Women as Children?

Women are directly adapted to act as the nurses and educators of our early childhood, for the simple reason that they themselves are childish, foolish, and short-sighted—in a word, are big children all their lives, something intermediate between the child and the man, who is a man in the strict sense of the word.

Arthur Schopenhauer, On Women[1]

According to the conventional wisdom, and according to the central tenet of feminism, women were ‘oppressed’ under traditional sex roles, and, to some extent, remain oppressed today.

If one looks only at the selective evidence cited by feminists themselves, this claim may seem to have some superficial plausibility, as least with regard to the position of women prior to the rise of modern feminism.

For example, as the feminists never tire of reminding us, women were, until around a hundred years ago, denied the right to vote in national elections.[2] Similarly, until around the same time, they were ineligible to serve on juries.[3]

These are indeed disqualifications that women shared in common with other genuinely disadvantaged groups, such as blacks in the USA under slavery and Jim Crow.

On closer inspection, however, the claim that women were oppressed by traditional sex roles breaks down. After all, there are countless other spheres where women were granted special privileges over and above those of their ostensible oppressor.

For example, women were exempt from military service, and from corporal punishment.

Thus, in Britain, the whipping of male offenders continued to be sanctioned, and imposed, by law until the middle decades of the twentieth century. However, the whipping of female offenders had been abolished and declared unlawful well over a century before in 1820[4]

Likewise, when the Titanic sunk in 1912, it was women and children, not men and children, who were allowed on board the lifeboats first, while men were left to die. As a result, whereas 80% of men on board perished, only 26% of women did, a form of privilege, and of discrimination, that was, for many men and women, literally a matter of life and death.[5]

The same is not, of course, true of other oppressed groups. It is unthinkable that slaveholders on board a sinking ship would allow their slaves to enter the lifeboats first while the slaveholders themselves willingly waited on board the sinking vessel. Likewise, whereas the whipping of women was forbidden long before that of men, the whipping of slaves was, of course, commonplace.

Moreover, unlike the examples of discrimination against women referred to above (i.e. the disqualification regarding voting or serving in juries), forms of discrimination against men continue up to the present day, even in the West.

Thus, women are still sentenced more leniently than men convicted of the same or similar offences, as has been demonstrated in countless studies;[6] and, just as on board the Titanic, women are accorded priority in rescue and relief operations, even when males are at greater risk.[7]

Indeed, to this day, and across the world, there are many forms of discrimination against men which receive little if any attention, least of all from feminists. These range from conscription,[8] car insurance,[9] child custody contests,[10] and sentencing in the criminal courts,[11] to pension rights,[12] reproductive rights[13] and international relief operations,[14] as well as the targeting of males in genocides and war crimes.[15]

Moreover, in common with other oppressed groups, it is men, not women, who are overrepresented among such groups as the homeless,[16] the victims of violent crime,[17] the prison population,[18] suicides[19] and the victims of genocides.[20]

In short, as I have shown in two previous posts, viewing women, either today or in the past, as an ‘oppressed group’ is simply untenable.

As Warren Farrell observes in The Myth of Male Power (reviewed here):

Women are the only ‘oppressed’ group to systematically grow up having their own private member of the ‘oppressor’ class (called fathers) in the field working for them… No oppressed group has ever had a higher net worth than the oppressor… Women are the only minority group that is a majority, the only group that calls itself ‘oppressed’ that is able to control who is elected to virtually every office in every community in the country… the only ‘oppressed’ group to share the same parents as the ‘oppressor’; to be born into the middle class and upper class as frequently as the ‘oppressor’; to own more of the country’s luxury items as the ‘oppressor’; the only ‘oppressed’ group whose ‘unpaid labor’ enables them to buy most of the fifty billion dollars’ worth of cosmetics every year; the only oppressed group that spends more on high fashion, brand name clothing than their ‘oppressors’.”[21]

Explaining Male Chivalry

If  the orthodox (i.e. feminist) view of the position of women is untenable, how then are we to make sense of the status of women in traditional societies?

The opposite view – namely that it is men who are oppressed and women who are their oppressors – is, after all, only marginally less problematic.

For one thing, it fails to explain the forms of discrimination pointed to by feminists (e.g. with respect to voting rights and jury service).

True, these forms for discrimination are both fewer in number, and less serious in their consequences, than the forms of discrimination to which men are subjected, and, moreover, unlike discrimination against men, have long previously been abolished.[22] However, they still in need of explanation.

Second, it makes little sense to talk of women oppressing men, when it is in fact men themselves who are responsible for doing much of the alleged oppression.

After all, as the feminists never tire of reminding us, it is men, not women, who are over-represented in senior positions among the legislature, judiciary and police. It is therefore men themselves who are responsible for enacting into law, interpreting and applying the very laws that discriminate against themselves and other men.

Thus, it was a male Parliament, both composed entirely by men and elected entirely by men, that passed into law many of the discriminatory laws discussed below (e.g. Whipping of Female Offenders Abolition Act of 1820, the Mines and Colleries Act of 1842, the Factories Act 1847 and the Military Service Act of 1916).

Likewise, it is a predominantly male judiciary that sentences females offenders more leniently than male offenders guilty of equivalent transgressions.[23]

In short, we must produce a theory of male chivalry – a theory that explains not only why women discriminate against men, but also why men themselves also discriminate against men.

Women as Children

Is there a way of conceptualizing the position of women in traditional society that enables us to explain both the apparent disadvantages under which women claim to suffer as well as the vastly greater number of undoubted privileges to which women have also been entitled?

I contend in this post that the most useful analogy for understanding the position of women in traditional societies, and to some extent even in contemporary Western societies, is that of societies’ treatment of, and attitudes towards, children.

To make sense of this analogy, let’s look in greater detail at just a few of the various ways in which women are, or have been, treated in a manner analogous to children.

Military Service

First, take the obligation to undertake military service.

Both women and young children are exempt from conscription and the draft and are generally not expected, nor even permitted, to volunteer for military service, at least in the front-line roles.

Recently, a few countries have made a largely nominal attempt to extend conscription to women in the name of equality. In reality, however, in the entirety of recorded history, conscription has never been applied on anything like equal terms to men and women.[24]

Indeed, in some respects, women are even more exempt from the obligation to undertake military service than are some children – i.e. older boys.

After all, child soldiers – almost invariably boys – are a regrettably common phenomenon, both throughout history, and throughout much of the Developing World today.

Moreover, even in Britain as recently as the First World War, many boys younger than the age of majority were pressured into enlisting, often by white feather-wielding young girls of similar age.

Indeed, although their enlistment was, in principle, unlawful, the authorities, faced with mounting casualty rates among soldiers and a shortage of manpower, and hence desperate for additional cannon-fodder, were said to ‘turn a blind-eye’, tacitly condone, or even approve, the enlistment of underage boys.

Innocent Women and Children

Indeed, the protection accorded women during wartime goes beyond merely their exemption from conscription. The deliberate targeting of so-called ‘innocent women and children’ still represents the quintessential ‘war crime’ and ‘atrocity’.

Indeed, admonitions to spare (at least some) enemy womenfolk are found as far back as the Old Testament;[25] and also in Islamic scripture.[26]

This is, of course, despite the fact that, in every war for which reliable data exists, it is males who represent the overwhelming majority of those killed.[27]

Indeed, men represent not only, for obvious reasons, the majority of military casualties, but also the majority of civilian casualties too,[28] not least due to the deliberate targeting of so-called ‘battle-age males’, as documented by Adam Jones.[29]

Yet, when the dead in some bombing raid or terrorist attack, or some other atrocity (or sometimes even a natural disaster), it is evidently thought particularly regrettable if women and children are included among the dead, to such an extent that newspaper reporters will sometimes report that the dead ‘included women and children’ as if this renders the tragedy especially lamentable.[30]

However, ‘battle-age males’ is often interpreted to include adolescent and teenage boys. This indicates that the protection accorded ‘innocent women and children’ applies more comprehensively to women than to children, at least if the latter are male.

Women and Children First

Likewise, the greater value accorded the lives of both women and children is evident not only in wartime, but peacetime too.

For example, on board the Titanic and other vessels such as the Birkenhead, both women and children were, famously, given priority in access to places on board the life boats. As a result, whereas fully eighty percent of men on board the Titanic perished, only twenty-six percent of women did.[31]

To some extent, this is well known and embedded in the popular consciousness. However, what is rather less widely appreciated is that this gender discrimination by far outweighed any class-based discrimination in allocating places on board the lifeboats.

Thus, even women travelling in the cheapest class of accommodation had a 41% better chance of survival than men travelling first-class.[32]

Indeed, while persons travelling in a higher class of accommodation did indeed survive at higher rates than those travelling in cheaper accommodation, this largely reflected the fact that:

  1. In the more expensive accommodation, there was also a higher proportion of female passengers; and
  2. Those in the cheapest accommodation (i.e. ‘Steerage’, or ‘Third Class’) were buried deep in the ship’s hull, far from the lifeboats.

Given the theme of the present post is the similarities between the treatment of women and of children, it is interesting to note that women also had a much higher rate of survival than did children. Whereas only twenty-six percent of women perished, almost fifty percent of children did – the survival rate for children lying roughly midway between that for women and for men.[33]

This perhaps suggests that, while men did indeed stand aside and sacrifice their lives in order to save both women and children, women themselves were less willing to do so in favour of children.

The practice of according women priority during rescue and relief operations is by no means obsolete, even in the ostensibly egalitarian West.

Thus, during the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549, passengers reported that women and children were allowed on-board the life-rafts first.[34]

Similarly, during the genocidal civil war in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, it was women and children who were evacuated first, despite the fact that it was men who were overwhelmingly overrepresented among those targeted and killed.[35]

Indeed, even the ostensibly patriarchal Islamic societies of the Middle East are not immune from such chivalrous impulses, with, for example, Saddam Hussain permitting the evacuation of foreign women prior to the Gulf War.[36]

Protection from Violence, Pain and Suffering

The priority accorded both women and children in rescue and relief operations, from the Titanic in 1912 to Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, reflect a more general phenomenon – namely, the especial desire of society in general, and men in particular, to protect both women and children from violence, harm and suffering.

This then explains why people regard violent acts committed against women as more culpable than those committed against men,[37] why men are more ready to commit violent acts against men than against women,[38] and why the criminal justice system imposes more severe sentences on offenders who commit violent acts against women than those who commit violent acts against men.[39]

This then explains the perceived issue of ‘violence against women’ is regarded as a serious problem, but not the issue of, if you like, ‘violence against men’, despite the fact that, as we have seen, it is in fact males who are vastly overrepresented among the victims of violent crime, warfare and state violence.[40]

This also explains why, irrespective of who they have victimized, the courts also impose more severe sentences on male than female offenders,[41] and why women are all but exempt from certain penalties, such as corporal punishment[42] and the death penalty.[43]

Again, these protections and privileges are analogous to those accorded children.

Crimes against children are, of course, regarded as particularly loathsome, and sentenced accordingly, whereas, when children themselves commit crimes, they are treated with comparative leniency on account of their age.[44]

Interestingly, however, the protection from pain and suffering accorded women actually go beyond those accorded some children – namely male children, especially older boys.

For example, in Britain the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842, although now celebrated as a key piece of legislation in the fight against the exploitation of child labour, actually sanctioned the employment of boys as young as ten underground in mines, while prohibiting the employment of women or girls of any age in this same capacity.

An even more egregious case of such double standards is provided by laws governing the infliction of corporal punishment on offenders.

In the UK, the subjection of female offenders of any age to corporal punishment was ended in the early-nineteenth century with the passage of the Whipping of Female Offenders Act in 1820. However, the subjection of adult men to corporal punishment was not finally ended until the middle of the twentieth century, almost a century and a half later.

Yet, interestingly, the prohibition on subjecting female offenders to corporal punishment did not extend to children, at least not when these children were male.

Thus, while the whipping of male offenders was outlawed as early as 1820, the flogging of boys was not only permitted, but positively prescribed by law until well into the twentieth century, including for offences as minor as property damage and larceny, and for boys as young as seven.[45]

Indeed, the same is true to this day in many non-Western jurisdictions. Thus, David Benatar reports:

There are still over 30 countries in which the courts sentence people to corporal punishment. In the overwhelming majority of cases the punishment is reserved for males and may not be inflicted on females. This double standard was also the norm in those countries that previously inflicted judicial punishment but no longer do[46]

Indeed, as is apparent from this list maintained at wikipedia, many jurisdictions, not only subject only males to corporal punishment, but indeed restrict this practice specifically to young boys.

Women as ‘Dependants’

However, the privileges accorded both women and children go far beyond the especial protection of women and children from violence and suffering. The world of work provides a further sphere of privilege, further illuminating the analogies between the treatment of women and of children.

Children, unlike most adults (or at least most adult men), are not generally expected to work to earn a living. Instead, they are typically provided for by their parents.

Analogously, women are not always expected to provide for themselves.

Traditionally, women were provided for by their fathers, until, when married, this responsibility was passed on to their unfortunate husband, who was traditionally subject to a nonreciprocal obligation to ‘maintain’ (i.e. financially provide for) his wife.

Thus, historian Martin van Creveld, in his book The Privileged Sex (reviewed here), claims, “the duty of husbands to provide for their wives according to their means is universal”.[47] For example, he reports, “a French royal decree of 1214 gave a wife the rights to half her husbands’ property”;[48] while “the husband’s duty to support his wife was… written into… Roman wedding charters”.[49]

Despite the supposed advances of women in the workplace, the situation remains little changed even today.

Thus, in the UK as recently as 2003, government statistics that showed, Fewer than half of married women work, whereas 94 per cent of married men work full-time”.[50] Moreover, lest this disparity be attributed entirely to the demands of raising children, those women opting not to work included 42% of women without any children.[51]

Similarly, sociologist Catherine Hakim reports that in the US, on average, even those married women who do work earn only earn about a quarter of the total household income.[52] The pattern is similar in other western economies where, on average, married women earn only between one fifth and one third of the total income of the couple, a pattern which remained stable over the latter half of the twentieth century.[53]

In short, the vast majority of men are obliged to work full-time for a living for virtually the entirety of their adult lifetimes simply in order to support themselves and avoid destitution, let alone attract and support a wife and children.

In contrast, for many married women, work is optional. Moreover, even those married women who do opt to work usually do so only on a part-time basis. As a consequence, married men are often expected to provide, not just for themselves, but also for their wife and children as well.

As historian Martin van Creveld observes in his book The Privileged Sex (reviewed here):

[Whereas] most women settle into a life in which they are provided for and protected… most men step into one in which they provide and protect”.[54]

As a result, he concludes, “Men’s lot in life is endless hard work whose fruits will be consumed largely by others”.[55]

Thus, he observes, The biblical term eved, ‘slave’ has only a male form[56] – and, in the Book of Genesis (3:19):

When God drove the first human couple out of Eden, it was Adam and not Eve whom he punished by decreeing that ‘by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread’”.[57]

In the whole of nature,” van Creveld declares, “there is no arrangement that is more demanding and more altruistic”.[58]

Government as a Substitute Husband/Father

Children without parents (i.e. orphans) also receive care, typically through charity or, more recently, the welfare system.

