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Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 – 1926) holds a special place in the history of men’s rights advocacy, being the first to mount a sustained public campaign soliciting compassion for men and boys, while denouncing gynocentric chivalry and cultural misandry that was common in his time. As the first major spokesman on these issues Bax is considered the father of the first wave of the men’s rights movement.

The movement inaugurated by Bax was firstly a literary effort seeking to raise awareness of unreasonable discrimination against men; in divorce settlements, onerous financial responsibilities, military service, domestic violence bias, criminal sentencing disparities, misandric cultural roles and expectations, and so forth. While there were numerous men’s rights advocates appearing from Bax’s time forward, his efforts were published in mainstream publications spanning a period of thirty years, making his voice not only the first, but one of the most enduring.

Bax wrote on a great many topics, including religion, socialism, history and philosophy. This website reproduces all those writings (and only those writings) in which he dealt with men’s human rights, along with the gynocentric culture he believed responsible for undermining those rights. In these writings he asserted that feminism was a central part of the “anti-man crusades” that were in turn responsible for the expansion of “anti-man laws” during the time of men-only voting in England.

Bax wrote many articles in The New Age and elsewhere about English laws partial to women and against men, and of women’s privileged position under the law. He believed that women’s suffrage would unfairly tip the balance of power to women. In 1896 he co-wrote The Legal Subjection of Men as a response to John Stuart Mill’s 1869 essay The Subjection of Women. In 1913 he published The Fraud of Feminism, detailing feminism’s adverse effects on males and society. Section titles included “The Anti-Man Crusade”, “The ‘Chivalry’ Fake”, “Always The ‘Injured Innocent’”, and “Some Feminist Lies and Fallacies”.

The sheer volume of writings about men’s human rights show that the topic exercised Bax’s mind throughout his life, rivaling his interest in politics and philosophy but surprisingly little mentioned by biographers; perhaps the result of a widespread censorship of non-feminist narratives reported by Bax. With the resurgence of interest in men’s human rights, biographers might now be willing to update Bax’s life knowing they have a receptive audience for whom censorship is less likely to be accepted.


[1] See here for a description of the first and second waves of the men’s human rights movement

19th centurl lady woman flickr

Custody of children

The following is an excerpt from Bax’s The Legal Subjection of Men (p.16)


It has always in England been laid down as a fundamental law based on public policy, that the custody of children and their education is a duty incumbent on the father. It is said to be so fundamental that he is not permitted to waive his exercise of the right by pre-nuptial contract. (See the Agar v. Ellis Case.)

This rule of the Common Law of England is of course in harmony with the policy of all Europe and Christendom, as well as with the historic conditions of the European social organisation, if not with the primal instincts of the race.

Nevertheless, fundamental and necessary as the rule may be, the pro-feminist magistrates and judges of England are bent apparently on ignoring it with a light heart. They have not merely retained the old rule that the custody of infants of tender years remains with the mother until the child attains the age of seven. But they go much further than that. As a matter of course, and without considering in the least the interests of the child, or of society at large, they hand over the custody and education of all the children to the litigant wife, whenever she establishes –an easy thing to do– a flimsy and often farcical case of technical “cruelty.”

The victim husband has the privilege of maintaining the children as well as herself out of his property or earnings, and has the added consolation of knowing that they will brought up to detest him.

Even in the extreme case where a deserting wife takes with her the children of the marriage, there is practically no redress for the husband if in narrow circumstances. The police courts will not interfere. The divorce court, as already stated, is expensive to the point of prohibition. In any case the husband has to face a tribunal already prejudiced in favour of the female, and the attendant scandal of a process will probably have no other result than to injure his children and their future prospects in life.

Chivalry feminism

E.B. Bax talks of a large segment of first-wave feminists advocating male chivalry for the benefit of women. His assessment below underscores how “chivalry feminists” have continued to advocate chivalry through both second and third-wave feminism. Indeed it can be argued that feminism’s most effective source of agency has always been chivalry. – PW

Knight Templar1

“THE justification for the whole movement of Modern Feminism in one of its main practical aspects – namely, the placing of the female sex in the position of privilege, advantage and immunity – is concentrated in the current conception of “chivalry.” It behoves us, therefore, to devote some consideration to the meaning and implication of this notion. Now this word chivalry is the dernier ressort of those at a loss for a justification of the modern privileging of women.


“It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward.


