Are Men the New Second-Class Citizens? (My Appearance on HuffPostLive July 19, 2013)

Are Men the New Second-Class Citizens? (My Appearance on HuffPostLive July 19, 2013)

Yesterday I appeared with two other guests on the internet program HuffPostLive at 3:30 PM EDT. The subject of our web interview and discussion was the following column published by Fox News: . The column, which you should at least glance at before reading this, is by a woman and argues that society has changed such that now, unlike in the past, men suffer oppression and discrimination more than women.

I’ve written about this subject here several times before and that’s apparently how I was selected to appear on the HuffPostLive podcast. There I tried to clarify and shed some some light on the issue which, in my opinion, is vastly overstated by the author of the Fox News column.

Let me now set forth some theses about this claim, made in varying ways and to varying degrees by different people, that males are now the subjects of discrimination and oppression.

1) It is never too early to point out and warn about an injustice on the horizon.

2) It is always wrong to sound the alarm so loudly that it does harm to the cause.

3) Two wrongs never make a right.

4) American society has a habit of going overboard with issues of victimhood.

5) American society tends to believe social victimhood does not apply to males.

6) Many Americans believe that to point out injustices to males somehow detracts from justice for females.

7) Whenever this discussion arises many people, especially advocates for females, react as if those raising the issue for discussion are blaming females (when they are not).

8) Justice for all kinds of people is not a zero-sum game.

9) It is manifestly ridiculous to claim that men as a whole are second-class citizens.

10) It is manifestly ignorant (lacking or ignoring information) to claim that some social trends and changes in areas of society do not harm especially young males.

11) Double standards in public policy and public treatment that harm whole groups of people are wrong.

12) Clearly there are double standards in American society that work to the detriment of males (which is not to deny there are also double standards that work to the detriment of females).

13) American education methods are geared mainly toward females with the result that young males especially are being “left behind” in terms of equality with females in educational achievement.

14) Many sectors of the economy are catering mainly to females with the result that choices and opportunities for males are dwindling.

15) The health and medical communities, both public and non-profit private, cater to females with the result that less research is being conducted into male health and well-being and less information and help is being offered to males.

16) The public perception of males, driven largely by the media (advertising, entertainment, news, etc.), is detrimental to the well-being (self-esteem, opportunities for success, etc.) of especially young males. (There are virtually no genuinely good male role models in the media; virtually all males are portrayed as profoundly flawed—as either stupid or sinister or both. Females are routinely portrayed as competent and virtuous.)

17) The “decline of men (and boys)” is a growing trend that needs more calm, thoughtful public attention. There are factors in American society working against that. Mentioning it as a potential problem for the peace, prosperity and common good of society always results in accusations of sexism (against females who still need justice).

18) The “decline of men (and boys)” is a women’s concern. The future cannot be as good for women if large numbers of young boys and men are unemployed or under employed, resentful, alienated, etc. (And men’s health is a women’s concern because when men die they often leave a wife and family less prosperous than before.)

19) The needed changes include: more men teaching at lower levels of education, special help offered to boys and young men in reading and communicating (areas where they tend to lag behind girls and young women in terms of achievement), fair enforcement of Title IX so that organizations receiving federal support, directly or indirectly, must treat both genders equally, fair treatment of men and fathers in divorce and child custody cases,  federal offices for support for research aimed at helping males live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives (e.g., an office for men’s health equivalent to the federal office for women’s health), good male role models in the media and cessation of violence against men by women in comedic entertainment programming, etc.

20) If the trend sometimes (perhaps infelicitously) called “the decline of men” continues, old social problems will be exacerbated (e.g., gangs) and new ones will appear (e.g., masses of alienated, angry, resentful men acting out passively-aggressively or violently).



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  • Marc Fischer

    As Christians, the unconditional love of God for all men gives us a strong ground to combat all injustices while refusing hate against another group or even individuals who could always repent.

