Reverse sexism

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Reverse sexism is sexism directed towards men and boys.[1]

This form of sexism includes any form of prejudice or discrimination against men and boys. This can include stereotyping that may negatively impact men.

Often, the debate surrounding reverse sexism involves the innate definition of sexism, for example, whether the concept of sexism itself requires systemic power, or can exist on an individual level, and whether males can experience prejudice and discrimination in a system that some would argue benefits them.[2][3]

Reverse sexism has been compared by sociologists to reverse racism, and "reverse ethnocentrism," in that both can be a response to affirmative action policies that are designed to combat institutionalized sexism and racism, and are a form of backlash, through which members of majority categories (e.g., men, whites, or Anglos) assert that they are being discriminated against.[4][5] In more rigid forms, this stance assumes that the historic imbalance in favor of men in the contemporary era is no longer applicable,[6] or that women are now viewed as the superior gender or sex.[7]

The concept of reverse sexism has been used as a response to feminism, whose proponents tend to believe that the feminist movement has rearranged society as a whole in such a way that it now benefits women and harms men.[8]


The concept of reverse sexism was first documented during the 1960s at the same time as the emergence of the women's liberation and feminist movements. A men's liberation movement was formed, led by psychologists who argued that femininity and masculinity were socially formed behaviors and not the result of genes. The men's liberation movement tried to balance the two ideas that men were responsible for oppressing women, but also being oppressed themselves by strict gender roles.[9][10][11]

In the mid-1970s, the movement began to focus on the oppression of men and less on the effects of sexism on women. This shift was influenced by author Warren Farrell, who wrote The Myth of Male Power. He emphasized how male gender roles disadvantaged men by forbidding them from being seen as caring or having emotion.[12]

In the 1980s, a new men's rights movement began to form which focused only on the ways that sex roles discriminated against males rather than the oppression it inflicted on both genders. Author Herb Goldberg claimed that the U.S. was a "matriarchal society" because women have the power to transgress gender roles and assume masculine and feminine roles, while males are still constrained to the purely masculine role.[13]

A journal written by Reneé Blank and Sandra Slipp in 1994 compiled the testimonies of men who believed they were discriminated against based on their sex and race. This occurred in a time where women were entering the work force and obtaining managerial positions.[14]

In 2009, several academics made statements that indicate, or may indicate, a belief that reverse sexism did not exist.[15][16]

For example, in the preamble a study on internalized sexism, Steve Bearman, Neill Korobov and Avril Thorne stated that reverse sexism was not a "meaningful phrase," because "while individual women or women as a whole may enact prejudicial biases towards specific men or toward men as a group, this is done without the backing of a societal system of institutional power.".[15]

The same year, two assistant professors, Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo, wrote in an open letter to their faculty that reverse sexism does not exist, because the word "sexism" refers to "power relations that are historic and embedded, and these relations do not flip back and forth" and because "the same groups who have historically held systemic power in the US and Canada continue to do so."[16]

David Benatar's 2012 book, Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys, expounded the theory that discrimination against males is often unnoticed and considered less important than discrimination against females.[17]

According to Victoria Smith and Prerna Singh, misogyny and misandry are not equal. A traditionally oppressed group, like women and girls, can be victims of sexism. Men and boys, on the other hand, are traditionally the oppressors; therefore, they can not suffer from sexism.[3][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Neely, Carol Thomas (1981). Feminist modes of Shakespearean criticism: Compensatory, justificatory, transformational. pp. 3–15.
  2. ^ Barraclough, Corrine (23 May 2018). "Who's Going to Call out the Reverse Sexism Deniers?". The Spectator.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Victoria (6 Oct 2018). "'The Fact That We're Considering Making Misandry a Hate Crime Should Concern Everyone'". The Independent.
  4. ^ Zack, Naomi (2016). Race/Sex: Their Sameness, Difference and Interplay. p. 46.
  5. ^ Ward, Amanda (2013). Handbook of Social Psychology. p. 496.
  6. ^ Sociological Abstracts: Supplement — Issues 67-77. 1977. p. 202.[full citation needed]
  7. ^ Collins, Georgia (1984). Women, art, and education. p. 14.
  8. ^ Leidholdt, Dorchen; Raymond, Janice G. (1990). The Sexual Liberals and the Attack on Feminism. p. 165.
  9. ^ Baker, Maureen; Bakker, J. I. Hans (Autumn 1980). "The Double-Bind of the Middle Class Male: Men's Liberation and the Male Sex Role". Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 11 (4): 547–561. doi:10.3138/jcfs.11.4.547.
  10. ^ Messner, Michael A. (June 1998). "The Limits of "The Male Sex Role": An Analysis of the Men's Liberation and Men's Rights Movements' Discourse". Gender and Society. 12 (3): 255–276. doi:10.1177/0891243298012003002. S2CID 143890298.
  11. ^ Carrigan, Tim; Connell, Bob; Lee, John (September 1985). "Toward a New Sociology of Masculinity". Theory and Society. 14 (5): 551–604. doi:10.1007/BF00160017. S2CID 143967899.
  12. ^ Pendergast, Sara; Pendergast, Tom, eds. (2000). "Men's Movement". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 3. Detroit, Michigan: St. James Press. pp. 344–345.
  13. ^ Coston, Bethany; Kimmel, Michael (1 January 2013). "White Men as the New Victims: Reverse Discrimination Cases and the Men's Rights Movement". Nevada Law Journal. 13 (2).
  14. ^ Blank, Renee; Slipp, Sandra (1 September 1994). "The white male: an endangered species?". Management Review. 83 (9): 27–33. Gale A15803282 ProQuest 206709029.
  15. ^ a b Bearman, Steve; Korobov, Neill; Thorne, Avril (2009). "The Fabric of Internalized Sexism" (PDF). Journal of Integrated Social Sciences. 1 (1): 10–47.
  16. ^ a b Sensoy, Özlem; DiAngelo, Robin (January 2009). "Developing Social Justice Literacy an Open Letter to Our Faculty Colleagues". Phi Delta Kappan. 90 (5): 345–352. doi:10.1177/003172170909000508. S2CID 145536252.
  17. ^ Benatar, David (2012). The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-19231-3.[page needed][non-primary source needed]
  18. ^ Singh, Prerna (1 October 2018). "This Notion Called Reverse Sexism Cannot And Does Not Exist". Feminism In India.[self-published source?]