Male expendability Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_expendability

Male expendability or male disposability is the idea that individual male lives are less valuable to a species than female lives in terms of long-term survival.[1][page needed] In humans, male disposability is defined as society's willingness to sacrifice the health, wellbeing, and lives of males to serve its interests and keep itself safe from outside predation and attack.[2] In other words, it is seen as socially and evolutionarily "more appropriate” to kill a man than to kill a woman" - especially during wars and other times of violent political and social uprising.[3]: 57  Male disposability includes the social expectation that men will step in to defend others from danger, to work the most dangerous jobs, and to risk death or serious injury by doing so.[2][1]


In human reproduction, the required participation of the male is brief, but the pregnant female is faced with a long-term investment of time and energy. Also, the male body produces many millions of sperm over a lifetime, allowing one man to impregnate many women. By contrast, the female body can produce far fewer children. Finally, men are generally stronger, can run faster and throw farther than women. These biological conditions have permeated human society such that the more vulnerable women are protected by men who are better suited to battle and more easily replaced. If the men of a population are reduced by war or other violence, sparing the women, the population may be able to recover by having the remaining males father the next generation.[4]

Because of this, males are most often the ones assigned to deal with lethal risk situations in both nature and human society.[2][1] People are more likely to agree to sacrificing a man than they are a woman when it comes to both saving the lives of others, and in pursuing our self-interests.[5] For example, the conscription of young men during conflicts to fight and possibly be injured or die.[2][6] Perpetrators of genocide almost exclusively target men and boys who may suffer "other acts of violence ... such as torture, rape, and enslavement" that tend to be obscured by a focus on the killings of these men and boys.[7] According to political scientist Warren Farrell, male disposability has been romanticised as 'chivalry'. A term which promotes male "servitude and disposability" by rewarding males who engage in public acts of heroism with statues and glory as a form of social "bribe". This expectation causes society to train young boys and men with a 'hero' mindset, using comic-book heroes, schoolyard games with pretend guns, and sports such as boxing and fencing. And that men are essentially trained to act as "unpaid bodyguards" for girls and women; stepping in when they are in danger. In this way, they are primed to register for the draft or armed service, volunteer as fire fighters, and to perform nearly all of the most dangerous & hazardous jobs.[2][6]

Male expendability via violence is thought by some scholars to be in part caused by the socialisation of men as "violence objects", meaning that they are expected to both give and receive violence as part of their social role - which leads to greater numbers of male deaths. For example, the 2000 Brazilian census confirmed that there were nearly 200,000 fewer men than women in the age range 15-29 because of higher rates of mortality through accidents, homicide and suicide among young men. Estimates put it that by the year 2050, Brazil will have 6 million fewer men than women, principally because of violence.[3]


In humans[edit]

In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the legality of the male-only draft. During this time, The National Coalition for Men said that the forcing men (but not women) to register for the draft is “an aspect of socially institutionalized male disposability” and helps to reinforce stereotypes. NCFM claim these stereotypes support what it called 'bias against men in child custody, divorce, criminal sentencing, public benefits, domestic violence services and other areas'. The administrations of both presidents Joe Biden & Donald Trump have defended the 1948 law legalising the male only draft; as did Obama.[8]

Norwegian sociologist Øystein Gullvåg Holter argues that the male-led Russian government's belief in male expendability contributed to their delay in seeking international help during the Kursk submarine disaster, in which an all-male crew of 118 personnel was lost. He states, "If 118 women had been killed, alarm bells regarding discrimination against women would probably have gone off around the world." He states that able-bodied males were viewed as a more legitimate target during wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Timor, Rwanda, and Chechnya.[9]

"Women and children first", otherwise known as the 'Birkenhead Drill', is an unofficial maritime strategy where men are sent to slow down the sinking of a ship whilst women and children escape.[10] Since its famous use during the Titanic disaster, "Women and children first" has largely been considered a "social norm" by the public; but is not consistently applied.[11] However, the concept "was celebrated among Victorian and Edwardian commentators as a long-standing practice – a 'tradition', 'law of human nature', 'the ancient chivalry of the sea', 'handed down in the race'."[12] One organisation that held this as official policy until as late as 2020 was the Boy Scouts of America's Sea Scouting program, which made the upholding of "the sea motto: women and children first" a part of their official "Sea Promise".[13]

On farms[edit]

With regards to livestock, the majority of male animals are typically culled.[1] Annually, around 7 billion male chicks are killed shortly after hatching - since the industry mainly requires healthy females for egg laying.[14] In the USA, this is typically done by grinding them down to slurry in a machine called a macerator.[15] Male calves are also killed in great numbers.[16] In the UK alone, in 2018, around 95,000 male calves were killed due to the cost of raising them.[17]

In other animals[edit]

