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Masculism (or masculinism) refers to political, cultural, and economic movements aimed at establishing and defending political, economic, and social rights and participation in society for men and boys. More generally it may refer to any movement, theory or opinion that holds the belief in achieving male equality with females to be its core tennant. In this regard it is the equal and opposite of feminism, which is defined by its wish to achieve the same goals, though from a contradistinct viewpoint. Rights of concern to masculists may include legal equalities, such as those of conscription, child custody, alimony, and equal pay for equal work. Its concepts sometimes coincide with those of men's rights, father's rights, and men's liberation.[citation needed] Masculinism strives to achieve these aims by advocating of the rights or needs of men; the adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, attitudes, etc. regarded as typical of men;[1][2][3] or, alternatively, an approach that is focused on Androcentrism[4][5] including the exclusion of women.[1]

Definition and scope[edit]

The Oxford English Dictionary regards it as Philosopher Ferrell Christensen differentiates the words "masculism" and "masculinism"; he defines the latter as promoting the attributes of manliness.[2] Political scientist Georgia Duerst-Lahti also distinguishes between the two terms, with masculism being more associated with the early gender egalitarian days of men's movement, while masculinism refers to patriarchy and its ideology.[6][7]

Christensen differentiates between "progressive masculism" and an "extremist version". The former welcomes many of the societal changes promoted by feminists, while stating that many aimed at reducing sexism against supremacy have had the effect of increasing it against men.[2] Nicholas Davidson, in his book The Failure of Feminism describes an extremist version of masculism which he termed "virism". According to Davidson, in this view "What ails society is 'effeminacy'. The improvement of society requires that the influence of female values be decreased and the influence of male values increased…."[2][8] Gender theories, which have frequently focussed on woman-based or feminist approaches, have come to include a masculist approach which seeks to examine oppression in a masculinist society from the perspectives of men, most of whom do not benefit from that society.[9]

Topic areas of interest to masculism[edit]


Some, small groups of masculists have suggested the abolition of co-educational schooling, believing that single-sex schools are preferred for the well-being of boys.[10]


Data from 1994 in the U.S. reported that 94% of workplace fatality victims are male. Masculist Warren Farrell has argued that men are often clustered in dirty, physically demanding and hazardous jobs in an unjustifiably disproportionate manner.[3]


Masculists express concern about violence against men being depicted as humorous, in the media and elsewhere.[11]

Masculists also express concern about violence against men being ignored, minimalized or taken less seriously than violence against women.[10][12] They assert that there is gender asymmetry in domestic violence.[10] Another concern expressed is that assumptions of female innocence or sympathy for women may result in disproportionate penalties for women and men for similar crimes,[11] lack of sympathy for male victims in domestic violence cases, and dismissal of female-on-male sexual assault and sexual harassment cases.


"Custody law is perhaps the best-known area of men's rights activism", as it is more common for the mother to obtain custody of children in case of divorce. David Benatar, head of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, argues: "When the man is the primary care-giver his chances of winning custody are lower than when the woman is the primary care-giver. Even when the case is not contested by the mother, he's still not as likely to get custody as when the woman's claim is uncontested".[13]


Masculinists have highlighted the comparatively high rates of suicide in men as evidence of a disproportionate negative aspect to the male experience.[10]



Feminists respond to the different ideologies of masculism in different ways. Masculists who promote gender equality are often considered male feminists.[14] It is the general opinion of modern feminists that masculism, when defined as "male superiority or dominance",[4] is inherently opposed to the equality cause and is a form of misogyny.[15] Philosopher Ferrell Christensen states that if masculism and feminism refer to the belief that men/women are systematically discriminated against, and that this discrimination should be eliminated, there is not necessarily a conflict between feminism and masculism, and some assert that they are both.[2] However, many believe that one sex is more discriminated against, and thus use one label and reject the other.[2]

Criticisms and responses[edit]

To the extent that masculism is associated with antifeminist masculinism, its primary focus is on "masculinity and the place of white heterosexual men in North America and European societies."[10]

Some masculinists believe that differentiated gender roles are natural, though there is also some evidence that social influences (e.g. gender division of labor, socialization) are the primary origin of gender differentiation.[16][17] It has also been argued that belief in inherent gender differences can allow for inequality and for a dominant group to assert power by means of perceived difference.[16] The masculinist movement has to some extent appropriated the concepts of evolutionary psychology: this theory argues that adaptation during prehistory resulted in complementary but different roles for the different genders, and that this balance has been destabilized by feminism since the 1960s.[10]

Some masculinist movements are explicitly antifeminist.[10] Some masculinist identifying activists were involved in the disruption of events organized by feminists and lawsuits against feminist academics, journalists, or activists.[10] Indeed, the actions taken by some supposedly masculinist parties are sometimes extreme; father's rights activists have bombed family courts in Australia and have issued bomb threats in the UK, although it is ambiguous whether there was public and organized militant group involvement.[10] Spokesmen for some MRA groups have also spoken out against public awareness campaigns to prevent sexual assault, arguing that they portray a negative image of men, and one such group is reported to have harassed administrators of dozens of battered women's shelters and women's centers.[10]

See also[edit]

Men's organizations[edit]

Notable persons associated with masculism[edit]




  1. ^ a b Nicholas Bunnin; Jiyuan Yu (15 April 2008). "Masculinism". The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy. John Wiley & Sons. p. 411. ISBN 978-0-470-99721-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Christensen, Ferrell (1995). Ted Honderich, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-866132-0. 
  3. ^ a b Cathy Young (July 1994). "Man Troubles: Making Sense of the Men's Movement". Reason.  "Not to worry" there seems to imply that this conception of masculism poses a threat to women, or to the women's movement. A broader conception of the women's movement, however, recognizes that patriarchy is harmful to both men and women, and therefore that prejudice and discrimination against both genders will need to be recognized and redressed.
  4. ^ a b "masculinist, n". Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  5. ^ Arthur Brittan (1989). Masculinity and Power. Wiley. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-631-14167-9. Retrieved 11 May 2013. "Masculinism is the ideology that justifies and naturalizes male domination. As such it is the ideology of patriarchy. Masculinism takes it for granted that there is a fundamental difference between men and women, it assumes that heterosexuality is normal, it accepts without question the sexual division of labour, and it sanctions the political and dominant role of men in the public and private spheres" 
  6. ^ Georgia Duerst-Lahti (2008). "Gender Ideology:masculinism and femininalism". In Goertz, Gary; Mazur, Amy. Politics, gender, and concepts : theory and methodology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159–192. ISBN 978-0-521-72342-8.  |first2= missing |last2= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ Dupuis-Déri, Francis (2009). "Le " masculinisme " : une histoire politique du mot (en anglais et en français)". Recherches féministes 22 (2): 97. doi:10.7202/039213ar. ISSN 0838-4479. 
  8. ^ Nicholas Davidson (1988). The failure of feminism. Prometheus Books, Publishers. pp. 274–. ISBN 978-0-87975-408-2. 
  9. ^ Gunhild Hoogensen; Bruce Olav Solheim (2006). Women in power: world leaders since 1960. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-0-275-98190-7. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri. "Masculinism and the Antifeminist Countermovement." Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest 11:1 (2012): 21–39.
  11. ^ a b Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993; ISBN 0-671-79349-7).
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Just who are men's rights activists?", BBC, 2 May 2012
  14. ^ Janet M. Martin and Maryanne Borrelli, Other Elites: Women, Politics, & Power in the Executive Branch (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000; ISBN 1-55587-971-3, ISBN 978-1-55587-971-6).
  15. ^ Susan B. Boyd; Dorothy E. Chunn; Hester Lessard (2007). Reaction and resistance: feminism, law, and social change. UBC Press. pp. 65–97. ISBN 978-0-7748-1411-9. 
  16. ^ a b Barbara Risman, "Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism." Gender & Society 18.4 (2004): 429–450.
  17. ^ Susan A. Basow, Gender Stereotypes and Roles (Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1992).

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