Essay review of Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2006: Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press)
Men in Canada, the USA, and inferentially much of Europe1, are second-class citizens not in the exact same pattern as, but to much the same degree as, Afro-Americans were second-class citizens of the US in the 1950s. The biggest difference may be that men, at least up to the year 2006 when Legalizing Misandry was published, were sinking in social acceptance and moral standing, while in the 1950s, Afro-Americans were rising.
In the words of the authors,
“In both [Canada and the USA], using different mechanisms, advocates of feminist ideology have secured the collective economic interests of women and either ignored or attacked the collective economic interests of men: the individual women and men involved, their particular circumstances, have been considered of little or no importance. Because the resulting systemic discrimination against men has been achieved in subtle ways—incrementally, for instance, rather than suddenly—many people, including men, have either failed or refused to recognize that a major shift has taken place. As a result, misandry has been legalized—that is, misandry has taken the form of systemic discrimination against men.”
There are different standards of treatment for men and for women in cases of
In each of the above, men are at systematic disadvantage relative to women.
Many of the “facts” on which discrimination against men is based, are falsehoods. Four examples:
Bias against men has been “lobbied into law” by “ideological Feminists” using hostile stereotypes and in many cases, biased or downright false statistics (some merely outdated and some plainly false from the get-go) misrepresented as facts. Those who did the “lobbying” were leading Feminists of the past 50 years, and consistent with the semantics of the word “Feminism”, their perspective was gynocentrism, their fundamental premise that the social world and specifically laws and governments revolve around women, with men being peripheral, inferior legally and socially, (or in the visions of a few like Mary Daly 6, Sally Miller Gearhart, and Valerie Solanas, almost absent from the human scene.)
Indeed, since the “ideological” Feminists have had far more influence on legal and bureaucratic changes than others who might be called “Feminist”, it seems quite accurate to call them the leading Feminists: They have directed social change; and as this quite long book details, it has been misandric change. I was not a second-class citizen when i reached the age of majority nor when i got my first academic jobs; but today, i am one, as detailed in this book and partly summarized above 7.
Chapter 5, on two definitions of equality, is important to anyone who believes, or has been asked to believe, that Feminism is egalitarian. The difference between equal opportunity and equal-outcomes is only part of the falsity of Feminist “seeking equality” claims, but a part not widely understood nor recognized. What ideological Feminism seeks is entitlements for women: “Equality of results”, combined with an insistence that men's historic privileges be deemed current [while in fact they have nearly all been eliminated, some even reversed] serves ideologues as a basis for claiming those entitlements. If men's current disadvantages were acknowledged, men could also claim many entitlements and-or the closure of “Affirmative Action” programs which have achieved their goals. Instead, the advantages of e.g. preferential hiring and school subvention are given to female humans who are already the advantaged gender.
If that ain't privilege, what is?
The book makes a persuasive case (outlined above) for its major premise, that men are second-class citizens today. Ironically, we second-class citizens are deemed politically to be privileged, and because this falsehood is “officially true”, women and girls are favoured systematically by law and bureaucracy. Those three points—That men are not privileged today, rather the reverse; that men are deemed to be privileged officially; and that women and girls are favoured systematically by law and bureaucracy—are the main message of this book.
Why are men treated as privileged at a time when we are in the reverse situation? One major reason is the word “historic”. In response to Feminist lobbying, women have been designated “historically disadvantaged” [e.g. pp. 92, 93, 514], which they once were in the allocation of financial aid for university study (“bursaries”, “scholarships”, etc.) and in hiring for some jobs (because men were believed, probably correctly, to be more willing to work long hours and less likely to quit work to have children.) Men were historically disadvantaged in other ways—for instance, men could be conscripted to risk their lives in miserable conditions at war, and when the Titanic sank, 80% of all the men (likely over 90% of men passengers) on board died, but only 24% of the women. (Over half the men who survived were crew members “manning” the lifeboats.)
In the years after World War II, when i was a boy, memories of men's disadvantages were fresher, and indeed “American” men were drafted and sent off to war in Korea (and over a decade later, in Vietnam.) The balance of privileges between the sexes did not clearly favour men or women; and those were the years of the “Baby Boom”—a strong majority of women were happy to stay home, have babies, rear children, and not suffer the hassles of holding an ordinary working class job.
