Debunking the Men’s Rights Movement

What follows is a response to a popular list of claims and arguments made by men’s rights activists.

1. SUICIDE: Men’s suicide rate is 4.6 times higher than that of women’s. [Dept. Health & Human Services — 26,710 males vs 5,700 females]

Not for lack of trying: women attempt it three times as often. [1] Researchers have found that gender differences in socialization is the strongest explanation for men’s relative success in suicide attempts. In the United States, for instance, it has been shown that unsuccessful suicide attempts are considered “feminine” while it is considered masculine to succeed. In other words, the fear of being labeled “feminine” or “weak” in a male supremacist culture encourages men to ensure their attempts are successfully completed. [2] The statistic given here also masks that many of these “suicides” were actually murder-suicides. In the United States, an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 people died in suicide attacks each year. [3] More than ninety percent of the offenders are men; nearly all the victims are female. [4]

2. LIFE EXPECTANCY: Men’s life expectancy is seven (7) years shorter than women’s [National Center for Health Statistics — males 72.3 yrs vs females 79 yrs] yet receive only 35% of government expenditures for health care and medical costs.

This is a curious statement. If women live seven years longer than men, it should be obvious why they receive more health support: because the oldest people in society are those that most need subsidized health support, and the oldest people are predominantly women. Furthermore, the insurance industry charges $1 billion a year more to women in health insurance each year for the same coverage plans men receive [5], and up to 53% more for the same individual coverage plan [6], despite women’s overall better health and despite receiving 23% less income then men. [7]

3. WAR: Men are almost exclusively the only victims of war [Dept. Defense — Vietnam Casualties 47,369 men vs 74 women]

The first thing to say is that if trained soldiers sent to engage in imperial wars of aggression can be called victims at all, then they are victims of those responsible for the wars in which they fought. And those responsible are men. All Presidents and Vice Presidents have been men. All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been men. Both branches of Congress have always been dominated by men. Polls since Vietnam show that men have been the ones to support going to war, and the ones most likely to support wars currently in progress. [8] On every level of analysis it is men who are responsible for war, and to somehow blame male combat deaths on women is not only absurd, but insane. If we want to stop these deaths, we need to stop those who are responsible for them: the male politicians, male military personnel, male war contractors, and male warmongers who perpetuate them. The second thing to say is that this is simply a lie. A study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School looking at wars in 13 countries, including the Vietnam War, found that of the 5.4 million people violently killed, more than 1 million were female. [9] This figure does not account for those women killed less measurably through aerial spraying, inflicted poverty, and the use of depleted uranium munitions. This also ignores male sexual violence during wartime. In Vietnam, for instance, it was common and accepted practice for soldiers to gang rape women and young girls, as well to kill a female following a rape. [10] Such was the frequency of the latter that the term “double veteran” was coined to refer to such perpetrators. [11]

4. WORKPLACE FATALITIES: Men account for more than 95% of all workplace fatalities.

The figure is 92% as of 2012. One important reason for this discrepancy is that men are inclined to select work that is dangerous in order to prove their masculinity to women, to other men, and to themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most dangerous professions in the United States are construction, transportation, and warehousing, all of which are male-dominated professions. [12] Men’s relative risk of danger is further increased through a relative lack of safety compliance. [13] Tellingly, the most common way for a woman to die in the workplace is to be murdered. [12]

5. MURDER: Men are murdered at a rate almost 5 times that of women. [Dept. Health & Human Services — 26,710 men vs 5,700 women]

Men also murder at a rate more than 9 times that of women. That men are often killed by other men is not a problem that women are responsible for. I can hardly imagine why that even needs to be said. In the United States in 2010, 1,095 women were killed by husbands or boyfriends, accounting for 37.5% of female murders. By contrast, only 241 men were killed by their female partners. [14] The smallness of this figure is particularly striking when we consider that 200,000 women in the United States suffer serious violence from male partners each year, justifying a deadly response. [15]

6. CHILD CUSTODY: Women receive physical custody of 92% of all children of separation, and men only 4%. [Department of Health & Human Services]

91% of the time, custody is agreed upon or settled by parents themselves, usually without outside mediation. Mothers are more likely to receive custody because both parents usually understand that it is in the best interests of their children. In married two-partner households, women spend nearly twice as much time doing child care as their male partners. [16] Only 4% of custody cases go to trial and only 1.5% are resolved there. [17] In disputed custody cases, fathers win custody 70% of the time, [18] despite abusive men being among those most likely to fight for custody. [19]

7. JURY BIAS: Women are acquitted of spousal murder at a rate 9 times that of men [Bureau Justice Statistics — 1.4% of men vs 12.9% of women]

This is not a matter of “bias”: women are sometimes acquitted of murdering their husbands because their husbands abused them or their children. It is estimated that 1.3 million women are beaten by male partners in the United States every year, putting them in fear for their lives. [20] Every one of these women would be justified in killing her spouse or partner and receiving an acquittal. It is exceptionally rare for any man to experience a comparable level of terroristic threat from his wife.

8. COURT BIAS: Men are sentenced 2.8 times longer than women for spousal murder [Bureau Justice Statistics — men at 17 years vs women at 6 years]

As per above, many women receive lighter sentences for killing their husbands because their purpose in doing so was to stop physical abuse against themselves or their children. One study of men and women charged with domestic offense, distinguished between five forms of domestic violence in order to gather a better understanding of the circumstances underlying partner violence. What they found was that while women “overwhelmingly” engaged in resistive violence, often linked with substance abuse, 95% of the men charged were batterers, defined as “an ongoing patterned use of intimidation, coercion, and violence as well as other tactics of control to establish and maintain a relationship of dominance over an intimate partner.” [21]

9. JUSTICE SYSTEM BIAS: Women are assessed for Child Support on average at half the rate of men, yet are twice as likely to default on Child Support payments. Ninety Seven (97%) of all child support prosecutions are against fathers. [Census Bureau]

Women are assessed less often than men and default more often because women aged 18-35 have on average $0 in net worth. Many mothers simply have no means to pay child support. By comparison, white men of the same age have a median wealth of $5,600, and men of color have $1,000. [22] This wealth discrepancy also pressures young mothers who care for the welfare of their children to prosecute men for child support.

10. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Numerous credible studies from independent researchers report that women are the initiators of domestic violence in 58% of all cases, and cause physical abuse in almost 50% of all cases, yet women only account for 6% of all criminal proceedings in such matters.

It’s telling that you speak of “numerous credible studies” and carefully avoid citing any of them. I tried to find studies from any source making such claims, with no success. What I did find is the most recent report by the US Department of Justice, which found women suffer 805,700 physical injuries at the hands of partners each year, compared to 173,960 men. Moreover, the injuries suffered by women were more than twice as likely to be considered “serious”, defined as including sexual violence, gunshot and knife wounds, internal injuries, unconsciousness, and broken bones. To put that another way, partners inflicted 104,741 serious injuries on women, compared with less than 9,400 inflicted on men, a greater than 11:1 ratio. [16] Even those men who have been subject to partner violence have usually not taken it seriously. According to a study by researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin, they were “significantly more likely than were women to laugh at partner-initiated violence”, while women “reported more fear, anger, and insult and less amusement when their partners were violent.” [23] It’s also worth noting that a number of these male injuries were incurred by male rather than female partners; according to a 2000 Department of Justice report, men living with male partners are at nearly twice the risk of “serious” violence as those living with women. [24] If women really are criminally prosecuted in 6% of domestic violence cases, then that figure sounds eminently reasonable.

11. CHILD VIOLENCE: Mothers commit 55% of all child murders and biological fathers commit 6%. NIS-3 indicates that Mother-only households are 3 times more fatal to children than Father-only households. Despite these compelling figures, children are systematically removed from the natural fathers who are their most effective protectors.

The first sentence is unsourced and not credible. According to one group of filicide [child murder] researchers:

Although some studies have noted that mothers commit filicide more often than fathers, other research has shown that paternal filicide is as common or more common than maternal filicide. Reports of a higher proportion of maternal filicides most likely reflect the inclusion of neonaticides in some studies. [25]

In other words, there is no agreement as to whether mothers or fathers are more likely to kill their own children, but when mothers are seen as more likely, it is likely because infanticides are included in the results. According to the above researchers, the main motivation “may be the undesirability of the child,” and mothers under the age of 20 with a previous child are among those most likely to engage in such a murder. Young mothers without sufficient economic, family, or medical support may find there are no better options for themselves or for their other children. By contrast, fathers who kill their children are “often perpetrators of fatal-abuse filicide”, meaning that they batter their children to death. Some of the most common motivations for father filicide are “attempts to control the child’s behavior, and misinterpretation of the child’s behavior”. [25] I’ve recently obtained a copy of the NIS-3 study, and while Table 5-4 does indeed provide data indicating that “Mother-only households are 3 times more fatal to children than Father-only households,” the provided footnote also says explicitly that the difference is either statistically insignificant or marginal, with p-values above 0.10. What that means is that the numbers, while provided, are statistically worthless and cannot be used to even hint at inferences. Meanwhile, the data from the NIS-3 regarding parental households that is statistically valid paints a very different picture. In every category, father-only households put children at a higher risk of harm than mother-only households. Risk of abuse is 71% higher, including a 68% greater chance of physical abuse. Risk of neglect is 28% higher, including a 32% rise for physical neglect, 67% rise for emotional neglect, and 14% rise for educational neglect. Risk of both moderate or serious injury is 40% higher. That this is true is particularly exceptional when we pair this with data from the more recent NIS-4 study which found that households with a lower socioeconomic status were nearly 7 times more likely to involve neglect, including a nearly ninefold risk of physical neglect. Overall the safety of children in these households was classified as 5.7 times more severe than those of a higher socioeconomic background. [26] Single women with children are far more likely than men to live under conditions of severe poverty: both black and Hispanic women with children under age 18 have an average median wealth of $0, compared to $10,960 for black men and $2,400 for Hispanic men; white women with children have an average median wealth of $7,970, compared to an average of $56,100 for white men. [22] If economic justice for women was sufficiently advanced, we would expect the safety of mother-only households illustrated by the NIS-3 to increase still further. Given this information, to call fathers the “most effective protectors” of children is a hateful turn of phrase, suggesting that mothers wish harm on their children and only fathers can protect them. This in spite of the reality that children are far safer in the custody of their mothers than their fathers.

12. WEALTH: Women hold 65% of the total wealth in the USA [Fortune Magazine]

This is a ridiculous lie, and to their credit I can find no evidence that Fortune Magazine ever made such a claim. Contrary to this claim, one Harvard University researcher found that men have an average net worth of $26,850, compared to an average of $12,900 for women. [27] That is to say, men on average hold more than twice the wealth of women.











[10] Nick Turse, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, pages 164-171








[18] Joan Zorza, “Batterer manipulation and retaliation compounded by denial and complicity in the family courts” In M.T. Hannah & B. Goldstein (editors), Domestic violence, abuse and child custody: Legal strategies and policy issues










This response was written by Owen Lloyd, a stay-at-home dad living on the Oregon coast. Hate mail can be addressed to him at

A French translation of this document is also available here: