.”

Compounding the problem: Men often feel like they’re responsible for the failure of a marriage, said Alvin Baraff, Ph.D., an expert on relationships from a male perspective, and founder and director of Men Center Counseling in Washington, D.C.


  1. https://archive.is/rqAON (The Telegraph article “Why do women initiate divorce more than men?“)
  2. http://archive.is/fmNHp (Tom James Law post “What Judges Really Think About Fathers: Responses To Court-Commissioned Judicial Bias Surveys”)
  3. https://archive.is/SDMBP (Cafferty File post “Why does divorce make men more suicidal than women?“)
  4. https://archive.is/jXt36 (Vancouver Sun article “Men and suicide: The silent epidemic”)
  5. https://archive.is/b3DfE (Smart Marriages Archive “Men more likely to commit suicide after divorce, study finds”)

Rape laws excluding male victims

Overview: Many jurisdictions have rape laws that exclude male victims to some extent or another. Sometimes this involves wording the laws so that rape is defined as something that happens to a woman, and sometimes this involves defining rape as something that only a man can do (meaning that a man can legally be raped by another man but not by a woman).

Examples/evidence: In the United States, both Idaho and Georgia define rape as something that can only be done by a man to a woman[1][2]. Outside of the United States, Switzerland defines rape as something that can only happen to a woman, as seen in Act 190 of the Swiss Criminal Code[3]:

Any person who forces a person of the female sex by threats or violence, psychological pressure or by being made incapable of resistance to submit to sexual intercourse is liable to a custodial sentence of from one to ten years.

The United Kingdom defines rape as something that only a man can do (meaning that a man can only legally be raped by another man). This is Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003[4].

(1)A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a)he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,

(b)B does not consent to the penetration, and

©A does not reasonably believe that B consents.

Mary P. Koss, influential rape researcher/activist (and professor at the University of Arizona), argues in favour of rape laws being gendered like this. Rape of men by women is only “unwanted sexual intercourse”[5].


  1. http://bit.ly/1Qw1TuJ (2010 Georgia Code, Title 16, Chapter 6, Section 1 - Rape)
  2. http://bit.ly/1XQ9pqd (Idaho Statutes, Title 18, Chapter 61 - Rape)
  3. http://bit.ly/1CJjNsP (Swiss Criminal Code as of 2015/1/1)
  4. http://bit.ly/1KE4kcA (UK Sexual Offences Act 2003)
  5. http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ508020 (“Detecting the Scope of Rape: A Review of Prevalence Research Methods” by Mary P. Koss)

Non-medical infant male circumcision

Overview: Although the concept of bodily autonomy is a widely held value in our culture, the process of cutting off parts of the genitalia of male babies (for purposes of religion, aesthetics, or tradition) is legal and, especially in the United States, widely practiced.

Compare the attitudes towards male genital cutting to the attitudes to female genital cutting. Although the process performed on baby girls is usually more severe medically, even less-severe forms are not allowed.

Examples/evidence: Consider the Seattle Compromise, the attempt of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to deal with the African immigrants who wanted to perform ritual cutting on their daughters’ genitals in addition to on their sons’ genitals[1].

The question came up when doctors routinely asked expectant refugee mothers if they wanted their baby circumcised if it was a boy. Some mothers responded, “Yes, and also if it is a girl.”

Doctors were told that the procedure would take place “with or without the doctors’ participation”, so the hospital proposed a compromise involving a “symbolic cut” or a “nick” that would draw blood but not involve any tissue removal or scarring. Many of the immigrants indicated that they would accept this, but in the end the procedure was not allowed[2].

Ultimately, despite this unprecedented effort at compromise, the procedure was never performed because some prominent opponents of FGM, who generally take a categorical position against any form of the traditional practice, launched a successful campaign against the hospital’s efforts.


  1. http://trib.in/1KBpmIV (Chicago Tribune article “Refugees’ Beliefs Don’t Travel Well: Compromise Plan On Circumcision Of Girls Gets Little Support”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1Em5I1P (“The Seattle Compromise: Multicultural Sensitivity and Americanization” by Doriane Lambelet Coleman)

Compulsory military service for men

Overview: The practice of forced military service is less common now than in the past, but some Western countries still require it. Like in the past, it typically applies only to men. Some justify this by pointing out that women are physically weaker. This is true, but they could be conscripted into the civilian service that exists in many places for men who are too weak. It involves things like working at nursing homes.

Examples/evidence: Switzerland has gender-based conscription[1].

Conscription is alive and well in Switzerland. When a male Swiss reaches the age of 20, he must undergo 15 weeks of military training. Over the next 22 to 32 years, he’ll attend a succession of two- to three-week training camps during until he’s accrued 300 to 1,300 days of active service. (Service requirements depend on rank: the higher the rank, the more years and accrued days are required.)

[…]

Swiss men who live in other countries don’t have to serve in the army, but they’re required to tithe 2% of their income to the mother country in the form of a military exemption tax. (The tax is also paid by men who flunk the physical or otherwise don’t qualify for military service.) Women aren’t required to pay the tax, nor are they expected to serve in the army–although, if they wish, they can can enlist as noncombatants.

Austria is another example. When they turn 18, Austrian men must serve six months in the military (or nine months in the civilian service, which involves community service like driving an ambulance or working in nursing homes). 22,000 men are drafted each year[2].

As of 2015, Finland also has mandatory military service for men. It lasts 165, 255, or 347 days and is generally carried out at the age of 19 or 20[3]. 80% of 30 year old men in Finland have completed their military service[4].

Israel is one of the few countries that has compulsory military service for both men and women, although men’s required service is 36 months while women’s is 21 months[5].


  1. https://archive.is/SsTUu (Europe for Visitors page “The Swiss Army”)
  2. https://archive.is/xQROM (BBC article “Austrians vote to keep compulsory military service”)
  3. http://bit.ly/1zxIbro (“Conscript 2015: A guide for you who are preparing to carry out your military service” from the Finnish Defense Forces)
  4. http://bit.ly/1z98Iu0 (The Finnish Defence Forces Annual Report 2011)
  5. https://archive.is/M1s6f (CIA World Factbook page “Military Service and Obligation”)

Police violence against men

Overview: The disproportionate levels of police violence against black people and other racial minorities has been a topic of discussion recently, especially in the cases where the victim is unarmed. What often goes unmentioned is the gendered side of this phenomenon, which is that men are much more likely to be victimized than women are. While many instances of police violence are justified for reasons of self-defence or to protect others (e.g. a hostage situation, or someone using weapons to resist arrest), many cases actually involve an unarmed victim, and these are predominantly men as well.

Examples/evidence: A database of police killings in the United States from The Guardian in 2015 shows 1073 men compared to 53 women as victims—looking only at victims who were unarmed, there were 201 men compared to 14 women[1].


  1. http://bit.ly/1SQhWZa (The Guardian page “The Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015 - interactive”)

Section 4: Toxic social attitudes

Male pedophile hysteria

Overview: There is a tendency in our society to associate maleness with pedophilia and to treat men interacting with children with suspicion (especially when the children are not known to be his own). This can discourage men from going into fields like child-care or education (at least primary and secondary education), and it can result in men fearing being seen as a pedophile in public when they interact with other people’s children (or even when they have their own children).

Gay men are hit especially hard, since both their gender and their sexuality are traits that many people associate with pedophilia.

Examples/evidence: At least four airlines have (or had) policies against men sitting beside unaccompanied minors: British Airways, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia[1]. The Wall Street Journal article “Eek! A Male!” provides another example: an incident where a woman followed a man around at a store because he was clutching a pile of girls’ panties. “I can’t believe this! You’re disgusting. This is a public place, you pervert!” she said to him. It turned out that he was a clerk who worked there and he was restocking the underwear department[2].

A similar incident happened in a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Arizona. Omar Amin, a 73 year old male doctor specializing in infectious diseases, was in the children’s section buying books for his grandchildren. He was approached by an employee, asked if he was there by himself, and then told “You cannot stay. This is not an area where men are allowed to be by themselves”. He recounts being escorted out of the store “firmly”. This reportedly happened because a female shopper told an employee that she “felt uneasy” that he was in the children’s area. For a month the company stood by the employee’s actions, but he ended up receiving an apology[3].

Those examples are embarrassing, hurtful, and denigrating, but sometimes it can even get tragic. The BBC reported an incident in England from 2006 where a bricklayer spotted a toddler at the side of the road but didn’t stop to help because he was afraid he would be accused of trying to abduct her. The child ending up drowning in a pond[4].