Thus, if a child’s parents are unavailable to perform the function of caring and providing for their children (e.g. if they are dead, missing or unidentifiable), then the state steps in, providing for orphans at public expense, as a Ward of the State, or else fostering the child out to substitute parents or adoptive parents who are willing and able to undertake this role.

Similarly, if a child’s parents have been adjudged by the courts and social services not to be providing an adequate level of care for their offspring, then, again, the state steps in, again taking the child into the custody and care of the state at taxpayer expense.

Likewise, where parents lack the necessary means to provide for their offspring, then the state again steps in, this time subsidizing the parents through the operation of the welfare system.

The same applies, once again, to women.

As in respect of children, when a husband is unwilling to maintain his wife, the state steps in, ordering the payment of alimony or maintenance, even sequestering the husband’s property for this purpose, and sometimes even employing debt collectors and bailiffs for this purpose, or even imprisoning husbands, or ex-husbands, for alleged non-payment of sums ordered by the courts.

Moreover, as taxpayers, men are obliged to financially provide for women even if they have no biological offspring, are sensible enough to have evaded marriage and even if the women in question are likewise unmarried.

Thus, where no husband is available to provide for a woman, either because she is widowed, has been unable to attract a husband, or her husband has been sensible enough to desert her and cannot be traced, then often charity, or, more recently, the state has stepped into the breach.

Formerly, prior to the emergence and expansion of the welfare state in the twentieth century, charitable institutions were principally responsible for performing this role.

Thus, historian Martin van Creveld, in his book The Privileged Sex (reviewed here), describes how, in nineteenth century America, many charitable institutions were set up specifically to help various classes of unmarried women. From spinsters and widows to former prostitutes and orphans in need of dowries, any woman lacking a husband was seemingly deemed eligible for charity on this ground alone.[59]

Meanwhile, men were often only eligible for charity if they were married, such that their wife would be the indirect, vicarious, beneficiary.[60]

Moreover, even those charities ostensibly providing aid to both sexes, in practice typically gave more money to women than men.[61]

Nowadays, while there remain many charitable organizations that assist only women (e.g. shelters for so-called ‘battered women’), the role of financially provisioning unmarried women has been largely usurped by the state, in the form of welfare/social security benefits.

Again, women received priority.

Thus, whereas men’s receipt of benefits/social security entitlement was usually conditional on their having worked and thereby contributed into the system, benefits for widows and mothers were unconditional.[62]

In addition, women also usually inherited the benefits earned by their husbands on the latter’s death. As Van Creveld puts it:

Having supported their wives during their entire lives, those husbands were now expected to continue doing so after their deaths as well.[63]

Discrimination against men in welfare entitlement continues to this day.

For example, benefits paid to parents of children, although ostensibly for the benefit of children, usually go to mothers rather than fathers.[64]

Meanwhile, in the UK, until just a few months ago, women were still eligible for state pensions at a younger age than were men. This was despite the fact that women, on average, both lived longer than men, and had worked for fewer years, hence contributing less into the system. This form of discrimination existed in Britain for around seventy years, before being belatedly phased out, in an unnecessarily protracted process, just a few months ago.[65]

As a result of these and other factors, men are, considered as a group, net contributors to government monies; whereas women, as a group, are net recipients.[66]

As Warren Farrell concludes in The Myth of Male Power (reviewed here), this has resulted in a:

A new nuclear family: woman, government and child… [or] Government as a Substitute Husband”.[67]

Van Creveld, in The Privileged Sex (reviewed here), likewise concludes:

On the face of it, a husband, a charitable institution and a modern welfare state are entirely different. In fact, though the details differ, the principle is the same. All are designed partly — and some would say primarily — to transfer resources from men… to women”.[68]

Husband as ‘Head of Household

Many of the advantages that women enjoy over men are, then, shared with children. Therefore, viewing women as occupying a position in society analogous to that of children helps us make sense of the position of women in traditional cultures and societies.

How then can we make sense of men’s role in these same societies? We can do so by viewing the position of men as analogous to that of adults, and, in particular, of parents.

Thus, just as women’s traditional privileges can be understood as analogous to those conferred on children, so the perceived privileges of men can be best understood as analogous to those rights, duties and obligations imposed on adults and particularly on parents.

Thus, just as parents are expected to feed, provide for, protect and care for their offspring, so they are delegated authority over their children.

Such authority is conferred on parents, not so much as recompense for their duty to provide and care for their underage offspring, but rather precisely so as to enable them to care for their offspring more fully and effectively.

After all, one cannot properly protect a child from dangerous behaviours the dangers of which the child is not yet capable of understanding unless one has the authority to forbid the child from engaging in such activities, and, if necessary, punish them to deter them from so doing.

Thus, parents’ authority over their offspring before the latter reach the age of majority includes, for example, the right to restrict their children’s activities, and also to discipline their children, although the acceptable forms such discipline can take has varied over time and place.[69]

Similarly, in return for the obligation to provide for their wives, husbands were, traditionally at least, conferred some, albeit largely nominal, authority over their wives.

Thence derives the husband’s traditional, albeit nominal, role as ‘head of household’ in traditional western society.

A society in which a male is designated head of household, and descent is traced down the male line, was traditionally referred to by anthropologists as a ‘patriarchal’ one. This term was then misappropriated, and indeed misunderstood, by feminists to mean something akin to ‘male privilege’.

It is thence from the the husband’s traditional role of ‘head of household’, including his obligation to financially provide for his family, that the feminist myth of ‘patriarchy’ and ‘male privilege substantially derives.

In practice, however, perceptive commentators have long recognised that the husbands’ ostensible authority was largely nominal and illusory.

Thus, even in pre-feminist late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain, legal scholar Ernest Belfort Bax (and an anonymous co-author), in his excellent The Legal Subjection of Men [reviewed here], observed how married women had effective impunity to desert their husbands and commit adultery at will, for which their unfortunate husband, unlike a wife in equivalent circumstances, had no legal remedy [for more details, see here].

Indeed, in such circumstances, the husband remained liable to maintain his wife, and even, under the presumption of legitimacy, to provide for the illegitimate bastard offspring of his wife’s lover, while also, under the doctrine of coverture, was even liable for any debts his wife continued to incur.[70]

Whereas men’s duty to financially provision their wives was enforced with force of law, there was no duty on women to perform housework or household chores.

In short, the marital contract, if it were indeed a true contract, would surely be void for lack of consideration.

Interestingly, and contrary to popular opinion,[71] the husband’s ostensible authority over his wife (unlike that of the parent over his or her offspring prior to the latter reaching the age of majority) never extended to physical chastisement , at least in Britain and America.

Thus, Christina Hoff Summers reports that:

In America, there have been laws against wife bearing since before the Revolution. By 1870, it was illegal in almost every state; but even before then wife beaters were arrested and punished for assault and battery.”[72]

She continues:

For most of our history, in fact, wife beating has been considered a sin comparable to thievery or adultery. Religious groups—especially Protestant groups such as Quakers, Methodists, and Baptists—punished, shunned, and excommunicated wife-beaters. Husbands, brothers, and neighbours often took vengeance against the batterer. Vigilante parties sometimes abducted wife-beaters and whipped them.[73]

Indeed, despite the man’s nominal authority as ‘Head of Household’, the prohibition on wife-beating in Anglo-American jurisprudence is far older than the settlement of the Americas.

Thus, researcher Michael George, in Skimmington Revisited, reports, not only was “wife beating was illegal in the Plymouth Bay Colony of 1655 and… wife beaters… often the subject of social approbation or sanction”, but also that:

In the first codification of a system of written law by Anglo-Saxon kings such as Aelhelberht (circa 587 A.D.) and Alfred the Great (circa 878 A.D.) there was recognition of individual rights and a rule of law within which women received protection from violent acts by men. [74]

Property Rights

It is sometimes claimed that women were, until recent times, ‘denied property rights’.

In fact, this is untrue and reflects a misunderstanding of the legal doctrine of coverture, a legal fiction whereby the legal personalities of husband and wife were subsumed into one.

However, coverture only ever applied to married women and men. Single women, therefore, were never, in any sense, ‘denied property rights’, but rather had the same ‘property rights’ as did single men.

Moreover, coverture was very much a ‘two-way street’, and, in fact, generally worked to the overwhelming advantage of women and the disadvantage of men.

Thus, as we have seen, married men were under a legal obligation to provide for and ‘maintain’ their wives, and monies could be seized from them for this purpose by the courts.[75]

Moreover, men were liable for the debts incurred by their wives and for civil wrongs the latter had committed. This meant that, if a woman ran up a debt, it was her husband who was responsible for paying it, and, if a woman committed a civil wrong (e.g. she defamed someone or breached a contract), it was her husband who would end up being sued and having to pay damages.

Indeed, under the related doctrine of marital coercion, a husband could even find himself held responsible for criminal acts which the latter had committed, if the husband was party to, aware of, or even merely present during, the commission of the offence.

Thus, historian Martin van Creveld reports:

In the 19th century, Britain even had a famous case when the jury was asked to consider whether a crippled and bedridden husband should be held responsible for a murder his wife committed in his presence”.[76]

In Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens famously ridiculed the assumption behind this manifestly unjust state of affairs, namely that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, with the immortal reply:

If the law supposes that… the law is a ass- a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience – by experience!”

However, the principle of coverture, in its implications if not its theory, again reflects the tendency of society in general, and the law in particular, to treat women as children rather than as adults.

Thus, if married women were indeed, in some sense, denied independent property rights, then, so, obviously, were children.

Yet neither suffered noticeably by this denial since their husband or father was, as we have seen, legally obliged to provide for both.

Likewise, husbands are liable for debts incurred, or civil wrongs committed, by their wives, just as fathers are for debts incurred and civil wrongs committed by their immature offspring – and husbands were punished for crimes committed by their wives, just as parents are sometimes held responsible and blamed for the crimes committed by juvenile delinquents ostensibly lacking responsible parental role models or parental control.

Far from evidencing the ‘oppression’ of women, coverture is thus further evidence that women were privileged, not held fully responsible for their own actions, protected and provided for by their husbands, and were, in short, to be mollycoddled and treated as children.

The Right to Vote

It is, of course, well known that, until comparatively recent times, women were denied the right to vote.[77]

This fact is, of course, well-known precisely because feminists never tire of reminding us of it. Indeed, along with the supposed pay-gap between men and women, the denial of the franchise, even though it came to an end a century ago, still represents perhaps the quintessential exemplar of the alleged oppression of women in the West.

Thus, in Britain, for example, until around a century ago, only adult males fulfilling certain property qualifications – a small minority of males right up until the enfranchisement of women in 1919 – had full voting rights.

This is, however, hardly the definitive proof of the oppression of women in pre- and early-twentieth century Britain (let alone today, a hundred years later) that the feminists take it for.

After all, as that great opponent of gender inequality – and of the enfranchisement of women – Ernest Belfort Bax observed in his early Men’s Rights Masterpiece, ‘The Legal Subjection of Men’ (reviewed here):

Electoral disqualifications are often attendant on special privilege. The Royal Family of this realm, with all their branches, are debarred from the exercise of both the passive and the active franchise. And yet no one pleads that, say, the prince of Wales, is, in consequence, a cruelly oppressed personage.”[78]

More pertinently to the topic of this post, there is, of course, another large subgroup of the population who are likewise denied exercise of the franchise, besides women and royalty, yet whom we do not generally regard as disadvantaged as a consequence – namely children.

Of course, granting electoral rights to toddlers or babes-in-arms is obviously preposterous.

However, many teenagers and older children are quite as capable of entering a ballot booth and marking a tick beside a preferred candidate on the basis of similar considerations to those entertained and considered by the average adult voter.

After all, electoral rights are not generally conditional on intelligence, literacy, emotional maturity, work experience or any similar criterion. Moreover, even if they were, many older children and teenagers surely have these traits in greater abundance than do many adults.

Indeed, even those adults qualifying as intellectually disabled or mentally retarded are not usually debarred from voting. However, even highly intelligent older children and teenagers, up to the age of eighteen in most jurisdictions, are still denied voting rights.

Why are Women Treated as Children?

Why then do societies in general, and men in particular, have a tendency to treat women as children, or at least as not wholly adult, with all the responsibilities and duties which adulthood typically imposes.

Ultimately, as I have argued previously, the male tendency to favour women, to grant them privileges and to discriminate in their favour probably primarily reflects men’s sexual desire for women and desire to gain their sexual affections.

Thus, men privilege and discriminate in women’s favour, ultimately because they think that doing so may enable them to receive sexual favours in return.

Even if this expectation, or hope, is not actually conscious, a tendency on the part of males to favour females and treat the latter indulgently in a range of situations may have been programmed into the male psych as a mating strategy via thousands of years of evolution as a result of sexual selection.

This then explains, in addition to the phenomena discussed above, why men are more ready to stop and help women in the street,[79] why male police officers are less likely to press charges against female defendants,[80] why predominantly male judiciary sentences women more leniently,[81] and even why even exclusively male legislatures, elected by exclusively male electorates, pass laws that explicitly discriminate against other males.[82]

On this view, as Jim Goad puts it, male feminism is a beta male mating strategy and the ultimate form of what is now pejoratively known as white knighting

However, this cannot be the whole story. After all, men are expected to hold doors open for little old ladies just as much as for nubile, pert-breasted eighteen-year-olds – perhaps more so.

This then is where the analogy with children comes in.

After all, men, and indeed adults in general, are particularly affectionate towards, and protective of young children, even where no obvious ulterior motive, conscious or unconscious, is evident.

People’s affection and protectiveness towards children probably has, once again, ancient and innate evolutionary roots, surely reflecting ultimately the Darwinian imperative of caring and providing for one’s own offspring during their infancy in order to secure the passage of our genes into subsequent generations.[83]

But why then do men in particular, and indeed adults in general, seem to treat women in the same way?

One reason may be that women indeed physically resemble children in many respects.

They are, of course, like children, smaller in stature than men. They are also, like children, physically weaker than men, especially in upper-body strength.[84]

They also have, like children, higher pitched voices than do men.

Finally, there is also evidence that women have more child-like facial features, sometimes referred to as neoteny.[85]

Women’s neotenous facial features are thought to be a product of sexual selection, since, among adult women, youth is correlated with both fertility and reproductive value, both key correlates of female sexual attractiveness in humans.

However, neoteny also functions to elicit nurturing and protective biological instincts which evolved, not in the context of mate choice, but rather of another essential reproductive activity, namely parenting.

In short, as compared to men, women physically resemble children, in stature, voice pitch, physical weakness and facial features. This may cause men to conceptualize both children and women as somehow similar and to group them together.