Feminism's resurgence in the latter 1960s and 1970s involved women whose job ambitions were higher than most men or women can achieve 8, at a time when war and conscription ensnared a small minority of men—or in Canada and Western Europe, none. For them, anything less than full access to the elite jobs they felt they could win and do well, was far more of a disadvantage than being supported by a man, or having preferential access to lifeboats in a shipwreck 9, could balance. Among working and lower class women, the comparison was quite different: Being a housewife in the 1960s and '70s was at least as pleasant as many of the jobs working class husbands had to do to bring home a paycheck. [cf. p. 81]
(“Woman's work is never done?” Labour saving machinery, ready-to-wear clothing, and improvements in commercially canned and frozen food, had changed that by 1960 (Lenski, Lenski and Nolan, 1991: 343-5, esp. 344: “The Young Housekeeper's Friend”). Meanwhile, men whose forefathers had “worked from sun to setting sun” could work longer hours thanks to electric lights.10)
The “ideological” feminists Nathanson and Young name tend to be lawyers, other professionals (especially academics) and some politicians: Upper-middle-class and a few upper-class women whose expectations and ambitions go far higher than “having a good job and making a decent living” 11.
Nathanson and Young describe “ideological feminists” as thinking and writing of women as a class whose interests they promote; but also as leading other women where they have not asked to go, and using fraudulent “facts” as means to these slyly promoted ends. Ambition was also to be found among Marxists who preached “classless society,” but somehow became a de facto ruling class (Djilas, 1957; cf. Crankshaw, 1966.) And where ambition is rampant, many individual ambitions will be unfilled.
One way to gloss over frustrated ambition is to blame others, and categorical blame, as of Jews by Nazis, various forms of political and ideological “incorrectness” by Stalinists, (of “communists” by many Americans in the 1950s) and of men by ideological Feminists, can pseudo-reconcile frustration with egotism. Revenge does not attain one what one expected and did not get, but for many people it seems to ease the feeling of frustration.
Feminist misandry partakes greatly of vengeance, and indeed i have heard women who are not well known as “ideological feminists” say “I want revenge for three thousand years of oppression.” In so doing, any who called themselves Christians denied their faith, for the Bible plainly says, (Romans 12:19 12) “... avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” As a rather serious Christian, i suspect those who are motivated by revenge, because they are so motivated.
For what, we can fairly ask, are women claiming revenge? The word “oppression” rings false when we consider the privileges and protections women, and especially women of the high social status of most leading Feminist writers, enjoyed throughout the 20th Century and long before. I have mentioned the Titanic before, and in another blog published on the 100th Anniversary of its sinking. addressed “misplaced chivalry” more specifically.
An outcomes definition of equality (which was mentioned in “the Moynihan Report” earlier than the year of Nathanson and Young's reference) can have seriously pernicious effects: If equality is more a matter of entitlements than of opportunity, for instance, then why work hard? Or as the saying went in the last years of the East German state, “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.” That way lies social disintegration, as East Germany—and the Soviet Bloc more generally—experienced; and about whose possibility Nathanson and Young do worry [184, 326] . Societies that prosper, value and reward work according to its contribution to the general welfare; societies that fail, proliferate “entitlements” and reward a Ruling Class [and often, unproductive “special interests” as well] to such extent as to degrade the health and strength—and also the motivation—of those who actually produce subsistence.
Perhaps one Marxist the ideological Feminists did not read, was Milovan Djilas (1957). Or one wonders—did they read him and not admit it?
I was a bit surprised not to find some important works cited here, given how very many works were: Brinton's Anatomy of Revolution, “the Moynihan report” [which mentioned the equal-outcomes criterion in the 1960s], and though it is less well known, Glubb's Fate of Empires [or if they are students of Islam, perhaps instead Ibn-Khaldun's Muqaddama, which i found summarized by Durant (1957: 693), and from which Glubb seems to have taken his theme of wealth and self-indulgence inevitably leading to decline and fall.]