“Every outrageous pretension of Sentimental Feminism can be justified by the appeal to chivalry, which amounts (to use the German expression) to an appeal from Pontius to Pilate. This Sentimental Feminism commonly called chivalry is sometimes impudently dubbed by its votaries, “manliness.” It will presumably continue in its practical effects until a sufficient minority of sensible men will have the moral courage to beard a Feminist public opinion and shed a little of this sort of “manliness.”


“Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men.


But these considerations afford only one more illustration of the utter irrationality of the whole movement of Sentimental Feminism identified with the notion of “chivalry.” For the rest, we may find illustrations of this galore. A very flagrant case is that infamous “rule of the sea” which came so much into prominence at the time of the Titanic disaster. According to this preposterous “chivalric” Feminism, in the case of a ship foundering, it is the unwritten law of the seas, not that the passengers shall leave the ship and be rescued in their order as they come, but that the whole female portion shall have the right of being rescued before any man is allowed to leave the ship. Now this abominable piece of sex favouritism, on the face of it, cries aloud in its irrational injustice.

Source: Chapter-5 ‘The Chivalry Fake’ in The Fraud of Feminism, 1913



“Chivalry, as understood by Modern Sentimental Feminism, means unlimited licence for women in their relations with men, and unlimited coercion for men in their relations with women. To men all duties and no rights, to women all rights and no duties, is the basic principle underlying Modern Feminism, Suffragism, and the bastard chivalry it is so fond of invoking. The most insistent female shrieker for equality between the sexes among Political Feminists, it is interesting to observe, will, in most cases, on occasion be found an equally insistent advocate of the claims of Sentimental Feminism, based on modern metamorphosed notions of chivalry. It never seems to strike anyone that the muscular weakness of woman has been forged by Modern Feminists into an abominable weapon of tyranny. Under cover of the notion of chivalry, as understood by Modern Feminism, Political and Sentimental Feminists alike would deprive men of the most elementary rights of self-defence against women and would exonerate the latter practically from all punishment for the most dastardly crimes against men. They know they can rely upon the support of the sentimental section of public opinion with some such parrot cry of’ “What! Hit a woman!”

Why not, if she molests you?

“Treat a woman in this way!” “Shame!” responds automatically the crowd of Sentimental Feminist idiots, oblivious of the fact that the real shame lies in their endorsement of an iniquitous sex privilege. If the same crowd were prepared to condemn any special form of punishment or mode of treatment as inhumane for both sexes alike, there would, of course, be nothing to be said. But it is not so. The most savage cruelty and vindictive animosity towards men leaves them comparatively cold, at most evoking a mild remonstrance as against the inflated manifestation of sentimental horror and frothy indignation produced by any slight hardship inflicted by way of punishment (let us say) on a female offender.”


“In the foregoing pages we have endeavoured to trace some of the leading strands of thought going to make up the Modern Feminist Movement. Sentimental Feminism clearly has its roots in sexual feeling, and in the tradition of chivalry, albeit the notion of chivalry has essentially changed in the course of its evolution. For the rest, Sentimental Feminism, with its double character of man-antipathy and woman-sympathy, as we see it to-day, has assumed the character of one of those psychopathic social phenomena which have so often recurred in history. It can only be explained, like the latter, as an hypnotic wave passing over society.

Source: The Fraud of Feminism – Chapter VII: The Psychology of the Movement

Feminists argue both sameness and difference

Ernest B. Bax describes how feminists argued for difference between males and females, while on other occasions argued for sex-sameness. The difference narrative was especially exploited, proving that sentimental appeals to sex-difference gained women the most.

Why? – Because differences, especially those implying weakness and vulnerability, evoke chivalry.


Modern Feminism would fain achieve the feat of eating its cake and having it too. When political and economic rights are in question, such as involve gain and social standing, the assumption of inferiority magically disappears before the strident assertion of the dogma of the equality of woman with man – her mental and moral equality certainly! When, however, the question is of a different character – for example, for the relieving of some vile female criminal of the penalty of her misdeeds-then Sentimental Feminism comes into play, then the whole plaidoyer is based on the chivalric sentiment of deference and consideration for poor, weak woman.” [Chapter V: The “Chivalry” Fake, in The Fraud of Feminism 1913]

Feminists only claim equality with men in so far as it has agreeable consequences for women. And this applies all along the line… I would advise woman’s-righters to choose the one side or the other. If they stick to the weakness of woman physically as ground for woman’s privileges and immunities, let them give up prating of equality otherwise. If they contend for equality let it at least be an even equality all round. [‘Female Suffrage’ – in Social Democrat, Vol.8, no.9, pp.533-545 1904].

