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The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470674512
ISBN-10: 0470674512
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Editorial Reviews


“I recommend The Second Sexism to scholars who investigate gender relations, and I urge academic feminists to take Benatar’s thesis seriously and to respond to it with respect rather than with disbelief or derision.”  (American Philosophical Association's Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, 1 May 2013)

“This book simply must be read . . . . Highly, highly recommended.”  (Mens News Daily, 4 January 2013)

“The Second Sexismis well researched, with voluminous references. As such, it serves the useful function of raising consciousness about an important social issue. Benatar’s research makes a strong case for an in-depth examination of the injustices and discriminations that men suffer in this and other societies in the 21st century.”  (PsycINFO/PsycCRITIQUES, 21 November 2012)

“The Second Sexism is a strong and early step on the way to the awareness, amelioration, and treatment of a widespread and unaddressed problem that affects a not insignificant portion of the human population.”  (New Male Studies Review 3, Jonathan Badiali's, 26 September 2012)

“Benatar’s analysis brings much needed clarity to contemporary debates in gender studies, whose discourse runs the risk of becoming stagnant and dogmatic against a constantly changing social backdrop. Benatar does well to remind us that it is not only females who are constrained and disadvantaged by the roles that they have been socially encouraged to take up.”  (New Male Studies Review 2, J.P. Messina's, 26 September 2012)

“And now, thanks to Professor Benatar, we have an incisive, comprehensive discussion of the phenomenon that feminism has unwittingly brought to the forefront . . . The writing is jargon-free. As a philosopher, Professor Benatar is attentive to conceptual nuance and clear, precise usage.”  (New Male Studies Review 1, Miles Groth's, 26 September 2012)

“This is a very well-argued book that presents an unorthodox thesis and defends it ably.  It would be a useful text in both undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy and gender studies, where it is certain to arouse a lot of discussion, much of it excited.  Since it is very clearly written, and would be interesting and accessible also to the educated layperson.  Most importantly, however, it is likely to change our understanding of gender relations.”  (Metapsychology, 21 August 2012)


With clarity and cogency, The Second Sexism presents the first sustained philosophical examination of systematic discrimination against men.  This is not part of a backlash against feminism; it is part of the next crucial step toward the construction of social arrangements that are fairer, more humane, and less restrictive of individual freedom.
-Don Hubin, Ohio State University

This book is as courageous as it is brilliant and as honest as it is thought provoking.  The issue is not whether women have been wronged, but whether the responses to the wrongs against women have often resulted in there being wrongs against men.  In quite surprising ways, David Benatar’s book is a wonderful reminder of the tremendous importance of John Stuart Mill’s distinction between “living truth” and “dead dogma”; for it is not at all a conceptual truth that the dogma of sexual inequality has been replaced by and only by living truth with respect to equality for all.  Benatar is absolutely masterful—nay, majestic—in illustrating that reality.
- Laurence Thomas, Syracuse University

David Benatar once again enters the ethico-political debates of our time with his controversial argument about the neglected side of sexism—wrongful discrimination against men. Justice is never a zero-sum game to Benatar, and his well argued and thoughtful book makes a compelling case for taking seriously men's hidden injuries if we are to genuinely build a better world.
-Daphne Patai, University of Massachusetts

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (May 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470674512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470674512
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Steven Svoboda on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
University of Cape Town philosophy professor David Benatar has written a thoughtful, eminently fair-minded overview of what he calls "the second sexism." While this will not necessarily be news for many readers of this review, still the fact that men suffer various forms of discrimination may come as a surprise to many members of the public who pick up this book.

Benatar does a bang-up job thoroughly exploring sexism against males in its multifarious forms. With one prominent exception relating to male circumcision that I discuss below, the author is so unstintingly fair-minded that one cannot help but admire his determination to be utterly impartial to all parties, male, female, feminists, masculists, and everybody in between.