Brinton, for instance, generalizes from the American, English, French and Russian revolutions to say that in revolution, power tends to go from moderate to extremist hands; and my chosen source for the parallel in recent Feminism is the late Sgt. Tom Ball:
“In the Epilogue Chapter of the 20th Anniversary Edition of her book The Feminine Mystique, Betty [Friedan] relayed why she resigned as the first president of the National Organization of Women in 1970. Betty wrote that she, "was unable to openly fight the man haters and unwilling to front for them any more..." So man hating bigots not only existed 40 years ago, they were also grabbing power. Now Washington is funding them. Makes you wonder what bigots they will fund next. Maybe the Klan?
Feminists had always claimed that when women took over, we would have a kinder, gentler, more nurturing world. After 36 million arrests and 72 million evictions what we got was Joe Stalin.”
Glubb compared 14 empires (13 explicitly and the USA implicitly) and found that the 13 which had begun more than 250 years before he wrote, had all lasted approximately 250 years, or ten human generations. As they declined, especially near the end of their times, empires tended to sexual libertinism, glorification of entertainers, a “welfare state”, and to give far more power to women than when growing and “at the top”. (Glubb, 1978: 17-18) “Decadence,” Glubb concludes, “is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity. The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving.” (Glubb, 1978: 20 .. echoes of post-modernism, anyone?)
Moynihan, whose “report” was first published anonymously, cited “Civil Rights” leaders as demanding equal-outcomes, or in the phrase used by Nathanson and Young, equality of results. He also wrote, "There is, presumably, no special reason why a society in which males are dominant in family relationships is to be preferred to a matriarchal arrangement. However, it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages to begin with, is operating on another." (“Anonymous”, 1965, ch IV, near the beginning). More than two years before reading this book, i posted a short essay reviewing the Moynihan Report and concluding that Feminists had put “a matriarchal arrangement” into effect. Legalizing Misandry would have been an obvious source to cite, had it been in a local library.
Simultaneous invention, and in science, simultaneous discovery; are common when a large number of thinkers are working on the same subject with the same body of knowledge “to draw on”. Nathanson and Young have done a far larger and more comprehensive job than i did, and this book should be a reference on which advocates of social equality and in particular, equal respect for men, can often rely. Unfortunately, the present volume's citation system makes reference use much more difficult than it ought to be: Because of its great value in documenting misandry in law, and in government more generally, i suggest; the book should be “brought out in a second edition” with a more accessible reference system.
Structure of the Book, and its greatest weakness:
Legalizing Misandry ends in the middle: The last page of the book itself is numbered 326, while the last page number is 650—two short of twice 326 13. After the last chapter come thirteen appendices (following only eleven chapters) and 127 pages of footnotes (more precisely, of endnotes). This is a reference book, i can infer from that structure as well as from my intuitive impression 14.
Much could be done to make Legalizing Misandry more accessible to readers who want to use it as a reference. I spent several minutes, which entailed serious distraction from my thinking about the main business of the book, looking back through the footnotes for a reference—dozens of times. The footnote to which i first turned often did not identify the source cited, not even implicitly! Several authors cited were cited for multiple publications, and many footnotes referring to those authors did not indicate which of their multiple publications was cited. Articles in periodicals were not always cited as to full page scope, not even in their first mention.
The citation practice used in most sociological writing, and much other “social science”, including this review, is far easier to follow and use, and thus facilitates thinking about the main work at hand: It has the form (Author[s], year: Page[s])—for instance (Nathanson and Young, 2006: 326) which refers to the last page of their main text. In the old “liberal-arts footnote system”, and with the notes actually endnotes as in this book, the reader might turn some hundreds of pages further-on, spending considerable attention on finding the correct chapter and then the footnote number in the group of footnotes for that chapter, only to read [e.g. ibid, p. 326 or Author, p. 74.] Looking back through the listing, the reader then finds [Author, op. cit preceded by comments and references to other sources. The luckless reader, who by now may have forgotten why the citation is being pursued, must then either give up the search or work painfully backward through the footnotes until the op which was cit can be found. (Randomly or haphazardly looking for a reference to the author[s] will not suffice, because they may have published more than one op[ere] and only by painfully working backward [sometimes for tens of footnotes, even into the footnotes for a previous chapter] can one find which [one hopes] is cited. Using the parenthetical system, each citation uniquely states the specific reference, which is fully listed at the end along with all the other references. If citing a reference is worth while, so is making its identity readily accessible to the reader!)
