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The New Double Standard

By Marty Nemko

Organizations such as the National Organization for Women have helped women enormously. So much so that many men, including me, feel that men are now subjected to a double standard that results in their being treated unfairly.

For example, when few women are in a lucrative profession, for instance, computer science or engineering, most universities and large employers install reverse discrimination policies to avoid organizations such as NOW tarring them with the dreaded epithet, “sexist!” Yet, where is NOW’s and the media’s outrage when women are overrepresented in a desirable career such as pharmacist? Where’s the outrage over the fact that only men must register for the draft, the obligation to risk getting one’s head blown off?

Another example of the New Double Standard: Leading women’s advocates have, with little substantiation, made statements about men that never would be tolerated if said about women:

“As far as I'm concerned, men are the product of a damaged gene.” (Germaine Greer, in in an invited address at the Alert! Conference.)

"All men are rapists and that's all they are." (Marilyn French, author of the feminist classic, The Women’s Room, in a People magazine interview.)

"I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which a man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He's just incapable of it." (Former congresswoman Barbara Jordan)

None of those leaders suffered significant reprisals. In contrast, consider what happened when Harvard president, Lawrence Summers, in an internal brainstorming meeting, in response to a request to be provocative, merely hypothesized, with multiple qualifications, that innate differences might partly explain why more men are in science. That statement, especially when opined in a private meeting, is not only less devastating to women than the above statements are to men, substantial research supports Summers’ hypothesis. Yet, a national firestorm led by NOW ensued demanding Summers’ firing, and Harvard’s 762-member Faculty of Arts and Sciences issued an unprecedented and career-devastating vote of lack of confidence in Summers.

This establishes a new double standard: you can, without reprisal, viciously denigrate men without substantiation but dare you make a milder statement about women, your career is eviscerated. That double standard will make academics, leaders, and the media think 10 times before saying something negative about a woman, but not about a man. That will immeasurably hurt how men are treated today, and in future generations.

Here’s an example even more devastating to men. When women were underserved in the health arena, a decade-long media-supported hue and cry ensued that continues unabated, resulting in enormous research and treatment attention to, for example, breast cancer. Yet, even though men die 5.3 years younger than women, and die earlier of each of the 10 leading killers, led by sudden heart attack, when was the last time you heard of a Sudden Heart Attack fundraiser or corporate initiative, let alone a postage stamp with the profits going to research, which is the case with the unprecedented breast cancer stamp?

Similarly, women’s organizations promulgate the broad and long-false statement that most medical research is conducted on men. Academia and the media promulgate such assertions without the normal vetting, ignoring definitive contradictory evidence. For example, PubMed, which indexes the 3,000 leading medical journals, from the 1950s to present, contains 42 articles on women’s health for every one(!) on men’s health. Where’s the outrage about that injustice? Where’s the outrage that women needn’t register for the draft, and if they volunteer, will never be placed in direct combat? Perhaps Warren Farrell is right: “Men are the disposable sex.”

To fight against this New Double Standard, Warren Farrell, along with your author, has just founded the National Organization for Men to provide a bit of balance to the National Organization for Women. We are a shoestring operation that simply emails press releases to the media in response to unfairnesses to men. The National Organization for Men's website is at

Even though Warren and I must work full-time on other matters to support ourselves, we believe our Lilliputian National Organization for Men can make a difference. I invite you to consider what you might do, within your busy life, to ensure the fair treatment of men and women.

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