Masculism

Masculism is considered by some to describe the belief that the male and female genders should be considered complementary and interdependent by necessity. However, such a definition is neither inclusive of all masculists, nor does it exclude many who are not masculist. Several noted feminists believe sexual complementarity is a necessity in society, and the masculist author Warren Farrell writes from an ideology of equivalence between the sexes, rather than a belief in unchangeable gender differences. Masculism is also the name of a political and social movement. In this way it is considered by some feminists to be 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. While some expressions of masculism are built around the general belief that differentiated gender roles are natural and should be exempt from government interference, this is by no means universal amongst masculists. A more encompassing view of masculism is that it is a movement to empower males in society, and to redress discrimination against men. In this regard, many claim masculism is the ideological flip side of feminism, as capitalism was to communism in economics.

See also: Humanism , Men's rights , Fathers' rights

Table of contents
1 History of masculism
2 Masculist observations
3 An alternate view of masculism
4 The current state of masculism

History of masculism

The first kind of 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. However, the term masculism did not gain usage until the end of the 20th century and even today is sometimes misspelt "masculinism" or even confused with misogyny.

According to some masculists, feminists consider the genders as having the same capacities in virtually every respect and denounce differentiated gender roles as an oppressive artificial construct. These masculists believe, to the contrary, that profound gender differences are inherent in human nature, and claim that feminists who have attempted to negate these differences by legislation and other means are viewed to be taking people through a fallacious experiment. However, this view is also held by many who are not masculists, and there are masculists such as Warren Farrell who celebrate the notion of a gender-free society and fluid gender roles. Many masculists ascribe to feminism the high rates of divorce, alienation of the genders, love-shyness, disintegrating communities, fatherless children, high school dropout, drug addiction, consumerism, teenage pregnancy, suicide, violent crime, and overfilled prisons. Others argue that all these points have reasons and origins that are multi-faceted in nature, and that feminism is not the sole cause of this. Some masculists define feminism as the belief that the female sex is superior to the male sex.

Some masculists further state that sexual equality laws (beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964) have resulted in making feminist ideology, as they see it, as mainstream - that such laws serve primarily women and have created significant unconstitutional discrimination against men. While, in their view, some feminists rail against an "all-powerful patriarchy", many masculists consider patriarchy "inevitable". Many masculists accuse feminists of characterizing women as powerless victims of patriarchal oppression, and of using this as a device to justify the negative views they may have of men and the moves seen as the curtailing of men's rights. Some masculists claim that so-called "fascist feminism" has achieved a covert matriarchy by means of such devices, helped by chivalry towards women that itself undermines the notion of female oppression.

Masculist observations

Masculists cite many instances of what they see as anti-male discrimination. Their claims include legislation viewed as one-sided, selective enforcement, and neglected civil rights including:
  • child custody strongly favoring mothers
  • some men being incarcerated for the inability to pay unrealistic child support payments
  • children aborted or given up for adoption without fathers' consent
  • men risking their lives in conscripted military service (though women are also conscripted to military service in Israel)
  • high-risk employment, but receiving no special honor for doing so
  • men charged in some domestic violence cases, even when victims
  • men charged in some rape and sexual harassment cases with no evidence beyond the plaintiff's claim, with greater repercussions as a result of this
  • research and free speech repressed unless pro-feminist; feminists argue that most research performed by women has not been given proper regard
  • men fired from their jobs for dissenting with feminist ideology in the workplace
  • hate crimes against men
  • relative lack of funding for men's health
  • lack of advocacy for men's rights and entitlement programs for women only
  • special government agencies for women's affairs with no corresponding agencies for men's affairs

Some masculists also note that feminist ideology is taught in universities, where it is misleadingly labeled as "Women's studies". Of course not all universities carry such courses under this label, and neither do they all teach feminist ideology as the sole material in the course. In some Women's studies courses 'masculinities' are discussed, although many masculists would identify these courses as an attack on men and not consider such courses to be outside of the feminist perspective.

Some universities, in response to these courses, also carry "Men's studies" courses. Some feminists argue that this is somewhat redundant as they see academia throughout history has been predominantly focused upon the issues of men and not women. Critics of this view note that areas such as engineering do not deal with or study gender ideology directly. They point out that few people would consider areas where women make up the majority, such as nursing, to be legitimately considered as areas of Women's studies.

