Does Feminism
Discriminate Against Men?
A Debate

I) “Do We Need Men’s Studies...History Is Men’s Studies, Right?”

Excerpts from Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? A debate by Warren Farrell

“Feminists call it sexism to refer to God as He; they don’t call it sexism to refer to the Devil as He.” Warren Farrell

Women’s studies courses are the seeds from which the forest of feminism has grown. Over 30,000 courses are offered at American universities, including about 700 majors or minors. A study at 55 major universities found that every Ivy League school, with the exception of Princeton, “now offers more courses in women’s studies than economics, even though economics majors outnumber women’s studies majors by roughly 10-to-1.”

In contrast, there are virtually no men’s studies courses. The few courses labeled “men’s studies” are rarely genuine men’s studies, but feminist men’s studies. Feminist men’s studies’ courses tell men how they can forfeit power, be less abusive toward women, share the housework... In feminist men’s studies, when men have a disadvantage it is seen as men’s fault. Whether that disadvantage is dying sooner; committing suicide more; doing worse in almost everything in school; being less likely to attend college; paying for children they can see only as “visitors” after divorce; being more likely to be in prison; male-only draft registration; dying sooner of nine of the ten leading causes of death; suffering 94% of workplace deaths; being more of the street homeless than women and children combined. That is, in feminist studies, women’s disadvantages are often seen as men’s fault; and in feminist men’s studies, men’s disadvantages are seen as men’s fault.

Many women’s studies departments have become gender studies’ departments, but also only in theory. The male perspective is not dealt with—only the feminist perspective on men. Feminists teaching the men’s perspective on men and calling it gender studies is like Republicans teaching Democrats’ perspective on Democrats and calling it party politics. Just as it is true that no has less empathy for Democrats than Republican activists (or vice versa), so it is also true that no one has less empathy for men than feminist activists. Feminists call it sexism to refer to God as He; they don’t call it sexism to refer to the Devil as He.

Women’s studies in its current form is not women’s studies—it is feminist studies. A genuine women’s studies would involve the views of not just liberal women, but also of conservative women (e.g., Independent Women’s Forum; Eagle Forum). Every study of gender should include four perspectives: those of both liberal and conservative women, and those of both liberal and conservative men. Gender studies now studies only liberal women’s view of women’s powerlessness, and liberal women’s perspective on male power. It doesn’t look at liberal or conservative men’s view of male powerlessness, or liberal or conservative men’s view of female power.

What, pray tell, is female power and male powerlessness? For starters, from the male perspective, many women have male-paralyzing beauty power, sexual power, verbal skills and victim power, even as he is paralyzed by his biological instinct to protect women.

As a result of the inattention to male powerlessness and female power, men are as ignorant about their own powerlessness and female power as women in the

1950’s were about their own powerlessness and male power. And as a result, men today are psychologically about where women were in the 1950’s. The last half century has not been a battle of the sexes, but a war in which only one side has shown up. Men have put their heads in the sand and hoped the bullets would miss. The less sense this makes now, the more you need genuine men’s studies.

The feminist objection to genuine men’s studies sounds convincing: “history is men’s studies.” Wrong. History is the opposite of men’s studies: history books reinforce the traditional male role of performer. The function of both women and men’s studies is to question traditional roles, not reinforce them. Women had to question the assumption that they must do the child-raising and couldn’t do the money raising. Men need to question the assumption that they must do the money raising and can’t do the child-raising.

Women’s studies is necessary to help women see clear alternatives to traditional roles; men’s studies is necessary to help men see clear alternatives to traditional roles. Men’s studies is currently needed more than women’s studies exactly because men’s role has been less-questioned.

History books, by celebrating men only when they perform, trap men into stereotyped roles even more than they trap women, because when we celebrate and appreciate someone for playing a role, we are really bribing them to keep playing that role. Appreciation keeps the slave a slave..

