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A generic symbol for masculism

Masculism or masculinism may variously refer to advocacy 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] Alternatively, masculism (sometimes called androcentrism) may refer to an approach that is focused on male superiority or dominance[4][5][6][7] to the exclusion of women.[1]

Definition and scope[edit]

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines masculism as a synonym of masculinism which the OED regards as the "advocacy of the rights of men; adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, etc., regarded as typical of men; (more generally) anti-feminism, machismo."[8][9]

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.[10][11]

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 women have had the effect of increasing it against men.[2] The latter promotes male supremacy to some degree and is generally based on a belief in women's inferiority. 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][12] Gender theories, which have frequently focused on woman-based or feminist approaches, have come to include a "masculism" approach which seeks to examine oppression in a masculinist society from the perspectives of men, most of whom do not benefit from that society.[13] From a feminist perspective to philosophy, masculinism seeks to value and include only male views, and claim "that anything that cannot be reduced or translated in men's experience should be excluded from the subject-matter of philosophy.[1]

The term masculism was coined by Charlotte Perkins Gilman who used it a 1914 public lecture series titled "Studies in Masculism".[14][15] She used the term to refer to androcentrism and opposition to women's rights and, more broadly, to describe men's collective actions on behalf of their own sex.[14] The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the synonym masculinism in a The Freewoman article in November 1911.[16]

Topic areas of interest to masculism[edit]


Many masculists suggest the abolition of co-educational schooling, believing that single-sex schools are preferred for the well-being of boys.[17]


Data from 1994 in the U.S. reported that men make up 94% of workplace fatalities. 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.[18]

Masculists also express concern about violence against men being ignored, minimized, or taken less seriously than violence against women.[17][19] Some assert that there is gender symmetry in domestic violence.[17] 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,[18] 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".[20]


Masculists cite higher rates of suicide in men than women.[17]


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."[17]

Some masculinists believe that differentiated gender roles are natural. There is considerable evidence for social influences (e.g. gender division of labor, socialization) as the sole or primary origin of gender differentiation.[21][22] Furthermore, belief in inherent gender differences allows for inequality and for the dominant group to assert power by means of perceived difference.[21] Some parts of the masculinist movement have 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.[17]


Some masculinist movements are explicitly antifeminist.[17] According to Blais and Dupuis-Déri, "the contents of [masculinist] websites and the testimony of feminists that we questioned confirm that masculinists are generally critical of even moderate feminists and feminists at the head of official feminist organizations."[17] Some masculinist activism has involved disruption of events organized by feminists and lawsuits against feminist academics, journalists, or activists.[17] Furthermore, masculinist actions 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.[17] They have also engaged in "tire-slashing, the mailing of excrement-filled packages, threats against politicians and their children."[17] Spokesmen for these groups have also spoken out against public awareness campaigns to prevent sexual assault, arguing that they portray a negative image of men, and one masculinist group harassed administrators of dozens of battered women's shelters and women's centers.[17]

Feminists[who?] respond to the different ideologies of masculism in different ways. Masculists who promote gender equality are often considered male feminists.[23] 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.[24]

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]

See also[edit]

Men's organizations[edit]

Notable persons associated with masculism[edit]