In addition, since it is women who are primarily responsible to the care of children, especially young children, this means that women and children are often seen in proximity of one another, further reinforcing men’s tendency to group them together.[86]

Interestingly in this context, Esther Vilar, in The Manipulated Man, her masterpiece of unmitigated misogyny (reviewed here), observes:

Woman’s greatest ideal is a life without work or responsibility – yet who leads such a life but a child? A child with appealing eyes, a funny little body with dimples and sweet layers of baby fat and clear, taut skin – that darling miniature of an adult. It is a child that woman imitates – its easy laugh, it’s helplessness, its need for protection. A child must be cared for; it cannot look after itself. And what species does not, by natural instinct, look after its offspring? It must – or the species will die out.  With the aid of skillfully applied cosmetics, designed to preserve that precious baby look; with the aid of helpless, appealing babble and exclamations such as ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ah,’ to denote astonishment, surprise, and admiration; with inane little bursts of conversation, women have preserved this ‘baby look’ for as long as possible so as to make the world continue to believe in the darling, sweet little girl she once was, and she relies on the protective instinct in man to make him take care of her.[87]

Of course, just because women are smaller in stature than men, and physically weaker than men, this does not mean that they are socially, politically or economically weaker. On the contrary, as Ernest Belfort Bax, the forgotten father of the Men’s Rights Movement in The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here) observed:

The bravest and strongest man is as weak as a child before the overwhelming force of the State. Any woman can at will summon to her aid a power no man can resist. And behind this force of law rests the equally irresistible force of public opinion… It would be just as reasonable to suppose that because the Czar of Russia and his high officials were less muscularly developed than the average Russian peasant, that the possibility of the Russian peasant being seriously oppressed by the Czar or his government was a proposition to be laughed at. The weakest and most frail woman, backed by the whole power of the State, may easily annihilate by the State forces summoned by her scream, a legion of Samsons or Hercules.”[88]

The Best of Both Worlds

In traditional societies, then, women were by no means ‘oppressed’. On the contrary, they were distinctly privileged in many respects as compared to men, in much the same say children were.

Moreover, those few forms of discrimination sometimes cited as evidence of oppression (e.g. the denial of the franchise) are better explained as, again, analogous to the treatment of children.

However, these few ostensible male privileges have been, without exception, long previously abolished at the behest of the powerful feminist lobby.

Moreover, at least in theory, feminists have vociferously objected to the treatment of women like children as ‘patronizing’ and ‘demeaning’.

It is fair to say, then, that it is no longer accurate to say that women are treated like children in modern western societies.

How then can we conceptualize the treatment of women in contemporary western society?

In modern western society, thanks to the one-sided activism of feminists, women have been granted the rights of adults without any of the responsibilities and duties that usually go along with these rights.

They have, in short, the rights of adults, combined with the privileges of children.

In short, women are blessed with what we might term ‘the best of both worlds’.

The Right to Vote and the Obligation to Fight

Take, for example, the earliest and perhaps most celebrated cause of feminist agitation, namely that with respect to voting rights, and, on the other hand, perhaps the most obvious, egregious and longstanding example of discrimination against males, namely that of conscription into the military.

The suffragettes, when they campaigned, and engaged in terrorist acts, in order to win voting rights for women, did so ostensibly in the name of ‘equal rights’ and ‘equality of the sexes’. This, at any rate, was at the essence of their rhetoric and even some critics of modern feminism take them at their word, insisting that it is only recent incarnations of feminism that abandoned the goal of equality.

In reality, however, the suffragettes conveniently ignored all those forms of sex discrimination of which men were the victims and women the beneficiaries, such as with regard to marriage law,[89] employment law[90] and corporal punishment.[91]

The result was that, as a consequence of, and in capitulation to, suffragette agitation and terrorism, women were granted the rights of adult men, while still retaining, and jealously guarding, the privileges to which they had long previously grown accustomed.

The most egregious and obvious example of such privileges is women’s exemption from military service.

As military historian Martin van Creveld explains in Men, Women and War (reviewed here):

In the Western world since the French Revolution the right to vote was often a direct consequence of, or at any rate went together with, conscription. But women were able to obtain the former without being subjected to the latter; for them to be put on an equal footing with men would have meant an end to their greatest privilege.[92]

Indeed, the association is arguably far older, going back to Athens and the dawn of democracy in the age of the Greek city states.

This, indeed, was among the primary objections among contemporaries to the enfranchisement of women. Thus, Almroth E. Wright, author of perhaps the most influential anti-suffrage work, observed:

“If it had not been that man is more prone to discriminate in favour of woman than against her, every military State, when exacting personal military service from men, would have demanded from women some such equivalent personal service as would be represented by a similar period of work in an army clothing establishment, or ordnance factory, or army laundry; or would at any rate have levied upon woman a ransom in lieu of such service.”[93]

Yet the suffragettes, despite their rhetoric with regard to ‘sexual equality’, vociferously rejected the notion that women ought to be conscripted into the military, when the spectre was raised, as it frequently was, by their political opponents as the reductio ad absurdum of their own nonsensical rhetoric.

Thus, Emmeline Pankhurst argued “it was not necessary for women to go to ‘the trenches’… since it was women who brought children into the world and thus perpetuated the human race”.[94]

Similarly, her daughter Christabel contended, “You must remember that if the men fight, the women are the mothers” and concluded, “if women do not actually take part in the fighting… that argues no diminution of their claim to political equality”.[95]

Yet this was no mere abstract theoretical debate, since the suffragette campaign of terror occurred during the early twentieth century, and therefore immediately preceded the First World War, in which unprecedented numbers of men – and only of men – were conscripted and sent to the trenches and, in many cases, their deaths.

Thus, while the feminists metaphorically ‘fought’ for the right to vote (and indeed committed very real terrorist acts in pursuit of this goal), men literally fought in the trenches of the Somme, Ypres and Verdun, and died in unprecedented numbers.

The Paradox of Male Supremacism

This then points to a final perverse paradox.

Feminists frequently contend that there exists a tradition of ‘male supremacism’, used to justify the oppression of women, and hence analogous to the ‘white supremacism’ that served to justify the oppression of blacks and other nonwhites under colonialism, slavery, segregation and Apartheid.

For once the feminists are, partly, right – but only up to a point.

There is indeed a longstanding tradition of male supremacism in the West and elsewhere.

Men were viewed as not just physically stronger than women, as they surely are, but also as mentally and intellectually superior.

Indeed, this view may even have some merit, albeit only at the aggregate statistical level, as indicated by psychometric testing, the historical record and theoretical grounds.[96]

However, there is a key difference between, say, nineteenth century European and American white supremacism and the male supremacism of the equivalent time and place.

White supremacism was, of course, used to justify discrimination against nonwhites (e.g. slavery, segregation, colonialism).

In contrast, male supremacism was used primarily, and perhaps paradoxically, to justify discrimination, not against women, but rather against men themselves.

Thus, it was reasoned, since men were stronger than women, it was men who should fight wars, and do all the most physically demanding and arduous work (e.g. in coal mines and on construction sites).

In contrast, since women were weaker than men, special privileges were accorded them, whether in the imposition of criminal sanctions or in awarding places on lifeboats on the Titanic.

In short, men, being superior and stronger, had greater demands placed upon them; while women, being inferior and weaker, had special allowances made for them, and were to be protected and provided for by men.

On this view, being biologically inferior seems like quote a good deal!

 ___________________________

References

[1] I begin with this quotation, not because I necessarily agree with the sentiments Schopenhauer expresses, but rather because they represent an unusually explicit elucidation of the sentiments that have, I feel, underlain the preferential treatment of women throughout western and indeed world history. Indeed, far from agreeing with Schopenhauer’s opinion on this matter, this indeed represents the precise sentiment with which I take issue in the essay/post that follows.

[2] In Britain, for example, women were first able to vote in national elections in 1918. However, this is misleading, since, until this time, over a third of men were also ineligible to vote, as they failed to satisfy the mimimum property qualifications set out in the Representation of the People Act 1884 (The Suffragette Bombers: p5-6). Also, as Steve Moxon is at pains to emphasise, women had always had the vote at the local and parish level, and often had, in practice, multiple votes, and it is decisions at this level that had a greater effect on their day-to-day lives (see The Women Racket).

[3] Women were first permitted to serve on juries in England and Wales in 1919.

[4] The Abolition of the Whipping of Female Offenders Act  of 1820, as the name implies, abolished the whipping of female offenders, in any circumstances, as early as 1820 in the UK. However, the the whipping of male offenders was not finally abolished until some almost a century and a half later under section 67 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 with the last prison flogging is said to have occurred in 1962. Indeed, as recently as 1911, while the flogging of women had long previously been abolished, the whipping of boys as young as seven for offences as minor as larceny and property damage was specifically authorised by law (see the entry on Corporal Punishment in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica).

[5] On board the Titanic, 80% of men were killed as compared to only 26% of women. Indeed, contrary to popular opinion, even women travelling in the cheapest class of accommodation had a 41% better chance of survival than men travelling first-class.

[6] Hedderman & Hough (1994) Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently Home Office, UK; Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); ; Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV: 285-314; Streib VL (2001) Sentencing Women to Death Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Jeffries, S, Fletcher, GJO & Newbol, G (2003) Pathways to Sex-Based Differentiation in Criminal Court Sentencing Criminology 41(2): 329–354; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162; Starr, SB, Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal CasesUniversity of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[7] Carpenter CR (2003) ‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans 1991–95, International Organization 57(04):661 – 694; for other examples see:  Quinn, J and Whitworth, M ‘New York plane crash: Pilot told passengers to ‘brace for heavy landing’’, The (London) Telegraph, 15 Jan 2009; Associated Press Cris Collinsworth among 83 rescued ESPN, Mar 14, 2011.

[8] As of 2012, a minimum of over eighty different regimes around the world continue to employ conscription as a means of recruitment for their armed services, according to research by David Benatar (The Second Sexism: p27). In the vast majority, conscription is applied exclusively to males. Although a few (e.g. Israel) make a nominal pretence of applying conscription to both sexes, I am unaware of any jurisdiction in which conscription is applied to both sexes on anything like equal terms.

[9] Discrimination against men in the provision of insurance policies remains legal in most jurisdictions (e.g. the USA). However, sex discrimination in the provision of insurance policies was belatedly outlawed throughout the European Union at the end of 2012, due to a ruling of the European Court of Justice. This was many years after other forms of sex discrimination had been outlawed in most member-states. For example, in the UK, most other forms of gender discrimination were outlawed almost forty years previously under the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act. However, section 45 of this Act explicitly exempted insurance companies from liability for sex discrimination if they could show that the discriminatory practice they employed was based on actuarial data and was “reasonable”. Yet actuarial data could also be employed to justify other forms of discrimination, such as employers deciding not to employ women of childbearing age. However, this remained unlawful. This exemption was preserved by Section 22 of Part 5 of Schedule 3 of the new Equality Act 2010. As a result, as recently as 2010 insurance providers routinely charged young male drivers double the premiums demanded of young female drivers. Yet, curiously, the only circumstances in which insurance policy providers were barred from discriminating on the grounds of sex was where the differences result from the costs associated with pregnancy or to a woman’s having given birth under section 22(3)(d) of Schedule 3 – in other words, the only readily apparent circumstance where insurance providers might be expected to discriminate against women rather than men. Interestingly, even after the ECJ ruling, there is evidence that indirect discrimination against males continues, simply by using occupation as a marker for gender.

[10] According to data cited by David Benatar, “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (The Second Sexism: p50).

[11] Hedderman & Hough (1994) Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently Home Office, UK; Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); ; Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV: 285-314; Streib VL (2001) Sentencing Women to Death Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Jeffries, S, Fletcher, GJO & Newbol, G (2003) Pathways to Sex-Based Differentiation in Criminal Court Sentencing Criminology 41(2): 329–354; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162; Starr, SB, Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal CasesUniversity of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[12] In the UK, women have long been eligible for state pensions several years before men, despite the fact that men on average work for a greater number of years and contribute more yet die earlier. Traditionally, women were eligible at age sixty, but men not until they were sixty-five. In response to an ECJ ruling, this is now scheduled to equalized, after more than seventy years of discrimination, in 2020, by which time neither men nor women will be eligible for a state pension until they are seventy.

[13] It is, after all, as we are incessantly reminded by the feminists, a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion or carry an infant to term. However, while denied any say in this decision, men are nevertheless legally obliged to pay maintenance in order to provide for the resulting offspring, despite being denied custody of, and sometimes even visitation rights over, the offspring for whom they are obliged to provide [see Dubay v. Wells (2004); Danforth v Planned Parenthood 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992) Paton v. Trustees of British Pregnancy Advisory Service Trustees (1978) QB 276; C v S (1988) QB 135].

[14] Carpenter CR (2003) ‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans 1991–95, International Organization 57(04):661 – 694

[15] Jones A (2000) Gendercide and Genocide Journal of Genocide Research, 2(2): 185-211.

[16] The homeless are, by their nature, a difficult group to survey. However, estimates of the gender disparity among the homeless concur in suggesting that males are vastly overrepresented. George Orwell, in his classic study of the poverty and homeless of Paris and London, estimated, on the basis of both official statistics and his own personal experience, that the overrepresentation of men among the destitute occurred at a ratio of roughly ten to one. More recent estimates suggest a similar disparity today, a disparity accentuated among the ‘street homeless’ (see The Myth of Male Power: p209).

[17] In their comprehensive global survey of the correlates of crime, criminologists Anthony Walsh and Lee Ellis report that “except for rape, where essentially all victims are female, males have substantially higher victimization rates than do females” and “even with rapes included in calculating an overall victimization rate, males run a considerably greater risk of being victimized by violent crime than do females” (Criminology: A Global Perspective: p128). Walsh and Ellis are right with respect to violent crime generally. However, they underestimate the prevalence of male rape. Indeed, due to the epidemic levels of rape in the US’s overwhelmingly male prison population, recent government data suggests that in the USA, men may even be overrepresented among rape victims (see my post, Real Rape Culture – The American Prison System). However, violent crime often goes unreported. Meanwhile, rape in particular is probably over-reported, due to exceptionally high rates of false reports. Therefore, the most reliable data is that for homicide, which, as the most extreme form of violent crime, is also the form of violent crime least likely to go either undetected or falsely reported. In the UK in 2010-11, over two thirds (68%) of homicide victims were male, according to government statistics (Osborne, S. (2012) ‘Homicide’ in K. Smith et al (eds), Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2008/09: supplementary volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 Home Office Statistical Bulletin 01/10: at p19). ). Similarly, in the USA, between 1980 and 2008, men were three times as likely to be the victim of homicide as were women (Cooper A & Smith EL (2011) Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008 U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2011, NCJ 236018: at p3).  Internationally, according to a comprehensive worldwide epidemiological survey in the mid-1990s, men represented 78% of violent deaths, excluding those resulting from war (see Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, Harvard University Press; Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. Global health statistics: a compendium of incidence, prevalence and mortality estimates for over 200 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press: as cited by Joshua Goldstein in War and Gender: How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa: p400).

[18] According to the latest estimates, the US prison population is over 93% male. Of course, this largely reflects the fact that men commit more crimes than women. However, it also reflects the fact that males are sentenced more harshly than females, even after controlling for such factors as prior criminal history and the severity of their offence (see above). In addition, it reflects bias in the very definition of what constitutes a ‘crime’. Thus, if a man steals another man’s hard earned money or other property, or that of a woman, this is termed ‘theft’. However, if a woman steals a man’s money, this is, as often as not called, not termed ‘theft’, but rather a ‘divorce settlement’ or a ‘maintenance payment’ – and, far from the courts punishing the wrongdoer, the family courts are actually aiders and abettors in respect of the misappropriation.

[19] For example, the most recent data from the USA suggests that males are about three and a half times as likely to commit suicide as are females and this pattern has remained stable for over half a century. Patterns are similar in other Western economies, and indeed across the world. However, women are relatively more likely to attempt suicide. This likely reflects the fact that attempted suicides are often not genuine attempts to kill oneself, but rather represent a mere cry for help  – and girls learn at an early age that they have only to burst into tears and misguided male morons will be only too ready to ride eagerly to their rescue like latter-day  knights in shining armour, presumably in eager but forlorn expectation of a blowjob in return for their noble heroism. In contrast, boys learn from an early age that if they burst into tears or otherwise ‘cry for help’ they will typically receive only ridicule for their perceived weakness.

