According to the historian Judith Allen, Charlotte Perkins Gilman coined the term masculism in 1914, when she gave a public lecture series in New York entitled "Studies in Masculism". Apparently the printer did not like the term and tried to change it. Allen writes that Gilman used masculism to refer to the opposition of misogynist men to women's rights and, more broadly, to describe "men's collective political and cultural actions on behalf of their own sex", or what Allen calls the "sexual politics of androcentric cultural discourses". Gilman referred to men and women who opposed women's suffrage as masculists—women who collaborated with these men were "Women Who Won't Move Forward"—and described World War I as "masculism at its worst".
In response to the lecture, W. H. Sampson wrote in a letter to the New York Times that women must share the blame for war: "It is perfectly useless to pretend that men have fought, struggled and labored for themselves, while women have stayed at home, wishing they wouldn't, praying before the shrines for peace, and using every atom of their influence to bring about a holy calm."
Definition and scope
The Oxford English Dictionary (2000) defines masculinism, and synonymously masculism, as: "Advocacy of the rights of men; adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, etc., regarded as typical of men; (more generally) anti-feminism, machismo."[b] According to Susan Whitlow in The Encyclopedia of Literary and Cultural Theory (2011), the terms are "used interchangeably across disciplines". Sociologist Robert Menzies wrote in 2007 that both terms are common in men's rights and anti-feminist literature: "The intrepid virtual adventurer who boldly goes into these unabashedly mascul(in)ist spaces is quickly rewarded with a torrent of diatribes, invectives, atrocity tales, claims to entitlement, calls to arms, and prescriptions for change in the service of men, children, families, God, the past, the future, the nation, the planet, and all other things non-feminist."
The gender-studies scholar Julia Wood describes masculinism as an ideology asserting that women and men should have different roles and rights owing to fundamental differences between them, and that men suffer from discrimination and "need to reclaim their rightful status as men". Sociologists Arthur Brittan and Satoshi Ikeda describe masculinism as an ideology justifying male domination in society.[c] Masculinism, according to Brittan, maintains that there is "a fundamental difference" between men and women and rejects feminist arguments that male–female relationships are political constructs.
According to Ferrel Christensen, a Canadian philosopher and president of the former Alberta-based Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality, "Defining 'masculism' is made difficult by the fact that the term has been used by very few people, and by hardly any philosophers." He differentiates between "progressive masculists", who welcome many of the societal changes promoted by feminists, while believing that some measures to reduce sexism against women have increased it against men, and an "extremist version" of masculism that promotes male supremacy. He argued that if masculism and feminism refer to the belief that men/women are systematically discriminated against, and that this discrimination should be eliminated, there is not necessarily a conflict between feminism and masculism, and some assert that they are both. However, many believe that one sex is more discriminated against, and thus use one label and reject the other.
The political scientist Georgia Duerst-Lahti distinguishes between masculism, which expresses the ethos of the early gender-egalitarian men's movement, and masculinism, which refers to the ideology of patriarchy. Sociologists Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Déri equate masculist and masculinist, attributing the former to author Warren Farrell. The most common term, they argue, is the "men's movement"; they write that there is a growing consensus in the French-language media that the movement should be referred to as masculiniste. According to Whitlow, masculinist theory such as Farrell's and that of gender-studies scholar R.W. Connell developed alongside third-wave feminism and queer theory, and was influenced by those theories' questioning of traditional gender roles and the meaning of terms such as man and woman.
According to Bethany M. Coston and Michael Kimmel, members of the mythopoetic men's movement identify as masculinist. Nicholas Davidson, in The Failure of Feminism (1988), calls masculism "virism": "Where the feminist perspective is that social ills are caused by the dominance of masculine values, the virist perspective is that they are caused by a decline of those values. ..." Christensen calls virism "an extreme brand of masculism and masculinism".