    • Roger Olson

      I edited out some of the content that doesn’t fit this blog’s purpose. I agree with this much.

    • Don

      Hi Marc, I within the last hour listened to a sermon rejecting the term “unconditional love of God” as being heresy. The preacher, H. H. Barber on Faith To Live By, a Canadian program on Vision TV, made several excellent points. You have ended your comment with reference to the need for repentance, which seems to indicate that “unconditional” is perhaps being used as my wife qualified it, that is, that God’s love does not vary due to our “goodness” or “sinlessness”. And Roger, I did read your next post on how to comment on your blog…I hope I have stayed within the proper bounds with my question here. I would appreciate a little clarification on how you see “unconditional” with the proviso I have just raised. Comments, anyone?

      • Roger Olson

        “Unconditional love” is not the same as “unconditional reconciliation.” Yes, apparently, based on Jesus, God loves everyone unconditionally. But, no, apparently God does not accept everyone unconditionally into fellowship with himself.

        • Tim Reisdorf

          Isn’t it splitting hairs? Really, to call down woes on towns (saying that Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom are better off than them come judgement day) and maintain an unconditional love for them – Mt 11? There seems to be no practical difference.

          I’m not looking for proof-texts, but where did we get the idea in the first place that God’s love (based on Jesus) has no conditions?

          • Roger Olson

            If “God is love” then his love is unconditional, but that doesn’t mean forgiveness is unconditional.

        • Don

          However the popular culture is unlikely to make that critical distinction. Thus the venerable Barber has hit on something that I believe must concern us. Marc did include repentance in his comment, so I think those who think like him would recognize and cherish, hold tightly to that distinction.

          You have been bringing up uncomfortable questions lately, such as the SBC disingenuous formulaic statement designed to encourage unity at the expense of clarity, the understanding of hell, the ‘genocidal’ texts of the OT, etc. I posit that another fruitful topic would be this tendency to use terms in a manner similar to Humpty Dumpty…’when I use a word, it means what I mean it to mean’ and thus we have marriage being redefined, abortion is not killing a ‘human’ but only a ‘fetus’, etc., etc.

          It does seem to me that the ‘unconditional love’ of God is popularly understood in a way that makes the holiness of God irrelevant, if not nonexistent. Is this not an emphasis that theologians should be highlighting given the tendency in our modern culture to see God in such a one-sided way?

  • Karlw1988

    The link to the article goes to the Baylor e-mail system. 😛

    I agree that the problem in the article is overstated. For example, it is true that women are more likely than men to be victims of sexual misconduct and domestic abuse. Colleges routinely fail to deal with sexual assault accusations seriously, even when the standards of evidence might be lower than those for other offenses. On the other hand, it is ridiculous to write a policy defining violence and sexual assault as “discrimination” against women (are you “discriminating against” someone you mugged on the street) or treating these offenses differently than others, and it doesn’t seem that these policies have worked since they were introduced in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    • Roger Olson

      My experience is different than what you say. I have taught in four universities and have found all of them quick to deal with serious accusations of sexual assault. This is talked about all the time on college and university campuses. What is rarely talked about is issues boys and men face such as sexual humiliation as part of hazing to join fraternities. It’s rampant.

  • Cindy Dufty

    Good discussion on HuffPostLive and happy to see you invited to that forum, Roger. WIth your unwavering support for women in ministry, I can’t think of any evangelical spokesperson better placed to keep this issue in our awareness.
    One thought – too often the perspective of class is ignored in these discussions of who has power, who is privileged and who is oppressed. For example, I’ve long been puzzled about the assertion that women were regarded as “property” in traditional marriage; had an “aha” moment listening to the discussion when the HuffPost women’s corespondent echoed this currently popular meme but seemed to be talking about marriage among noble or wealthy families whose daughters in traditional cultures may well have been pawns.
    This made me wonder again how much of work of the feminist studies
    contingent is irrelevant to the lived realities of most Americans who are not elite. From my background as the daughter of a plumber and a homemaker/nurse, Warren’s argument that role differentiation arose more from the demands of survival and the full-time chore of raising a family than from choice and power is more credible
    To take up a current challenge, if the social environment of the school has become increasingly female-oriented, is it any wonder that we see young women from rural, working class or minority backgrounds doing better in terms of educational attainment, career direction and readiness for marriage and child-raising than their male counterparts?

