37 Heart-Wrenching Ways Men Are Discriminated Against

Second Sexism
Book Cover of Second Sexism

October is the month of prevention of violence against men and boys and in this month we will discuss different ways violence is inflicted upon the male gender.

The first find of this month is a book, Second Sexism, written by David Benatar. This book gives a very comprehensive view of different forms of sexism that leads to different forms of violence against men and boys.

Very often the society debates on issues related to men and boys and there exist hardly any research material that can enable us to even create a proper response for those sexism debates. David Benatar, a professor at the University of Cape Town and a visiting fellow at Princeton University has published his research in 2011 to show the various ways men are discriminated against in today’s world. While doing research on gender justice for almost one decade I have not come across such extensive work on men. Honestly, even after so many years of study, I didn’t have any idea of so many different levels of sexism existing against men.

Since the discussion of each form of sexism is extensive and will take time, I will list those (as found by David Benatar) here and in future articles I shall delve into some of the least known ones in detail.

Adopting from Simon De Beauvoir’s phrase, David Benatar defined ‘second sexism’ as the neglected sexism or the sexism that is not taken seriously even by those who oppose sexual discrimination. He also mentioned in his book that discrimination against women can’t be fully addressed without addressing these forms of discrimination against men (second sexism).

David mentioned two important factors about discrimination – 1. Discrimination need not be intentional and can be the effect of law, and 2. Discrimination may be indirect as a result of social bias (gender roles??).

David’s research revealed many forms of discrimination against men and boys mentioned below. I have also mentioned his references on each topic –

  1. A long history of social and legal pressure of men but NOT on women to join combat forces. Even if women are allowed to join such forces, they don’t get combat roles or don’t face any consequences for not joining the battlefield. (1)
  2. Women are generally not subjected to “de-individualizing crewcuts” (haircut like army men) and are permitted to keep longer hairs. (he argues this arises from sexist gender stereotypes).
  3. Men are much more targets of aggression and violence and this behaviour is displayed by both males and females. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  4. In Kosovo conflict, 90% of war-related deaths were men and 96% of people missing were men. (5)
  5. A Truth and Reconciliation Committee report suggested that the number of men who died in South Africa during the apartheid years was overwhelmingly males. Men constituted 6 times more victims of killing, torture, abduction and other forms of ill-treatment compared to women. (6)
  6. Men were subjected to more than twice non-fatal gross violation of human rights.
  7. As ‘Preservation of adult female lives’ is given priority over the preservation of males, men lose more lives in non-fatal situations (non-military and non-conflict contexts) as well. In natural calamities like Titanic sinking, Birkenhead sinking or during Uttarakhand floods in recent years in India, it was seen that women were given priority even at the risk of losing male lives.
  8. Male children receive more corporal punishment not only from parents but in schools as well. (7, 8, 9, 10)
  9. In many cases, corporal punishment is restricted only to males. (South Africa – J. Sloth Nielson, “Legal Violence: Corporal and Capital Punishment”; “People and Violence in South Africa (Brian McKendrick and Wilma Hoffman); UK : Petty Sessions and Summary Jurisdiction Act 1927 (amended in 1960); European Human Rights Reports, 1978; Singapore Regulation # 88 under Schools Regulation Act 1957.
  10. Sexual Assault on men are not only routinely underreported but also not considered as a crime. (11)
  11. Even where the law is gender-neutral, the sentence for raping a man is less severe compared to that of raping a woman. (12, 13)
  12. In a divorce battle, mothers gain custody of children in 90% of the cases. (14, 15)
  13. For uncontested custody battles, mothers are given physical custody of children in 90% of cases whereas fathers are given custody in 75% of cases. (16)
  14. For contested custody battles, mothers’ request to physical custody of the children were granted twice the number of times fathers’ request was granted.
  15. One study found that, when children were living with their fathers during separation, mothers still got physical custody of children after custody trial; but when the children were living with their mothers, fathers hardly won those physical custody battles.
  16. One study found divorced mothers showed less attention to their sons than their daughters. (14)
  17. Even after 2-years, boys with single-mothers were found to be more aggressive than girls with single mothers or children in intact families.
  18. A study showed that a significant proportion of boys developed serious coping problems where the father was absent either due to work or due to legal issues. (17)
  19. Boys suffer more compared to girls due to divorce. This is because children fare better when placed with the parent of their one sex and fathers are denied physical custody of the child in most cases. (17)
  20. Male homosexuals are negatively targeted or criminalized more compared to lesbians. (18)
  21. Male homosexuals have a harder time adopting children than lesbians and that includes the places where the homosexuals are permitted to adopt. (19)
  22. Male Homosexuals are more frequently the victims of ‘gay-bashing’ than Lesbians. (20)
  23. Sex of a criminal often determines if the criminal is executed at all. (21, 22)
  24. Men are convicted more often and get harsher punishment than women. (23)
  25. Violence against women is viewed to be worse than the killing of men.
  26. If violence and tragedy take the lives of women and children, that is mentioned specially.
  27. There is a ‘Missing Women’ theory (Debunked here) but no ‘Missing Men’ theory.
  28. Violence against men has become acceptable. (24)
  29. Law does not punish rape of male homosexuals with the same severity as it punishes rape of females, shows legal bias against males.
  30. Man beating a female (even bigger in size) attracts more social sanctions than a man beating another man (even smaller in size, weaker) or even a female beating a man.
  31. The Commonly held hypotheses that men are almost always more physically aggressive than women and that v/omen display more indirect or displaced aggression were not supported. (25)
  32. Studies found that wives use violence against their husbands at least as much as husbands use violence against their wives. (26, 27)
  33. It is quantitatively proved that on every score, women were as violent as men. (28)
  34. When a distinction was drawn between “normal violence” (pushing, shoving, slapping, and throwing things) and “severe violence” (kicking, biting, punching, hitting with an object, “beating-up,” and attacking the spouse with a knife or gun), the rate of mutual violence dropped to a third, the rate of violence by only the husband remained the same, but the rate of violence by only the wife increased. (29)
  35. Wives have been shown to initiate violence as often as the husbands did. (30)
  36. Some studies show wives assaulting husbands were more than husbands assaulting wives. (29)
  37. Most studies of dating violence show higher rates of female-inflicted violence. (30)

