New Internationalist

Masculinity: The Facts

Issue 175

new internationalist
issue 175 - September 1987

Masculinity - The Facts

In every area of life men have power and advantage over women.
Here the NI offers the facts about male dominance worldwide.

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Being at work can seem a dubious privilege - especially when your job is dirty and repetitive. But too often a powerless man takes out his frustrations on the only people more powerless: the women and children around him.
 
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POWER

Throughout the world men have an overwhelming dominance among the positions that really matter in society, such as politicians and judges.

Percentage of national legislative members who are male, selected countries, 19801

Kenya
98
  Aotearoa (NZ)
91
Samoa
98
  Indonesia
91
Ecuador
97
  Australia
90
Japan
97
  Canada
90
Chile
96
  China
79
US
96
  Cuba
77
UK
95
  Sweden
72
India
95
  USSR
67
Egypt
93
  Mexico
67

The figures for the Soviet Union here seem better than the Western average but this is misleading. Power there resides more in the Communist Party than in Parliament, and men made up 96 per cent of the Central Committee of the Party in 1981.

Photo: Claude Sauvageot
Percentage of judges who are male, selected countries2

Country

Year

Percentage

India

1986

98

UK

1984

97

Australia

1985

95

US

1985

93

USSR

1984

64

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WORK

Men have more access to paid work because it is organized on the assumption that workers will have no domestic responsibilities restricting their availability.

[image, unknown] Percentage of labour force which is male2

Country

% Male

USSR

52

N. America

62

W. Europe

66

Asia

66

Oceania

66

Africa
68
Latin America
76

Even when women can get paid work, they find that men are paid more.

Photo: Henning Christoph
Photo: Henning Christoph

Men's earnings as percentage of women's4

Country
%
Country
%
Japan
223
  Egypt
159
Poland
149
  El Salvador
123
West Germany
137
  Hungary
137

National government figures in this area should be treated with caution - they will often make things seem more equal than they are. Australia, for instance, had by 1985 reduced the male-female imbalance to the point where male pay rates were 122 per cent of women's. But about 36 per cent of employed women in Australia are part-time workers, often because of family responsibilities, compared with only 6 per cent of male workers. Taking all employed people, men's earnings are 151 per cent of women's. And when you take into account the fact that more women than men have no income of any kind, men's average income is 222 per cent of women's. In any developed country the picture would be much the same.

Many more men than women find their way into jobs with power and influence; many fewer men than women are channelled into lowly, servicing roles.

Percentage of male and female workforce in
administrative/managerial jobs and in clerical jobs5

 

Managerial/admin

Clerical/secretarial

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

Egypt

0.9

0.8

6.5

25.0

Germany, West

4.2

1.3

9.6

34.0

Hungary

0.2

0.1

3.5

16.4

Japan

6.4

0.4

9.4

18.2

Norway

6.6

2.0

2.5

26.0

Singapore

8.2

1.2

5.7

14.9

US

10.4

3.8

5.5

27.9

Venezuela

9.2

1.6

7.6

16.7


These figures show that man hold more of the positions of power at work. But there is an even bigger gender gap between different professions in the managerial category. In the US in 1978, for example, 97 per cent of registered nurses and 94 per cent of elementary teachers were women, while 91 per cent of industrial engineers were men.

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EDUCATION

In the rich world broadly equal proportions of boys and girls are given schooling, though more men go on to college. In the poor world girls' education is still not enough of a priority.

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School enrolement6
(estimated percentage of total number of children
of school going age actually attending school)

 

Primary

Secondary

Tertiary

 

M

F

M

F

M

F

Rich world

92.9

93.1

87.3

89.9

34.7

31.9

Poor world

78.4

65.1

48.1

37.1

16.1

9.8

World Average

81.6

71.2

57.5

49.8

21.3

16.0

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LIFE

Here, for once, men are worse off than women - women in the developed world can expect to live and average of six years longer than men. No one knows why but at the moment women's biological mechanism simply lasts longer than men's. The same picture holds throughout the world with the exception of countries which appear in bold: Iran, Papua New Guinea and the nations of the Indian sub-continent. Here only greater oppression than the norm could have reduced women's life expectancy to below that of men.