The parenthetical system does not eliminate footnotes. My short essay on the Moynihan report and matriarchal tendencies since its publication has 16 footnotes (as has this review), and uses the parenthetical reference system. The footnotes contain details whose inclusion in the body text would disrupt its “flow” and readability; obiter dicta; and material which anticipates possible dispute. Nathanson and Young use footnotes for a combination of these purposes plus reference citation, which especially in the absence of a full alphabetic list of references, makes identifying their sources far more difficult than it need be.
I estimate that the authors' choice of the “liberal-arts footnote system” in endnote mode, without regularly distinguishing among multiple works by one author, cost me more than five additional hours of work reading their book for future reference; and it might have been more than ten hours—that's not how long i spent studying the book (which was more like 40-50 hours), it's how much longer than necessary. Multiply that by the number of readers who they hope will give the book serious use, and the total will surely exceed one full-time year of an 8-hour-per-day, five-day-per-week, 50-weeks-per-year job... perhaps by a factor of tens. Authors, it's worth the trouble to use the parenthetical system and a complete reference list at the end of the book, alphabetic by author—if you take your book as seriously as i have.15
The fate and the weight of this book, weakened though it is by a difficult reference system, will be decided not so much by that reference system as by the uses that are made of the book by others than the authors. There is much said here which can be validated by the agreement of writers who cite Legalizing Misandry, as well as by the references its authors cite somewhat opaquely. I am convinced that the authors are not trying to deceive readers; rather, they are using citation practices that have better alternatives [described above].
When you, your brother, your son, your father is treated as one of the Second Sex—here's why and here's how. When some women complain that they are the mistreated sex—this book's reference to "historically disadvantaged" exposes the dirty trick being played on us: The disadvantages were balanced-off when they existed; and today they don't—but the laws and rules have been so written that women get compensation for back-then and men's disadvantages now are deemed not to exist. If Feminism is about equality today, it's about avoiding it.
The word Feminism is semantically biased in favour of women first and girls second, and thereby biased against boys, eunuchs16, and men. That semantic bias—structured into the combining of Femme and ism, into one word—gives the “ideological” feminists a linguistic advantage, in English and in French, over egalitarians. “Feminism” and “Feminist” naturally read as “pro women” rather than “pro equality.” To justify any action to (for instance) make school environments more amenable to boys, as “feminist” or even as “consistent with Feminism”, one would have to make a prima facie case or better, that doing so would improve the lot of girls and women. The good it might do for boys and men simply fails to accord semantically with the structure of the word Feminism.
Anonymous, 1965.The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. United States Government Printing Office. (Written, as acknowledged on the US Department of Labor website, 2010, by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, previously co-author with respected American sociologists and later US Senator from New York.)
Ball, Sgt. Thomas, 2011. “Last Words.” Archived on the everyman.ca website.
Brinton, Crane, 1965: The Anatomy of Revolution. NY: Vintage. (First published 1938)
Crankshaw, Edward, 1966. Khrushchev: A Career. New York: Viking Press
Djilas, Milovan 1957, The New Class. NY: Praeger.
Durant, Will, 1957. The Reformation: A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin: 1300-1564. NYC: Simon and Schuster.
Glubb, John Bagot, 1978. The Fate of Empires. Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons Ltd.
Griffin, John Howard, 1960. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Signet paperback, 1961.
Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski, and Patrick Nolan, 1991. Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill
Locke, John, 1988. Two Treatises of Government. Edited and with a lengthy Introduction, and notes, by Peter Laslett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nathanson, Paul, and Katherine K. Young, 2001. Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press
Rowan, Carl T., 1991. Breaking Barriers: A Memoir. Boston, Toronto, London: Little, Brown & co.
Wells, H. G. 1949: The Outline of History: The Whole Story of Man. Book Club edition, vol, 1. Garden City, NY.
