The Second SexismDiscrimination Against Men and Boys
Does sexism against men exist? What it looks like and why we need to take it seriously This book draws attention to the "second sexism," where it exists, how it works and what it looks like, and responds to those who would deny that it exists. Challenging conventional ways of thinking, it examines controversial issues such as sex-based affirmative action, gender roles, and charges of anti-feminism. The book offers an academically rigorous argument in an accessible style, including the careful use of empirical data, and includes examples and engages in a discussion of how sex discrimination against men and boys also undermines the cause for female equality.
Preface x 1 Introduction 1 What Is the Second Sexism? 1 Disadvantage 2 Discrimination 3 Wrongful discrimination 3 Sexism 5 The First Sexism 12 Two Kinds of Denialist 13 Forestalling Some Fallacies 16 Structure and Method of the Book 18 2 Male Disadvantage 25 Conscription and Combat 26 Violence 30 Corporal Punishment 33 Sexual Assault 36 Circumcision 41 Education 46 Family and Other Relationships 50 Custody 50 Paternity 51 Paternity leave 53 Homosexuals 54 Bodily Privacy 54 Life Expectancy 57 Imprisonment and Capital Punishment 59 Conclusion 61 3 Explaining Male Disadvantage and Thinking about Sex Differences 77 Beliefs about Males 77 Questions about the Beliefs 84 To what extent, if at all, are the beliefs true? 85 What makes the beliefs true? 89 What, if any, implications are there? 93 Conclusion 96 4 From Disadvantage to Wrongful Discrimination 101 Conscription and Combat 102 Kingsley Browne’s basic argument 103 “Slippage” 104 Military effectiveness 106 Dangers of conservatism 109 Statistical differences 113 Final thoughts on combat and conscription 121 Violence 122 “The perpetrators are men” 123 “Men are better able to defend themselves” 124 “Men pose a greater threat” 125 Two kinds of discrimination 127 Corporal Punishment 128 “Males are more badly behaved” 128 “Corporal punishment is not as damaging to males” 129 Sexual Assault 132 Circumcision 134 Education 135 Family and Other Relationships 137 Bodily Privacy 142 “Women have a greater interest in bodily privacy than do men” 143 “The conditions are different” 145 Equal employment opportunity 148 Life Expectancy 152 Imprisonment and Capital Punishment 155 Conclusion 163 5 Responding to Objections 173 The Inversion Argument 174 Conscription and combat 175 Violence 179 Circumcision 182 Education 183 Sexual assault 185 Bodily privacy 186 Custody 188 Life expectancy 189 Imprisonment 193 The Costs-of-Dominance Argument 194 The Distraction Argument 199 Defining Discrimination 202 6 Affirmative Action 212 Rectifying Injustice 215 The past discrimination argument 216 The present discrimination argument 218 Lessons from “Summers School” 225 Consequentialist Arguments 228 The viewpoint diversity argument 228 The role-model argument 229 The legitimate-sex-preference argument 231 The ideal argument 232 Conclusion 233 7 Conclusion 239 Does Feminism Discriminate against Men? 239 Are Men Worse off than Women? 246 Taking the Second Sexism Seriously 254 Conclusion 259 Bibliography 266 Index 285
“I recommend The Second Sexism to scholars who investigate gender relations, and I urge academic feminists to take Benatar’s thesis seriously and to respond to it with respect rather than with disbelief or derision.” (American Philosophical Association's Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, 1 May 2013) “This book simply must be read . . . . Highly, highly recommended.” (Mens News Daily, 4 January 2013) “The Second Sexismis well researched, with voluminous references. As such, it serves the useful function of raising consciousness about an important social issue. Benatar’s research makes a strong case for an in-depth examination of the injustices and discriminations that men suffer in this and other societies in the 21st century.” (PsycINFO/PsycCRITIQUES, 21 November 2012) “The Second Sexism is a strong and early step on the way to the awareness, amelioration, and treatment of a widespread and unaddressed problem that affects a not insignificant portion of the human population.” (New Male Studies Review 3, Jonathan Badiali's, 26 September 2012) “Benatar’s analysis brings much needed clarity to contemporary debates in gender studies, whose discourse runs the risk of becoming stagnant and dogmatic against a constantly changing social backdrop. Benatar does well to remind us that it is not only females who are constrained and disadvantaged by the roles that they have been socially encouraged to take up.” (New Male Studies Review 2, J.P. Messina's, 26 September 2012) “And now, thanks to Professor Benatar, we have an incisive, comprehensive discussion of the phenomenon that feminism has unwittingly brought to the forefront . . . The writing is jargon-free. As a philosopher, Professor Benatar is attentive to conceptual nuance and clear, precise usage.” (New Male Studies Review 1, Miles Groth's, 26 September 2012) “This is a very well-argued book that presents an unorthodox thesis and defends it ably. It would be a useful text in both undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy and gender studies, where it is certain to arouse a lot of discussion, much of it excited. Since it is very clearly written, and would be interesting and accessible also to the educated layperson. Most importantly, however, it is likely to change our understanding of gender relations.” (Metapsychology, 21 August 2012)
David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town. He is the author of Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence (2006).
While the manifestation of sexism against women is widely acknowledged, few people take seriously the idea that males are also the victims of many and quite serious forms of sex discrimination. So unrecognized is this form of sexism that the mere mention of it will be laughable to some. Yet women are typically exempt from military conscription even where men are forced into battle and risk injury, emotional repercussions, and death. Males are more often victims of violent crime, as well as of legalized violence such as corporal punishment. Sexual assault of males is often taken less seriously. Fathers are less likely to win custody of their children following divorce. In this book, philosophy professor David Benatar provides details of these and other examples of what he calls the “second sexism.” He discusses what sexism is, responds to the objections of those who would deny that there is a second sexism, and shows how ignorance of or flippancy about discrimination against males undermines the fight against sex discrimination more generally.
With clarity and cogency, The Second Sexism presents the first sustained philosophical examination of systematic discrimination against men. This is not part of a backlash against feminism; it is part of the next crucial step toward the construction of social arrangements that are fairer, more humane, and less restrictive of individual freedom. -Don Hubin, Ohio State University This book is as courageous as it is brilliant and as honest as it is thought provoking. The issue is not whether women have been wronged, but whether the responses to the wrongs against women have often resulted in there being wrongs against men. In quite surprising ways, David Benatar’s book is a wonderful reminder of the tremendous importance of John Stuart Mill’s distinction between “living truth” and “dead dogma”; for it is not at all a conceptual truth that the dogma of sexual inequality has been replaced by and only by living truth with respect to equality for all. Benatar is absolutely masterful—nay, majestic—in illustrating that reality. - Laurence Thomas, Syracuse University David Benatar once again enters the ethico-political debates of our time with his controversial argument about the neglected side of sexism—wrongful discrimination against men. Justice is never a zero-sum game to Benatar, and his well argued and thoughtful book makes a compelling case for taking seriously men's hidden injuries if we are to genuinely build a better world. -Daphne Patai, University of Massachusetts