  • Politics of Aristotle asserts excellence varies with social role, including gender.
  • The Legal Subjection of Men, 1908 antithesis of John Stuart Mill's 1869 The Subjection of Women.
  • 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 0872237583
  • "La condition masculine dans le Rouge et le Noir" Gilles Aerts, mémoire de maîtrise, University of British Columbia, 1987.
  • The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0671793497
  • Manliness by Harvey Mansfield (2006) Yale Press ISBN 0300106645
  • Not Guilty: The Case in Defense of Men; David Thomas, William Morrow and Co., Inc., New York, 1993; ISBN 068811024X
  • Good Will Toward Men; Jack Kammer, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1994; ISBN 0312104715
  • Moral Panic: Biopolitics Rising; John Fekete, Robert Davies Publishing, Montreal-Toronto, 1994: ISBN 1895854091
  • The New Men's Studies: A Selected and Annotated Interdisciplinary Bibliography (2nd Edition); Eugene R. August, Libraries Unlimited, Inc., Englewood, CO, 1994: ISBN 1563080842
  • A Man's World: How Real Is Male Privilege – And How High Is Its Price?; Ellis Cose, Harper Collins, New York, 1995: ISBN 0060172061
  • Why Men Don't Iron: The Real Science of Gender Studies; Anne & Bill Moir, Harper Collins, Hammersmith, London, 1998; ISBN 0002570351 (Trade Paperback); ISBN 0002570483 (Hardcover)
  • The Strong, Sensitive Boy; Ted Zeff, Prana Publishing (May 3, 2010); ISBN 0966074521
  • The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity; Leon J. Podles, Spence Publishing Co., Dallas, TX, 1999. (The title is a play on the Christian 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 0773522727
  • "Feminine" Heterosexual Men: Subverting Heteropatriarchal Sexual Scripts?; Darryl B. Hill, The Journal of Men's Studies, Spring 2006, Men's Studies Press; ISSN 10608265
  • Re-Thinking Men: Heroes, Villains and Victims; Anthony Synnott, Ashgate, 2009; ISBN 9780754677093
  • The Second Sexism; David Benatar, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012; ISBN 9780470674512
  • Email to the Universe; Robert Anton Wilson, New Falcon Publications, 2008; ISBN 9781561841943
  • Sex Differences, Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy, Yves Christen
  • Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women; Christina Hoff Sommers ISBN 0684801566
  • The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; Christina Hoff Sommers ISBN 0684849569
  • Domestic Violence: The 12 Things You Aren't Supposed to Know by Thomas B. James ISBN 1593301227
  • Ceasefire!: Why Women And Men Must Join Forces To Achieve True Equality; Cathy Young ISBN 0684834421
  • The Masculine Mystique; Andrew Kimbrell ISBN 0345386582
  • Young Masculinities Understanding Boys in Contemporary Society; Ann Phoenix, Stephen Frosh and Ro Pattmann, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2002; ISBN 9780333779231


  1. ^ a b c 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. Masculism (mas'kye liz*'em), n. 1. the belief that equality between the sexes requires the recognition and redress of prejudice and discrimination against men as well as women. 2. the movement organized around this belief. Not to worry: This word is not in the dictionary. But it would be if the decision were up to Warren Farrell, Jack Kammer, and others activists in the men's movement. 
  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 man 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. ^ Kahl, David H. (2015). "Analyzing Masculinist Movements: Responding to Antifeminism through Critical Communication Pedagogy". Communication Teacher 29 (1): 21–26. doi:10.1080/17404622.2014.985600. 
  7. ^ Ruth, Sheila. Issues in Feminism: An Introduction to Women's Studies (2nd ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-87484-937-0. Masculism (sometimes called androcentrism) is the elevation of the masculine, conceptually and physically, to the level of the universal and ideal. 
  8. ^ "masculism, n". Oxford English Dictionary Online (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2000. masculism, n. †1. The possession of masculine physical traits by a woman. Obs. rare. 2. = masculinism n. 
  9. ^ "masculinism, n". Oxford English Dictionary Online (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2000. masculinism, n. Advocacy of the rights of men; adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, etc., regarded as typical of men; (more generally) anti-feminism, machismo. 
  10. ^ Georgia Duerst-Lahti (2008). "Gender Ideology: masculinism and femininalism". In Goertz, Gary; Mazur, Amy G. Politics, gender, and concepts: theory and methodology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159–192. ISBN 9780521723428. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Nicholas Davidson (1988). The failure of feminism. Prometheus Books, Publishers. pp. 274–. ISBN 9780879754082. 
  13. ^ Gunhild Hoogensen; Bruce Olav Solheim (2006). Women in power: world leaders since 1960. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 21–. ISBN 9780275981907. 
  14. ^ a b Allan, Judith A. (2009). The Feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Sexualities, Histories, Progressivism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 152, 353. ISBN 978-0-226-01462-3. 
  15. ^ "masculism, n". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2000. 1914 Waterloo (Iowa) Evening Courier 11 Apr. 11/3 Why have women always been fonder of going to church than men have? Because they are more religious? No, answered Mrs. Chalotte Perkins Gilman yesterday in the second lecture on ‘Studies in Masculism’ at the Hotel Astor. 
  16. ^ "masculinism, n". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2000. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l 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.
  18. ^ a b Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993; ISBN 0671793497).
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Just who are men's rights activists?", BBC, 2 May 2012
  21. ^ a b Barbara Risman, "Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling with Activism." Gender & Society 18.4 (2004): 429–450.
  22. ^ Susan A. Basow, Gender Stereotypes and Roles (Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1992).
  23. ^ Janet M. Martin and Maryanne Borrelli, Other Elites: Women, Politics, & Power in the Executive Branch (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000; ISBN 1555879713, ISBN 9781555879716).
  24. ^ Susan B. Boyd; Dorothy E. Chunn; Hester Lessard (2007). Reaction and resistance: feminism, law, and social change. UBC Press. pp. 65–97. ISBN 9780774814119. 

External links[edit]