“Unpaid work” refers to work that is done without direct monetary compensation. The concept can be used to discuss a range of productive activities performed outside of the labour market (e.g., volunteering), but typically it’s used to refer to tasks of household maintenance (like housework and childcare) and specifically the fact that women on average take on a larger share of these tasks than men. For example, the Wikipedia page “unpaid work” is almost entirely about this gendered division of labour.
Gender differences in paid and unpaid work are real. What’s less clearly grounded in reality is the common story about unpaid labour that portrays this gendered division of labour as an injustice against women. This view, which can be found in mainstream and influential publications, tends to come back to three main themes:
- Women don’t get compensated for their labour like men do.
- Women work more than men. Men aren’t pulling their weight.
- Unpaid labour obligations keep women out of the (paid) labour market.
While there are entirely legitimate reasons for either gender to be skeptical of gendered divisions of labour, especially when people are pressured into them by gender roles, these particular themes range from incomplete or misleading to just wrong.
(Length: 3,100 words.)
Continue reading “The Mythology Surrounding “Women’s Unpaid Labor””
Feminism has a special preoccupation with women’s physical safety. “Violence against women” is a key topic in feminist discourse, frequently discussed with a tone of unique seriousness, urgency, and outrage that portrays it as something separate from, and worse than, “regular violence” (i.e., against men). What is interesting, but hardly ever remarked on, is that this special concern for violence against women actually looks a lot like the protective attitudes towards women commonly found in traditional gender roles. Feminists and traditionalists obviously differ in some of the details but both sides have rhetoric that sends similar messages when it comes to violence and safety.
(Length: 2,800 words.)
Continue reading “Seeing Women’s Safety as Sacred Is Not New or Progressive”
The outrage over and public inquiry into “missing and murdered Indigenous women” (MMIW) is a major story from Canada that deserves wider attention. It demonstrates attitudes or even policies of male disposability (less concern for the safety and well-being of men than of women) from a government that vocally champions gender equality.
(Length: 1,200 words.)
Continue reading “Male Disposability and Canada’s Public Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW)”
If your exposure to men’s issues comes from online resources then you might be surprised to find out that there is actually a pretty strong body of offline literature too. The first two books work well as an overview or introduction to men’s issues (one is more philosophical and the other more personal, so they complement each other well). The other books cover other relevant topics (specific men’s issues, gender roles, feminism, etc.) in more detail.
Continue reading “Men’s Issues Reading List (Book Recommendations)”
The most widely-used male privilege checklist that I am aware of is Barry Deutsch’s 47-point list (modeled on Peggy McIntosh’s original white privilege checklist). It started as a blog post in 2001 (2017 version), but is now used by the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), Project Humanities from Arizona State University, Diversity & Social Justice at California State University, women’s shelters, orientation at the University of Western Australia, the provincial government of Saskatchewan, etc.
Overall, the points vary a lot in validity. Some are basically true, some are basically wrong, and others are exaggerated, misleading, or require more context. Also note that this is just a list of advantages for men. Even if they were all 100% true, it would still just show that there are advantages to being a man. It wouldn’t show that men are “the privileged sex” (what most people mean by “male privilege”) any more than a list of good things about living in one country proves that it’s a better place to live than another country.
Given the large number of points, this is a work in progress. Suggestions welcome.
(Length: 4,700 words.)
Continue reading “Critique of the Most Widely-Used Male Privilege Checklist”
This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of Discrimination Against Men: Appearance and Causes in the Context of a Modern Welfare State, a 2009 doctoral dissertation by Pasi Malmi (University of Lapland) that provides an impressively detailed and balanced investigation of discrimination against men in Finland (the theory and results actually give almost as much detail on discrimination against women, although men will be the focus here).
Chapters 5 to 8 are the most important. Chapter 5 explains six biases that cause gender discrimination, chapter 6 delineates the patriarchal and matriarchal subsystems of Finnish society, chapter 7 examines the various discourses that justify discrimination against men, and chapter 8 analyzes a database of gender discrimination complaints made to the Finnish gender equality ombudsman, a third of which were made by men.
Continue reading “Comprehensive Research on Discrimination Against Men in Finland”
There is a widespread tendency within feminism to address men’s issues by framing them as really being about women (i.e., merely a side-effect of negative attitudes towards women, problems with how we see women, or disadvantages for women). This could be called the “trickle-down equality” approach to men’s issues, because it means that we can focus on women and their issues and equality will “trickle down” to men and their issues. This reluctance to acknowledge men’s issues as real issues in their own right is one of the clearest deal-breakers to feminism being the answer to men’s issues.
I think this comes from a general bias towards seeing women as victims, and a tendency for people (here, feminists) to situate new topics in terms of what they already know (a doctor might have a tendency to assume that a new patient’s unexplained problem will turn out to be related to the area of medicine they specialize in, for example).
Continue reading “Trickle-Down Equality and Framing Men’s Issues as Really Being About Women”
There are disturbing trends of male underachievement in employment and education that, if left to continue, will leave men in a very bad place. Economist Larry Summers estimates that by 2050, more than 1 in 3 men aged 25-54 will be out of work in America (compared to 1 in 10 in the 1970s). The BBC reports that current trends in Britain suggest that a girl born in 2016 will be 75% more likely to go to university than a boy. Hillary Clinton might just be right when she said that “the future is female”.
Continue reading ““The Future is Female”: The Bleak Outlook for Male Employment and Education”
We treat male and female sexuality differently. The most well-known example of that is the slut double standard for women (casual sex is seen as degrading and disgraceful for them to an extent that it isn’t for men), but we also have some important sexual double standards for men. The first and second (player and virgin) involve having or not having sex, while the third and fourth (creep and objectifier) are about expressing sexual desire. The fifth (“male nudity is funny, not sexy”) is a difference in how we tend to see men’s and women’s bodies. The sixth is “male homosexuality is uniquely offensive”.
Continue reading “Sexual Double Standards for Men? Player, Virgin, Creep, Objectifier (also: Male Nudity and Male Homosexuality)”
The typical method of dismissing sexism against men is to say it isn’t “institutional”. This usually means claiming that prejudice and discrimination against men occur as isolated events by individuals, without backing of institutional power, and with limited ability to do harm. A clear counterexample is that the criminal justice system is more severe on men than on women in numerous ways, including likelihood of arrest, chance of pretrial detention, bail amount, and chance and length of jail-time. And many are calling for even more special concern and treatment for women in the justice system.
Continue reading “Justice System Discrimination and the Myth That Sexism Against Men Isn’t “Institutional””