  1. http://bit.ly/1KafWqm (Wikipedia article “Airline sex discrimination policy controversy”), http://cnn.it/1BiQ9bw (CNN article “Should male passengers be allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children?”)
  2. http://on.wsj.com/1xEMLbz (Wall Street Journal article “Eek! A Male!”)
  3. https://archive.is/bVS8Z (Global Post article “Omar Amin, kicked out of children’s section of bookstore, receives apology from Barnes & Noble”)
  4. http://bbc.in/1tzXQ6M (BBC article “’I was treated like a paedophile’”)

Demonization of male sexuality

Overview: Male sexuality is often seen as threatening and damaging to women, both on a physical level (men are often seen as a sexual assault waiting to happen, like how black people are sometimes seen as a robbery waiting to happen) and a more abstract level (men’s sexual desire is often considered disrespectful and dehumanizing to women). I believe that most men have been affected by this to some extent (at least at some point in their lives), but a lot of them don’t realize it because they’re used to it and it feels normal and natural at this point to see their sexuality as threatening and damaging.

Demonization on the physical side happens in part because many/most of the campaigns against rape and sexual assault portray men as the sole perpetrators. That’s like a campaign against robbery portraying black people as the sole perpetrators.

One factor behind demonization on the abstract side is the idea of objectification. The concept has some valid uses, but often it’s used when all that has happened is that a man has expressed sexual attraction for a woman or some form of media is portraying a woman in a sexual way. The idea seems to be that “sexualizing” her, i.e. portraying or seeing her in a sexual light, is disrespectful, demeaning, or even dehumanizing. Often assumptions are made about how expressing interest in her sex appeal (or putting her in a role where others could do so) amounts to denying that she could have appeal outside of sex.

Examples/evidence: After the historic landing of the Rosetta Project’s robotic lander on a comet, much of the attention was given to a shirt worn by Matt Taylor, a scientist on the team. His shirt depicted women wearing lingerie in sexualized poses. It was widely called “sexist” and “demeaning”[1]. I can certainly understand how sexually explicit material would be considered inappropriate for a professional environment, but it’s not clear what’s sexist or demeaning about portraying people in sexually explicit ways.

As for the harmful effect of the demonization of male sexuality, Scott Aaronson (computer science professor at MIT) has a post on his blog where he opens up and recounts the story of his time as a teenager and young adult with the toxic attitude towards his own sexuality that he had internalized[2].

(sigh) Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. And furthermore, that the people who did these things to me would somehow be morally right to do them—even if I couldn’t understand how.

You can call that my personal psychological problem if you want, but it was strongly reinforced by everything I picked up from my environment: to take one example, the sexual-assault prevention workshops we had to attend regularly as undergrads, with their endless lists of all the forms of human interaction that “might be” sexual harassment or assault, and their refusal, ever, to specify anything that definitely wouldn’t be sexual harassment or assault. I left each of those workshops with enough fresh paranoia and self-hatred to last me through another year.

Of course, I was smart enough to realize that maybe this was silly, maybe I was overanalyzing things. So I scoured the feminist literature for any statement to the effect that my fears were as silly as I hoped they were. But I didn’t find any. On the contrary: I found reams of text about how even the most ordinary male/female interactions are filled with “microaggressions,” and how even the most “enlightened” males—especially the most “enlightened” males, in fact—are filled with hidden entitlement and privilege and a propensity to sexual violence that could burst forth at any moment.

And this is a question from a user on reddit’s /r/AskMen on how to deal with seeing his attraction for women as a bad thing[6]:

Alright, so I realized something the other day. I noticed that, whenever I’m attracted to a woman, I tend to dismiss my attraction as a bad thing. That she doesn’t want me to be attracted to her and that I was/am being creepy for talking to her and being interested in anything but a friendship. I’m not really sure when I started thinking this way, but it really bothers me because I’d like to not feel like a creep for just being interested a woman. So, any advice on how to get over this?


  1. http://cnn.it/1wQLeIy (CNN article “Philae researcher criticized for shirt covered in scantily clad women”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1vmwdxD (post on Scott Aaronson’s blog Shtetl-Optimized)
  3. http://bit.ly/1B9wFVH (post by reddit user hyperbolicthrowaway on /r/AskMen)

Permissive attitudes to violence against men

Overview: “Violence against women” is considered something separate from, and worse than, regular violence (i.e. against men). Interestingly, this is one attitude towards gender that is widely shared both by gender traditionalists and progressives.

The special stigma surrounding violence when it happens to women gives women a special protection from violence that is not afforded to men. Consider the reaction someone would get if they felt slighted, disrespected, or insulted by a man and responded by hitting him. Now imagine the same scenario but with a woman as the person who’s been hit, and compare the reactions. Chances are, while hitting the man is probably seen in a negative light, hitting the woman produces a much stronger negative reaction from the bystanders. This is likely one factor in why men are more likely to be the victims of many serious types of violence (murder, robbery, and injurious physical assault).

Examples/evidence: The idea that violence against women is something separate from (and worse than) violence against men is found across society. Australian Primer Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for a “cultural shift” in attitudes towards women, declaring the following: “[l]et me say this to you: disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women”[1]. This is elevating violence against women to a special status. If you hit a man, that’s just hitting someone. If you hit a woman, that’s having a lack of respect for an entire gender and it warrants a “cultural shift”.

That was an example from the top of society, but a comparable attitude can also be seen at the bottom of society. Even criminals and murderers, who have significantly fewer moral qualms than the average person, frequently observe the extra taboo associated with being violent to women. A National Post article tells the story of the trial of James Bulger, “once the daring overlord of Boston’s Irish mob”. On trial for 19 murders (17 men and 2 women), he was largely unfazed by being called a “gangster, killer and thief”, but he had two objections: “Bulger is intent on showing two things — that he’s not an informant and that he didn’t kill the two women. He wants to get into the gangster hall of fame, and you can’t get in by killing women or being a rat”[2].

An article in the newspaper The Telegraph explains the problem exceptionally well[3].

While as a society we rightly give lots of attention to protecting women against violence, from warnings about predatory cab drivers to reports on women’s refuges, from the understanding that it’s wrong to hit a woman to walking women home, very little seems to be being done to protect men, or to dissuade anyone from the idea that it’s also wrong to hit a man. Is male life cheaper?

[…]

And yet the gender bias is never spoken of – but why? The fact that men commit violence more than women may be part of it – do we imagine that the higher death rates are somehow just deserts? This would only be true if those individuals committing the crimes also happened to be the victims, which we know is not the case – a glance through the list of victims includes a roll call of good Samaritans, unfortunate bystanders, police officers and so on. And in any case, what sort of callousness is it for a society to choose to let one of its constituent groups rip itself to bits, without questioning the reasons for the phenomenon?

The special stigma against “violence against women” is taught very young. Consider the viral video by an Italian media company that raises awareness about “violence against women” by asking boys to hit a girl and recording their reactions[4]. It’s received 31 million views on YouTube as of 2015/10/29. Some of the refusals are gender-neutral, but many indicate a special aversion to hitting girls. Of course, it’s good that they didn’t hit the girl; the problem is that a boy in the place of that girl might not be so lucky (because he doesn’t receive the protection of “you’re not supposed to hit girls”).

The consequences of this attitude are illustrated in the testimony of reporter Liz Hayes, who was with her 60 Minutes (Australian version) team in Sweden covering the European immigration crisis when they were approached, asked what they were filming, and attacked. The cameraman and producer were the targets, and they received injuries. After the incident, she said that she felt that if she had been “one of the guys”, she would have been hit. She used this knowledge to stand in between her crew and their attackers to try to protect them: “I was glad, right then, that I was a woman … I felt they wouldn’t hit me because of that, and that might mean I could slow things down a bit”[5].

The extra taboo surrounding violence against women can be seen in the controversy surrounding Sean Connery’s 1965 quote in Playboy where he said “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong in hitting a woman, though I don’t recommend you do it in the same way you hit a man”. After it was unearthed 40 years later, he was widely condemned for condoning hitting women[6], even though in the very same sentence he makes it clear that he also has no problem with hitting men.


