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Masculism or masculinism[1] may variously refer to ideologies and socio-political movements that seek to eliminate sexism against men, equalize their rights with women,[1][2] and increase adherence to or promotion of attributes regarded as typical of males.[3][4][2] The terms may also refer to the men's rights movement or men's movement,[a] as well as a type of antifeminism.[6]


Early history[edit]

According to the historian Judith Allen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman invented the term masculism in 1914,[7] when she gave a public lecture series in New York entitled "Studies in Masculism". Apparently the printer did not like the term and tried to change it. Allen writes that Gilman used masculism to refer to the opposition of misogynist men to women's rights and, more broadly, to describe "men's collective political and cultural actions on behalf of their own sex",[8] or what Allen calls the "sexual politics of androcentric cultural discourses".[9] Gilman referred to men and women who opposed women's suffrage as masculists—women who collaborated with these men were "Women Who Won't Move Forward"[10]—and described World War I as "masculism at its worst".[11][additional citation(s) needed]

In response to the lecture, W. H. Sampson wrote in a letter to the New York Times that women must share the blame for war: "It is perfectly useless to pretend that men have fought, struggled and labored for themselves, while women have stayed at home, wishing they wouldn't, praying before the shrines for peace, and using every atom of their influence to bring about a holy calm."[12][13][relevant?]

Definition and scope[edit]

The Oxford English Dictionary (2000) defines masculinism, and synonymously masculism, as: "A male counterpart to feminism. Masculists reject the idea of universal patriarchy, arguing that before feminism most men were as disempowered as most women. However, in the post-feminist era they argue that men are in a worse position because of the emphasis on women's rights."[14] According to Susan Whitlow in The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory (2011), the terms are "used interchangeably across disciplines".[15] Sociologist Robert Menzies wrote in 2007 that both terms are common in men's rights and anti-feminist literature: "The intrepid virtual adventurer who boldly goes into these unabashedly mascul(in)ist spaces is quickly rewarded with a torrent of diatribes, invectives, atrocity tales, claims to entitlement, calls to arms, and prescriptions for change in the service of men, children, families, God, the past, the future, the nation, the planet, and all other things non-feminist."[16]

The gender-studies scholar Julia Wood describes masculinism as an ideology asserting that women and men should have different roles and rights owing to fundamental differences between them, and that men suffer from discrimination and "need to reclaim their rightful status as men".[17] Sociologists Arthur Brittan and Satoshi Ikeda describe masculinism as an ideology justifying male domination in society.[b][19] Masculinism, according to Brittan, maintains that there is "a fundamental difference" between men and women and rejects feminist arguments that male–female relationships are political constructs.[18]

The political scientist Georgia Duerst-Lahti distinguishes between masculism, which expresses the ethos of the early gender-egalitarian men's movement, and masculinism, which refers to the ideology of patriarchy.[20] Sociologists Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri describe masculism as a form of antifeminism;[21] they equate masculist and masculinist, attributing the former to author Warren Farrell. The most common term, they argue, is the "men's movement"; they write that there is a growing consensus in the French-language media that the movement should be referred to as masculiniste.[5] Dupuis-Déri writes that members of the men's movement refer to themselves as both masculinist and masculist.[22] According to Whitlow, masculinist theory such as Farrell's and that of gender-studies scholar R.W. Connell developed alongside third-wave feminism and queer theory, and was influenced by those theories' questioning of traditional gender roles and the meaning of terms such as man and woman.[15]

Ferrel Christensen, a Canadian philosopher and president of the former Alberta-based Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality,[16][23] writes that "Defining 'masculism' is made difficult by the fact that the term has been used by very few people, and by hardly any philosophers." He differentiates between "progressive masculists", who welcome many of the societal changes promoted by feminists, while believing that some measures to reduce sexism against women have increased it against men, and an "extremist version" of masculism that promotes male supremacy. He argued 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. However, many believe that one sex is more discriminated against, and thus use one label and reject the other.[4]

According to Bethany M. Coston and Michael Kimmel, members of the mythopoetic men's movement identify as masculinist.[24] Nicholas Davidson, in The Failure of Feminism (1988), calls masculism "virism": "Where the feminist perspective is that social ills are caused by the dominance of masculine values, the virist perspective is that they are caused by a decline of those values. ..."[25] Christensen calls virism "an extreme brand of masculism and masculinism".[4]

Masculism is sometimes termed meninism.[26][27][28][29]

Areas of interest[edit]

Education and employment[edit]

Many masculists oppose co-educational schooling, believing that single-sex schools better promote the well-being of boys.[30]

Data from the U.S. in 1994 reported that men suffer 94% of workplace fatalities. Farrell has argued that men do a disproportionate share of dirty, physically demanding, and hazardous jobs.[2]

Violence and suicide[edit]

Masculists cite higher rates of suicide in men than women.[30] Farrell expresses concern about violence against men being depicted as humorous, in the media and elsewhere.[31][third-party source needed]