[20] Jones A (2000) Gendercide and Genocide Journal of Genocide Research, 2(2): 185-211.

[21] Farrell W The Myth of Male Power (reviewed here).

[22] As noted above, women have been eligible to vote and serve on juries in the UK for one hundred years.

[23] Hedderman & Hough (1994) Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently Home Office, UK; Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); ; Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV: 285-314; Streib VL (2001) Sentencing Women to Death Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Jeffries, S, Fletcher, GJO & Newbol, G (2003) Pathways to Sex-Based Differentiation in Criminal Court Sentencing Criminology 41(2): 329–354; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162; Starr, SB, Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal CasesUniversity of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[24] The most famous example, by far, is the state of Israel, who  conscript women as well as men into their armed forces, despite being in a state of almost continuous war or civil insurgency. However, the terms upon which women are expected to serve are vastly more lenient than those imposed on Israeli men. Thus, Martin Van Creveld, Israel’s leading military historian, reports that, whereas Israeli men are now conscripted for three years, women serve only two or, in practice, “about twenty-two months” (Men, Women and War: p186). Moreover, “Married women and pregnant women (including such as got pregnant while on active service) were exempt”, as are “women who declared themselves to be religiously observant” (Men, Women and War: p186). Indeed, by 1999, the proportion of women who claimed exemption on this ground reached “over 26%” (Men, Women and War: p208) and certainly “it was always much easier for a woman to gain an exemption” (Men, Women and War: p188). Moreover, even when they were conscripted, women “were not expected to take part in combat or even… combat support” and “the first thing the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] used to do whenever war broke out was evacuate the female company clerks” such that, as a result, “very few women Israeli soldiers have ever been killed in action” (Men, Women and War: p188).

[25] E.g. Deuteronomy 20: 10-15; see also Numbers 31: 17-18, where the Israelites are commanded to spare only certain classes of women/girls, but, again, no men.

[26] Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3015) and Sahîh Muslim (1744).

[27] Here, I am, of course, faced with the usual difficulties of proving a negative. However, it is notable that, even in World War II, where much is made of the casualties inflicted by civilian bombing, Janet Howarth reports, “Only countries under German occupation had suffered more civilian than military losses” and “these victims were predominantly men” (Howarth, 2005, ‘Women at War’. In ICB Dear & MRD Foot (eds.), The Oxford Companion to World War II‘, pp997-1002. Oxford: Oxford University Press). Regarding war in general, according to data cited by Joshua Goldstein, adult men represent 58% of fatalities from war across the world – despite the fact that, once children are factored in, men represent a small minority of the population as a whole (War and Gender: p400). Goldstein bases this on data taken from the two most comprehensive worldwide epidemiological surveys of the causes of death, namely (Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. The global burden of disease: A comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Cambridge, Harvard University Press; and Murray, C.J.L. and Lopez, A.D. 1996. Global health statistics: a compendium of incidence, prevalence and mortality estimates for over 200 conditions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press).

[28] Thus, even in World War Two, where much was made of the deliberate targeting of civilian populations in indiscriminate bombing raids, Janet Howarth reports, “Only countries under German occupation had suffered more civilian than military losses” and “these victims were predominantly men” (Howarth 2005, ‘Women at War’. In ICB Dear & MRD Foot (eds.), The Oxford Companion to World War II, pp997-1002. Oxford: Oxford University Press).

[29] Jones A (2000) Gendercide and Genocide Journal of Genocide Research, 2(2): 185-211.

[30] For example, try searching the archives of virtually any major newspaper for the exact phrases (i.e. in inverted commas) “including women and children” and you will find many examples of this journalistic ranking of the relative value of human lives.

[31] These figures are taken from Titanic Disaster: Official Casualty Figures at https://www.anesi.com/titanic.htm. The ultimate source is Lord Mersey’s Report. Similar but less reliable figures are provided the US Senate enquiry.

[32] Thus, according to the same source, only 33% of men travelling in First Class accommodation survived the disaster, as compared to 54% of women travelling in Third-Class (i.e. Steerage class) accommodation. This is despite the fact that passengers travelling in steerage class were housed deep in the hull of the ship, far from the lifeboats.

[33] These figures are again taken from the same source, namely the Lord Mersey’s Report.

[34] Quinn & Whitworth, New York plane crash: Pilot told passengers to ‘brace for heavy landing’ Telegraph, 15 Jan 2009.

[35] Carpenter CR (2003) ‘Women and Children First’: Gender, Norms, and Humanitarian Evacuation in the Balkans 1991–95, International Organization 57(4): 661-694.

[36] Fineman M (1990) Foreign Women and Children Can Leave Iraq, Hussein Says, LA Times, August 29, 1990.

[37] Arias, I., & Johnson, P. (1989). Evaluations of Physical Aggression Among Intimate DyadsJournal of Interpersonal Violence, 4, 298−307; Harris, M.B. (1991) Effects of Sex of Aggressor, Sex of Target, and Relationship on Evaluations of Physical Aggression Journal of Interpersonal Violence 6(2): 174–186; Greenblat, C. S. (1983). ‘A hit is a hit is a hit. Or is it? Approval and tolerance of the use of physical force by spouses’. In D. Finkelhor, R. J. Gelles, G. T. Hotaling, & M. A. Straus (Eds.), The Dark Side of Families (pp. 235-260). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage; Feather NT (1996) Domestic Violence, Gender and Perceptions of Justice Sex Roles 35(7): 507-519; Felson RB (2009) When a man hits a woman: Moral evaluations and reporting violence to police Aggressive Behavior 35(6): 477-488.

[38] See studies cited in Felson, RB 2000 The Normative Protection of Women from Violence Sociological Forum 15(1): 91-116, which show that, even in the laboratory, males are less willing to inflict electric shocks on female subjects in circumstances where they evince no compunctions against doing so towards males.

[39] Beaulieu & Messner, Race, Gender, and Outcomes in First Degree Murder CasesJustice Quarterly (1999) 3(1): 47-68; Curry, Lee & Rodriguez  Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency, (2004) 50(3):319-343; Williams & Holcomb, The Interactive Effects of Victim Race and Gender on Death Sentence Disparity Findings (2004) Homicide Studies 8(4):350-376; Curry, The conditional effects of victim and offender ethnicity and victim gender on sentences for non-capital cases Punishment & Society (2010) 12(4):438-462.

[40] As a simple experiment, try searching the archives of virtually any online news outlet for the exact phrase “violence against women” (with inverted commas) and the exact phrase “violence against men” (again, with inverted commas) and compare how many ‘hits’ you receive for each phrase.

[41] Hedderman & Hough (1994) Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently Home Office, UK; Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV: 285-314; Jeffries, S, Fletcher, GJO & Newbol, G (2003) Pathways to Sex-Based Differentiation in Criminal Court Sentencing Criminology 41(2): 329–354; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162; Starr, SB, Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal CasesUniversity of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[42] For example, in the UK, corporal punishment for women was abolished as early as 1820 by the Whipping of Female Offenders Abolition Act of that year, yet continued to be specifically prescribed by law for boys as young as seven and offences as minor as larceny until well into the twentieth century, and was still used as a punishment for adult males until the 1960s. As this list maintained by wikipedia shows, today, in those jurisdictions where corporal punishment is still employed, it is often restricted to men and/or boys.

[43] Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Streib VL (2001) Sentencing Women to Death Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433.

[44] An exception is corporal punishment, which is sometimes restricted, not only to males, but more explicitly to young boys. Likewise, in the UK, the corporal punishment of women was outlawed about a century and a half before that of boys.

[45] For details of the law as it existed at that time, see the entry on ‘corporal punishment’ from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

[46] Benatar D The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys: p34.

[47] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p110.

[48] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p108.

[49] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p110.

[50] Liddle, R, Women Who Won’t Spectator, 2003, 29 November.

[51] Liddle, R, Women Who Won’t Spectator, 2003, 29 November.

[52] Hakim, C Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century: Preference Theory: p111.

[53] Hakim, C Work-Lifestyle Choices in the 21st Century: Preference Theory: p111.

[54] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p64.

[55] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p45.

[56] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p70.

[57] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p69.

[58] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p43.

[59] Thus, van Creveld reports:

In late 19th-century Britain, far more women than men received assistance. Across the Atlantic, New York City around 1820 had a whole series of relief organizations specifically designed to assist women. Needless to say, there were no similar organizations for men” (The Privileged Sex: p128-9).

Such organizations were not restricted to the Anglo-American world. On the contrary, Van Creveld observes:

Copenhagen during the same period witnessed the construction of so many shelters for fallen women, pregnant women, postpartum women, lactating women, women with children and elderly women that they began ‘affecting the city’s architectural profile’” (The Privileged Sex: p127).

[60] Thus, Van Creveld concludes:

“In short, a poor man received assistance if he had a woman, while a poor woman received assistance if she did not have a man” (The Privileged Sex: p127).

[61] Thus, in New York, in addition to the myriad charitable organizations run explicitly for women, it was also the case that:

Even the largest ‘coed’ charitable organization, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, aided 27 percent more women than men. In the 1880s the Charity Organization Society, which had become the largest of its kind in New York and which, like the rest, was run mainly by women, assisted four times as many women as men” (The Privileged Sex: p129).

[62] Thus, van Creveld reports that the first form of social benefits introduced in the USA were so-called “mothers’ pensions”, which, “unlike other pensions… required neither an investment of capital nor depended on contributions” (The Privileged Sex: p131). Likewise when social security was introduced:

Men only got benefits if they worked and contributed. However, women — forming the vast majority of adult women — received benefits irrespective of work… A widow past retirement age would be entitled to receive benefits. On the other hand, a man past retirement age whose wife had died would get exactly nothing” (The Privileged Sex: p133).

And neither was this discrimination restricted to America:

In Norway, the Sickness Insurance Act of 1909 began to grant maternity benefits as well as benefits to the wives of insured men. Sux years later, the state began to provide financial assistance to single mothers, too. In Italy, the very first effective national welfare scheme was the Maternity Insurance Act of 1910. In France, maternity benefits were instituted in 1913, 15 years before the introduction of the first comprehensive social insurance scheme. In all cases, women started receiving benefits years, even decades, before men did” (The Privileged Sex: p132).

[63] The Privileged Sex: p134.

[64] Moreover, there are literally no mechanisms in place to ensure that such monies, paid to the mother, are actually spent on, or for direct or indirect the benefit of, their offspring. On the contrary, they are not made to account for the sums in question at all, and are quite at liberty to spend the monies in question on, for example, cigarettes or clothes for themselves. Only if their treatment of their children is such as to amount to abuse or neglect does the state ever intervene or punish the mother.

[65] In the UK, for fifty years, women were eligible for a state pension at the age of sixty, whereas men had to wait until they were sixty-five. This inequality is scheduled to be phased out only in 2020. By this time, neither sex will be eligible until they are sixty-eight.

[66] For example, van Creveld reports that:

Although in Sweden almost as many women are in the labour force as men, men paid 61.5 percent of taxes, compared to 38.5 percent by women… [Yet] Swedish women received three-quarters of all advance maintenance allowances, parental allowances, housing allowances and study grants paid by the state. Even though women worked fewer hours per year than men, they still managed to receivde more sickness allowances. Eomen received four times as much in parentallowances and seven times as much in advance maintenance allowances. Taking all family-related allowances into account the difference was two to one. Women received 29 percent of their income as welfare payments from the state, men 19 percent. though women only paid two-thirds as much in taxes as men did, they received 23.5 percent more tax-exempt allowances. No wonder the taxable wealth of Swedish women was more than one and a half times that of Swedish men” (The Privileged Sex: p135).

[67] See Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power (reviewed here).

[68] The Privileged Sex: p137.

[69] For example, in most times and places, the physical chastisement of children (e.g. spanking, often with implements such as canes, belts and slippers) has been widely accepted, and employed, and indeed taken for granted. However, in contemporary western societies, the use of such methods of discipline is now frowned upon, at least among white non-immigrant middle-class parents, and sometimes criminalized.

[70] Bax, EB (1908) The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here) – also see here for summary.

[71] See Christina Hoff Summers’ debunking of the popular ‘etymythological’ origin of the phrase ‘Rule of Thumb (Who Stole Feminism: p203-7).

[72] Sommers, Who Stole Feminism: p205.

[73] Sommers, Who Stole Feminism: p206.

[74] George, MJ (2002) Skimmington Revisited Journal of Men’s Studies 10(2):111-127

[75] Bax, EB (1908) The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here) – also see here for summary.

[76] Van Creveld, M The Privileged Sex (reviewed here): p155.

[77] Actually, this is not strictly true. As Steve Moxon is at pains to emphasise in The Woman Racket, women always had the vote at the local/parish level, which was probably more important in their day-to-day lives, especially since most women neither paid taxes nor were obliged to serve in the military, the collection of taxes for the purpose of maintaining a military for the nation’s protection being the primary purpose of central government prior to the expansion of the welfare state during the twentieth century.

[78] Bax, EB (1908) The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here)

[79] Eagly, AH. & Crowley, M (1986) Gender and Helping Behavior. A Meta-Analytic Review of the Social Psychological LiteraturePsychological Bulletin 100(3):283-308.

[80] Stolzenberg and Dalessio (2004) Sex differences in the likelihood of arrest Journal of Criminal Justice 32(5):443-454; Rowe et al (2008) Gender Bias in the Enforcement of Traffic Laws: Evidence based on a new empirical test American Law & Economics Association Annual Meeting Paper 3.

[81] Hedderman & Hough (1994) Does the Criminal Justice System Treat Men and Women Differently Home Office, UK; Daly K, Bordt, RL (1995) Sex effects and sentencing: An analysis of the statistical literature Justice Quarterly 12(1); Shapiro, A (2000) Unequal Before the Law: Men, Women and the Death Penalty American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8(2): 427-470; Spohn, C  and Beichner, D (2000) Is Preferential Treatment of Female Offenders a Thing of the Past? A Multisite Study of Gender, Race, and ImprisonmentCriminal Justice Policy Review, 11(2): 149-184; Mustard DB (2001) Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal CourtsSocial Science Research Network XLIV: 285-314; Streib VL (2001) Sentencing Women to Death Criminal Justice Magazine 16(1); Streib V (2002) Gendering the Death Penalty: Countering Sex Bias in a Masculine Sanctuary, 63 Ohio State Law Journal 433; Jeffries, S, Fletcher, GJO & Newbol, G (2003) Pathways to Sex-Based Differentiation in Criminal Court Sentencing Criminology 41(2): 329–354; Curry, TR, Lee G and Rodriguez, SF (2004) Does Victim Gender Increase Sentence Severity? Further Explorations of Gender Dynamics and Sentencing OutcomesCrime & Delinquency 50(3): 319-343; Rodriguez, SF, Curry, TR, & Lee G (2006) Gender Differences in Criminal Sentencing: Do Effects Vary Across Violent, Property, and Drug Offenses? Social Science Quarterly 87(2): 318; Streib V (2006) Rare and Inconsistent: The Death Penalty for Women, 33 Fordham Urban Law Journal 609; Blackwell BS, Holleran D & Finn MA (2008) The Impact of the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines on Sex Differences in Sentencing Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24(4): 399-418; Embry R & Lyons P (2012) Sex-Based Sentencing: Sentencing Discrepancies Between Male and Female Sex OffendersFeminist Criminology 7(2):146–162; Starr, SB, Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal CasesUniversity of Michigan Law and Economics Research Paper, No. 12-018 (August 29, 2012).