The greatest area of disagreement among masculists has to do with religious proscriptions for gender roles. This is largely a matter of degree: some masculists claim a general leadership role for men and greater contributions to society, while others argue for relative equality between the genders. The term masculism has been used interchangeably with the men's rights movement, but this ignores the many gender neutral and humanist groups in the men's rights movement. Liberals in the men's rights movement often reserve the term masculism for the conservative branch of the movement. However, the liberal and former feminist author Warren Farrell describes himself as a masculist. One of the divisions between the liberal and conservative branches is secularism versus religion, with the liberals more prone to take a gender neutral stance, as pioneered by Farrell, or a religious approach as represented in The Inevitability of Patriarchy by Steven Goldberg. Liberal masculists point out, in this regard, that the same conflict existed in feminism until the past few decades when the women of the political right that were in favor of patriarchy were converted to feminism. Some adherents of masculism, but not all, claim it is an attempt to counter ideology with ideology and in that manner create a "New Patriarchy." Some claim that, despite these differences, there is seemingly no conflict in goals within the majority of their movement, only in liberal-conservative dynamics.

Masculists, in general, envision a greater role for men in both the family and society. Most masculists note that child custody is assigned to fathers less often than to mothers. They argue that this should be made equal or even reversed, citing a lower incidence for all child development risk factors in single-parent households with only a father as compared to those with only a mother. They also argue that women initiate the majority of family breakups, and that this is exacerbated by women's expectation of full custody, and that the expectation of custody by the father would therefore reduce the divorce rate. Feminists claim that changes to allow more equal custody would coerce women into staying in marriages against their wishes in order to maintain contact with their children. Others, including many masculists, suggest that men are already in this invidious position.

The Sex Discrimination Commission of Australia, has stated that equality in child custody should begin with "equal parenting time while the marriage is intact," and the Commissioner has suggested that only when men work part-time should fathers be given the same opportunity as mothers to parent their children after a separation. Therefore, while the Sex Discrimination Commissioner believes that caring for children is compatible with mothers working full-time, she does not appear to believe the same is true of fathers working full-time. It is this inconsistent treatment of men and women, in this case by the Australian Sex Discrimination Commission, that many masculists, humanists and fathers' rights groups wish to change. Members of these groups also point to the necessity of at least one 'breadwinner' in a family, typically requiring long working hours.

Some masculists state that one of their goals is to overturn what they see as the "covert matriarchy" and elect masculist politicians, whom they would consider more altruistically motivated. Most masculists support opportunity for women, though some envision structural changes in taxation or other areas to compensate for what they see as natural differences and expectations between genders.

An alternate view of masculism

There exists an alternate view of masculism as a complementary movement to feminism, the so-called "New Masculinity." In this viewpoint, both feminism and masculism are attempts to correct disadvantages induced by gender roles. While feminism addresses areas where women are seen to be disadvantaged such as equal pay and promotion, masculism addresses areas where men are seen to be disadvantaged -- for example, criminal prosecution and sentencing, according to masculists of this view. These masculists may object to specific aspects of feminism or to the expressed views of specific self-defined feminist groups, but do not reject feminism as a concept, or believe that the feminist movement as a whole is hostile to masculism. For example, Warren Farrell states in The Myth of Male Power (ISBN 0425181448) that both genders are hampered by the gender roles of the past, which he said was "bi-sexism," sexism which oppresses both genders. On his web page, he further expands on this compatibility, stating: "I use two podiums: Dr. Farrell, Masculist; and Dr. Farrell, Feminist."[1] Another example is found in Fred Hayward's speech to the National Congress for Men in 1981: "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 view, essentially, is that masculism in some form can assist and aid the women's movement and feminism, though this has met with encouragement and trepidation by feminists. 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. However some feminists greet masculist interests in the women's movement as being a key way for the ending of sexism in society.

Some masculists, however, decry this idea entirely, and do not believe that masculism and feminism can possibly co-exist culturally. Most masculists agree on the political incompatibility of masculism and feminism.

The current state of masculism

Masculism and father's rights have edged further into mainstream thinking with various Western governments reviewing laws on child custody after divorce, the legality of circumcision on male infants, child support guidelines etc. The Internet has helped groups network together and frequent campaigns and demonstrations are attracting media attention, especially on father's rights.

Recent opposition to masculism includes statements in a government-funded $75,000 report requested by Status of Women Canada, a department of the Canadian federal government. "School Success by Gender: A Catalyst for the Masculinist (sic) Discourse" examines a wide variety of masculist web sites and states: "these groups are largely composed of white, heterosexual, middle-class men who have not been successful in coping with the challenge to masculinity posed by feminism." This report also advocated that the people listed in the report be monitored and possibly prosecuted for "hate speech" due to their disagreement with feminist ideology. Proponents of masculism have noted that the characterizations made of masculists by this Canadian report could equally be applied to many Western feminists (white, middle class, unsuccessful coping with modern life, etc.), however such generalizations fail when considering women and feminists outside of many Western countries. Many men too in such countries do also face other hardships that may or may not be directly related to gender. Some postcolonial feminists acknowledge this and aim to correct these inequalities for men as well as women.




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