They also express concern about violence against men being ignored or minimized in comparison to violence against women,[30][32] asserting gender symmetry in domestic violence.[30] Another of Farrell's concerns is that traditional assumptions of female innocence or sympathy for women, termed benevolent sexism, do lead to unequal penalties for women and men who commit similar crimes,[31]: 240–253 [third-party source needed] to lack of sympathy for male victims in domestic violence cases when the perpetrator is female, and to dismissal of female-on-male sexual assault and sexual harassment cases.[citation needed]

Gender studies[edit]

A masculist approach to gender studies, which have frequently focused on woman-based or feminist approaches, examines oppression within a masculinist, patriarchal society from a male standpoint.[33] According to Oxford Reference, "Masculinists reject the idea of universal patriarchy, arguing that before feminism most men were as disempowered as most women."[1]

South African masculinist evangelical movements[edit]

In the wake of the abolition of apartheid, South Africa saw a resurgence of masculinist Christian evangelical groups, led by the Mighty Men Conference (MMC) and the complementary Worthy Women Conference (WWC). The latter saw the development of what theologian Sarojini Nadar and psychologist Cheryl Potgeier call formenism: "Formenism, like masculinism, subscribes to a belief in the inherent superiority of men over women (in other words, only men can be leaders), but unlike masculinism, it is not an ideology developed and sustained by men, but one constructed, endorsed and sustained by women" [emphasis in original].[34]: 143  The Mighty Men movement harkens back to the Victorian idea of Muscular Christianity. Feminist scholars argue that the movement's lack of attention to women's rights and the struggle for racial equality makes it a threat to women and to the stability of the country.[35][36] Scholar Miranda Pillay argues that the Mighty Men movement's appeal lies in its resistance to gender equality as incompatible with Christian values, and in raising patriarchy to a "hyper-normative status", beyond challenge by other claims to power.[37]

The Worthy Women Conference is an auxiliary to the MMC in advocating a belief in the inherent superiority of men over women.[34]: 142–143  Its leader, Gretha Wiid, blames South Africa's disorder on the liberation of women, and aims to restore the nation through its families, making women again subservient to men.[38] Her success is attributed to her balancing claims that God created the gender hierarchy, but that women are no less valuable than men,[39] and that restoration of traditional gender roles relieves existential anxiety in post-apartheid South Africa.[34]: 148 

See also[edit]

Men's organizations
Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Australia, India, United States, Singapore, United Kingdom, Malta, South Africa, Hungary, Ireland, Ghana and Canada




Notable people associated with masculism

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri write: "In English, they [masculinist and masculinism] generally designate either a way of thinking whose referent is the masculine or simply a patriarchal ideology (Watson, 1996), rather than a component of the antifeminist social movement. In English, 'men's movement' is the most common term, though some, like Warren Farrell, use 'masculist' or the more restrictive 'fathers' rights movement'."[5]
  2. ^ Brittan calls masculinism "the ideology that justifies and naturalizes male domination ... the ideology of patriarchy".[18]