References

  1. Judith Wagner DeCew, “Women, Equality and Military”. Dana E Bushnell, “Nagging Questions: Feminist Ethics in Everyday Life”
  2. Ann Frodi, Jacqueline Macaulay, and Pauline Robert Thome, “Are Women Always Less Aggressive than Men? A Review of the Experimental Literature,” Psychological Bulletin
  3. Alice H. Eagly and Valerie J. Steffen, “Gender and Aggressive Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Social Psychological Literature,” Psychological Bulletin
  4. Diane Craven, “Sex Differences in Violent Victimization, 1994,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, September 1997
  5. B. Spiegel and Peter Salama, “War and Mortality in Kosovo, 1988-89: An Epidemiological Testimony,” The .Lancet 355 (24 June 2000)
  6. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report, 1998, vol. 1
  7. David Benatar, “The Child, The Rod and the Law,” Acta Juridica (1996) and David Benatar, Corporal Punishment,” Social Theory and Practice 24 (1998):
  8. Hakan Stattin, Harald Janson, Ingrid Klackenberg-Larsson, and David Magnusson, “Corporal Punishment in Everyday Life: An Intergenerational Perspective
  9. Joan McCord (ed.). Coercion and Punishment in Long-Term Perspectives.
  10. Murray A. Straus, Beating the Devil out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families
  11. BiU Watkins and Amon Bentovim, “Male Children and Adolescents as Victims: A Review of Current Knowledge,”
  12. Zsuzsanna Adler, “Male Victims of Sexual Assault—Legal issues
  13. South African Law Commission, Sexual Offences, Discussion Paper 85, 12 August 1999.
  14. Ross D. Parke, Fathers (Cambridge, Mass,: Harvard University Press, 1981)
  15. Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., and Andrew J Cherlin, Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part? (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991)
  16. Eleanor E. Maccoby and Robert H. Mnookin, Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992)
  17. Emmy E Werner and Ruth S. Smith, Vulnerable but Invincible: A longitudinal study of resilient children and youth, 1982
  18. Dan Smith, The State of the World Atlas (London: Penguin, 1999), pp. 76-77.
  19. Kath O’Donnell, “Lesbian and Gay Families”
  20. J. West, “Homophobia, Covert and Overt.
  21. Scott, “The History of Capital Punishment”
  22. David C. Baldus, George Woodworth, and Charles A. Pulaski Jr., Equal Justice and the Death Penalty: A Legal and Empirical Analysis (Boston, 1990)
  23. Carol Hedderman and Mike Hough, “Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently?” and other
  24. Kenneth Clatterbaugh, “Are Men Oppressed?” in Larrj’ May, Robert Strikwerda, and Patrick D. Hopkins (eds.). Rethinking Masculinity: Philosophical Explorations in the Light of Feminism, 2nd ed. (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1996)
  25. “D.J. Albert, M.L. Walsh, and R.H. Jonik, “Aggression in Humans: What is it’s Biological Foundation?” Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 17 (1993)
  26. Murray Straus, “Victims and Aggressors in Marital Violence,” American Behavioral Scientist 23 (1980)
  27. Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles, “Societal Change and Change in Family Violence from 1975 to 1985 as Revealed by Two National Surveys,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 48 (1986)
  28. Straus, “Victims and Aggressors in Marital Violence,”
  29. Daniel O’Leary, Julian Barling, Ileana Arias, Alan Rosenbaum, Jean Malone, and Andrea Tyree, “Prevalence and Stability of Physical Aggression Between Spouses: A Longitudinal Analysis,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 57 (1989)
  30. David B. Sugarman and Gerald T. Hotaling, “Dating Violence: A Review of Contextual and Risk Factors,” in Banie Levy (ed.). Dating Violence: Young Women in Danger (Seattle: Seal Press, 1991)
  31. ‘Albert et al., “Aggression in Humans,”
  32. Robert T. Rubin, “Tae Neuroendocrinology and Neurochemistry of Antisocial Behavior,” in Samoff A. Mednick, TerrJe A. Moffit, and Susan A. Stack (eds.). The Causes of Crime: Nev,’ Biological Approaches (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1987

