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Masculism (also referred to as Masculinism) is an ideology associated with the men's movement. It consists of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies primarily based on the experiences of men. Although masculism provides a general critique of social relations, many of its proponents also seek to analyze gender inequality and promote men's rights, interests, and issues. Masculism is viewed by its proponents as having an egalitarian view of gender issues, even though it focuses on men's experience.

History of masculism[]

The first secular response to feminism came from Ernest Belfort Bax, a socialist theoretician in the height of socialism at the beginning of the 20th century, and an associate of Karl Marx. Bax wrote The Fraud of Feminism in 1913, which was in essence the first masculist text, with chapter titles such as The Anti-Man Crusade, Always The 'Injured Innocent', and The 'Chivalry' Fake. Another possible early text, which covers many topics still in current circulation, was H.L. Mencken's post-WWI book In Defense of Women.

In its modern form, masculism has evolved as a response to changing women's roles. The feminist advocacy for professional women led to a similar advocacy for fathers. For example, following the "working woman" TV programs of the 1970s (such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show) came numerous "single father" shows (such as Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons), as well as the child-custody themed motion picture Kramer vs. Kramer.

However, masculism is not merely a response to feminism. Although many masculist ideas serve as a rejoinder to feminist views, there are many issues, such as military conscription and fatherhood, that have been identified as concerns for men in their own right.

Warren Farrell is probably the most prominent author using the term "masculist" today.

Masculist concerns[]

Masculists cite one-sided legislation, selective enforcement, and neglected civil rights as examples of discrimination against men and boys. Examples may include:


Masculist concerns focus on societal acceptance of violence harming men paired with the stigma against violence harming women, as well as males being taught or expected to take on violent roles.

  • men forced to risk their lives in male-only conscripted military service
  • portrayal of "violence against women" as more important than other forms of violence, including "violence against men" (e.g. "never hit a woman/girl, but it is acceptable for a woman to beat a man") [1]
  • parents conditioning boys into violent roles and girls into nurturing ones (e.g., boys receive toy soldiers as gifts, when girls receive dolls)
  • depiction of violence against men as humorous, in the media (e.g., the movie I Love You to Death) [1] and elsewhere (see Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!), when women are equally violent.
  • specifying in news articles about violence whether or not women and children were harmed, implying that the life of a woman or child is worth more than the life of a man [2]
  • assumption of female innocence or sympathy for women, which may result in problems such as disproportionate penalties for similar crimes, [1] male victims charged in domestic violence cases [3], more boys killed by parents than girls[4] and male rape victims by women.
  • societal failure to address prison rape issues such as prevention (e.g., reducing prison crowding that requires sharing of cells), enforcement, and even correctional staff punishing prisoners by confining them with known rapists. [5] Attention has been drawn to portrayals of male rape by women, or implied rape, as humorous (as seen in the Virgin Mobile adverts featuring Wyclef Jean) where portrayals of female rape could not acceptably be used in this fashion.[6]


  • equality in child custody, such as shared parenting
  • pregnancies carried to term despite agreements ahead of time that they would not be, subjecting men to unwanted parental responsibilities and/or child support expectations (see Dubay v. Wells)
  • The opposite of the above, where a man who may want to have a child also has no right to decide if his wife/girlfriend/etc. decides to abort (see paternal rights and abortion)
  • equality in adoption rights (several states allow single women to adopt children but not single men)


  • Legislation that addresses women's needs without considering the corresponding need in men (e.g., Women, Infants, and Children Act; Violence Against Women Act)
  • Biases in the justice system against men, such as higher incarceration rates and longer sentences for men (compared to women) for the same crimes; (see Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo)
  • Statutory rape laws enforced more vehemently in instances where the victim is female and/or the perpetrator is male (e.g. the cases of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, Pamela Rogers, and Debra Lafave [7] Double Standard: The Bias Against Male Victims of Sexual Abuse)
  • Rape shield laws, which prevent men from having a fair trial
  • Cathy Young argues that in rape cases, "the dogma that "women never lie" means that there is, for all intents and purposes, no presumption of innocence for the defendant"[8]
  • Women may marry at younger ages than men in some U.S. states. [9])
  • Men pay higher premiums for auto, health, life and disability insurance, though other forms of discrimination are prohibited.
  • Men not being 'believed' when being raped by their Wife, Girlfriend or Fiancee; lesser or no penalty for women that rape men

Social concerns[]

  • increasing suicide rate amongst young men, four times higher than amongst young women [10]
  • lack of advocacy for men's rights; more social programs for women than for men
  • special government agencies for women's affairs with no corresponding agencies for men's affairs
  • men being incarcerated for the inability to pay child support payments [11]
  • lack of legal ramifications or enforcement for paternity fraud


  • relative lack of funding for men's health; far more money funded for female causes than for male causes (e.g., prostate cancer vs. breast cancer research [12])
  • limited choices regarding male contraception [13]
  • cosmetic circumcision (in contrast to the treatment of phimosis for example) is widespread and acceptable in infant males, despite risks of tissue damage and other complications during the procedure.