  1. https://archive.is/X28VE (The Guardian article “Australians are being told that gender inequality is the root cause of domestic violence. But is it?”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1HpBhtG (National Post article “‘No honour among thieves anymore’: Modern gangsters break most basic rule of organized crime — don’t be a rat”)
  3. http://bit.ly/1hB8BOw (The Telegraph article “Our attitude to violence against men is out of date”)
  4. http://bit.ly/1Dlfzod (YouTube video “‘Slap her’: children’s reactions” from channel Fanpage.it)
  5. http://archive.is/9Vncf (Sydney Morning Herald article “Liz Hayes recounts 60 Minutes violent encounter in Sweden”)
  6. http://archive.is/Yv9XI (Herald Scotland article “Connery speaks for the first time after cancelling his high-profile appearance at Holyrood’s Festival of Politics By Paul Hutcheon”)

The “women are wonderful” effect and in-group bias

Overview: Various studies have suggested the existence of the “women are wonderful” effect, which is a tendency for people to attribute more positive attributes to women as a group than men as a group. This research has also found a greater in-group bias among women, which roughly refers to a “girl power!” or “you go girl!” attitude being more common among women than a corresponding “guy power!” or “you go guy!” attitude among men.

These findings are interesting in light of the common idea that we live in a “misogynistic society” and that our institutions are “old boys’ clubs” where men give preference to other men to keep women out. Misogyny certainly exists, but it’s not the whole story when it comes to bias and sexism.

Examples/evidence: Wikipedia describes the “women are wonderful effect” as “the phenomenon found in psychological research which suggests that people associate more positive attributes with the general social category of women compared to men”. It cites two papers from the 1990s. From one of them: “strong evidence was found that women are evaluated quite favorably as a general social category, and significantly more favorably than men”[1].

A more recent study from 2004 found that “[w]omen are nearly five times more likely to show an automatic preference for their own gender than men are to show such favoritism for their own gender”[2].

Both male and female participants associated the positive words–such as good, happy and sunshine–more often with women than with men, Rudman says. Moreover, men and women tended to show high implicit self-esteem and high gender identity; however, men showed low pro-male gender attitudes, according to the study.

“A clear pattern shown in all four studies is that men do not like themselves automatically as much as women like themselves,” Rudman says. “This contradicts a lot of theoretical thinking about implicit attitudes regarding status differences.”

[…]

Women’s high self-esteem and female identity, on average, bolstered their automatic liking for women, whereas men’s liking for men did not rely on high self-esteem or masculine identity. In other words, women can be characterized as thinking “if I am good and I am female, females are good,” whereas men can be characterized as thinking “even if I am good and I am male, men are not necessarily good.”

Such a sense of “female solidarity” can be seen in a quote from former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in 2006 said that “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”[3].


  1. https://archive.is/bpd4Q (Wikipedia page “’Women are wonderful’ effect”)
  2. https://archive.is/CKikF (American Psychological Association write-up “Women like women more than men like men”)
  3. https://archive.is/bcyvD (GoodReads quote page for Madeleine Albright)

“Men’s bodies are gross”

Overview: Women often have body image issues from comparing themselves to the cultural ideal of female attractiveness (female actors and models) that gets much attention in the media. Male actors receive less attention for their attractiveness and male models receive less attention entirely, meaning that men aren’t as affected by this quite as much.

Men have their own unique challenges when it comes to body image, however. There’s less focus on the ideal man’s attractiveness but there’s also less focus on men as a gender being attractive at all (if women wear tight/revealing clothes it’s frequently seen as sexy, but when men do the same thing it’s frequently seen as gross: “no one wants to see that!”). Because of this, a lot of men struggle seeing themselves as attractive because they don’t think that men in general are attractive. A woman can certainly end up feeling that her own body is gross, but it’s pretty unlikely that she’ll get the impression that women’s bodies in general are gross.

Examples/evidence: This isn’t to say that men aren’t affected by the type of body image issue where they see themselves comparing unfavourably to an ideal male body. Muscle dysmorphia, common in the body-building community, is one example of this[1].

But I do believe that it makes up a lower percentage of body image issues among men. Instead, we have the idea that men’s bodies aren’t really attractive at all. This passage is from “The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?”[2].

In sixth grade, the same year that puberty hit me with irrevocable force, I had an art teacher, Mr. Blake. (This dates me: few public middle schools have art teachers anymore.) I’ll never forget his solemn declaration that great artists all acknowledged that the female form was more beautiful than the male. He made a passing crack that “no one wants to see naked men, anyway”—and the whole class laughed. “Ewwww,” a girl sitting next to me said, evidently disgusted at the thought of a naked boy.

[…]

A year later, in my first sexual relationship, I was convinced that my girlfriend found my body physically repellent. I could accept that girls liked and wanted sex, but I figured that what my girlfriend liked was how I made her feel in spite of how my body must have appeared to her. Though I trusted that she loved me, the idea that she—or any other woman—could want this sweaty, smelly, fumbling flesh was still unthinkable.

[…]

So many straight men have no experience of being wanted. So many straight men have no experience of sensing a gaze of outright longing. Even many men who are wise in the world and in relationships, who know that their wives or girlfriends love them, do not know what it is to be admired for their bodies and their looks. They may know what it is to be relied upon, they may know what it is to bring another to ecstasy with their touch, but they don’t know what it is to be found not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but worthy of longing.

This article “The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality” is from a woman[3].

And lastly, know that your body is beautiful. I, like most females, was warned that penises and balls and anuses were gross. I was told to hold my nose, close my eyes, get it over with. Imagine my disappointment when I saw my first penis and there were no festering boils hissing my name, no sulfurous clouds wafting up from a menacing member.


  1. http://ti.me/SWf4z3 (TIME article “‘Bigorexia’ and the Male Quest For More Muscle”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1ytGRYc (“The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?” at The Good Men Project)
  3. http://bit.ly/TgtkCA (“The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality” at The Good Men Project)

Attitudes towards male victims of domestic violence

Overview: Men suffer domestic violence much more than is commonly believed but their gender often results in them having enormous difficulty being acknowledged as victims, let alone receiving any support. In some cases male victims of domestic violence are even assumed to be the perpetrators and arrested themselves. Reluctance to accept men as victims of domestic violence is common both from traditionalists as well as progressives.

Eugen Lupri (Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Calgary) points out that many see domestic violence “a manifestation of our culture’s ‘patriarchal’ structure”, and a “gender issue rather than as a human problem”[1]. The Duluth Model (an influential domestic violence prevention program in the United States) is one implementation of this; it sees the root cause of domestic violence as men’s desire to control women and “sustain a patriarchal society”[2]. This ignores various causes of violence like substance abuse and violent backgrounds[2], but also it downplays (or even excludes) victims who are not straight women. This means straight men and gay people of both genders, who all suffer domestic violence more than is commonly believed[1][3][4].

Examples/evidence: Here are multiple studies showing that men make up between one quarter and one half of domestic violence victims (listed from low to high).

  1. Men made up 24% of domestic violence victims 2003-2012 in the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice[5].
  2. Men were 28% of those who’d experienced violence from partners they lived with in 2012 in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics[6].
  3. Men made up 40% of all domestic violence victims between 2004 and 2009 in Britain, according to a study using data from the Home Office[7].
  4. Men were 40% of the domestic violence victims in 20112012 in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics[8].
  5. An equal number of men and women (4% of men and 4% of women) reported having been physically and/or sexually abused by their partner during the preceding five years in Canada, according to Statistics Canada’s 2014 General Social Survey[9].
  6. Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach provides a bibliography of 286 scholarly investigations (221 empirical studies and 65 reviews/analyses) showing that in relationships women aren’t any less violent than men[10].

In addition to these, the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project is a comprehensive review of domestic violence research[11].

Among PASK’s findings are that, except for sexual coercion, men and women perpetrate physical and non-physical forms of abuse at comparable rates, most domestic violence is mutual, women are as controlling as men, domestic violence by men and women is correlated with essentially the same risk factors, and male and female perpetrators are motivated for similar reasons.

The PASK project did however find that women were more impacted by domestic violence, likely due to a higher rate of injury, which was also found by Statistics Canada’s 2014 report: 40% of the female victims of domestic violence reported physical injuries (cuts, bruises, or broken bones) compared to 24% of the male victims. Although the findings on impact/injuries (and maybe prevalence) suggest that domestic violence is overall more of a problem for women, this does not justify the common approach of treating it as only a problem for women.

A BBC article on gay victims of domestic violence talks with a gay man who said that as a man trying to get help from a domestic violence program, you were either “hung up on or referred to a batterers’ intervention programme”[4]. Emily Douglas and Denise Hines published an article in the Journal of family violence on the experiences of male victims who sought help. Of the 132 men they looked at who had sought help from DV agencies, 95.3% walked away with the impression that the agency was biased against men, 49.9% were told “we only help women”, and 40.2% were accused of being the batterer themselves. 15.2% reported that the staff made fun of them[12].