[82] Here, I am thinking of such legislation as the Whipping of Female Offenders Act 1820, the Mines and Colleries Act 1842, the Factories Act 1847 and the Military Service Act 1916. All these pieces of legislation were passed into law by a British Parliament, elected exclusively by men, and composed exclusively of men, yet all systematically discriminated against males.

[83] Why then are people affectionate and protective of children to whom one is not biologically related? Biologist Richard Alexander provides two possible explanations:

  1. They are likely to be relatives if they are in one’s vicinity (at least historically)”;
  2. The babies of others are almost ideal objects of beneficence in the context of indirect reciprocity because the benefits of aiding utterly helpless individuals are so high and the costs so low… especially… because babies represent enormously important investments to their parents” (The Biology of Moral Systems: p21)

[84] Indeed, with respect to upper-body strength, there is very little overlap between the sexes: e.g. Leyk et al (2007) Hand-grip strength of young men, women and highly trained female athletes European Journal of Applied Physiology 99(4):415-21. Thus, Kingsley Browne reports that, with respect to sex differences in physical strength:

“There is very little overlap between the sexes. Women have only one-half to two-thirds the upper-body strength of men and in many studies, the effect size separating males and females is on the order of 2 to 3. THe probability that a randomly selected man will have greater upper-body strength than a randomly selected woman is well over 95%” (Coed Combat: p21).

Similarly, anthropologist David Puts reports:

Men have about 90% greater upper-body strength, a difference of approximately three standard deviations… The average man is stronger than 99.9% of women.

[Quoted from Puts (2010)  Beauty and the beast: Mechanisms of sexual selection in humans, Evolution and Human Behavior 31(3): 157-175.]

[85] Jones, D (1995) Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness, and Facial Neoteny: Cross-cultural Evidence and Implications [and Comments and Reply] Current Anthropology 36(5): 723-748.

[86] Indeed, the tendency to discriminate in favour of women is sometimes justified by reference to women’s role in caring for children, as when judges justify imposing lesser sentences on female offenders, if the latter are mothers, by reference to indirect effect on their children.

[87] Vilar,  E (1971) The Manipulated Man (reviewed here).

[88] Bax, EB (1897) The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here).

[89] See Bax, EB (1897) The Legal Subjection of Men (reviewed here) – for a summary, see here.

[90] Here, again, I am thinking of such celebrated employment protection legislation as the Mines and Colleries Act 1842 and the Factories Act 1847. A libertarian might make the case that, in restricted the rights of women to enter employment in more demanding working conditions, this legislation actually disadvantaged women, by both limiting their earning potential as compared to men, and making it less profitable for employers to employ women in the first place. However, since the clear intention of this legislation was to protect women, I ignore these arguments. At any rate, while women may have thereby had certain demanding, but relatively well-remunerated, occupations denied to them, they nevertheless had the easier option of simply marrying men who were engaged in such occupations, thereby obtaining access to most of the monies thereby earned, without undertaking any of the risks or dangers involved in earning the sums in question.

[91] Here, I allude again to the Whipping of Female Offenders Act 1820, which abolished the whipping of female offenders in Britain well over a century before these forms of punishment were made unlawful in respect of male offenders also.

[92] Van Creveld, M Men, Women and War (reviewed here): p210.

[93] Wright AE (1913) The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage: p66-7.

[94] Purvis, Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography: p269.

[95] Marwick, Women at War 1914-1918: at p30.

[96] See Lynn R (1999) Sex differences in intelligence and brain size: A developmental theory Intelligence 27(1):1-12; Lynn R (1994) Sex differences in intelligence and brain size: A paradox resolved Personality and Individual Differences 17(2): 257-271; Stove, D (1990) The Intellectual Capacity of Women Proceedings of the Russellian Society 15: 1–16.

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Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work

“The reason that men do less housework than women is because, quite simply, they are less easily offended by any given level of mess.”

‘AngryHarry’, ‘Housework

“Stay at home mothers provide services to themselves and to their families, not to a marketplace of customers. Just as you do not ‘deserve’ a salary for cooking your own breakfast, nor does a parent who prepares a meal.”

Wendy McElroy, ‘Mother’s ‘Work’ Doesn’t Warrant Paycheck[1]

“Women make a big point that they do more of the house-cleaning than we do. But they define what’s clean enough. How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?”

Jack Kammer, ‘If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules[2]

“A person performs housework in their own home, not in the expectation of receiving remuneration for doing so, but rather because of the intrinsic benefits that such work confers on they themselves – namely the opportunity to live in a cleaner, tidier, more pleasant environment. In short, a woman no more deserves a salary in return for cleaning her own home than she does for wiping her own ass after she has taken a shit!”

The conventional wisdom, as dictated to us by the feminists and the mainstream media, is that men do not do their fair share of housework. On the contrary, according to the feminist orthodoxy, not only do men not pull their weight in the home, but they also unfairly benefit from the housework performed by their spouses.

Women, on the other hand, are cruelly exploited. This is because, so we are repeatedly told, they perform housework for their husband’s benefit yet, unlike paid work outside the home, they do not receive any salary in recompense for the housework they perform, nor for the care they provide for their children.

Curiously, this conventional wisdom is, in large part, taken at face value even by some of the more incisive critics of the feminist orthodoxy. For example, in Warren Farrell, his contribution to ‘Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate’ [which I have reviewed here] writes:

The average woman does work almost seventeen hours more per week inside the home, but the Journal of Economic literature reported that the average man works over twenty hours more per week outside the home. In addition, the average man commutes two hours more per week than the average woman. Counting all aspects of work then, the average man works five hours more per week than the average woman.”[3]

Similarly, Men’s Rights blogger, radio host and newspaper columnist Glenn Sacks, writes:

“A 2002 University of Michigan Institute for Social Research survey found that women do 11 more hours of housework a week than men but men work 14 hours a week more than women. According to the BLS, men’s total time at leisure,sleeping, doing personal care activities, or socializing is a statistically meaningless 1% higher than women’s.”

Moreover, Farrell identifies 54 categories of work around the house that are typically performed by husbands rather than wives but which are largely ignored by both feminists and the ‘housework studies’ they have pioneered, including among other arduous activities, those forms of work around the house that are:

Most likely to break an arm leg or neck or to crack a skull (e.g. climbing ladders)… most likely to trigger heart attacks (e.g. shovelling snow)… [and] most likely to cause lower back problems and hernia operations (e.g. moving furniture, hanging heavy pictures)[4]

As Glenn Sacks observes, “even these [time budget] studies understate men’s contributions because they only count the hours devoted to a task without measuring the physical strain and/or danger associated with it” – and men perform the most dangerous work both inside and outside the home.

These are certainly valid critiques of the phoney statistics (‘data rape’ or ‘Ms.-Information’) routinely trafficked by feminists and uncritically regurgitated by the mainstream media. However, in performing this calculation, Farrell and Sacks implicitly take as given a core feminist assumption – namely, that housework done in one’s own home and childcare for one’s own children is of fundamentally the same type as and hence comparable to the sort of work for which one expects to demand remuneration.

In other words, in adding up the number of additional hours women work in the home and comparing this to the number of additional hours men work outside the home, Farrell  and Sacks implicitly accept that this is to compare like with like.

I shall argue that this assumption is in error.

In fact, I shall go further. I shall show that almost every part of the conventional wisdom regarding women’s so-called ‘unpaid labour’ in the home is mistaken. Housework performed by wives is not, as the feminist wisdom has it, ‘unpaid labour’. On the contrary, far from being unpaid, I argue that it is, in fact, overpaid – and, for housewives married to wealthy men, often prodigiously so.

More importantly, I shall argue that housework, when it is performed in one’s own home, and childcare, when it is performed in respect of one’s own children, are not the sort of activities for which one ought to be entitled to demand remuneration in the first place.

Indeed, a strong case can be made that housework and childcare of this type ought not properly to be considered ‘work’ at all – at least in the ordinary sense in which this word is typically used. On the contrary, it is more analogous to a hobby or leisure pursuit. Certainly, it is no more to be considered as ‘work’ (and no more deserving of a salary) than are activities such as washing behind one’s ears in the shower or making model aeroplanes in one’s spare time.

Thus, I argue that housework performed by married women in their own homes and childcare performed in respect of their own children represents, not so much, as feminists would have it, ‘unpaid labour’, as it does overpaid laziness.

Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Work

Let me first make clear that, in arguing that housework performed in your own house is of a fundamentally different type and hence incomparable to paid work outside the home, I am not talking about the nature of the activity that constitutes the work itself. There is nothing about housework that means it cannot be of such a type that it is deserving of remuneration.

Indeed, housework and childcare often are often done in return for a salary – namely, when they are done either outside the home, or, more often, inside someone else’s home, typically by housekeepers, maids, child-minders and babysitters (although even here the salary is relatively low, reflecting the safe, unskilled and undemanding nature of the work involved).

Certainly, compared to many forms of paid work outside the home, housework is easy, safe, agreeable and stress-free. After all, housework generally involves safe, unskilled labour of the sort that, when it is performed outside one’s home, is only modestly remunerated in the job market. It requires neither the skill or expertise of professional occupations, nor does it entail the physical exertion or danger of manual labour occupations, such as coal mining, soldiering or construction work.

Moreover, unlike someone working outside the home, a housewife performs housework in the safety, comfort and security of her own home and there is no employer, supervisor or manager constantly looking over her shoulder, telling her what work to do, how to do it or when it must be done by.[5]

However, these points have already been made by others. Indeed, as early as 1915, the author, poet and essayist G.K. Chesterton wrote in a largely forgotten essay, with characteristic wit and perceptiveness:

“They [the feminists] say eternally… that the ordinary woman is always a drudge. And what, in the name of the Nine Gods, is the ordinary man? These people seem to think that the ordinary man is a Cabinet Minister… Dukes, perhaps, are not drudges; but, then, neither are Duchesses. The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Smart Set are quite free for the higher culture, which consists chiefly of motoring and Bridge. But the ordinary man who typifies and constitutes the millions that make up our civilisation is no more free for the higher culture than his wife is. Indeed, he is not so free.
Of the two sexes the woman is in the more powerful position. For the average woman is at the head of something with which she can do as she likes; the average man has to obey orders and do nothing else. He has to put one dull brick on another dull brick,and do nothing else; he has to add one dull figure to another dull figure, and do nothing else. The woman’s world is a small one, perhaps, but she can alter it. The woman can tell the tradesman with whom she deals some realistic things about himself. The clerk who does this to the manager generally gets the sack,or shall we say (to avoid the vulgarism), finds himself free for higher culture. Above all… the woman does work which is in some small degree creative and individual. She can put the flowers or the furniture in fancy arrangements of her own. I fear the bricklayer cannot put the bricks in fancy arrangements of his own, without disaster to himself and others. If the woman is only putting a patch into a carpet, she can choose the thing with regard to colour.I fear it would not do for the office boy dispatching a parcel to choose his stamps with a view to colour; to prefer the tender mauve of the sixpenny to the crude scarlet of the penny stamp. A woman cooking may not always cook artistically; still she can cook artistically. She can introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the composition of a soup. The clerk is not encouraged to introduce a personal and imperceptible alteration into the figures in a ledger.”[6]

Although the points made by Chesterton remain valid, the point I intend to make is different from and more fundamental than those raised by the likes of G.K.Chesterton, Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks. Not only is housework easy work, I contend, but, when performed in one’s own home, there is reason for questioning whether it ought to be classified as work at all.

To discover the reason why housework of the sort performed by housewives and other women in their own homes is not of the sort for which one is entitled to demand a remuneration one must look, not to the nature of the so-called ‘work’ performed, but rather to where it is performed, in respect of whose property and for whose benefit?

As previously noted, individuals who are employed as housekeepers, maids, child-minders and babysitters and who perform, in someone else’s home, work that is otherwise often identical to that performed by housewives in their own homes are perfectly entitled to demand a salary in return for what they do – albeit typically a rather low salary, reflecting the menial, safe, undemanding and unskilled nature of work involved. And, of course, unless they are themselves relatives of the homeowners[7], they almost invariably do demand and receive a salary in return for performing housework.

However, what is superficially the same activity is often regarded as work in some circumstances, but as a hobby or leisure-pursuit in another. Mark Twain recognised as much at the conclusion of a celebrated sequence from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when he observed the paradox whereby:

Constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement [and] there are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign”.[8]

I contend that housework done in one’s own home is clearly of a very different nature from the work performed by a housekeeper in someone else’s home. A person performs housework in their own home, not in the expectation of receiving remuneration for doing so, but rather because of the intrinsic benefits that such work confers on themselves – namely the opportunity to live in a cleaner, tidier, more pleasant environment.

An analogy is provided by acts of personal hygiene. Whereas housework involves cleaning your own home, acts of personal hygiene involve cleaning, not your own home, but rather your own body.

All of us perform such acts of personal hygiene on a daily basis – showering, brushing our teeth, combing our hair, cleaning behind our ears etc. (or at last I hope we do!) – but no one has yet been audacious enough to demand a salary in return for brushing their teeth or washing their hair (although feminists have sometimes come close when they have been known to protest the extra time expended by women on such activities as applying make-up).[9]

However, acts of personal hygiene are also, like housework, sometimes performed in return for wages – namely, when they are done in respect of somebody else’s body rather than one’s own. Carers and nurses, therefore, are entitled to demand a salary when they perform acts of personal hygiene in respect of the bodies of other people who have been rendered incapable of performing these acts for themselves by illness or disability.[10]

In the same way that only a person who performs acts of personal hygiene in respect of someone else’s body expects a salary in compensation, only those who do housework in someone else’s house are legitimately entitled to demand payment for having done so.

“A person is only entitled to demand payment for work that he or she performs to improve the condition of a thing where the thing in question (be it a home, a car or a human body) is possessed and enjoyed by someone other than the person performing the work”

In case this distinction remains unclear, I will provide a second analogy – hobbies. As a general rule, people do not expect to be paid for working on their hobbies. They engage in them, not for money, but either because they enjoy the activity itself, or they enjoy the end-result of the activity[11].

For example, a man who owns a classic car may spend hours working on it and doing repairs. The work he does may be identical to that performed in return for a salary by a professional mechanic.

However, the classic car enthusiast does not think to demand a wage in return for this toil. He does it because, even if he does not enjoy the work itself, he enjoys its end-result – in this case the improved condition of prized automobile.

Again, the key distinguishing feature the unpaid classic car enthusiast from the paid mechanic is his ownership and possession of the object on which he is working. In other words, in the same way the housewife lives in and owns an interest in the home where she performs her housework, the classic car enthusiast likewise drives and owns the classic car which he devotes hours to polishing and repairing. Both therefore directly benefit from the work performed and are therefore not deserving of a salary.