The bulk of the advocates of woman’s rights are simply working, not for equality, but for female ascendency. It is all very well to say they repudiate chivalry. They are ready enough to invoke it politically when they want to get a law passed in their favour – while socially, to my certain knowledge, many of them claim it as a right every whit as much as ordinary women. [‘No Misogyny But True Equality’ – in To-day, pp.115-121 1887]

For an analysis of this feminist duplicity today, see Feminism, sex-differences and chivalry

Criminal Law and Sex (1893)

The following is an excerpt from The Ethics of Socialism (p.65-66) – PW

In the Middle Ages “benefit of clergy” might be claimed by offenders who could read and write, such “benefit” consisting in exemption from the ordinary punishment for an offence. In the modern world all such wicked and unenlightened distinctions are abolished. The law nowadays makes no distinction of persons between men. True; but it makes distinctions between men and women, and where law draws no distinction, practice does. “Benefit of clergy” is superseded by “benefit of sex.” Not only are all the more brutal features of “penal discipline” still practised on men abolished as regards women, but the chances of prosecution, of conviction, and if convicted, of heavy sentences, are at least a hundred to one in favour of women.

Of course we know that the principle of equality between the sexes, as understood in the present day, demands this, and has been, and is, continually pushing legislation forward in this direction. Unless the social upheaval obliterates current lines of progress beforehand, we may yet live to see “equality between the sexes” realised in laws, whereby no female may be prosecuted for any offence whatever, the nearest male relation being substituted, and where the quiet London wayfarer in a lonely street will be in as dangerous a position as the “unprotected male” in the railway-carriage with a lone woman is now. Of course, any one that points this out is not treated seriously.

The sentiment is still on the ascendant, and will have (as things go) to work out its own absurdity by its very excess before it begins to dawn upon the average British intellect that the distinction between the cohorts of Ormuszd and Ahriman is not invariably based on sex—and that persons who would legislate on this assumption are not quite fit to be at large. Meanwhile our Ormiston Chants, Garrett Andersons, and Co., will probably have the opportunity of celebrating, in after-dinner speeches, new triumphs of the sexual inequality they apparently have at heart.

Source: Ernest Belfort Bax, Chapter 6. ‘Criminal Law Under Socialism,’ in Ethics of Socialism, Published 1893 by Swan Publishing, London.

6. Analysis Of Cases

“In this way I have now reported in all upon nearly a hundred cases, and I have advised prosecution in only six, and in all of these have convictions been obtained. It has, of course, been left to the police to prosecute as they chose on my report in twenty-two cases, and they have refrained from the prosecution in all but seven cases, and of these the bills were ignored in two cases by grand juries, in four light sentences were passed summarily or at sessions for com- mon assaults, and in one case punishment, probably well deserved, was obtained on a charge of wounding another person. In the remainder, about sixty-six, I have advised that no effort at prosecution should be entertained for a moment, and the police have aquiesced in my advice. I say, concerning the number of the last class, ‘about sixty-six,’ because a number of the cases involved charges concerning two children, so that reckoning from the number of plaintiffs there would be a larger number of cases than if the statistics were taken from a list of defendants, and one case in particular will show how curiously important this may be.” In a further analysis he says:–

“Excluding the special groups I have already alluded to, and a few others, to be excepted for various but not important reasons, I find I am left with a list of nearly fifty, in which there was not the slightest surgical evidence of an assault of any kind having been committed; and from the fact that only in some five or six was the question of a charge on the reduced count even entertained, it must be clear that the amount of manufactured charges of this kind is most alarmingly large. In twenty-six cases there was evidence quite satisfactory that the charges were trumped up from evil motive and in twenty-one the evidence was all in favour of accidental inducements, the children having been seen to be fondled by men of suspicious appearance The first fact that strikes one about these cases is that the average age of the first group of children was within a small fraction of twelve years, whilst the average age of the second group is only seven years. A second material fact is that whilst the second group contains a considerable proportion of children of respectable and even well-to-do people, the former group is entirely composed of children of the lowest class of the population.”