Men’s studies is not for men only. It would help both sexes understand dad: why dads are so often afraid to express feelings; why, when dad becomes 85, he is more than 13 times as likely to commit suicide as mom; why he is more likely to suffer from problems with alcoholism and gambling; why, after divorce, he often feels the children have been turned against him and the courts have turned him into a wallet.

Because half of the children’s genes is their dad’s genes, as men’s studies helps students understand their dad, it helps them to understand the half of themselves that is their dad. Men’s studies, therefore, does not merely change the student’s relationship to her or his dad, but the student’s relationship to her or himself. The corollary is that when women’s studies portrays men as the dominant oppressors, and the abusers, molesters and rapists, it leaves women and men feeling shamed about the half of themselves that is their dad-- and, for men, the 100% that is male.

Men’s studies helps every future mom raise her son more effectively, and to raise her daughter to learn empathy toward men. Her daughter’s empathy is eventually extended toward that daughter’s sons. In contrast, a women’s studies-only approach toward men leaves her daughter with antipathy toward men that can become antipathy toward her sons.

Men’s studies helps both sexes understand all the problems men deal with as a result of a heritage that made men able to be loved and respected only if they were able to kill animals, kill in war, or make a killing on Wall Street. It helps both sexes understand all the problems that I discuss throughout this book. Without men’s studies, gender studies misunderstands not just gender but also women, in the same way that if party politics studied only one party, it would misunderstand not just party politics as a whole, but also the party it favors.

Men’s studies is not the opposite of women’s studies. It doesn’t say women had rights and men didn’t. It explains that none of our grandparents had rights—they had responsibilities. They had obligations. Making money was about not about male power and privilege, but about male obligations and responsibilities. Men who fulfilled their responsibilities most effectively received female love. Men who failed received female contempt.

Men’s studies does not say women have the power and women oppress men. It helps us understand that neither sex had the right to play the role of the other sex, and therefore, if power is control over our lives, neither sex had power. For example, most dads prior to the early 20th Century had to forfeit any fantasy of becoming a writer, artist or musician to get paid enough to feed a family of ten. Working as a coal miner was not power. Pay was about the power dad forfeited to get the power of pay—the power to have his children live a better life than his. Men’s studies helps both sexes understand why, instead of power, both sexes had roles. And to understand that by definition a role cannot be power—again, because real power is control over one’s own life. Instead, a role implies outside forces have control of one’s life.

Men’s studies explains why, in the past, the dominant force was neither men nor women, but the need to survive. And why the “oppressor” was neither men nor women, but the fear of starvation.

If close to a half century of women’s studies without men’s studies had only given us an understanding of women while neglecting men, the problem would be easily solvable: create balance with a half century of men’s studies without women’s studies. But after a half century, feminism is part of our nation’s consciousness like syrup in a pancake: even if it we attempted removal, the pancake is forever reshaped. For example, who doesn’t believe that men earn more money for the same work, or that men batter women more than women batter men, or that women do two jobs while men do one? These beliefs have created a deep-seated anger toward men and have resulted in policies like affirmative action extended to women, and women-only scholarships. Of course, if these beliefs were true, anger would be warranted. In this colume, I’ll explain why none of the above is true.

© 2010, Warren Farrell (with Steven Svoboda) vs. James P. Sterba

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Man is not the enemy here, but the fellow victim. - Betty Friedan

Warren Farrell, Ph.D., is the author of numerous international best-sellers on men and women, including Why Men Are The Way They Are and The Myth of Male Power. Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and Father and Child Reunion has led to Dr. Farrell doing expert witness work that has encouraged many judges to keep dads in children’s lives. Dr. Farrell’s released Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It in 2005 and Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? A debate in 2008.

Warren is the only man in the US ever elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City. He has been chosen by The Financial Times as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders, is in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who in the World. He has taught in five disciplines, most recently at the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego, and is ranked by the International Biographic Centre of London as one of the world’s top 2000 scholars of the Twentieth Century. He has appeared on over 1,000 TV shows worldwide and lives in Mill Valley, California with his wife and two daughters.You can visit him at or E-Mail

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