Murray Straus, professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, expands on the lack of acceptance of male victims. He examined 12 surveys used to gather data on domestic violence and found that 10 of them only reported assaults from men. “[T]he exclusive focus on male perpetrators and the exclusive focus on just one of the many causes” has hindered the effort to end domestic violence, he argues[13]. Straus also remarks on a time in 2005 when the National Institute of Justice invited grant proposals to investigate domestic violence, but stated that studies involving male victims were not eligible to receive funding[14].

If you’re wondering what a case of domestic violence against a man can look like, here’s one man’s story[15].

Simon* is one man who understands the consequences of abuse better than most. For most of his 17-year marriage, this 47-year-old was subjected to domestic abuse from his wife, from having hot drinks poured over him to dinner plates smashed over his head.

While his wife was never physically violent towards their three children, she would often attack him in front of them.

“I didn’t think of it as domestic violence and I think that’s often true for male victims,” he says now. “You put it down to mood swings. There was also the pressure of thinking that if I walked away, I might get a raw deal when it came to custody of the children.

[…]

“But as a boy, growing up, I was always told that boys don’t hit girls. That was the most important thing. It didn’t matter how I was provoked, I would just never do that. So I would let her anger burn out rather than ever retaliate.”


  1. http://bit.ly/1wQbZCJ (“Institutional Resistance to Acknowledging Intimate Male Abuse” by Eugen Lupri)
  2. http://bit.ly/1F1otIP (“Beyond Duluth: A Broad Spectrum of Treatment for a Broad Spectrum of Domestic Violence” by Johnna Rizza)
  3. http://bit.ly/1zJS3Pt (National Post article “Barbara Kay: Our male-victimizing myths live on”)
  4. http://bbc.in/1vnFX0M (BBC article “Is violence more common in same-sex relationships?”)
  5. http://1.usa.gov/1JzwgzU (“Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003–2012” from the Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  6. https://archive.is/lxwWy (“2012 Personal Safety Survey”, section “Experience of Partner Violene”, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics)
  7. https://archive.is/myGqG (The Guardian article “More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals”)
  8. http://bit.ly/1kLIr1z (“Focus on: Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 201112” from the Office for National Statistics)
  9. https://archive.is/SVcyJ (“Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2014” from Statistics Canada)
  10. http://bit.ly/1mqVGHJ (“References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: an annotated bibliography” by Martin S. Fiebert)
  11. http://bit.ly/1IV10Li (“Unprecedented Domestic Violence Study Affirms Need to Recognize Male Victims” press release at PRWeb)
  12. http://bit.ly/1xs4XAo (“The Helpseeking Experiences of Men Who Sustain Intimate Partner Violence: An Overlooked Population and Implications for Practice” by Emily Douglas and Denise Hines)
  13. http://bit.ly/1qJObfN (“Processes Explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence” by Murray A. Straus)
  14. http://bit.ly/1iHOllK (“Thirty Years of Denying the Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence: Implications for Prevention and Treatment” by Murray A. Straus)
  15. https://archive.is/B3ZR3 (The Telegraph article “‘I’m a big, strapping bloke. Who would believe I was a victim of domestic abuse?’”)

Precarious manhood

Overview: Manhood and womanhood refer to one’s gender-specific status as an adult man or adult woman (respectively). These concepts are tied to respect and value, but research has shown that manhood and womanhood are seen quite differently. Manhood is seen as being based on actions and social proof, and is thus difficult to earn and easy to lose. Womanhood is seen as being based on biological markers, which makes it more inherent. That’s why people are much more likely to talk about what makes a “real man” than what makes a “real woman”.

Examples/evidence: The 2008 article “Precarious Manhood” by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the University of South Florida in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology looks at five studies that show this[1].

The authors report 5 studies that demonstrate that manhood, in contrast to womanhood, is seen as a precarious state requiring continual social proof and validation. Because of this precariousness, they argue that men feel especially threatened by challenges to their masculinity.

They note that this is not an absolute, and that a woman’s status as an adult of her gender isn’t completely divorced from her actions. Not having children is often seen as taking away from a woman’s womanhood. Still, they argue that manhood “can be threatened more easily than womanhood and through a wider range of transgressions”.

Furthermore, a woman’s actions may damage her reputation and that of her family, and she may be deemed a “bad” woman, but these shortcomings will not usually threaten her (socially constructed) status as a woman as easily as a man’s actions can threaten his (socially constructed) status as a man.


  1. http://bit.ly/1Famy3G (“Precarious Manhood” by Joseph A. Vandello, Jennifer K. Bosson, Dov Cohen, Rochelle M. Burnaford, and Jonathan R. Weaver)

Section 5: Harmful gender politics

The one-sided view of gender equality

Overview: Imagine that you’re considering the quality of life in two different countries and someone insists that Country A is a better place to live than Country B. Their argument is that Country A has a higher average income (including more millionaires per capita), and that its citizens are more likely to end up in positions of power and prestige on the world stage: winning the Nobel Prize, being involved in the United Nations, and receiving recognition in sports, music, and other such areas. However, they fail to mention the disadvantages to Country A, namely that it has higher rates of homelessness, murder, injurious physical assault, suicide, incarceration, workplace deaths, and drug/alcohol addition. The life expectancy of its citizens is noticeably lower.

The advantages of being born in Country A are certainly not insignificant, but is it really so clear that Country A is better off than Country B? Is the person making the argument looking at all the evidence when comparing the two countries, or are they specifically paying attention only to areas where Country A is better off to come to the conclusion that you’re better off being born in Country A?

This is our approach to gender. As a society we look specifically at the areas where men are doing better (which line up with the advantages to Country A) while ignoring the areas where men are doing worse (which line up with the advantages to Country B), and the result is the “common sense” notion that it’s better or easier to be a man than a woman. This lack of attention and awareness for men’s issues is one major factor in the lack of action given to addressing them. This isn’t to say that homelessness, murder, and physical assault victimization (to use a few examples) are ignored, but their gendered aspect is usually ignored (while the gendered aspect of sexual assault victimization is considered a hot topic).

Examples/evidence: A blatant example of the broad philosophy of seeing “gender equality” and “helping women” as the same thing is the 2014 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, which assigns a score to each country based on how gender equal it is[1]. An explicit decision was made to penalize countries only when men are doing better than women in a particular area. Women doing better than men is considered the same as actual gender equality. From the report (page 4):

Thus a country, which has higher enrolment for girls rather than boys in secondary school, will score equal to a country where boys’ and girls’ enrolment is the same.

The idea that men are overall doing much better than women can be seen in a popular article by author John Scalzi on how being a straight white man is like playing life on easy mode[2]. (I’m not interested in contesting the race and sexual orientation parts of the claim.)

This idea is also expressed in one common conception of the notion of privilege. In this view, male privilege is rampant but female privilege either doesn’t exist at all (argued by the FeministFAQ on FinallyFeminism101[3]) or it pales in comparison to male privilege, as argued by Kaimipono Wenger (of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law)[4]:

Female privilege, if it exists, is a ragtag combination of consolation prizes to keep the women quiet and content in a system which subordinates them.

His explanation of this provides a good illustration of how we only look at half of the picture of gender inequality to determine that women are much worse off.

Door number one is membership in a group with a 90%+ chance of being on the Supreme Court, a 100% chance of being President, a 90% chance of being CEO or major business leader, an overwhelming majority in generals and scientists and the wealthy and powerful. Door number two is membership in a group that gets free drinks on Thursday, draft immunity, occasional compliments about being pretty, and affirmation and validation about the importance of the feminine role. No one in their right mind would choose Door Number Two.

“Free drinks on Thursdays” is indeed a minor advantage, but 4-5 years in extra life expectancy is not. Lower rates of murder victimization is not. Easier treatment in the justice system is not, either. Mentioning free drinks and leaving out these things is simply painting an incomplete picture of men’s disadvantages.

The idea that women overwhelmingly have it much worse in life is challenged by data from the OECD Better Life Index, which measures population well-being by gender and country (using a very wide range of metrics: housing, jobs, education, civic engagement, life satisfaction, work-life balance, income, community, environment, health, and safety)[5]. Men and women have fairly comparable scores, at least overall (there are disparities against each gender in certain areas, though).

