An increasingly vocal men’s movement argues that anti-male discrimination is rife. Who are the activists and what do they want?
Feminists have spent decades trying to get equal pay and rights for women.
But while, in the West at least, discrimination against women is rigorously challenged, a growing band of men’s rights activists say no such protection is afforded to men.
Many of these activists also believe that the media allow women to objectify and ridicule men in a way that would be unthinkable if the gender roles were reversed.
A new book argues that on a whole range of fronts – from government, the courts and schools – men are being discriminated against.
David Benatar, head of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, argues in his polemic The Second Sexism that across the world men are more likely to be conscripted into the military, be victims of violence, lose custody of their children, and take their own lives.
Custody law is perhaps the best-known area of men’s rights activism, with images of divorced fathers scaling buildings in Batman suits familiar in the UK.
Benatar asserts that in most parts of the world custody rights cases are stacked firmly against men. “When the man is the primary care-giver his chances of winning custody are lower than when the woman is the primary care-giver.
“Even when the case is not contested by the mother, he’s still not as likely to get custody as when the woman’s claim is uncontested.”
Education is another area where men are falling behind, the activists note. Tests in 2009 by the Programme for International Student Assessment showed that boys lagged a year behind girls at reading in every industrialised country. And women now make up the majority of undergraduates, Benatar says.
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