Yet, while women frequently complain that their husbands do not do enough housework, few men with a hobby of working on their classic car at weekends have the audacity to claim that their wife does not do her fair share. As Jack Kammer demands in one of the quotations with which I begin this post: “How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?

This allows us to tentatively formulate a general rule for determining what type of work is deserving of a salary, namely: A person is only entitled to demand payment for work that he or she performs to improve the condition of a thing where the thing in question (be it a home, a car or a human body) is possessed and enjoyed by someone other than the person performing the work!

In short, a woman no more deserves a salary in return for cleaning her own home than she does for wiping her own ass after she has taken a shit![12]

Who Benefits From Housework?

Of course, there is an obvious rejoinder to the foregoing argument. Housework, it can be argued, is done, not solely for the benefit of women themselves, but also for the benefit of their husbands and their children who also occupy their homes. Indeed, feminists have sometimes gone further and implied that husbands are the sole beneficiary of housework performed by wives, as when they describe wives as the mere ‘slaves’ or ‘domestic servants’ of their husbands.

Although the feminist assumption that housework is done solely for the benefit of husbands is surely implausible, the more moderate contention, namely that husbands, wives and offspring all benefit from housework performed by any one of them, seems, at first glance, superficially appealing.

“If women do housework half for themselves and half for their husbands, then only half of it should count as ‘work’ for the purposes of calculating how many hours each sex on average works. To include that portion of housework that they perform for themselves as ‘work’ would make no more sense than including the time they spend similarly brushing their teeth, blowing their noses or taking baths!”

After all, a husband typically lives in the same home as his wife, uses the same bathroom and even shares the same bed. If she makes her bed, therefore, she is obliged, inadvertently or not, to make his at the same time… ditto if she intends to clean her bathroom. Thus, even the most bitter and vindictive of wives would be surely hard-pressed to perform housework in such a way as to benefit only herself, even assuming she had a mind too. Conversely, a wife who, in accordance with feminist doctrine, intends to do housework only for the benefit of her husband would be hard-pressed not to inadvertently benefit herself.

Perhaps, it might then seem, a reasonable assumption is that housework performed by a wife (or a husband) benefits husband and wife approximately equally.

[For the sake of simplicity, I shall ignore for the moment any ostensible benefit to offspring. This issue shall be dealt with later in a later section, Why Childcare for Your Own Children Isn’t Work Either (see below). Let’s just assume, for the moment, that the couple in question are without children.]

Interestingly, even this superficially appealing assumption (namely that housework benefits husband and wife equally) renders the figures quoted earlier by Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks misleading. After all, if women do housework half for themselves and half for their husbands, then only half of it should count as ‘work’ for the purposes of calculating how many hours each sex on average works. To include that portion of housework that they perform for themselves as ‘work’ would make no more sense than including the time they spend similarly brushing their teeth, blowing their noses or taking baths!

Moreover, we must remember that a large proportion of people are single and, while housework performed by a husband or wife may benefit the whole family, there is surely no question that nobody benefits from housework performed by a single person living alone other than the person themselves. No one can claim that a single man living by himself is not pulling his weight with regard to housework simply because he does not do as much housework as the single woman living by herself in the house or apartment next door!

Yet the figures cited by Farrell in the passages quoted above seem to count housework done by single people as hours spent working in the same way that they treat housework done by married or cohabiting couples!

Yet single women do, indeed, perform more housework than single men. This is perhaps no surprise. Indeed, the untidy and supposedly unhygienic conditions that many single men, especially students, chose to live in is widely remarked upon and is a common topic of popular misandric humour.

According to data cited by Professor of Law, Kingsley Browne, in his excellent Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality [which I have reviewed here], unmarried women do approximately a third more housework than unmarried men.[13] Similarly, Catherine Hakim, citing a different study, reports that, “single women spend 50% more time on domestic work than single men, an average of three hours a day instead of just two”.[14] On the other hand, as recently as the 1960s, single women were found to do as much as three times as many hours of housework as single men.[15]

Yet the greater level of housework performed by single women as compared to single men is also pertinent for another more important reason – namely, it suggests that women, whether married or single, do housework primarily for the benefit, not of their husbands, but rather for themselves.

After all, if single women living alone do more housework than single men living in the same circumstances, they can hardly be doing so for the benefit of their husband or male cohabitant for the simple reason that they have no husband or male cohabitant who could conceivably benefit. Since they are living by themselves, the only people who could conceivably benefit are they themselves.

This suggests that the reason that married women do more housework than married men is not because they are exploited or coerced into doing housework by evil, exploitative, freeloading husbands. Rather, it simply suggests that women, whether single or married, simply value housework as more important than men do or else dislike doing it less.

Perhaps, as Angry Harry proposes in one of the quotations with which I have opened this discussion:

“The reason that men do less housework than women is because, quite simply, they are less easily offended by any given level of mess”.

Indeed, women may even enjoy some forms of housework. For example, Browne reports “on the strong interest inventory, some of the largest sex differences are found on such tasks as cooking, sewing, and ‘home economics’”.[16] At any rate, there is certainly no question of exploitation or coercion.

Thus, citing data showing that single women spend fifty percent more time doing housework than do single men, Catherine Hakim concludes that this implies that, “one third or more of the time spent on housework by women consists of optional extras, in effect consumption”.[17] Thus, far from representing work, it is a form of leisure pursuit, analogous to a hobby.

As Kingsley Browne observes:

Much of the literature comparing men’s and women’s contributions to household work starts from the unstated assumptions that men and women equally value the fruits of household labor and that men and women find such labor equally distasteful… [Yet] if men and women cared equally about housework being performed, one would expect that men and women would perform equal amounts of housework before marriage and that when marriage terminates through divorce or spousal death, equality would be restored.”[18]

“Unmarried women do a third more housework than unmarried men. Yet no one can claim that a single man living by himself is not pulling his weight with regard to housework simply because he does not do as much housework as the single woman living in the house next door. Moreover, if unmarried single women living alone do more housework than unmarried single men living in the same circumstances, this suggests that the reason that married women do more housework than married men is not that they are exploited or coerced into doing housework by exploitative, freeloading husbands. Instead, it suggests that women, whether single or married, do more housework than men simply value housework as more important than do men or else dislike doing it less.”

Indeed, if, as feminists often suggest, married women do housework only or at least primarily for the benefit of their husbands, then single women, with no husband to benefit, would presumably do no housework at all. At any rate, they would certainly do far less housework than single men would do, as the latter would presumably be obliged to do for themselves all the housework that they would otherwise demand be performed by their wives. However, as we have seen, the precise opposite of this is the case.

Therefore, from a husband’s perspective, his wife may already be doing more housework than he regards as strictly necessary, so any extra work he might contribute would be wholly superfluous. As Hakim acknowledges, “one explanation for the reluctance of husbands to help with domestic work is the suspicion that there might be no need for it”.[19]

Indeed, men seem to gain little appreciable benefit from getting married. On the contrary, the data shows that married men end up doing, on average, almost as much housework as they did when they were single. As Browne puts it, “men’s housework hours are relatively constant across various marital statuses and living arrangements”.[20] To be more precise, married men on average do only about one hour less housework than they did when they were single.[21]

Thus, it appears men gain little tangible benefit by getting married – on average just an hour less time spent doing housework. Yet precisely because they now have a family to support, married men often work longer hours outside the home to provide for their wife and children, so it is doubtful this meagre benefit (an hour less housework per week) actually translates into a single minute more free time to themselves. On the contrary, they probably have far less free time overall.

At any rate, this meagre benefit (one hour less time spent doing household chores) is insufficient to compensate for the financial support married men are expected – and legally obligated – to provide for their wives. Moreover, men are legally obliged to continue to provide such financial support, in the form of alimony and maintenance, even after the relationship has dissolved and the couple separated – but, of course, ex-wives are not similarly legally obligated to go around to her ex-husband’s place and help tidy up for him!

As Browne concludes:

The husband [who refuses to do more housework] is not saying, ‘Now that I have a wife, I don’t have to do housework,’ but rather something more like ‘Now that I have a wife, I shouldn’t have to do more housework than I did when I was single’”.[22]

Certainly the feminist contention that married men receive a huge benefit from having a wife to do domestic chores in their place which facilitates their higher level of achievement in the world of work is exposed as a nonsense.

In short, it appears that men and women simply have different priorities and, for men, housework comes lower down on the list. As economist Jennifer Roback candidly admits:

“When I want my husband to do ‘his half’ of household chores, what I really want is for him to do half of everything on my list of important things. But he has his own list. He values some things that I do not. He does not value all the things that I do.”[23]

Similarly, Men’s Rights Activist Jack Kammer, in If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make All the Rules, observes:

“Women make a big point that they do more of the house-cleaning than we do. But they define what’s clean enough. How come you never hear a man complaining that his wife doesn’t do her fair share of polishing the chrome on the Camaro?”[24]

Although we have all been brainwashed to believe that doing housework is somehow a more selfless and worthwhile activity than is ‘polishing the chrome on one’s sports car’ and other characteristically male chores and hobbies, there is no real non-sexist reason why we must accept this conclusion.

In fact, the observation that women do housework primarily for their own benefit rather than that of their husbands should come as little surprise. Indeed, one has only to look at the typical decoration of a marital home to see that this is the case.

Anecdotally, the décor of the average conjugal home is designed more to appeal to the typical woman’s taste rather than that the typical man. As Esther Vilar observes in The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here), “Most men… in fact prefer the plain and functional[25] and have “no need of lace curtains or rubber plants in the living room”.[26]

Yet, Vilar continues:

Men… every day find themselves more deeply entangled in the undergrowth of superfluous ornamentation and all kinds of embellishments. In their living rooms the porcelain cats, barstools, glass-topped tables, candelabra, and silk cushions pile up; in their bedrooms the walls are papered with floral patterns; in their cabinets a dozen different kinds of glasses are lined up; and if they look for a place to put their razors in the bathroom, all the shelves are filled with the thousand creams and cosmetics of their artfully made-up wives.[27]

Men do not prefer living in such an environment. They consider it a cost, not a benefit, of marriage. If men liked this style of decoration, then, when still living alone, they would decorate their bachelor pads in a similar fashion. But they do not. To put the matter bluntly, men have better taste.

Add to this alien and exotic décor the fact that the husband usually spends far less time in the home he and his wife ostensibly share precisely because he is typically out working extra hours to keep up mortgage repayments on that home, and, as often as not, bankroll his wife’s indolent but extravagant lifestyle; and the fact that it is the husband who is far more likely to lose the right to reside in that same home in the event of a separation or divorce, and it becomes all too clear that, as Vilar herself observes, “man is, in fact, a homeless creature, moving constantly between office and house”.[28]

As Warren Farrell writes in The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here), although “from a woman’s perspective, a man’s home is his castle; from a man’s perspective, a woman’s home is his mortgage”.[29]

In a very real sense, then, a married man’s home is not his own!

Why Childcare for Your Own Children Isn’t Work Either

“Women choose to have children. They make this choice voluntarily – presumably because they anticipate enjoying spending time with their children. Deciding to have children is therefore best classed as a leisure pursuit rather than as form of work analogous to paid employment. It is analogous to the decision one makes to buy a pet, or invest in a classic car to renovate.”

If housework in your own house isn’t really work, then what about childcare for your own children? Surely, it cannot be denied that this is properly to be classified as ‘work’ and hence deserving of remuneration?

After all, I have argued that women do housework, not for the benefit of their husbands, but rather primarily for themselves, because they value living in a cleaner and prettier environment more than men do. Surely I cannot make the same case in respect of childcare. After all, almost by definition, childcare is done, not for the benefit of yourself, but rather for the child. It is therefore surely an altruistic act demanded of remuneration and encouragement. Moreover, if women do more childcare than men, surely this is unfair.

There are two main points to be made in response to this argument. Firstly, it is not altogether clear that women do provide more childcare than men – only that the care they provide is of a different type. In general, women provide more direct care – i.e. hands-on time with their children. In contrast, fathers are more often responsible for providing financially for their children – including by providing financially for the child’s mother precisely so as to enable her to provide more direct care (e.g. by giving up work or cutting down on her hours).

“If women did not enjoy the time they spend with their children, then they would presumably choose not to have children in the first place. The wide availability of contraception, abortions and other forms of birth control in western societies makes this choice effectively available to all women. Indeed, even after having given birth, they still retain the option of giving the child up for adoption.”

As Warren Farrell has observed, the male tragedy is that their manner of caring their children (i.e. working enough hours to financially provide for them) actually keeps them away from their children and denies them the opportunity to receive love from their children in return.

Moreover, men’s form of providing for their children is compulsory, whereas women’s is strictly a matter of choice. Women are at liberty to renounce any obligation to care for their children either by deciding not to have children in the first place or by giving the children up for adoption. In contrast, men are legally obliged to financially support their children, and often the child’s mother, through an ongoing obligation to pay maintenance and alimony for so long as the mother maintains custody.

This obligation is ongoing, and continues, not only in the event of separation or divorce, but even if there was never any form of long-term relationship in the beginning – and even if the father had no desire to have children in the first place. After all, it is, so we are told, ‘a woman’s choice’ whether to have an abortion. Yet men, although denied any say over the decision whether to abort a foetus, are nevertheless legally obligated to pay child support for the next eighteen or so years.

This observation leads to the third and most important reason women cannot legitimately complain of the time and effort they expend caring for their children – namely women choose to have children! They make this choice voluntarily – presumably because they anticipate enjoying spending time with their children.

Deciding to have children is therefore best classed as a leisure pursuit rather than a form of work analogous to paid employment. It is analogous, instead, to the decision one makes to buy a pet, or invest in a classic car to renovate. Certainly, one might say that caring for a pet or renovating a classic car in one’s spare time involves ‘work’ in at least some senses of this word. However, such activities are also unambiguously hobbies and not the sort of thing for which one is entitled to demand a salary.

As Kingsley Browne puts it in Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality (which I have reviewed here):

The opportunity to perform this ‘unpaid labor’ [i.e. childcare] is precisely what causes so many women to withdraw, in whole or in part, from the labor force upon the birth of a child, and these activities are widely perceived as part of the joys of parenthood.[30]

If women did not enjoy the time they spend with their children, then they would presumably choose not to have children in the first place. The wide availability of contraception, abortions and other forms of birth control in western societies makes this choice effectively available to all women.

Indeed, even after having given birth, if they then discover that caring for a child was not all they expected it to be, they still retain the option of giving the child up for adoption. If they give the child up for adoption while he or she is still in early infancy, there is a large waiting list of well-to-do middle-class parents, carefully vetted by adoption agencies for suitability as parents, only too willing to provide a loving environment for unwanted infants.

It is therefore clear that, far from representing an arduous travail unwillingly foisted upon them, women choose to have children and then care for them because doing so is something they positively enjoy. On reflection, this is not altogether surprising. After all, in doing have children and then devote time and effort to caring for them, they are performing what is, in Darwinian terms, the primary, if not sole, purpose of their life and existence.

Although women like to portray the care they provide for their offspring as a supremely selfless act, from a Darwinian perspective, caring for one’s children is arguably not ‘altruistic’ at all in the strict biological sense.[31] On the contrary, it reflects the interests of, if not a selfish person, then at least the “selfish genes” within them, concerned to ensure the passage of the genetic material they encode into the next generation.