Country FRA UK DE NL NZ Can USA Swe Aus Mean
Women 6.4 7.2 7.2 7.3 7.7 7.8 7.8 8.0 8.0 7.5
Men 6.4 6.9 7.3 7.4 7.4 7.7 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.4

  1. http://bit.ly/1wLFTYK (“2014 Global Gender Gap Report” from the World Economic Forum)
  2. https://archive.is/m6zXc (John Scalzi blog post “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is”)
  3. https://archive.is/GxVrB (FinallyFeminism101 page “FAQ: Don’t women have ‘female privilege’?“)
  4. https://archive.is/Z8IrR (Feminist Law Professors post “On female privilege”)
  5. http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/ (OECD Better Life Index)

Hostility to acknowledging/addressing men’s issues

Overview: One problem for men’s issues is the general lack of awareness (and uncaring attitude towards them) mentioned previously. Perhaps even worse is the active hostility and opposition that gets thrown at people who do put effort into addressing (or raising awareness of) men’s issues.

Examples/evidence: There was a proposal at Simon Fraser University (near Vancouver) to open up a men’s centre on campus to address issues like suicide, drug/alcohol addiction, and negative stereotypes. The women’s centre, which already existed, opposed this. They argued that a men’s centre is not needed because the men’s centre is already “everywhere else” (even though those issues aren’t being addressed “everywhere else”). The alternative they proposed was a “male allies project” to “bring self-identified men together to talk about masculinity and its harmful effects”[1].

Author Warren Farrell went to give a talk on the boys’ crisis (boys dropping out of school and committing suicide at higher rates) at the University of Toronto, but he was opposed by protesters who “barricaded the doors, harassed attendees, pulled fire alarms, chanted curses at speakers and more”. Opposition included leaders in the student union[2][3].

Three students (one man and two women) at Ryerson University (also in Toronto) decided to start a club dedicated to men’s issues. They were blocked by the Ryerson Students’ Union, which associated the men’s issues club with supposed “anti-women’s rights groups” and called the idea that it’s even possible to be sexist against men an “oppressive concept”[4]. The student union also passed a motion saying that it rejects “Groups, meetings events or initiatives [that] negate the need to centre women’s voices in the struggle for gender equity” (while ironically saying that women’s issues “have historically and continue to today to be silenced”)[5].

Janice Fiamengo, a professor at the University of Ottawa, was giving a public lecture on men’s issues. She was interrupted by a group of students shouting, blasting horns, and pulling the fire alarm[6].

At Oberlin College in Ohio, various students had invited equity feminist Christina Hoff Sommers (known for her individualist/libertarian perspective on gender) to give a talk on men’s issues. Activists hung up posters identifying those who invited her (by their full names) as “supporters of rape culture”[7][8].

A student at Durham University in England, affected by the suicide of a close male friend, tried to open up the Durham University Male Human Rights Society: “[i]t’s incredible how much stigma there is against male weakness. Men’s issues are deemed unimportant, so I decided to start a society”. The idea was rejected by the Societies Committee as it was deemed “controversial”. He was told he could only have a men’s group as a branch of the Feminist Society group on campus[9].

At Saint Paul University (part of the University of Ottawa) on September 24th, 2015, journalist Cathy Young gave a talk on gender politics on university campuses, GamerGate, the tendency to neglect men’s issues in society, and the focus on the victimization of women (in the areas of sexual violence and cyberbullying). She was met by masked protesters who called her “rape apologist scum” and interrupted the event by pulling the fire alarm[10].

In 2015, the University of York in the U.K. announced its intention to observe International Men’s Day, noting that they are “also aware of some of the specific issues faced by men”, including under-representation of (and bias against) men in various areas of the university (such as academic staff appointments, professional support services, and support staff in academic departments)[11]. This inspired a torrent of criticism, including an open letter to the university claiming that a day to celebrate men’s issues “does not combat inequality, but merely amplifies existing, structurally imposed, inequalities”. The university responded by going back on its plans to observe International Men’s Day and affirming that “the main focus of gender equality work should continue to be on the inequalities faced by women”. In contrast, the University of York’s observation of International Women’s Day a few months earlier was a week long affair with more than 100 events[12].


  1. https://archive.is/ije1c (Globe and Mail article “A men’s centre at Simon Fraser University raises questions”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1FTdwwT (Toronto Sun article “For some, feminism no longer about equality”)
  3. https://archive.is/9zVr0 (The Varsity article “Arrest, assaults overshadow ‘men’s issues’ lecture”)
  4. https://archive.is/SPOkI (Globe and Mail article “Ryerson Students’ Union blocks men’s issues group”), https://archive.is/uxR0p (A Voice for Men article “Ryerson Student Union denies misandry”)
  5. https://archive.is/Jlac1 (The Eyeopener article “New RSU policy challenges new men’s issues group”)
  6. https://archive.is/TfVwd (Metro News article “Protesters shut down U of O professor’s men’s rights talk”)
  7. https://archive.is/IGkLt (Reason article “Oberlin Activists Posted Creepy Messages Accusing Specific Students of Perpetuating Rape Culture”)
  8. https://archive.is/lLcrs (The Washington Post article “Where and when did this ‘makes me feel unsafe’ thing start?“)
  9. https://archive.is/XxPC6 (The Telegraph article “Why are our universities blocking men’s societies?“)
  10. https://archive.is/gCjJg (The College Fix article “Campus speaker touting men’s rights has fire alarm pulled on her”)
  11. https://archive.is/fS3NQ (Times Higher Education article “University of York apologises over ‘crass’ celebration of International Men’s Day”)
  12. https://archive.is/iRD10 (University of York page “International Women’s Day”)

Social acceptability of sexism against men

Overview: Although sexism against both genders exists in our society, sexism against men is generally considered much more socially acceptable. Remarks about men that would be recognized as hate-speech if they were targeted at women (or minorities) are not only published in mainstream outlets, but they receive little outcry. In reading the examples below, think of what the reaction would be if “men” were replaced with “women” or “black people”. Think of the reaction an article about “black people’s entitled ignorance” or how “women are biologically inferior to men” would receive.

Examples/evidence: The Wall Street Journal is the largest newspaper in the United States by circulation[1]. It published an article arguing that men are biologically-defective women[2].

Research has found that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future, and it isn’t just a matter of culture or upbringing—although both play their roles. It is also biology and the aspects of thought and feeling shaped by biology. It is because of chromosomes, genes, hormones and brain circuits.

[…]

We must give up the illusion of sameness between the sexes. The mammalian body plan is basically female. The reason males exist is that a gene on the Y chromosome derails the basic genetic plan. It causes testes to form, and they produce testosterone while suppressing female development.

Testosterone goes to the brain in late prenatal life and prepares the hypothalamus and amygdala for a lifetime of physical aggression and a kind of sexual drive that is detached from affection and throws caution to the winds. (I know, not all men, but way too many.) By contrast, almost all women, protected from that hormonal assault, have brains that take care of business without this kind of distracting and destructive delirium.

The Guardian has the second most widely read English-language newspaper website[3]. It published an article that opened with the line “[m]en are pretty terrible people”[4].

Men are pretty terrible people. They commit significantly more violent crimes, robberies and assaults each year than women do, according to the Department of Justice. They are more likely to show anger in the workplace and be rewarded for it while women are affected negatively for the same behaviors. They even take up too much space on public transportation when “manspreading”. I could keep going.

Men probably dominate all these “terrible” statistics because, now and throughout history, they’ve dominated the world. But that doesn’t give them a pass. They are still to blame even if they don’t know better, and it’s high time their dominant position – their entitled ignorance – was questioned and dismantled.

An article in the American progressive magazine Mother Jones (780th most visited website in the United States according to Alexa as of March 27th, 2016) offered the idea that “men are pigs” as an explanation for the modern decline of marriage rates[5].

I know, I know: #NotAllMen blah blah blah. That said, let’s unpack this a bit. Basically, an awful lot of men are—and always have been—volatile and unreliable. They drink, they get abusive, and they do stupid stuff. They’re bad with money, they don’t help with the kids, and they don’t help around the house. They demand subservience. They demand sex. And even on the one dimension they’re supposedly good for—being breadwinners—they frequently tend to screw up and get fired.

These are all very strong statements made against men. Much weaker statements perceived as being negative against women can ignite a firestorm of controversy. Economist Larry Summers was speaking in 2005 on the topic of women being less common as professors in science and engineering. He offered three possible factors, including that there’s more variation in mathematical/science ability in the male population than the female population, meaning that there are more men who are really good in these areas and also more men who are really bad. (The other two: married men being more able/willing to work 80-hour weeks than married women, and discrimination/socialization.) The widespread condemnation of this as sexist against women resulted in Summers resigning his position as president of Harvard, and possibly losing out on being Treasury Secretary in the Obama administration[7].

An interesting example of the permissive, nonchalant attitude taken to sexism against men is an article on The Wrap about the Minions (small, yellow henchmen) from the Despicable Me franchise[8]. The co-creator of the franchise had this explanation for why they are all male: “Seeing how dumb and stupid they often are, I just couldn’t imagine Minions being girls”. Immediately next to this quote is a box for related articles from the website, and two out of the three are articles about actresses lamenting the sexism against women in Hollywood.


  1. https://archive.is/KUc39 (Wikipedia page “List of newspapers in the United States by circulation”)
  2. https://archive.is/yysIU (The Wall Street Journal essay “A Better World, Run by Women”)
  3. https://archive.is/SzUAr (The Guardian article “The Guardian overtakes New York Times in comScore traffic figures”)
  4. https://archive.is/FrEML (The Guardian article “It’s time to do away with the concept of ‘manhood’ altogether”)
  5. http://archive.is/93rGf (Mother Jones article “Marriage Is Declining Because Men Are Pigs”)
  6. http://bit.ly/1wAPin9 (Harvard Office of the President “Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce”)
  7. http://archive.is/pq0qE(The Independent article “Summers’ ‘sexism’ costs him top Treasury job”)
  8. https://archive.is/DEKcb (The Wrap article “‘Minions’ Creator Pierre Coffin on Why None of His Animated Little Yellow Helpers Are Female”)

Section 6: Other men’s issues

Bias against men in relationship contexts

Overview: Research has been done suggesting that there exists a bias towards perceiving a man’s actions in a relationship as more psychologically abusive than when a woman does the exact same actions.

Examples/evidence: The 2004 study sent out a survey to practicing psychologists, asking them to look at a list of 100 behaviours and decide whether they count as psychologically abusive or not[1]. Half the participants received a version of the survey where the actions were said to be done by a man to his wife, and the other half received a version indicating that the actions were done by a woman to her husband. Out of the 100 behaviours, just 1 was more likely to be seen as abusive if done by a woman, but 42 (almost half) were more likely to be seen as abusive if done by a man. Some of the results (first percentage is how many said “yes” to abusive, second is “maybe”, third is “no”):

Potentially abusive behaviour Husband→Wife (Y-M-N) Wife→Husband (Y-M-N)
Made decisions about spouse's appearance 63% - 32% - 5% 13% - 56% - 31%
Would not let spouse go anywhere without him/her 88% - 10% - 2% 66% - 27% - 7%
Decided what spouse could eat 78% - 18% - 4% 37% - 43% - 20%
Kept spouse from self-improvement activities 71% - 25% - 4% 49% - 40% - 11%
Monitored spouse to know where s/he was 66% - 27% - 7% 35% - 45% - 20%
Checked spouse's belongings to confirm suspicion 61% - 33% - 6% 31% - 53% - 16%
Chose spouse's friends 77% - 20% - 3% 42% - 42% - 16%

  1. http://bit.ly/1PNlhY1 (“Psychologists’ Judgments of Psychologically Aggressive Actions When Perpetrated by a Husband Versus a Wife” by Diane Follingstad, Dana D DeHart, & Eric P Green)

Hostile reactions to men showing weakness

Overview: Men expressing any significant amount of mental/emotional weakness or vulnerability can experience a gender-specific response from other people of disgust, dismissal, and ridicule. Stereotypically this comes from traditionalists, but progressives are often guilty of it as well.

The general dislike of men showing weakness is one of the reasons that men trying to bring attention to men’s issues often receive scorn (and sometimes hateful mocking) from both traditionalists and progressives.

Examples/evidence: The story of MIT professor Scott Aaronson was mentioned in a previous section. He made a blog post where he opened up about the troubles he had as a teenager and young adult where he had internalized a lot of the negative attitudes towards male sexuality that exist in our society (like that male sexuality is predatory and always coloured with the chance of sexual assault). This resulted in bad self-esteem and difficulty interacting with women. He attributed a large part of this to the depiction of the connection between men and sexual assault in feminist literature and campaigns, although he was clear that he was still “97% on board with the program of feminism”.

Prominent blogger/writer Amanda Marcotte responded to Aaronson’s piece by mocking him in an article titled “MIT professor explains: The real oppression is having to learn to talk to women”[1]. She called his post a “yalp of entitlement combined with an aggressive unwillingness to accept that women are human beings just like men”. Her response to what he wrote can be summarized with the “cry-baby” picture that she decided to include at the top of her article, which I’ve included below.

The following is an interview with Brené Brown, who researches vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. The interesting part is when she realized that hostility to men showing weakness doesn’t just come from other men[2].

What Brown also discovered in the course of her research is that, contrary to her early assumptions, men’s shame is not primarily inflicted by other men. Instead, it is the women in their lives who tend to be repelled when men show the chinks in their armor.

“Most women pledge allegiance to this idea that women can explore their emotions, break down, fall apart—and it’s healthy,” Brown said. “But guys are not allowed to fall apart.” Ironically, she explained, men are often pressured to open up and talk about their feelings, and they are criticized for being emotionally walled-off; but if they get too real, they are met with revulsion. She recalled the first time she realized that she had been complicit in the shaming: “Holy Shit!” she said. “I am the patriarchy!”


  1. https://archive.is/fsdYe (“MIT professor explains: The real oppression is having to learn to talk to women” by Amanda Marcotte)
  2. http://theatln.tc/1sR5WfK (The Atlantic article “’Messages of Shame Are Organized Around Gender’”)

Paternity fraud

Overview: Paternity fraud involves a man being wrongfully named as the biological father of a child. Research on the topic gives us a conservative estimate of 2-4% of children having a father other than the man who thinks he’s the father. Consider that there are 70 million fathers in the United States[1]; if for simplicity we assume that they only have one child each, this leaves 1.4-2.8 million American men as victims of paternity fraud.

If you’re a woman, imagine that 2-4% of babies in the hospital get switched between mothers soon after birth. That would be awful! Interestingly, cases of swapped babies do get taken quite seriously; consider the hospital swap in France that resulted in a court awarding a two million euro payout[2].

Examples/evidence: A safe estimate of paternity fraud in the general population is 2-4%. The 2005 paper “Measuring paternal discrepancy and its public health consequences” looked at 17 studies and found a median of 3.7% (although the lowest report was 0.8% and the highest was 30%)[3]. A paper from 2008 surveyed previous studies and found a median of 2.1%[4].

These numbers apply to the general population. Paternity fraud is more common in certain sub-groups (including people of low socioeconomic status, according to the 2005 paper). Rates also vary depending on whether the father has any suspicions. An article in Slate interviews a researcher at the University of Oklahoma found rates of 1.7% for men who were confident in their status as biological fathers, but rates closer to 30% for men who specifically suspected paternity fraud[5].

The Slate article also notes that “[i]n the last few decades, the medical establishment has decided that these findings [of nonpaternity during routine testing, like if the blood type of the baby could not have come from the father] should be concealed, to protect the mother’s privacy and avoid unnecessary harm”. It’s interesting that this is being seen as an issue of the mother’s privacy, not the man’s livelihood or dignity.

Here is a case of paternity fraud, from the book Legalizing Misandry (chapter 6):

As one father, paying \$1,400 a month for a child whom he has never met and who was the result of his wife’s adultery, put it, “I can get out of jail for murder based on DNA evidence, but I can’t [use DNA evidence to] get out of child support payments.” Meanwhile, financially strapped, he and his new wife and their three children live with his in-laws, and he has lost his driver’s license for missing support payments

One article in The Spectator was written by a woman who laments that “the one thing that women had going for them has been taken away, the one respect in which they had the last laugh over their husbands and lovers” and calls DNA tests “an anti-feminist appliance of science”[6].

Many men have, of course, ended up raising children who were not genetically their own, but really, does it matter? You can feel quite as much tenderness for a child you mistakenly think to be yours as for one who is.

Hugo Schwyzer, former gender studies instructor (and writer for Jezebel and The Atlantic), wrote an article where he criticized the fear of paternity fraud from the father’s rights movement, saying that “it’s telling as well that their definition of ‘father’ is so fragile, so contingent, so limited, and so utterly narcissistic”[7].

It’s interesting that such articles have much more scorn for a man who don’t want to unknowingly raise another man’s child than for a woman who would deceive her partner in such a big way. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a man raising a child who is not his own—as long as he’s doing so as a choice (e.g. adoption).