Males, such as with the dung beetle, act as foragers - who leave the burrow to search for food. This leads to males being eaten in huge numbers by predators, while the female beetles remain safe beneath ground in their burrows. Evolutionarily, this kind of defensive/hunter role has caused males of many species to develop stronger bodies; as well as defensive features. Male disposability can be far more direct; such as in praying mantis, where females eat the males as part of the act of mating. Male deaths have been noted as being less dangerous for the overall survivability of the species than female deaths; since one male can impregnate many females, but females are limited in how fast they can reproduce.[1]

Theory and concept[edit]

Ivana Milojević notes that while patriarchy assigns the role of sex object to women, it assigns to men the role of violence-object, with male expendability being corollary to the sexual objectification of girls.[18] While other scholars, such as Roy Baumeister, argue that it is common for cultures to thrive by exploiting males; sometimes with fatal results.[19] [20]

Manosphere critics of feminism have argued that poor and working-class men "are cannon fodder abroad and expendable labor at home, trapped beneath a glass floor in jobs nobody really wants—farm workers, roofers, garbage men—and injured at far higher rates than women".[21] Walter Block argues in The Case for Discrimination that male expendability is the result of women being the bottleneck of reproductive capacity in a population.[22] This theme was echoed in Warren Farrell's The Myth of Male Power.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ong, Walter J. (1981). Fighting for life: contest, sexuality, and consciousness. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-6629-8. OCLC 567850747. Archived from the original on 1981.
  2. ^ a b c d e Farrell, Warren (2001). The myth of male power: why men are the disposable sex. Lane Cove, NSW: Finch Publishing. ISBN 1-876451-30-0. OCLC 155053789.
  3. ^ a b Ivana, Milojević (2012). "Why the Creation of a Better World is Premised on Achieving Gender Equity and on Celebrating Multiple Gender Diversities" (PDF). Journal of Futures Studies. 16 (4): 57–58.
  4. ^ Daniels, Cynthia R. (2008). Exposing Men: The Science and Politics of Male Reproduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 3–6. ISBN 9780199700073.
  5. ^ Devitt, James (2016). "Chivalry is Not Dead When it Comes to Morality" (Press release). New York University News. Retrieved 2022-01-26.
  6. ^ a b Farrell, Warren (2012). "The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex". New Male Studies. Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies. 1 (2): 4–33.
  7. ^ Radhakrishnan, Akila; Shubin, Grant (2018). Ashraph (ed.). "BEYOND KILLING: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021.
  8. ^ Reuters (2021-06-08). "High Court Rejects San Diego Men's Rights Group's Challenge to All-Male Draft". Times of San Diego. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  9. ^ Holter, Øystein Gullvåg (March 2002). "A theory of gendercide". Journal of Genocide Research. 4 (1): 11–38. doi:10.1080/14623520120113883. S2CID 73119529.
  10. ^ McPherson, Vanzetta Penn. "Vanzetta McPherson: Time to put 'women and children first'". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved 2022-01-22.
  11. ^ Elinder, Mikael; Erixson, Oscar (2012-08-14). "Gender, social norms, and survival in maritime disasters". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (33): 13220–13224. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10913220E. doi:10.1073/pnas.1207156109. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 3421183. PMID 22847426.
  12. ^ Delap, Lucy (2006-01-01). "'Thus Does Man Prove His Fitness to Be the Master of Things': Shipwrecks, Chivalry and Masculinities in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain". Cultural and Social History. 3 (1): 45–74. doi:10.1191/1478003805cs044oa. ISSN 1478-0038. S2CID 153392118.
  13. ^ National, Commodore (2020-08-18). "Sea Promise Updated". Sea Scout. Retrieved 2022-02-09.
  14. ^ Krautwald-Junghanns, M-E; Cramer, K; Fischer, B; Förster, A; Galli, R; Kremer, F; Mapesa, E U; Meissner, S; Preisinger, R; Preusse, G; Schnabel, C (2018-03-01). "Current approaches to avoid the culling of day-old male chicks in the layer industry, with special reference to spectroscopic methods". Poultry Science. 97 (3): 749–757. doi:10.3382/ps/pex389. ISSN 0032-5791. PMID 29294120. S2CID 3485512.
  15. ^ Magazine, Smithsonian; Blakemore, Erin. "Egg Producers Pledge More Humane Fate for Male Chicks". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  16. ^ "The end of dairy's 'dirty secret'? Farms have a year to stop killing male calves". the Guardian. 2020-12-10. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  17. ^ "Dairy's 'dirty secret': it's still cheaper to kill male calves than to rear them". the Guardian. 2018-03-26. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  18. ^ Milojević, Ivana (June 2012). "Why the Creation of a Better World is Premised on Achieving Gender Equity and on Celebrating Multiple Gender Diversities". Journal of Futures Studies. 16 (4): 51–66.
  19. ^ Baumeister, Roy (2010). Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195374100.
  20. ^ McElroy, Wendy (18 August 2010). "Review: Is There Anything Good About Men? by Roy F. Baumeister". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Canada. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  21. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (February 3, 2014). "What Kind of Man Joins the Men's Rights Movement?". GQ. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  22. ^ Block, Walter E. (2010). The Case for Discrimination. Ludwig von Mises Institute. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9781933550817.

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