As Steve Moxon observes in The Woman Racket:

Having children is the natural, but perfectly selfish desire of most women. In important ways this corresponds to the desire in men – equally natural, but perfectly selfish – to have sex with an endless stream of different partners. Societies try to stop the latter, but [through the welfare system] now not only allow the former, but encourage it through payment extracted from others: mainly men [i.e. taxes and child maintenance]… It makes less sense than it would to pay men to visit prostitutes to further their corresponding natural inclinations. Nobody in their right mind would suggest such a thing, of course; but the social implications would be incomparably more benign than subsidising women to have children.[32]

Interestingly, maternal care for offspring is universal throughout mammalian order. Indeed, the very word “mammal” is derived from the name of the mammary glands, which represent the key vehicle of this care in most mammals. In contrast, paternal care is the rare exception rather than the rule even in mammals. Moreover, even in those few cases where it does occur, it is invariably of a lesser magnitude than the care provided by mothers. One reason is probably the inevitable uncertainty regarding the true paternity of any putative offspring. A father can never be sure that he is indeed ensuring the passage of his “selfish genes” into the next generation, or those of another man instead.

Neither is deciding to have children an altruistic act – either in the biological or the ordinary sense. On the contrary, in this modern environmentally aware age, it is surely an act of supreme selfishness.

Rather than sanctimoniously recycling plastic bags and other such largely ineffective and wholly inefficient means of ‘doing their bit to help the environment’, women would do better to simply have more abortions, use more contraception and thereby have fewer children. Better yet, they could do something genuinely altruistic in the true biological sense by getting themselves sterilized.

Strictly speaking, in giving birth, a mother may not increase her own carbon footprint by all that much, but, in bringing a whole new person into the world with a life expectancy of over seventy years, she instead adds an entirely new person complete with a ‘carbon footprint’, and capacity to wreak environmental damage, all of their own.

Indeed, quite apart from the environmental damage wrought by reproduction, the costs to society are immense. As pioneering ecologist and environmentalist Garrett Hardin observed:

A medical abortion, particularly in the early stages, costs only a fraction as much as a medically supported childbirth—not to mention the costs of education and other social services to the child for 18 years. So: when a woman elects to have a child, she is committing the community to something like $100,000 in expenses for the bearing and rearing of that child. Is it wise to extend individual rights that far?[33]

At any rate, the proper response to any woman who complains of the hard work involved in raising a child or who protests that being a mother is a ‘full-time job’, is to ask her why, in that case, she chose to have children in the first place? Why didn’t she have an abortion? And, if raising a child is such hard and unrewarding work, why, in that case, doesn’t she give it up for adoption? Given the variety of options available to them, women have no right whatever to complain of the supposed burdens of motherhood.

What About Childcare by Men?

Interestingly, whereas women choose voluntarily to have children, and thus voluntarily assume whatever childcare this decision entails, the same cannot be said of men. Whereas women have the opportunity to choose not to have children, men are systematically denied this choice.

Firstly, as I have already observed, men are denied any say in the decision whether to abort a foetus – yet they are nevertheless still legally obliged to pay maintenance to financially support the raising of the resulting offspring for the next eighteen years.[34]

One man whose ex-girlfriend had lied to him both about being infertile and about being on the pill but had subsequently become pregnant and intended to carry the baby to term and sue the father for child maintenance even sought to assert his reproductive rights in the US courts. Although the case (Dubay v. Wells) involved the assertion of rights directly analogous to those guaranteed to women by the ruling in Roe v Wade, and involved fundamental reproductive rights of the sort ostensibly guaranteed, and declared ‘universal’ and ‘inalienable’ (and other empty words), not only by the US Constitution, but also by virtually all modern human rights declarations (and other such worthless scraps of paper), the case was predictably unsuccessful.

Conversely in those cases where the respective positions of the prospective mother and father were the opposite of those in Dubay v. Wells, namely where the (presumed) father sought to prevent his wife, girlfriend or other sexual partner from aborting their joint offspring, the courts have also invariably sided with the mother, both in the US[35] and other jurisdictions such as the UK.[36] Indeed, even laws merely requiring the notification of the husband or presumed father that his partner intends to abort his unborn child have been struck down as unconstitutional.[37]

Not only are men denied any say over the decision whether to abort a foetus, their other options are also restricted. There is, for example, still no Male Pill.

Similarly, the decision to put a child out for adoption is, in practice, the preserve of the mother. Although theoretically the father should be notified of a decision by the mother to put the child up for adoption, in practice the mother can withhold information as to the father’s identity and may never even inform the father of the child’s conception and birth. In contrast, a father is virtually never able to put a child up for adoption without the mother’s knowledge.

Thus, although so-called reproductive rights are usually regarded as “human rights”, and hence as fundamental, universal, inalienable in nature (whatever these empty words mean), and are indeed included as such in one form or another in most international human rights treaties and declarations (and other worthless scraps of paper), they appear to be, in practice, the exclusive preserve of only the female half the human population.

[This is true also in respect of various other human rights, such as the right to life, the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their sex and the right not to be free from forced labour and enslavement.[38]]

Other forms of contraception (e.g. condoms) involve some level of mutual cooperation. However, even here, women’s bargaining power is clearly greater, given both the greater strength of the male sex drive[39] and the fact that a woman can always insist that she is already on the Pill and that further contraception is unnecessary, with any further protests by the male partner taking on the implication that the woman is either lying or is diseased (hardly the sort of suggestion one can politely make to a person with whom one is attempting to initiate relations of a highly intimate nature, especially given that its concomitant implication of promiscuity, which is especially stigmatised among women).

Among married and cohabiting couples, one might hope that the decision to have, or not have, children is a joint one. However, married or unmarried, the woman remains, in law, the ultimate arbitrator[40]. Thus, even where there exists ostensible agreement, one is led to suspect that, given the imbalanced bargaining positions of the parties, the husband’s acquiescence may be often granted only under duress.

This leads to a surprising conclusion: Whereas mothers have no legitimate grounds to complain about or demand remuneration for the effort expended in caring for their own children because the decision to do have children is generally one they have made voluntarily, the same cannot be said of fathers. The latter, lacking basic reproductive rights, are often forced into fatherhood against their wishes and through no fault or decision of their own.

Yet, as we have seen, men often provide as much as, if not more, care for their children than do women. The only difference is the form this care takes.

For men, then, perhaps parental care, whether in the form of direct care, or financial provisioning, is work and deserving of remuneration – at least where they are forced into fatherhood unwillingly. Certainly, the legal obligation that they financially provide for offspring despite being denied the choice whether to have offspring in the first place is unwarranted and unfair.

Is Housework in Your Own House ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Overpaid’?

According to the feminists, housework performed by women in their own homes is deserving of a salary but this salary is unfairly denied to women. We have seen that the first part of this claim – namely that performing housework in your own house is deserving of a salary – is mistaken. However, what about the second part – namely the claim that housework is indeed currently unpaid? Is this claim also mistaken?

If the feminists are right on this second point (namely, that housework is unpaid), then there is nothing for men to complain about. All that is necessary is to oppose any attempt by feminists to rectify this perceived injustice by imposing a salary for homemakers, perhaps provided by the taxpayer as some feminists have demanded.

Unfortunately, however, this is not the case. In reality, housework and childcare performed by wives and mothers is already remunerated. In fact, far from being ‘unpaid’, as the feminists contend, it is already decidedly overpaid.[41]

How, then, is housework and childcare performed by wives and mothers paid? Certainly, wives and mothers do not receive a salary in the ordinary sense. They do, however, receive money which can be conceptualized as payment for any housework or childcare they take it upon themselves to perform. This money comes almost exclusively from men – primarily husbands, ex-husbands and other males – but, in last resort, the taxpayer (also disproportionately male) may also contribute.

Certainly, single women do not generally receive any payment for housework they perform in their own homes[42] – and this is surely rightly so because, living alone, the only person who can conceivably benefit from housework they perform is they themselves. However, the same is not true of married or cohabiting women, who are typically paid prodigiously for any housework they take it upon themselves to undertake.

Most married or cohabiting women receive a portion of their husband’s salary in addition to their own. This can be conceptualized as payment in return for any housework that they perform. As Warren Farrell has observed:

A married man’s income is not for him, it is for the family. If he earns three-quarters of the income, he pays three-quarters of the bills. Sometimes more. ‘His’ income becomes their home and garden, their cars and car insurance and mostly her doctor and therapist bills. Their combined income is about seven times more likely to be spent on her personal items… than his.[43]

This reflects perhaps the fundamental fallacy of feminism – namely the assumption that, because men earn more money than women, this necessarily means that they have more money than women too and are wealthier.

The fallacy is obvious and elementary. It ranks as equal in wealth an unemployed homeless man living on the streets with the indolent wife of a millionaire tycoon. Neither earns any money for themselves – therefore, so the logic goes, each must be equally well-off.

Thus, it is true that, as the feminists often contend, men on average earn more money than women. This is unsurprising given that men work, on average, longer hours, under more dangerous and unpleasant working environments and fora greater proportion of their adult lives among countless other sacrifices which men endure in return for higher pay.[44]

[See Warren Farrell’s Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Kingsley Browne’s Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality (which I have reviewed here).]

However, this does not mean men are financially better off or wealthier – because a large proportion of the money earned by men is actually spent by or on their girlfriends, wives and ex-wives.

Thus, market researchers have long recognised that women dominate most areas of consumer spending. Bernice Kanner, in her book Pocketbook Power: How to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Today’s Most Coveted Consumer – Women, cites data that, in contemporary America, women make approximately 88% of retail purchases.[45] Similarly, Marti Barletta reports in another book in the same sub-genre, Marketing to Women: How to understand reach and increase your share of the world’s largest market segment, that women are responsible for about 80% of household spending.[46]

Indeed, it could be said that the entire process of human courtship is predicated on the redistribution of wealth from men to women – from the social obligation for the man to pay for dinner and drinks on the first date to the legal obligation that he continue to financially support his ex-wife and her offspring for anything up to several decades after he has belatedly rid himself of her.

[A review of the evidence confirming women’s similarly disproportionate control of most areas of consumer spending in the UK in the early 1990s is provided by David Thomas in his excellent 1993 anti-feminist polemic, Not Guilty: The Case in Defence of Men.]

Housework is therefore certainly not unpaid. However, having said all this, it must be conceded that there are problems with viewing the money redistributed from husbands and partners to their wives, spouses and significant others as payment for housework performed by the latter (quite apart from the fact that housework in one’s own home is, as we have seen, not deserving of a salary in the first place).

Firstly, the money he pays her is rarely conditional on the fact that she actually perform any housework, let alone on the quality of the housework she does perform. Whereas the expectation that a wife perform housework is, at best, purely a social one (and, in this post-feminist age perhaps not even that), men are legally obligated to financially provide for and support their wives. Moreover, they are legally obligated to do so even if their wife performs no housework at all, and even if her children are taken from her by the social services due to neglect or ill-treatment. Yet there is no legal obligation that a wife actually perform any housework at all

Indeed, one of the many perversities and inequities of divorce law in countries such as the UK is that it is precisely those women who typically perform the least housework who are rewarded most handsomely for their trouble – namely those wives whose husbands are so wealthy enough that they can afford housekeepers, nannies and other domestic servants such that their wives have little if anything left to do for themselves.

Secondly, thanks to alimony and maintenance requirements, ex-husbands are often legally obliged to continue to financially provide for their ex-wives even long after they have separated from one another. However, after separation, any housework she performs in herhome is surely of no benefit to him living as he does in an entirely different place.

In short, after divorce, although he is still legally obligated to financially support her, she is unlikely to come around to his place to help him tidy up.

Indeed, the need to compensate homemakers for the housework they perform is one of the justifications cited by the courts to justify the redistribution of wealth from men to women that typically accompanies divorce. However, I am not aware of a single case where the courts have made even the most cursory enquiry into the quality of the housework a wife has performed – nor even whether she actually performed any in the first place.

Yet the courts have decreed that during divorce proceedings the indolent spouse must be compensated for their lost earnings and possible promotions during the period of their economic inactivity.[47] Yet surely one ought not to be compensated for the luxury of leading a life of leisure.

The assumption underlying this policy is that staying at home, living off the money earned by your spouse, spending time with your children and shopping is somehow less rewarding than continuing to going to the office day after day. If working were really as rewarding as all that then they wouldn’t have to pay people to do it in the first place!

The result is a reversal of the usual societal incentives that reward hard work and penalise indolence and exploitation.[48] In truth, surely it is the spouse who continues going to work to support his family who is making the real sacrifice. In contrast, the indolent wife, far from making a sacrifice, is living a wholly exploitative and parasitic existence analogous to that of a pimp.

Is Caring for Your own Children ‘Unpaid’ or ‘Overpaid’?

While wives and ex-wives typically receive recompense for the housework they perform from their husbands, ex-husbands and partners, mothers also receive payments for the childcare they perform even if they are single and were never married to the child’s father. These payments come in two forms:

1) Child maintenance payments;
2) Welfare payments.

The obligation on the biological father to pay maintenance for his offspring is imposed despite the fact that, as we have seen, the biological father is denied any say over whether he wished to be a father in the first place.

Similarly the obligation on the taxpayer to support single mothers and their offspring is imposed despite the fact that taxpayers and the state are similarly denied any say over the decision whether to abort the child or carry it to term.

In both cases, it is, in practice, overwhelmingly men who end up footing the bill and women who end up benefiting.

In the case of maintenance, the men in question are usual fathers, who are obliged to pay maintenance despite being denied both the decision whether to have children in the first place and, in many cases, access to and custody of their children due to discrimination by the family courts.[49] (In some cases though non-biological fathers – victims of so-called ‘paternity fraud’ – are also obliged to pay maintenance for the rearing of children who are, in truth, no biological relation to them, and are then, in many jurisdictions, denied any legal remedy despite being the victims of theft on a grand scale.)

In the case of welfare payments to single women, it is still mostly men who end up footing the bill. The reason for this is that it is men who pay most of the taxes. The reason men pay most of the taxes is because they earn most of the money and the reason they earn most of the money is because they work longer hours, for a greater proportion of their lives and in more dangerous and arduous occupations than do women.[50]

This latter arrangement (welfare payments to single mothers) is an example of what Warren Farrell describes in The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here) as “Government as a Substitute Husband”.[51] Instead of being financially supported by a husband, single mothers instead look to the government to play the role of husband.

As historian Martin Van Creveld observes:

On the face of it, a husband, a charitable institution and a modern welfare state are entirely different. In fact, although the details differ, the principle is the same. All are designed partly – and some would say primarily – to transfer resources from men… to women.[52]

In short, if a suitable man cannot be found on whom to foist the obligation to financially support an indolent woman and her offspring, or if the man in question is so poverty-stricken that he cannot adequately perform this role by himself, the government inevitably steps in to rescue her like a knight in shining armour (or, in other words, a sucker).

As in the case of child maintenance paid by fathers, it is ultimately mostly men – in this case taxpayers – who end up paying. And again, as in the case of child maintenance payments paid by fathers, the men in question (i.e. taxpayers) are denied any say over whether the child ought to have been born in the first place.

Although it is fine for the government to forcibly expropriate men’s hard-earned income, whether in the form of child maintenance obligations or of taxes, any suggestion that the government could instead force women to have abortions if they lack the means to raise a child on their own or, better yet, compulsorily sterilize them or introduce a “parental licencing scheme” (such as that proposed by behavioural geneticist David Lykken) is dismissed as tantamount to fascism.