  1. https://archive.is/l7rDq (United States Census Bereau page “How Many Fathers?“)
  2. https://archive.is/6HQMp (BBC article “French baby swap: Two million euro payout”)
  3. http://bmj.co/1uvh3fV (“Measuring paternal discrepancy and its public health consequences” by Mark A. Bellis, Karen Hughes, Sara Hughes, and John R. Ashton)
  4. http://1.usa.gov/1Chx7mq (“Recent decline in nonpaternity rates: a cross-temporal meta-analysis” by M. Voracek, T. Haubner, and M.L. Fisher)
  5. https://archive.is/kqENi (Slate article “Who’s Your Daddy? The perils of personal genomics”)
  6. https://archive.is/F07RN (The Spectator article “Who’s the daddy?”)
  7. https://archive.is/IYRC9 (“’Cuckolding is the worst thing that can happen to a man’” by Hugo Schwyzer)

Overuse of the word “creep”

Overview: The word “creep” has a lot of strength behind it due to its association with the type of person who doesn’t take “no” for an answer, follows people home, gropes people on the bus, etc. At the same time, the word is vague enough that it’s often applied to people (usually men) for relatively innocent things, like simply being “weird”, unattractive, or awkward.

In a certain sense, the word “creep” is for men the equivalent to “crazy” for women. Both are much more commonly used on one gender than the other, and both are negative labels that have a lot of strength and are vague enough that they can be used on a wide range of people and situations.

If a man calls his ex-girlfriend “crazy”, it might be that she burned all of his stuff after a breakup (actual crazy behaviour), or it might just be that she cried more than he knows how to deal with. In the same way, if a woman calls a man who approached her “creepy”, it might be that he genuinely did something threatening, or it might be that he was just awkward in approaching her so it made her uncomfortable.

Examples/evidence: The idea that unattractiveness leads to uncomfortableness which in turn leads to feeling threatened is actually quite sad. Consider this story from a black man with a skin condition (which causes his skin to peel away in flakes, leaving areas of discoloured skin) who spends a lot of time in coffee shops[1]:

I’m a creep.

I know this because people — mostly but not always random strangers — tell me so. What sort of creep is significant, I think. I’m not the catcaller or the leerer, the public masturbator or the stalker. These deviants are creeps by choice; they live the creep lifestyle. Instead, I’m just a dude who looks the part, and it’s amazing how much that affects my life.

[…]

A group of teenagers who otherwise are comfortable enough sitting near me will mumble comments like “yuck” or “gross” or, significantly in this case, “creepy” — as though I’m not clearly within earshot.

[…]

I don’t mean to validate the creep label. It’s a word meant to pigeonhole someone’s existence. It is also a variation of the word freak in a world where the culture of other-ism that birthed that particular designation is no longer considered moral. While the word freak heaps sin on its user, the word creep has the advantage of allowing its wielder to blame the victim. A creep is a mugger, chat-room victimizer or necrophiliac in waiting. Evidence of such isn’t necessary. The creep’s nature can be discerned from his (it is an overwhelmingly masculine label) appearance and mannerisms. To do so isn’t cruel or prejudiced: by labeling the creep a creep, you’re victimizing the creep before the creep can victimize you.

Here’s a post from a female reddit user who emphasizes that the word can be useful but notes that the misuse actually detracts from this[2].

On the one hand, I like that there is a term that has weight, that women can use to call men out on their behaviour. It’s good that being called a creep is harsh. It needs to be harsh to do it’s job.

And I don’t think it’s comparable to slut shaming, in the sense that there’s not really anything wrong with being a “slut”, but there’s something wrong in genuinely being a creep.

However, the term is abused. It’s often used by women to shame men who are unattractive, or just minorly socially awkward. It’s overused by some women, and wrongly applied to some men.

I get that where and how someone may feel their boundaries have been crossed can be very subjective. But I don’t like that it seems like women want the right to use it with impunity. If you use it inappropriately, you deserve to be called out on it.

If you want it to maintain it’s weight, don’t just throw it around for minor social infractions. It’s not fair on the men in question, either. Objectively, some women use it as a shaming technique. I think we need to acknowledge that this happens.

She goes on:

It’s easy for us to dismiss the concept of creep shaming because it is something we don’t do. I don’t think that’s the whole truth of the situation though, because those who abuse it make it an issue overall.

A male user replies:

The “creep-shaming” is why I am terrified to approach a woman. I don’t want to deal with that.


  1. https://archive.is/HwbEs (The New York Times article “Diary of a Creep”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1B9m3Gs (post by reddit user sehrah on /r/AskWomen)

Negative portrayals of men in media/culture

Overview: The issue of how women are portrayed in media/culture is currently a hot topic, but it’s important to be critical of how men are portrayed as well. As a society we’re questioning the predominance of men in hero roles, but we’re not questioning the predominance of men in villain roles.

Examples/evidence: Jim Macnamara did his PhD research at the University of Western Sydney on men’s portrayal in the media[1]. He looked at over 2,000 media articles and program segments.

Dr Macnamara found that, by volume, 69 per cent of mass media reporting and commentary on men was unfavourable, compared with just 12 per cent favourable and 19 per cent neutral or balanced.

Some of the recurring themes in media content portrayed men as violent, sexually abusive, unable to be trusted with children, ‘deadbeat dads’, commitment phobic and in need of ’re-construction’.

“Men were predominantly reported or portrayed in mass media as villains, aggressors, perverts and philanderers, with more than 75 per cent of all mass media representations of men and male identity showing men in on one of these four ways,” Dr Macnamara says.

Further, in somewhat of a back-handed compliment, when positive portrayals of men as sensitive, emotional or caring were presented, these were described as men’s and boys’ ‘feminine side.’

He explains some of the ramifications of this:

“Highly negative views of men and male identity provide little by way of positive role models for boys to find out what it means to be a man and gives boys little basis for self-esteem.”

“In the current environment where there is an identified lack of positive male role models in the physical world through absentee fathers in many families, and a shortage of male teachers, the lack of positive role models in the media and presence of overwhelmingly negative images should be of concern.”

He’s also written a book called Media and Male Identity: The Making and Remaking of Men that is based on his research.

Here’s a personal story from a woman who wrote an article called “Raising a Feminist Son in the Princess Culture”[2].

A week ago [my son] snuggled into me and proclaimed, “boys are not nice.” I asked him which boy and he told me ALL boys. All boys are not nice. They are mean.

He was right. In almost every “girl triumphs” story there is a slew of “mean boys.” Or there are boys that have to be told to be kind.

I asked my son if it worried him that main character was a girl — and that the heroines of the movie were both girls. “No,” he replied. “It’s just the way things are. Girls are better than boys.”

Another woman writes about “girl power” culture[3].

Unfortunately, in its earnest quest for female empowerment, America—never quite good at moderation, and always quite good at fighting the last battle—is quietly and methodically marginalizing boys. Every day, through various media campaigns, America’s boys absorb countless messages that girls can do anything—and that they deserve our unending attention and adoration. When it comes to boys, however, the cacophony of “dream big” media encouragement falls oddly silent. The assumption, one supposes, is that the giant, sinister swath of oppressive male “privilege,” supposedly inherited by young boys, speaks for itself.

Spend any Saturday watching the Disney Junior channel—I actually don’t recommend this, as a general life rule—and you’ll see countless reruns of a promotional ad for “Dream Big, Princess,” a new, three-year ad campaign celebrating girls and the thousands of remarkable things they can do with their lives: Science! Karate! Gymnastics! Traveling to the moon! Running for president! Promotional signage for “Dream Big, Princess” has already appeared in some Target stores; in the television ad, as the music swells, triumphant girls are celebrated as “champions.” Any young boys watching the ad, amid its quasi-messianic strains, could be forgiven for thinking they were born into a far inferior, far less magical sex.


  1. https://archive.is/NHC61 (University of Western Sydney news archives page “Men become the main target in the new gender wars”)
  2. https://archive.is/HKcjm (“Raising a Feminist Son in the Princess Culture” on BlogHer.com)
  3. http://archive.is/bUlHc (RealClear Politics article “Defending Boys in a ‘Girl Power’ Age”)

Employment discrimination against men

Overview: Employment discrimination against men happens in various different sectors for different reasons, whether it’s a service industry position that prefers women due to the belief that customers prefer interacting with women, or a government/academic position that prefers women for political reasons.

Examples/evidence: The service industry seems particularly bad for this. One example comes from Park City, Utah[1].

In an unusual twist, a national restaurant chain is facing a civil rights lawsuit for discriminating against male job candidates. […] What perhaps is most surprising about the case is that Ruby Tuesday was pretty upfront about wanting only women to apply for the positions, which would have meant an opportunity to earn extra money in a busy resort town, with housing provided by Ruby Tuesday.

The second example is a study that looked at university job positions in biology, economics, engineering, and psychology and found a clear bias in favour of women.