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7 comments

  1. Im gonna add that social stigma not only affeft women but men too either way remenber in this conversation social stigma isnt always so bad and could have some truth to it or else does no harm like per se meb dont wear skirts usually it does no harm and boys prefer trucks and girls prefer dolls which is frankly true not saying all its a generalization also another thing is i hope women will stop bashing at rapists so hard im not saying the rapist is innocent im saying they lose too much ill point out that we have no free will and nearly every external factor affects our decision accept that if you were him you wouldve raped the woman too

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  2. You have forgotten that many men are assumed “predators” automatically by default of being male. This really doesn’t happen to women as a group. I have that dilemma often living in the community with mothers with children. I am gay but more times than I can even address these women have assumed me a potential danger to them and/or their female children.

    You have no idea how discriminatory that feels and worst it is seen as acceptable for many of them to behave this way! The most recent event– me watering common greens — and a women telling me that she did not see this as appropriate but that her female neighbor was allowed to do the job. When I pushed for ‘why’ she blatantly stated because you are a man and she is a woman. That to me is very clear discrimination.

    I have no history that suggests I am an abuser. All tenets here are screened for that as part of the tenet process. But everyday things such as this play out for me just because I am a man. I do not recall ever limiting a woman based upon sex, or anyone based upon race, as that is not acceptable, but women do this sort of thing as if acceptable every day. Most the time men back off with fear but I do not. The assumed “predator” label does not apply to me— so I am not going to allow anyone to saddle me with it. I would politely suggest that if you have anger/distrust towards a man because he has abused you, that you direct it specifically at the abuser, and not at ALL men. This is what therapy is for.

    Accepting this sort of prejudicial and discriminatory behavior only belittles people who were not involved and is improper. It should not be common place or upheld as legitimate by any organization –when their is no proof that someone is an abuser. It is discrimination period.

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  3. Another point, at college, I recall that I could take classes on feminism and women’s studies, but WHAT no classes on men,s issues? Yes, a sociology class on gender roles which was standard cookie cutter bias –the way roles have been historically assigned per transcription.

    So men are encouraged to learn about the opposite gender so that we can better understand/relate/deal, but women are not pushed similarly. So the assumption is what…’that is is a mans world’? That hasn’t been true since before the 70’s with the feminist revolution.

    As an avid HR/CR person…I have been open to all peoples issues but yes men have been put in a bad place here. I fought for equality my whole life for ALL people as part of the HR and CR campaigns –so of course I thinks its a load of bunk that as a man I am treated as I am sometimes treated. I am not the enemy and never was.

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  4. […] Men are assumed as predators even without any bad behaviour by them. It happens across geographical boundaries. These prejudices exist and men are forced to tolerate this bias in silence. In a recent case, a man expressed his experience of treated like a predator to an article that listed different ways men are treated in biased way. […]

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