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.
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.)
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.
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).
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”.
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”.
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.
News organizations and human rights groups reporting on tragic events commonly single out the victimization of certain groups (based on gender, nationality, religion, age, etc.) as especially noteworthy. Sometimes this is based on the circumstances of the incident, like if a group is disproportionately targeted or affected (“Gunmen shot dead 11 people, mostly Christians, in central Syria on Saturday”). Other times it is based on properties of the group, such as if they’re more relatable to the audience (“At least 2 Americans among the dead in Nice, France attack” in an American outlet).
Singling out “women and children” is especially common in this reporting. Sometimes it happens when they’re disproportionately affected (“Dozens killed in Aleppo; mostly women and children among the dead”), but even when men are disproportionately affected—which is very often—it’s still generally “women and children” whose victimization is singled out. I consider this an example of male disposability and finding the suffering/death of men less distressing than that of women (and children).
Men’s and women’s reproductive systems are different, and so a full discussion of reproductive rights needs to take into account each gender’s unique concerns. Being the ones to carry the child gives women unique concerns involving the physical/medical consequences of pregnancy, but not being the ones to carry the child gives men unique concerns as well, namely paternal uncertainty—men are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to knowing if the child is theirs. This page looks into how big of a problem this is, and what we can do to address this unique reproductive concern for men.
“Yes, dear” is the characteristic phrase of a one-sided relationship dynamic where the woman functions as the “boss” of the relationship and the man is said to be “henpecked” or “whipped”. This is a common portrayal of marriage on TV or in jokes, but it also underlies a lot of real relationship advice for men. It’s a problem because taking it to heart can leave men unable to stand up for themselves in relationships.
Stories and jokes aren’t obligated to portray healthy relationships, but in light of these portrayals and especially the serious advice, men (particularly young men) need to learn that this is not ideal, and certainly not inevitable, in a relationship. It’s likely that we’re not as concerned about teaching men to stand up for themselves in relationships due to the history of men being head of household, but that’s largely a thing of the past.