When hundreds of U.S. college faculty members rated junior scientists based on scholarly record, job interview performance and other information with an eye toward which should be hired, they preferred women over identically qualified men two-to-one, scientists reported on Monday.[2]

The only evidence of bias the authors discovered was in favor of women; faculty in all four disciplines preferred female applicants to male candidates, with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.[3]

Janice Fiamengo (professor of English at the University of Ottawa) talks about her experiences in the Canadian university system with regard to hiring biases (subtle or not) against men and other groups deemed to not contribute to “diversity”[4].

Next came the creation of a shortlist of three or four candidates for interview; some members of the department were keen to stack the list with members of the diversity groups. To this end, there was much sophistry about why a (white) male candidate’s book with a prestigious university press was really no better than — was actually perhaps a bit inferior to — a female candidate’s single article with an academic journal of no repute; or about why a (white) male candidate’s expertise in highly competitive Shakespeare studies was no better than — was actually far less original than — a female candidate’s untested, largely speculative work on an obscure seventeenth-century woman playwright. Thus were well-qualified white men kept out of the competition. Moments of levity occasionally occurred when we were forced into elaborate interpretative dances to determine if a male candidate might be black or Asian or gay, though usually the savvy candidate made that clear in his cover letter.

Many employers actually have official quotas that mandate hiring a certain percentage of women regardless of the talent pool. Interestingly, one study found that both genders are less likely to apply to such positions, with ~25% of men and 13% of women saying they would be less likely to apply. There are other unintended consequences for women, on top of the gender discrimination against men[5].

First, when offered a job in the presence of a gender quota, female respondents were 18% more likely to attribute their success to preferential treatment rather than to their own merit. Second, when another woman was offered a job instead of the respondent at the firm with the gender quota, female respondents were 20% and male respondents 29% more likely to stigmatize that woman as incompetent, attributing her success to gender and preferential treatment rather than merit.


  1. https://archive.is/J0lPC (The Washington Post article “Ruby Tuesday accused of employment discrimination. Against men.“)
  2. https://archive.is/eGJ1I (Reuters article “Academics rate women job applicants higher than identical men: study”)
  3. https://archive.is/QcMXA (Cornell Chronicle “Women preferred 2:1 over men for STEM faculty positions”)
  4. https://archive.is/YfhO9 (“Manufacturing Racism: Academic Hiring and the Diversity Mandate” by Janice Fiamengo)
  5. https://archive.is/ejuy7 (Forbes article “Gender Quotas in Hiring Drive Away Both Women and Men”)

Underachievement in education

Overview: Boys are doing worse than girls in education according to numerous metrics. This is the case at all levels of education (from kindergarten to university), and (at least in the United States) it’s worse among students who are poor and/or black.

Examples/evidence: One group of researchers studying educational achievement in boys and girls describes a “swift and substantial reversal of the gender gap in educational attainment in the U.S. and much of the developed world” over the past four decades[1]. Among the 29 countries in the 2014 OECD report on education, only one (Slovakia) had both genders completing high school (within the normal time-frame) at equal rates—all other countries had higher rates for women, with an overall average of 76% compared to 68%[2].

The Washington Post article “Poor boys are falling behind poor girls, and it’s deeply troubling” summarizes[3].

It’s become a fact of American life that girls are better than boys at school. They get better grades. They’re suspended less. For every generation since the boomers, women have been more likely than men to earn high school and college diplomas.

In fact, girls are pretty much the only reason the high school graduation rate went up in past 40 years, according to calculations by Harvard economist Richard Murnane. The male high school graduation rate has been stuck at 81 percent since the 1970s, while the female graduation rose from 81 percent to 87 percent.

That article also explains that the gap is more modest among students who are white and/or well-off, while more significant among students who are black and/or poor. For example, data from Florida on what percentage of students were considered kindergarten-ready had a gender gap of 2% for well-off households, but a gap of 8% for broken families.

Another study looked at disruptive bahaviour and also found large problems for boys in broken families[4].

Broken families are associated with worse parental inputs, and boys’ noncognitive development, unlike that of girls’, appears extremely responsive to such inputs.


  1. http://economics.mit.edu/files/10864 (“Family Disadvantage and the Gender Gap in Behavioral and Educational Outcomes” by David H. Autor, David N. Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth, & Melanie Wasserman)
  2. http://www.oecd.org/edu/Education-at-a-Glance-2014.pdf (Education at a Glance 2014 OECD indicators” from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
  3. https://archive.is/6Vcug (Washington Post article “Poor boys are falling behind poor girls, and it’s deeply troubling”)
  4. https://archive.is/cOUxS (“The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior” by Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan)

Section 7: Race & Gender

Many of the problems facing men on this page (such as disproportionate rates of homelessness and incarceration) are also problems for racial minorities, which means that minority men face a “perfect storm” of disadvantage. Often the state of minority men is framed as solely being a result of their race, but race is only part of the story. If these were solely issues of race then we’d see as many black women in prison and on the streets as black men, but that’s not the case.

The most striking statistic illustrating the situation facing minority men comes from a New York Times article called “1.5 Million Missing Black Men”[1]. This refers to the number of black men “missing” from everyday life in the United States, mostly due to incarceration and early death. Indeed, black men are at the bottom of the life expectancy ladder; white men and black women are in the middle, while white women are at the top. In Denver, Colorado, white women live 11 years longer than black men[2].

Ethnicity Male Female
Black 70.8 77.2
Hispanic 75.3 81.6
White 76.2 82.0

As for incarceration, David B. Mustard’s study on sentencing bias in the justice system (cited in the section on the criminal justice system) found that “blacks, males, and offenders with low levels of education and income receive substantially longer sentences” (with other factors like type of crime and criminal history controlled for). This is one contributing factor behind the mass incarceration of black men in the United States. The following table (data from 2010) shows that for every 100,000 black men, 4,347 are incarcerated. Compare this to 91 per 100,000 for white women[3]. A black man is 48 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white woman.

Ethnicity Male Female
White 678 91
Black 4,347 260
Hispanic 1,775 133
Total 1,352 126

In addition to sentencing biases involving the gender and race of the accused, there are also sentencing biases involving the gender and race of the victim. One study found that, after controlling for factors most closely associated with a death sentence, killing a white woman was 14.5 times more likely to result in the death penalty than killing a black man[4].

CBS Philadelphia reports that 49% of black males have been arrested before their 23rd birthday. According to the NAACP, if current trends continue, “one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime”[5]. A PBS article notes the problems faced by black men in education[6].

Young Black men — across the board — score below their counterparts in other racial and ethnic groups when it comes to graduation rates, literacy rates and college preparedness. And many African American men, in turn, are virtually locked out of employment and are filling up the nation’s prisons in disproportionate numbers.

Similar racial and gender issues can be found in homelessness. “Current Statistics on the Prevalence and Characteristics of People Experiencing Homelessness in the United States” (cited in the section on homelessness) mentions data from Philadelphia and New York City showing that those experiencing chronic homelssness are overwhelmingly male and black. In New York City, 92.9% were Black and 82.3% were male. In Philadelphia, 92.9% were Black and 71.1% were male.

Many of the negative stereotypes of men apply doubly so to men who are racial minorities. While men in general are often stereotyped as dangerous, minority men are especially targeted by this stereotype, for example[7].

There has always been a tradition in the U.S. of demonizing the black (or Latino or Chinese or Jewish) male, and depicting him as violent, rebellious, stupid/incompetent/lazy, sexually predatory, and so on. When you see how the gender variable operates in that case, you can easily apply it in other circumstances—men in general tend to be the ones depicted, not least by other men, as more violent, incompetent, predatory, and the like.


  1. https://archive.is/WdqUn (New York Times article “1.5 Million Missing Black Men”)
  2. http://bit.ly/1JzPh8b (“Life Expectancy by Gender and Race/Ethnicity (years), Denver, 2007-2012”)
  3. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus10.pdf (“Correctional Populations in the United States, 2010” from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs)
  4. http://bit.ly/22ZpY6f (“Understanding The Influence Of Victim Gender In Death Penalty Cases: The Importance Of Victim Race, Sex-Related Victimization, and Jury Decision Making” by Marian Williams, Stephen Demuth, and Jefferson Holcomb)
  5. https://archive.is/mHrZt (CBS San Francisco article “Troubling Statistics For African-American Males In The Classroom”)
  6. https://archive.is/6r4Gm (PBS - Tavis Smiley Reports “Fact Sheet: Outcomes for Young, Black Men”)
  7. https://archive.is/2nK1o (The Atlantic article “It’s Not a Contradiction for Men to Discriminate Against Other Men”)