  1. ^ a b c Chandler, Daniel; Munday, Rod (2016). "masculinism (masculism)". A Dictionary of Media and Communication (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780191800986.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-1918-0098-6.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ Bunnin, Nicholas; Yu, Jiyuan (2004). The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing. p. 411. ISBN 1-4051-0679-4.
  4. ^ a b c Christensen, Ferrell (2005). "Masculism". In Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 562–563. ISBN 0-19-926479-1. LCCN 94-36914.
  5. ^ a b Blais & Dupuis-Déri 2012, pp. 22–23.
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2000.
  7. ^ Allen, Judith A. (2009). The Feminism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Sexualities, Histories, Progressivism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 353.
  8. ^ Allen 2009, p. 152.
  9. ^ Allen 2009, p. 353.
  10. ^ Allen 2009, pp. 136–137.
  11. ^ Allen 2009, p. 127.
  12. ^ Sampson, W. H. (3 April 1914). "Not All Man's Fault". The New York Times. p. 10.
  13. ^ Leary, Andrea M. (2005). "Charlotte Perkins Gilman as a Master of Audience: Newspaper Reviewers Expose a Radical Lecturer". Resources for American Literary Study. 30: (216–235), 224. doi:10.2307/26366994. JSTOR 26366994. S2CID 248931747.
  14. ^ Masculism. Oxford Reference. Retrieved 3 Jan. 2023, from .
  15. ^ a b Whitlow, Susan (2011). "Gender and Cultural Studies". The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory, Volume 3. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 1083–91. doi:10.1002/9781444337839.wbelctv3g003. ISBN 978-1-40-518312-3.
  16. ^ a b Menzies, Robert (2007). "Virtual Backlash: Representations of Men's 'Rights' and Feminist 'Wrongs' in Cyberspace". In Chunn, Dorothy E.; Boyd, Susan; Lessard, Hester (eds.). Reaction and Resistance: Feminism, Law, and Social Change. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. p. 65; note 2, p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7748-4036-1.
  17. ^ Wood, Julia T. (2014). Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, & Culture. Stamford, Conn.: Cengage Learning. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-28-507593-8.
  18. ^ a b Brittan, Arthur (1989). Masculinity and Power. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 4. ISBN 0-631-14167-7.
  19. ^ Ikeda, Satoshi (2007). "Masculinity and masculinism under globalization: reflections on the Canadian case". In Griffin-Cohen, M.; Brodie, J. (eds.). Remapping Gender in the New Global Order. New York: Routledge. p. 112. doi:10.4324/9780203099940-13. ISBN 978-1-1359-8897-5.
  20. ^ Duerst-Lahti, Georgia (2008). "Gender Ideology: masculinism and femininalism". In Goertz, Gary; Mazur, Amy G. (eds.). Politics, gender, and concepts: theory and methodology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 159–192. ISBN 978-0-521-72342-8.
  21. ^ Blais, Melissa; Dupuis-Déri, Francis (January 2012). "Masculinism and the Antifeminist Countermovement". Social Movement Studies. 11 (1): 21–39. doi:10.1080/14742837.2012.640532. S2CID 144983000.
  22. ^ Dupuis-Déri, Francis (2009). "Le 'masculinisme': une histoire politique du mot (en Anglais et en Français)" ['Masculinism': a political history of the term (in English and French)]. Recherches Féministes (in French). 22 (2): 97–123. doi:10.7202/039213ar.
  23. ^ Thorne, Duncan (20 June 2000). "Gender bias in pamphlet, says human rights officer". The Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on 28 February 2001.
  24. ^ Coston, Bethany M.; Kimmel, Michael (2013). "White Men as the New Victims: Reverse Discrimination Cases and the Men's Rights Movement". Nevada Law Journal. 13 (2): 368–385, 371.
  25. ^ Davidson, Nicholas (1988). The Failure of Feminism. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-0-87975-408-2.
  26. ^ Zand, Benjamin (20 December 2013). "#BBCtrending: Feminism v Meninism". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  27. ^ Daubney, Martin (29 December 2014). "Will 2015 be the year of meninism?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  28. ^ Lynch, Alison (25 June 2015). "Women disillusioned with feminism are turning to meninism". Metro. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  29. ^ Sanghani, Radhika (1 February 2015). "Feminists v Meninists: The labels we could all afford to ditch". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  30. ^ a b c d Blais & Dupuis-Déri 2012, p. 23.
  31. ^ a b Farrell, Warren (1993). The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex (1st ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-79349-4.[page needed]
  32. ^ Mvulane, Zama (November 25, 2008). "Do men suffer spousal abuse?". Cape Times. South Africa. p. 12. Archived from the original on February 21, 2009 – via IOL.
  33. ^ Hoogensen, Gunhild; Solheim, Bruce O. (2006). "Women in Theory and Practice". Women in Power: World Leaders Since 1960. Praeger Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 0-275-98190-8. LCCN 2006015398.
  34. ^ a b c Nadar, Sarojini; Potgieter, Cheryl (Fall 2010). "Liberated through submission?: The Worthy Woman's Conference as a case study of formenism" (PDF). Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 26 (2): 141–151. doi:10.2979/fsr.2010.26.2.141. JSTOR 10.2979/fsr.2010.26.2.141 – via ResearchGate.
  35. ^ Dube, Siphiwe (July 2015). "Muscular Christianity in contemporary South Africa: The case of the Mighty Men Conference". HTS Theological Studies/Teologiese Studies. AOSIS OpenJournals. 71 (3): 1–9.
  36. ^ Dube, Siphiwe (November 2016). "Race, whiteness and transformation in the Promise Keepers America and the Mighty Men Conference: A comparative analysis". HTS Theological Studies/Teologiese Studies. AOSIS OpenJournals. 72 (1): 1–8.
  37. ^ Pillay, Miranda (2015). "Mighty Men, Mighty Families: A pro-family Christian movement to (re)enforce patriarchal control?". In Conradie, Ernst M.; Pillay, Miranda (eds.). Ecclesial reform and deform movements in the South African context. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Sun Press. pp. 61–77. ISBN 978-1-920689-76-6.
  38. ^ Nortjé-Meyer, Lilly (2015). "A movement seeking to embody support of patriarchal structures and patterns in church and society: Gertha Wiid's Worthy Women movement". In Conradie, Ernst M.; Pillay, Miranda (eds.). Ecclesial reform and deform movements in the South African context. Stellenbosch, South Africa: Sun Press. pp. 86–93. ISBN 978-1-920689-76-6.
  39. ^ Nortjé-Meyer, Lilly (November 2011). "A critical analysis of Gretha Wiid's sex ideology and her biblical hermeneutics". Verbum et Ecclesia. AOSIS OpenJournals. 32 (1): 1–7. doi:10.4102/ve.v32i1.472.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of masculism at Wiktionary