Life expectancy, selected countries7

 

1980

2000 (estimated)

 

M

F

M

F

Aotearoa (NZ)

69.3

75.7

72.3

79.1

Australia

70.1

77.0

72.7

80.0

Bangladesh

47.1

46.1

53.8

52.8

Bolivia

46.5

50.9

57.0

62.0

Brazil

59.5

64.3

64.7

70.4

Burkina Faso

38.5

41.6

46.4

49.7

Canada

70.5

78.1

72.9

80.3

Chile

62.4

69.0

67.4

73.9

China

62.6

66.5

69.1

73.0

Cuba

71.1

74.4

72.7

76.7

Egypt

53.9

55.6

63.2

65.7

Ethiopia

39.3

42.5

47.3

50.6

Germany, W

69.0

75.8

72.1

79.2

Ghana

48.3

51.7

56.3

59.7

India

51.2

50.0

59.0

58.3

Indonesia

48.7

51.3

58.1

61.4

Iran

58.4

58.0

65.6

66.0

Ireland

69.6

74.6

72.5

78.4

Japan

73.1

78.3

75.0

80.4

Kenya

48.9

52.3

57.8

61.5

Mexico

61.9

66.3

67.1

72.1

Nepal

44.6

43.1

52.6

51.1

Nicaragua

55.3

57.3

67.0

70.1

Nigeria

44.9

48.1

52.7

56.3

Norway

72.2

78.6

73.6

80.4

Pakistan

49.0

47.0

57.0

55.5

Papua NG

50.5

50.0

61.5

61.0

Philippines

60.9

64.3

68.3

72.0

Sierra Leone

30.6

33.5

38.5

41.6

Sri Lanka

63.5

66.5

70.0

74.0

Sweden

72.3

78.3

73.6

80.4

UK

69.7

76.0

72.6

79.3

US

69.4

77.2

72.4

80.1

USSR

65.0

74.3

69.9

78.2

Zimbabwe

51.3

55.6

59.4

64.2

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VIOLENCE

Men are much more likely than women to be involved in crimes of violence.

In US in 1983, 87 per cent of people arrested for murder were male. The same figure of 87 per cent prevailed for those arrested for aggravated assault and similar percentages were recorded for all crimes of violence.8 But men are also more likely to be the victims of attack; in Australia in 1983, 59 per cent of murder victims and 71 per cent of assault victims were male; in the US in 1981, 79 per cent of murder victims were male.9

 
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SEX

Conventional sex is defined by men rather than women.

According to The Hite Report on Male Sexuality10, a study of US men:

99 per cent of men would not like to change or redefine sex in any way. But three out of four women would like to make changes in their sex lives.

85 per cent of men prefer sex with women, 9 per cent with men and 6 per cent enjoy it with both sexes.

23 per cent of the men preferring sex with women would nevertheless try fellatio with another man.

71 per cent of men 'always want intercourse' while the other 29 per cent sometimes do it because it's expected.

36 per cent of men look at pornography regularly; 21 per cent look at it sometimes. Only 11 per cent never look at it.

When asked if they had ever wanted to rape a woman, 14 per cent of men said 'yes' and 32 per cent said 'sometimes'.

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1 State of the World's Women, UN, 1985.
2
. Connell, R.W., Gender and Power, 1987.
3. Estimate by International Labour Office of the UN, Bureau of Statistics, 1984.
4. Eastern European figures based on median full-time earnings, see essay by Molyneux in Kate Young, ed., Of Marriage and the Market, 1981; other countries based on the study of wages in manufacturing industry b ILO, see Women at Work, 1983.
5
. ILO Yearbook of Labour Statistics, 1983.
6. Tendances et Projections, UNESCO, 1984.
7
. Population Division of the United Nations Secretariat, 1985.
8
. Statistical Abstract of the US 1985.
9
. Australian Bureau of Statistics 1983, Statistical Abstract of the US 1985.
10
. Shere Hite, The Hite Report on Male Sexuality, 1981.

 
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