  • lack of educational aid for boys and men, given that their performance/enrollment at most levels lags behind that of girls and women; some states declaring (de jure or de facto) all-male schools illegal and all-female schools legal

There is concern that some university Women's studies departments are more concerned with teaching feminist ideology than equality of gender. The content and emphasis of these courses vary, and some even discuss "masculinities"; but masculists fear that many such courses contribute to animosity towards men.

Some universities also carry "men's studies" courses. Some feminists argue that these are redundant, stating that academia throughout history was predominantly focused on men; supporters of these courses note that most subjects do not deal with or study gender directly.


  • Harder physical entrance criteria for men in many occupations - such as the army, police and fire service. Requiring men to be physically stronger than women in these occupations leaves men responsible for a greater share of the physical work, for no more pay.
  • legal inequality and protections of paternal vs. maternal leave [14]

Differences in masculist ideology[]

As with most social movements, there is no consensus as to what exactly constitutes "masculism." Some feel the word describes a belief that the male and female genders should be considered complementary and interdependent by necessity. Such expressions of masculism are built around the belief that differentiated gender roles are natural and should be exempt from government interference. Others masculists, such as Warren Farrell, support an ideology of equivalence between the sexes, rather than a belief in unchangeable gender differences. A more encompassing definition might be "a movement to empower males in society, and to redress discrimination against men."

Because it is the name of a political and social movement, masculism is sometimes considered synonymous with the men's rights or fathers' rights movements. However, many of the fathers' rights movement make a clear distinction between masculism and their own often quite varied approaches to gender relations.

Some masculists state that there is a covert matriarchy and that one of their goals is to overturn it, and elect masculist politicians, whom they would consider more altruistically motivated. Theorists such as David Constantine envision structural changes in taxation or other areas to compensate for what they see as natural differences and expectations between genders.

Gender roles in religion are a source of disagreement among masculists: some support a general leadership role for men, while others argue for relative equality between the genders. Liberal masculists such as Warren Farrell tend to favour a secular, gender-neutral stance, whereas conservatives tend to prefer a religious approach, such as represented in The Inevitability of Patriarchy by Steven Goldberg. Conservatives may promote a "New Patriarchy" by countering feminist ideology with their own. Such liberal-conservative dynamics illustrate the diversity of a movement that nonetheless has a unified purpose of promoting men's welfare.

Conservative views[]

Conservative masculists tend to believe that profound gender differences are inherent in human nature. They believe that feminists who have denounced differentiated gender roles as an oppressive artificial construct are conducting a fallacious experiment by attempting to negate these differences via legislation and other means. Many conservatives believe that feminism has played a role in the high rates of divorce (see marriage strike), alienation of the genders, female chauvinism, love-shyness, disintegrating communities, fatherless children, high school dropout, drug addiction, consumerism, teenage pregnancy, male suicide, violent crime (especially murder), road rage, and overfilled prisons.

Critics of gender equality laws (beginning with the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964) believe they have helped to make feminist ideology mainstream - that such laws serve primarily women and have created significant unconstitutional discrimination against men. While some feminists fight against an "all-powerful patriarchy,” conservative masculists tend to consider patriarchy an inevitable result of the biological differences between the sexes. Some disagree that women are powerless victims of patriarchal oppression; they suggest that feminists use this idea to curtail men's rights and to justify their negative views of men. They claim this has achieved a covert matriarchy, aided by chivalry towards women that itself undermines the theory of female oppression.

Some men honestly urge a return to responsible patriarchy, often by appealing to traditional religious views of male power being ordained by God.

Liberal views[]

Liberals tend to view masculism as a complementary movement to feminism, the so-called "New Masculinity." Both feminism and masculism are seen as attempts to correct disadvantages induced by gender roles. Whereas feminists address areas they believe women to be disadvantaged, such as equal pay and promotion, masculists address areas they believe men to be disadvantaged, such as divorce and custody, health and education, criminal prosecution and sentencing. These masculists may object to specific aspects of feminism or to the expressed views of specific feminist groups, but do not reject feminism as a concept, or believe that the feminist movement as a whole is hostile to masculism. Some sociologists regard masculism with suspicion, seeing it as a reactionary, even misogynistic movement at odds with feminism. Others accept that feminists and masculists are natural allies against a common enemy, sexism, which is or can be as damaging to men as it is to women.