However, there is, once again, a problem with viewing child maintenance and welfare payments to single mothers as recompense for the childcare these women perform – namely the payments are not in any way dependent on the quality of childcare performed.

There is no legal obligation that a mother provide even a minimal criterion of satisfactory care for her children. For example, she is not penalized in any way for smoking or drinking when she is pregnant, feeding her offspring nothing but junk food, or failing to help them with reading and homework. Nor is the level of maintenance or welfare which she is entitled to demand reduced for these culpable acts and omissions.

Only where the level of neglect or mistreatment is so severe that it amounts to a criminal offence are children usually removed from their mothers by the social services. In some rare cases, the father may even be given custody instead. However, the courts are reluctant to take this step and this generally occurs only in the most extreme cases of abuse and neglect and women are far more likely to be awarded custody rights than are fathers.[53]

This is despite the fact that, contrary to popular opinion as fostered by the misandric mainstream media, government statistics consistently demonstrate that women are more likely to abuse children than are men,[54] and mothers are more likely to abuse their own offspring than are fathers.[55]

Indeed, although extreme and draconian measures are adopted to ensure that non-resident fathers pay child support (including, under English law, “imprisonment, driving disqualification, removal of travel authorisation… and even a curfew order”[56]) there are essentially no procedures to ensure that the money in question, on being received, is actually spent on the child. On the contrary, according to a leading student textbook on family law in the UK, “the sums can be used by the mother to ‘pay herself’ and the mother is not required to account for how the money is spent”.[57]

In short, although the British courts pay frequent lip service to the best interests of the child as their ostensible guiding principle, this is in truth a mere fig-leaf to disguise the real intention of the courts – namely to serve, not the best interests of children, but rather the interests, or more precisely, the desires, of women.

Children are, in truth, little more tools for women to extract more money from men. In this respect, as Esther Vilar memorably observed, they serve a function analogous to the hostages taken by kidnappers in the expectation of extracting ransom money from the father.[58]

Conclusion

I have entitled this post ‘Unpaid Labour or Overpaid Laziness: Why Housework in Your Own House Isn’t Really Work’.

In fact, whether housework is properly to be considered work is ultimately a mere semantic dispute, turning on the arbitrary definition accorded to the word ‘work’. Certainly, housework in one’s own house can be regarded as qualifying as ‘work’, according to some definitions of this word. However, the effort expended in pursuit of one’s hobby of building model aeroplanes or renovating a classic car you own can also satisfy these definitions. So can ‘working on’ improving your golf game.

Perhaps even washing behind one’s ears in the shower can qualify as ‘work’ according to some meanings of this term. It is, after all, surely an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result”, as required by the primary definition provided by the Oxford English dictionary (the “result” in question being cleaner ears) and, although the mental and physical effort is rather minimal, this is also true of many other activities widely regarded as constituting ‘work’, not least housework itself.

The substantive point, however, is that none of these activities is of such a type that it appropriate or legitimate for a person to demand recompense or remuneration in return for their performance. Each is an activity undertaken by a person voluntarily for their own benefit because of the intrinsic rewards of either the activity itself or its end-result.

The only recompense you are entitled to expect in return for cleaning your own home is the opportunity to live in a cleaner home – just as the only recompense you deserve for cleaning behind your ears in the shower is cleaner ears and the only recompense for wiping your ass after taking a shit is a cleaner ass.

Similarly, the only recompense a person deserves for caring for their children is the joy they receive by virtue of spending time with them and perhaps the hope that they will be happier, better-adjusted and more successful as a result.

These are rewards of themselves and are, after all, the reason why people choose to engage in these activities in the first place.

_________________

Endnotes

[1] McElroy, Wendy, (2006) ‘Mother’s ‘Work’ Doesn’t Warrant Paycheck’, Fox News, May 09, 2006

[2] Jack Kammer, 2002 ‘If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules: at p79

[3] Farrell, W., Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate [which I have reviewed here] at p62; Farrell presents a similar comparison in his seminal The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here) which is also reproduced in Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say, where he treats the subject of housework in greater depth. Corroborating this claim, Catherine Hakim, in Key Issues in Women’s Work (p50), reports:

“Adding together market work, domestic and childcare work, the evidence for the 1970s onwards is that wives and women generally do fewer total hours than husbands and men generally… From the 1970s onward, wives without paid employment had the shortest total work hours… By the start of the 21st century, even in families with a child under five years, spouses in employment contributed roughly equal work hours (paid and unpaid) in most modern societies. On average, full-time mothers had a lower total workload than fathers with full-time jobs.”

More recently, writing in Prospect magazine (an article entitled ‘Who Works Harder’), Hakim has revised this conclusion only slightly, claiming that:

The key finding [of ‘time budget studies’] is that when all forms of work are added together, men and women do exactly the same total hours of productive activity: just under eight hours a day. As expected, men do substantially more hours of paid work, while women’s time is divided fairly evenly between paid and unpaid work.

[4] Farrell, W., Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men: A Debate [which I have reviewed here]: at p66.

[5] A husband hardly qualifies. As we will see, men care little about the décor of their homes. At most, they might expect a half-decent meal to be ready soon after they have returned from a hard day’s work.

[6] G.K. Chesterton (1915) “All Things Considered”.

[7] For example, relatives such as grandmothers may sometimes perform activities such as childminding pro gratis because they are related to the children concerned. This is analogous to the childminding performed by mothers, and therefore, I argue, not necessarily deserving of a salary, as discussed later in my essay.

[8] The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Twain’s own theory, as expressed in this famous passage, is that, “work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do”. However, this is inadequate because it fails to explain precisely what is meant by “obliged to do”. Strictly speaking, one can argue that even a slave is not obliged to work. It is just that, if they do not, they will be whipped or killed. Similarly, any man can choose not to work, but if he does he is likely to slip into destitution. (A woman, on the other hand, can choose not to work and avoid destitution by the simpler expedient of marrying a man and then living off of his income.)

[9] In reality, the extra time women expend attending to their physical appearance is also already amply remunerated in the form of the greater willingness of men to provide for and financially support women whom they perceive as attractive. This, of course, is the reason why women engage in such activities in the first place.

[10] As in respect of housework, such acts may be done without expectation of payment when they are performed in respect of close relatives.

[11] For example, I expect that most people whose hobby is playing golf do so because they enjoy the activity itself, rather than because they wish to win tournaments. On the other hand, I suspect that a man whose hobby is doing repairs on his classic car does so, not because he enjoys the activity itself, but rather because he enjoys the improved condition of his classic car that results from the repairs. Similarly, I suspect that people of both sexes do housework, not because they actually enjoy doing it, but rather because they prefer to live in the cleaner and more visually appealing environment that results, though, as we will see, the extent to which they prefer such an environment differs by sex.

[12] Those of a puritanical disposition who dislike the deliberate crudeness of my chosen analogy are welcome to substitute “brushing her own teeth” or “washing behind her own ears in the bath” or any number of other acts of personal hygiene which we all perform on a regular basis as a replacement for my chosen analogy. Indeed, the very number and variety of such acts, and the preposterousness of demanding a salary in return for each and every one of them, is the essence of my point.

[13] Biology at Work by Kingsley Browne (which I have reviewed here). Browne relies on data provided by South SJ and Spitze G (1994) Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households American Sociological Review 59: 327-347.

[14] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Woman’s Work: Female Diversity and the Polarisation of Women’s Employment: at p48.

[15] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p48.

[16] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p170.

[17] Hakim, C, 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p48.

[18] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169.

[19] Hakim, C 2004 Key Issues in Women’s Work: at p47.

[20] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169.

[21] South SJ and Spitze G (1994) Housework in Marital and Nonmarital Households American Sociological Review 59: 327-347.

[22] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p169-70.

[23] Roback J. 1993 Beyond Equality Georgetown Law Journal 82: 121-133 (Quoted in Biology at Work (reviewed here): at p170).

[24] Jack Kammer, in If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make All the Rules: p79.

[25] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[26] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p55.

[27] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[28] Vilar, E. The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here): p44.

[29] Farrell, W. The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here).

[30] Browne, K., 2002 Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here): p171.

[31] Ultimately this is a purely semantic dispute, depending on the definition one ascribes to the work ‘altruism’. Most biologists define ‘altruism’ as behaviour that enhances the fitness of another organism at a cost to one’s own fitness. On this definition, parental care is indeed altruistic. Adopting the terminology of Richard Alexander in The Biology of Moral Systems (p140-1), we might say that it is ‘genotypically selfish’ but ‘phenotypically altruistic’.

[32] Moxon, S (2008) The Woman Racket Exeter: Imprint Academic: p246-7.

[33] Hardin, G, (1997) Open Letter to American Civil Liberties Union – quoted in Vaclac Smil, Obituary for Garrett Hardin American Scientist (2004) 92(1):8.

[34] To my knowledge, this fundamental inequity was first pointed to by Herb Goldberg in his 1975 men’s rights classic, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege, when he observed:

Now, the woman retains the ultimate legal right to decide on all matters of childbirth. If she becomes accidentally or unexpectedly pregnant and wants to have the baby he cannot say ‘no’ and demand an abortion. In spite of this lack of decision, he still retains legal responsibility financially and legally. On the other hand, if the father wants the baby and the mother and the woman wants to have an abortion, he again cannot enforce his will, even if he agrees to assume full responsibility for the child. I propose that any couple intending to have a child sign a contract formalizing this mutual desire. In the absence of such a contract the male must be given the prerogative of demanding an abortion unless he is released from any legal or financial responsibility if the child insists she wants the child despite his request to terminate the pregnancy. Otherwise whenever birth control measures fail, the father becomes a potential victim because he is legally responsible without having made the decision to have a child. It is I believe a form of discrimination for the male to be held responsible for an unplanned child while the woman is permitted to decide whether or not she wishes to have the baby.

More recently, this issue, and Goldberg’s proposed solution, has attracted belated attention from mainstream legal scholars (see, for example, Kapp M. (1982) Father’s (Lack of) Right and Responsibilities in the Abortion Decision: An Examination of Legal-Ethical Implications. Ohio Northern University Law Review, 9,369-383; McCulley MG (1988). The male abortion: the putative father’s right to terminate his interests in and obligations to the unborn child Journal of Law and Policy 7 (1): 1-55), albeit to little avail.

[35] Danforth v Planned Parenthood 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

[36] E.g. in the UK: Paton v. Trustees of British Pregnancy Advisory Service Trustees [1978] QB 276; C v S [1988] QB 135)

[37] Planned Parenthood v Casey 505 U.S. 833 (1992)

[38] See for example the decision is Rostker v Goldberg, where the US Supreme Court remarkably managed to violate or endanger every single one of these ostensibly universal human rights with just one ruling.

[39] Baumeister, RF, Catanese, KR, and Vohs, KD (2001) Is There a Gender Difference in Strength of Sex Drive? Theoretical Views, Conceptual Distinctions, and a Review of Relevant Evidence Personality and Social Psychology Review 5(3): 242–273.

[40] In Danforth v Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the US Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional state laws under which a husband’s consent was required before an abortion could be carried out. Indeed, as noted above, in Casey even a requirement that a husband be merely notified that his wife was undergoing the procedure was struck down.

[41] Indeed, given that, as we have seen, no payment whatsoever is warranted or deserved, any level of payment would represent overpayment. However, in the case of the housework and childcare performed by wives, the level of overpayment is often inordinate and extortionate.

[42] However, as we will see, single mothers do usually receive a salary, from either the child’s absent father and/or the state.

[43] Farrell, W., Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say

[44] See Farrell, W. Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Browne K Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality(which I have reviewed here).

[45] Kanner, B., Pocketbook Power: How to Reach the Hearts and Minds of Today’s Most Coveted Consumer – Women: p5.

[46] Barletta, M., Marketing to Women: How to understand reach and increase your share of the world’s largest market segment: p6.

[47] For example, in the UK, in the leading case of Miller v Miller, Baroness Hale referred to the need to compensate the non-economically active spouse for what she referred to as “relationship-generated disadvantage”, on the basis that the wife in this case had “given up what would very probably have been a lucrative and successful career”.

[48] A report by the Cheltenham Group observes, “the usual rules in our society, that if you study hard work hard and so on, you will be financially rewarded, are entirely reversed by divorce” and “the man who has applied himself and contributed to our society will be penalised for his endeavours, while the woman who has done little will be rewarded” with the result that “those men who have supported their wives and families during married life are the very men asked to make the greatest contribution after” (‘Marriage and Fatherhood: Important Information for Young Men’ 1998).

[49] In The Second Sexism, David Benatar reports “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (p50). Although the Supreme Court declared in 1979 that discrimination against men in custody disputes was unconstitutional, the courts and legislatures easily evaded this proscription by favouring instead the so-called ‘primary caregiver’ (The Privileged Sex: p177), a clear case of indirect discrimination, given that ‘primary caregivers’ are overwhelmingly female.

[50] See Farrell, W. Why Men Earn More (which I have reviewed here) and Browne K Biology at Work: Rethinking Sex Equality(which I have reviewed here).

[51] This forms the title of Part 3 of Farrell’s Men’s Rights classic, The Myth of Male Power (which I have reviewed here)

[52] Van Creveld, M. (2013) The Privileged Sex: p137.

[53] In The Second Sexism, David Benatar reports “in the United States, fathers gain sole custody of children in about 10% of cases and women in nearly three-quarters” and “in cases of conflicting requests for physical custody, mothers requests for custody were granted twice as often as fathers”, while “in 90% of cases where there was an uncontested request for maternal physical custody of the children the mother was awarded this custody”, whereas this was granted “in only 75% of cases in which there was an uncontested request for paternal physical custody” (p50). Although the Supreme Court declared in 1979 that discrimination against men in custody disputes was unconstitutional, the courts and legislatures easily evaded this proscription by favouring instead the so-called ‘primary caregiver’ (The Privileged Sex: p177), a clear case of indirect discrimination, given that ‘primary caregivers’ are overwhelmingly female.

[54] According to data provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s factsheet “Child Maltreatment: Facts at a Glance – 2014”, 54% of the perpetrators of child maltreatment are women and only 45% are men. This may be somewhat misleading, however, in so far as it simply reflects the fact that women, on average, spend more time with children than do men.

[55] The report “Child Maltreatment – 2012” issued by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly two-fifths Child Maltreatment 2012 (36.6%) of victims were maltreated by their mother acting alone. One-fifth (18.7%) of victims were maltreated by their father acting alone (p21-22). As for those forms of abuse so severe as to result in death (and therefore least likely to go undetected), the same report continues, a child’s mother acting alone perpetrated 27.1 percent, both parents were responsible for one-fifth (21.2%), and a father acting alone perpetrated 17.1 percent of child fatalities(p53). Again, these statistics may simply reflect the fact that mothers generally spend more time with their children than do men (not least due to discriminatory child custody awards: see above).

[56] Family Law: Fourth Edition (Pearson: Longman 2009) by Jonathan Herring: at p201.

[57] Family Law: Fourth Edition (Pearson: Longman 2009) by Jonathan Herring: at p204.

[58] Chapter 17 of Vilar’s The Manipulated Man (which I have reviewed here) is entitled ‘Children as Hostages’ and introduces this analogy and theme.