The Guardian Interviews Author of The Second Sexism

May 13th, 2012 by Pelle Billing

Lagging at school, the butt of cruel jokes: are males the new Second Sex?

You might not have realised it, but men are being oppressed. In many walks of life, they are routinely discriminated against in ways women are not. So unrecognised is this phenomenon that the mere mention of it will appear laughable to some.

That, at least, is the premise of a book by a South African philosophy professor which claims that sexism against men is a widespread yet unspoken malaise. In The Second Sexism, shortly to be published in the UK, David Benatar, head of the philosophy department at Cape Town University, argues that “more boys drop out of school, fewer men earn degrees, more men die younger, more are incarcerated” and that the issue is so under-researched it has become the prejudice that dare not speak its name.

Do Benatar and Farrell have a point? A handful of statistics seems to bear out their thesis. Not only are men more likely to be conscripted into military service, to be the victims of violence, and to lose custody of their children in the event of a divorce, but tests conducted in 2009 by the programme for international student assessment, carried out by the OECD thinktank, showed that boys lag a year behind girls at reading in every industrialised country. They work longer hours, too: in 2010 the Office for National Statistics found that men in the UK work an average of 39 hours a week, compared with 34 for women. Healthwise, men develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women, on average, and young men are three times more likely to commit suicide.

It’s great to see a book on men’s issues gain some international traction. Warren Farrell has of course been the pioneer, but other academics and authors joining the ranks leads to more credibility.

8 Responses to “The Guardian Interviews Author of The Second Sexism”

  1. Peter Houlihan Says:

    I read this after two feminist friends of mine linked it to each other with the caption “lol.” I really do wonder how they manage to concieve of themselves as proponents of equality.

  2. T. Rose Says:

    I have to admit,when I read the first few comments I myself had to Lol,albeit darkly at the ignorance.

    Just like the article suggested,people would compare the top men to the top women and conclude women are oppressed,and voila! that’s what happened

    Then they had to audacity to mention how women get paid less for the same job,when no one can deny that is sometimes true,it is not always. Or how it must be easier to take it if you get paid more,well then look at the discrimination that still exists against women that women still like to use to their advantage.

    The matriarchy cartoon might’ve been overstretching it,but even so if that was to happen it would have drawbacks for women. Matriarchy wouldn’t save all,it’d just be a gender-flip.

    And why the hell is it considered reverse-sexism as if discrimination based on sex is one-way,male on female? Reverse-sexism is really what movements to eliminate sexism should be called if you think about it.

    @ Peter H And yeah I also have to darkly chuckle at those “friends” who laughed at this.

  3. Danny Says:

    Peter the reason they laughed is because its a defensive tactic. They try to make it out to be funny because they know damn well there is some legitimacy to it and they don’t want to admit it. Chances are if you ask them to explain it you’ll get something along the lines of “well yeah bad things happen to men but they “don’t compare” to what happens to women, so just join us and we will (eventually) fix all the stuff that harms men too”.

    That being said I’m a bit weary of calling men “The New Second Sex”. The thing is women’s advocates have pretty successfully grabbed all the “second sex” attention for themselves. Its so bad to the point now that to imply that men are the new second sex is going to come off sounding like “gay is the new black”. It will be an accusation that men are trying to appropriate the language or appropriate the experiences of women. This is why women’s advocates fight so damn hard against the very idea that men can be oppressed over gender alone. They don’t want to lose their spot light.

    But lingo and language aside I feel a lot of what is being said.

  4. Pelle Billing Says:


    “That being said I’m a bit weary of calling men “The New Second Sex”.”

    Me too. But does the author do that? He’s making a wordplay by using “second sex-ism”, which emphasizes that the sexism society hasn’t thought about is the one against men.

  5. Zac Says:

    ” “more boys drop out of school, fewer men earn degrees, more men die younger, more are incarcerated” and that the issue is so under-researched it has become the prejudice that dare not speak its name.”

    That really hit me hard. I don’t necessarily think men are huge victims or anything but it is really interesting to think about. Maybe part of the problem is men have a problem admitting their own issues? Maybe if men took their kind failing as more of a serious issue and tried to pick them up rather than complain about how men are being discriminated against things would change more rapidly?

  6. Plutarco Says:

    Any comment on this bit of news on James Flynn assertion of women being smarter?:

  7. Pelle Billing Says:


    It seems to be related to how you measure IQ. Either sex could be smarter depending on the method used. What’s more interesting is that this becomes a legitimate news item, which would never happen if the genders were reversed.

  8. Jess Says:

    More men are incarcerated and are forced to go into the military and are subject to violence….well im not so sure about the violence claim, because when women are subject to violence they usually don’t talk about it. And when women do go into the military, they are often subject to sexual abuse and rape which no one even prosecutes. Men are drafted into the military by a society ruled mostly by men and men’s ideas. They are subject to violence in a society that enforces a hierarchy of class and race, that was set up by men. I’m not saying sexism against men isn’t present, our importent to look at, but I think guys need to.recognize these factors.