For example, Warren Farrell states in The Myth of Male Power (ISBN 0-425-18144-8) that both genders are hampered by the "bisexist" roles of the past: sexism that oppresses both genders. He emphasises the compatibility of both movements: "I use two podiums: Dr. Farrell, Masculist; and Dr. Farrell, Feminist." [15] Fred Hayward, in his speech to the National Congress for Men in 1981, states: "We must not reverse the women's movement; we must accelerate it... [Men's liberation] is not a backlash, for there is nothing about traditional sex roles that I want to go back to."

This suggests that masculism in some form can assist and aid the women's movement. Feminists have responded to this with both encouragement and trepidation. Some feminists believe that space for women to have a voice would be threatened by the presence of men, or that a growing presence of men in the women's movement would displace the voices of the women. Others greet masculist interests in the women's movement as important for the eradication of sexism in society.

Likewise, gender egalitarians call for both masculists and feminists who are truly interested in equality to unite under the banner of gender egalitarianism. This philosophy is sympathetic to legitimate grievances of both males and females.

Criticisms of masculism[]

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While agreeing they are legitimate concerns, and are in some ways underrepresented in society, some critics of masculism disagree with the approach being taken. They argue that too much criticism is being directed at other philosophies, namely feminism. What masculists often contend is censorship of points-of-view that don't fall in line with what they perceive as "feminist" and/or "pro-feminist,” critics assert is merely widespread disagreement with masculist views and that nothing protects anybody from criticism no matter what their beliefs. Some critics question the validity of masculist claims and the use of individual anecdotes to assert prevalence of anti-male discrimination. To masculists who bemoan a tendency to treat alleged rapists as "guilty until proven innocent,” critics contend that such views are not specific to alleged rapists and suggest a failure to differentiate between the legal view ("innocent until proven guilty") and what is true among citizens.

Critics suggest that the ability to eradicate many disadvantages lies within men. These critics believe only men can take the reins in their own masculinity, as for example women unhappy with their own situation have taken with femininity over the years, or ethnic-minority groups have. For these critics, men themselves should be the focus of change: they should fundamentally reevaluate how male gender roles are defined and conserved in society and pursue meaningful change through means over which they only, being males, have control. The idea is that in essence, the problems identified by masculists often originate in a lack of accountability and initiative on the part of men themselves and/or a desire of males who identify the problems to want it what is perceived as "both ways.”

See also[]

Men's movements[]



  • Politics of Aristotle asserts excellence varies with social role, including gender.
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792.
  • On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, 1859.
  • The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill, 1869.
  • The Legal Subjection of Men by Ernest Belfort Bax, 1908.
  • The Fraud of Feminism by Ernest Belfort Bax, 1914.
  • The Myth of the Monstrous Male and Other Feminist Fallacies; John Gordon, Playboy Press, New York, 1982; ISBN 0-87223-758-3
  • The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7
  • Manliness by Harvey Mansfield (2006) Yale Press [16] ISBN 0-300-10664-5
  • Not Guilty: The Case in Defense of Men; David Thomas, William Morrow and Co., Inc., New York, 1993; ISBN 0-688-11024-X
  • Good Will Toward Men; Jack Kammer, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1994; ISBN 0-312-10471-5
  • Moral Panic: Biopolitics Rising; John Fekete, Robert Davies Publishing, Montreal-Toronto, 1994: ISBN 1-895854-09-1
  • The New Men's Studies: A Selected and Annotated Interdisciplinary Bibliography (2nd Edition); Eugene R. August, Libraries Unlimited, Inc., Englewood, CO, 1994: ISBN 1-56308-084-2
  • A Man's World: How Real Is Male Privilege - And How High Is Its Price?; Ellis Cose, Harper Collins, New York, 1995: ISBN 0-06-017206-1
  • Why Men Don't Iron: The Real Science of Gender Studies; Anne & Bill Moir, Harper Collins, Hammersmith, London, 1998; ISBN 0-00-257035-1 (Trade Paperback); ISBN 0-00-257048-3 (Hardcover)
  • The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity; Leon J. Podles, Spence Publishing Co., Dallas, TX, 1999. (The title is a play on the Catholic theological terms church militant and church triumphant.)
  • Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture; Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal, 2001; ISBN 0-7735-2272-7
  • Sex Differences, Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy, Yves Christen
  • Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women; Christina Hoff Sommers ISBN 0-684-80156-6
  • The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; Christina Hoff Sommers ISBN 0-684-84956-9
  • If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules?; Jack Kammer [17]
  • Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren't Supposed to Know by Thomas B. James ISBN 1-59330-122-7
  • Ceasefire! : Why Women And Men Must Join Forces To Achieve True Equality; Cathy Young ISBN 0-684-83442-1
  • The Masculine Mystique; Andrew Kimbrell ISBN 0-345-38658-2

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7

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