The Second Sexism focuses primarily on a few of the most salient, and yet still somehow mostly unnoticed, examples of discrimination against males: vulnerability to military conscription, both a greater likelihood of being victimized by violence and lesser sympathy for such victimization relative to females, a deck that is stacked against men in divorce court, the far greater propensity to dish out more and harsher corporal punishment to boys, the lack of concern with sexual assault against males, male educational disadvantage, the favoring of females in weighing prisoner privacy against employment rights, and greater female life expectancy and societal failure to research extending male life span.

Benatar notes, reasonably enough that there are probably other examples of which we are not yet even aware. "There has been so little attention to male disadvantage that it is very likely that we do not even know all the ways in which males are disadvantaged.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In a world that is awash with vicious, often stupid, feminist propaganda, this is a truly refereshing book. The author, a professor of philosophy in South Africa, puts the common wisdom on its head. Demolishing one myth after another, he shows that women are not discriminated against, oppressed, exploited, etc. etc. etc. Rather, in many ways they are the privileged sex; both enjoying the protection of men and living at their expense. They receive more medical attention, are treated much more leniently by the law, and are never, ever, obliged to join the military. So it has always been, so it is, and so, unless the world turns upside down, it will almost certainly always remain.

To quote Friederich Nietzsche, what is good? To be brave is good. In writing and publishing this book, Prof Eenatar has proved that he is, in fact, good.
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You are unlikely to find a more logical or concisely argued case for the existence of anti-male discrimination than Benatar's seminal work which is destined to become a classic in the gender studies literature. Indeed the widespread condemnation and derision directed at the the work by feminists commentators should alert the prospective purchaser to the power of this book.

Benatar has structured The Second Sexism to establish certain sequential aims. In the introduction he clearly defines the terms used and scope of his work, and contrasts alternate terminologies and meanings used elsewhere. For example whist everyone knows what we mean by sexism in common usage, academics define and apply the term in different ways. In Chapter 2 he presents the source data and describes the instances of male disadvantage he will later examine in more detail. Chapter 3 attempts to understand why these disadvantages have arisen, looking at beliefs, attitudes, biologic and social factors, whist chapter 4 seeks to determine if these examples of male disadvantage are due to unfair sex discrimination.

Importantly the 5th chapter is devoted to addressing the various objections likely to be raised by those who would deny or minimise the second sexism. With the final chapters tying everything together by pointing out how affirmative action rather then promoting gender equity now creates a new type of discrimination.

Benatar is not a social conservative arguing for a rollback of the progress made by feminism in improving women's equality of opportunity, nor does he deny that in many places in the world that the struggle for basic human rights must continue for women (and men).
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Format: Paperback
This book was eye-opening. It locates several known areas where men are experiencing unfair discrimination: conscription, violence (both physical and sexual), circumcision without anesthetic, corporal punishment, health and life-span, education, imprisonment, and women-and-children first-ism.

The difficult part of this book, however, is multi-fold. The areas where men are experiencing unfair discrimination is just a very small portion of the book. Too much of the book is devoted to tedious attempts to fend off the ire of partisan feminists in particular, like those who got Professor Lawrence Summers fired from the Presidency of Harvard University for stating an ordinary and mild assertion that the lack of women in science and engineering has nothing to do with unfair discrimination. Everything David Benatar asserts in this book is drawn and quartered by qualifiers, modifiers, repetitive definitions, apologetic reasoning, and explanations for explanations so as to make the reader believe he can escape the ire of the hostile, partisan feminist who doesn't want to divest herself of her own illusions about her superiority as well as her own victimhood as a woman.

Sadly, I don't think people, whatever their gender, are going to care for the author's philosophical and careful teasings-apart of affirmative action, partisan feminism, or of his many, many qualifiers for his very short and finally very timid assertions.

The author admits in the beginning of the book he didn't want to hit the reader over the head with a hammer, in the style of many strident feminists who nonetheless finally were successful in eliminating a lot of unfair discrimination regarding women in the last 50 to 60 years.
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