Wells, H. G. 1961: The Outline of History Book Club edition, vol, 2. Garden City, NY. Section on the Second World War and years since by Raymond Postgate; (revisions based on new research into prehistoric mankind by Prof. G. P. Wells apply to Vol. 1)
Zuckerman, M., K. C. Gerbasi, R. I. Kravitz, and L. W. Wheeler 1975 "The belief in a just world and reactions to innocent victims" J.S.A.S. Catalog of selected documents in psychology 5: 326
1. e.g. the Swedish “Absurdistan” poster on the Web. There are some indications that Australian and New Zealand men are ruled by misandric laws and-or practices, but the book refers specifically to Canada and the U.S. and occasionally to Europe.
2. Page numbers in  refer to Legalizing Misandry, not to works they discuss, unless otherwise stated.
4. Operant behaviour psychology has long shown that punishment is effective in making animals, including Homo sapiens, refrain from doing things but ineffective in making animals do specific actions.
6. The Daly name is included because of a url reading http://social-science.otai.info/2010/04/11/do-you-think-mary-daly-was-right-to-want-forced-abortions-of-boys-to-keep-the-male-population-to-a-max-of-10/ Apparently, the article or blog to which it led is no longer on the web. It seems vanishingly unlikely that a url would assert that someone had made such an animadversion, if she had not... but i do not know where or how it was made. Nathanson and Young do refer to a Mary Daly [217, 219] in ways consistent with but not formally implying the proposal in the url.
7. Second-class citizens are not utterly suppressed. Carl Rowan (1991) describes his successes as a U. S. Navy officer, student, and journalist, while he was still to some significant (and gradually decreasing) extent a second-class citizen because “Negro.”
Second-class citizenship entails disadvantage when dealing with law and bureaucracy. In Genesis, ch 39, Joseph is falsely accused of sexual assault—and deemed guilty because he is a second or even third-class personage, (Citizenship as we know of it today did not exist then.) Canadian and American men today can suffer the same kind of bias.
8. The Great Faiths are critical of such ambitions: Jesus said few such folk would enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and told his followers to “take the lowly place”; Muhammad said “Three things in this life are destructive: Anger, greed, pride.” Gautama Buddha said “The mind always wants more,” and gave his followers rules by which to discipline their greedy minds.
9. I don't mean to say Feminists were volunteering to relinquish their priority for rescue, nor their privileges generally. A few raised such considerations, but most, from what i read elsewhere, expected the benefits of chivalry as well as equal treatment where men had had advantages in previous generations.
10. Many of those forefathers who farmed or fished had actually worked past sunset and before sunrise with the help of kerosene lanterns and even candles; electric lighting was an improvement that lengthened their working hours further. (Loggers could perhaps sharpen tools after dark, but even electric lights weren't much help to their work.)
11. cf. Lenski, Lenski and Nolan 1991: 343-5. It is not surprising that women with these occupations would be more successful politically than women whose work was other, and thus, that they “lead”.
12. The Old Testament reference, Deut 32: 35-43, does indeed refer to God taking vengeance. Paul's letter goes on to encourage his Christian readers to be merciful, even generous to their enemies. The quotation is from the King James Version.
13. Legalizing Misandry is literally a weighty tome (1,1 kg on my kitchen scale, making it heavier than Vol. II of Wells' Outline of History [2/3 kg] but lighter than Durant's Reformation [1,6 kg]. Both those books use a similar-sized font, so their weight is a tenable estimator of their relative length in words.) There is much in it that did not get represented in my notes before i had to take it an hour's drive back to the Public Library.
The book was not in that Library's collection, but had been brought in via Inter-Library Loan; so going to check it out again the following week would have been difficult or impossible. It would seem the Provincial Government is not wasting much money on collecting scholarly books.
15. Laslett (1988), in his lengthy introduction to the Cambridge University Press edition of Locke's Two Treatises of Government, states that he has deliberately employed a scientific rather than literary reference citation pattern for the benefit of users of the text.
16. Why mention eunuchs? First, because some ideological Feminists have advocated castrating men [N&Y 2001: 8]; second, because i have a novel complete in second draft, that explores one possible expression of that extreme-Feminist dream world. Third, because even eunuchs would be second-class citizens, if citizens at all, of an ideological Feminist utopia. (Why not mention desexed women and girls? because they are vanishingly few, and unlike eunuchs, became desexed by way of medical treatment rather than social control.)