  • Timothy Johnson

    I hope you don’t mind if I attempt to repost the link to the Fox News article:
    Your link in the blog does not match the text.

    • Roger Olson

      Yes, thanks. I have no idea how that happens. I am going to have to have a talk with the IT people at Patheos/Disqus about this. I simply copies and pasted the hyperlink from the HuffPost e-mail to me inviting me to be on the program.

  • Van

    More could be said about your Item # 20. Aren’t we beginning to see this played out on the streets at this very time? Even among the most progressive movements (Occupiers) the member women are targeted for abuse and rape by the angry young men. Also, your point is right-on when you say, “There are virtually no genuinely good male role models in the media; virtually all males are portrayed as profoundly flawed—as either stupid or sinister or both” (see # 16).

  • Andy

    I am not religous, but find your comments intriguing , balanced and appropriate. I worked in a mostly female corporate environment where men were verbally bashed as a gender.

    I was forced out of my VP position by a woman and replaced by a woman and am 52. Now that I am looking for work I am noticing that discrimination against men is now the norm. I sent out 258 resumes under my real (male name) with ZERO RESPONSES, neither a request for an interview or more information or even a thanks but no thanks.

    I then resent a portion of those responses under the name of a woman with every else on the résumé the exact same. I then enjoyed 32 request for an interview/follow up.

    • Roger Olson

      Thank you. I suspect this is the trajectory our society is on. Men are being filtered out by many businesses–both for-profit and non-profit. I have a close friend (male) who overhead his female supervisor declare she will not hire a man. She then noticed that he heard and said “Present company excepted.” If a male supervisor said that about not hiring a woman he’d be sued.

  • gingoro

    “The dangerous expansion of ‘battered woman defence’ in Canadian law”

    A woman tried to hire the police (RCMP) undercover agent to kill her husband who lived at quite a distance from where she did. The woman said she was terrified of her former husband. The court stayed all criminal proceedings against the woman, largely on compassionate grounds.

    Sooner or later this is likely to expand to the US also. Completely unacceptable!

    • Roger Olson

      Not long ago I watched an episode of “Dr. Phil” that featured battered husbands and boyfriends. In one case, the woman (larger and stronger than her boyfriend) admitted she has beaten him and might kill him. Dr. Phil spent all his time consoling the woman–suggesting she must have a hormonal imbalance. He said nothing helpful to the man. If the sexes had been reversed (as they often are) I’m sure he would have told the woman to get away from the violent man. He didn’t in this case–he treated the violent woman with nothing but sympathy and virtually ignored the man.

    • gingoro

      If you google the quoted section of my post you should find a write up in the National Post.

      In Ontario where I live the laws are heavily stacked against males when it comes to marriage breakdown.

  • Tim Reisdorf

    Do you support legislation that would “sunset” laws that are specifically designed to help those groups that have been historically discriminated against? (examples might include Title IX or Affirmative Action)

    • Roger Olson

      Contrary to what most people think, Title IX does not even mention females. It simply requires equal treatment of both sexes by organizations that receive federal funds. It has been applied almost exclusively to females. Attempts to apply it to males have been mostly laughed out of court or simply ignored. Yes, I think affirmative action laws should have time limitations when they must be revisited.

    • gingoro

      In my opinion all laws should have sunset clauses except possibly those passed with a super majority (say 90%). Too many bad or outdated laws get left on the books that can be used to harass people or lead some people to ridiculous extremes to remain law abiding eg in one city where we lived an ancient law made it illegal to eat an ice cream cone on the sidewalk or street. Recently I saw a claim that the average person technically commits 2 to 3 criminal acts a day without even knowing it..

      • Roger Olson

        Yes, I’ve seen those studies about US law, too. I read an article not long ago that claimed that it is impossible not to violate federal codes in the U.S. and that IF the justice department wants to “get” someone they can–because of the complexity and contradictory federal codes.

  • JonPHolliday

    I’m a male in my mid 20s. I remember being disappointed in the reading materials of my public school coursework, feeling they were quite geared toward girls. I remember sitting in classrooms that were often 70% female at a state university and sometimes feeling out of place. I recently worked for a state agency in which I was the only male in an office, and had a female boss who often said, “If you want a job done right, ask a woman.” She wasn’t joking, either.
    Most telling, however, are the families I know who have chosen to encourage their daughters to go to college and their sons to go to work.

  • labreuer

    Roger, have you ever read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart? It bears on this issue.

  • generation4Him

    I can understand legitimate concerns with men being marginalized, but I don’t think all of the points listed in the original blog post are in fact accurate representations of where this is happening. For instance, in many types of medical conditions, most research was conducted with men, not women, and while a handful of “women’s health issues” may have notoriety presently because of advocacy groups, in general, the medical system has been skewed towards males, not women. I would be curious to know what evidence you are basing the assertion that medicine is geared more towards women, as everything I know is to the contrary.
    Also, I find TV and movie presentations of women to be either of insipid, sidekick females or the new “kick butt” female typology, but men are still the heros fairly often and I don’t think it is accurate at all to say that media is skewed towards females – unless it presents them as sex objects.

    • Roger Olson

      Well, all I can say is our perceptions differ. As for facts. For the past twenty-some years the U.S. federal government has operated an Office of Women’s Health that doles out money for research into women’s health while men still die, on average, five to six years younger. If you pay attention to the media at all, you have to see that almost all gender-specific health information is aimed at women about women’s health issues. When was the last time you saw a health advisory about men’s health? When was the last time you saw a week or month dedicated to a health issue that affects mainly men? “Movember” is a good but weak attempt to redress this, but mostly it gets only snide sneers and jokes in the media (if any attention). Most medical research used to be conducted on males in order to protect possibly pregnant women and their unborn children from harm. Also, most medical research was conducted on males because the subjects were medical students. I think twenty-plus years of almost exclusive focus on women’s health by the government and non-profit organizations (when was the last time you saw any promotion or information aimed at men for their health by a major non–profit health organization?) is enough. I’m NOT advocating LESS attention to women’s health (which is what women seem always to think even though I’ve never said that). I’m advocating MORE attention to men’s health–by government and non-profit organizations. The main evidence for its need? Again, men die on average five to six years younger than women. Sure, you can say that’s men’s fault, but what I’m calling for is overt efforts to convince men to take better care of their health and live longer, healthier lives. It’s a women’s issue just as much as a men’s issue. When men die young they often leave behind a less affluent wife and family.

      • Jonathan Balmer

        Late to the game here, sorry. While men are disproportionately leaders they’re ALSO most likely to be homeless or die in workplace accidents. For good reasons, there’s homeless centers for women and children in many cities. But, this can have unintended side affects, there is no place for men to go within the city– they have to go elsewhere to another city where the shelter may have difficulty housing them.

        Combine this with the health issues and it is clear that we have a “problem with boys” which extends beyond one isolated incident. Baby boys are often left crying in their cribs much more often than baby girls– it’s taught from a young age that if you’re a boy you don’t express pain… at least not in the same way.

        In many cases, while a man’s work is (wrongly) valued more than a woman’s his life is (wrongly) valued less.

        I’m sure that some of these gender issues are intertwined. The ways we limit women in work (juvenilizing them, putting on a pedestal) may contribute to how we limit boys and men in their life.