HE further states:–

“There are at least twenty cases on my list where no assault was committed, nor could have any been, consistently with the story and the appearances found, in which blackmailing was deliberately attempted; and I regret to say in many it was successful. One of the most outrageous was a charge of completely successful assault on a girl of fifteen, alleged to have been accomplished at 11 a.m. on one of the iron spiral staircases in the Municipal Art Gallery. The complainant described the place and gave the date and hour with a precision which was remarkable, as also was her description of what took place. She described accurately the attendant, whom she charged by name. Only two things were against her–she was uninjured, and the attendance books of the institution showed conclusively that the defendant had not been at the gallery that day.”


THE following passage from his paper throws some light on the origin of many of these charges:–

“The charges in a very large proportion of cases were distinctly based on motives sometimes of the most extraordinary kind, and in the great bulk these motives were malevolent. The ‘wandering servant’ motive is one of the least harmful, and accounts for a small number. To those who do not understand the phrase I may explain that it simply means that a girl who may have been quite innocently dawdling about till past the hour of return rigidly enforced by a strict mistress, does not go home, but wanders about all night or sleeps in an outhouse. She is either found by the police or goes back home in the morning and concocts on the way a story of rape, particularised by the most minute details, not one of which is corroborated on examination, nor can the police find a scrap of evidence in support of her story. Yet she becomes the interesting prey of some Vigilance Committee, and it is more by good luck than by good guiding, as the Scotch say, that she does not pick out and name some unfortunate man for the gratification of the prurient curiosity of the fussy women who have taken up her case. In one of these cases brought to me the interesting wanderer by misfortune, selected as her victim the husband of the chairwoman of her committee, and thus trouble came upon her and the committee was dissolved.”


IN the following cases the facts are instructive as showing the use to which such charges may be put:–

“In one of the cases I regret having advised a prosecution, though technically I was quite right in doing so and bound to do it; but now I have no doubt whatever that the assault was arranged and encouraged, and but for an untimely interruption something more would have followed. The charge preferred was laid solely for the purpose of bringing an unwilling bridegroom to the altar. This effect it had, for on the prosecutrix declaring in the witness-box that if he would keep his engagement and marry her she would with- draw the charge, a sympathetic judge advised him to take the offer, which he unwillingly did under pressure of receiving a nominal sentence. The subsequent history of this couple has convinced me the whole thing was a plant on the unfortunate man.”


IN some of the cases he examined the question of age was important:–

“In a very few of these cases prosecution was not advised and not undertaken by the police on the question of either real or apparent age. The wording of the Criminal Law Amendment Act is made to supply a few of the omissions of the old law concerning rape, and in raising the age under which the consent of the female participator is not recognised, the Act puts the dangerous weapon into the hands of that person of showing that she des not appear to be sixteen. This is a fertile source of blackmailing, because a girl of fifteen and a half has only to get a man to have connection with her, or to attempt it, and he is at her mercy. If he will pay up his defence is easily arranged by the speculative attorney who is always at the back door of such cases. He has only to plead that he had a discussion with the girl about her age, that he reasonably believed she was over sixteen, and a little skilful millinery displayed in the witness-box settles the release of the defendant. But if he won’t pay up then the milliner can make the prosecutrix look much under sixteen, and a heavy sentence is the result. To give an opinion on the part of a skilled expert that a girl is or is not under fourteen, the usual molimenal [puberty] age, is a matter of infinite ease compared to giving an opinion that the girl is or is not under sixteen. Maturity has been reached, and the changes at fifteen and sixteen are far less than at thirteen and fourteen, a very important fact which has been forgotten.”


THE following passages show that spite is often as potent a motive in these charges as blackmail:–

“There is another and still more dangerous element in these cases, and that is the malice of persons, always women, who practically get up the cases or provoke them, and with this may be placed a few subsidiary influences which may well be classed with this. A few examples of some of them will be given in detail.

“Two children were brought to me (case 56), aged fourteen and eleven and a-half respectively, living in the same set of back houses in a well-known and fairly respectable street, the elder girl looking much older than her ascertained age. The person against whom the charge was made was the father of the older girl, and she made the charge that she found her father indecently assaulting the younger girl. She told the neighbours and the neighbours brought in the police. The younger girl proved to be quite uninjured, but it speedily came out that the elder girl was her own father’s regular mistress for more than two years. The girl who was the cause of this action was one of the most virulent little minxes I ever saw, and she made no secret of her reason for splitting [ratting] on her father being the fact that she found him taking up with another girl. I have included this little wretch as one of the habitual prostitutes, but I do not believe she comes under the definition. She does afford, however, a perfect example of how the great bulk of these charges are brought about.”


THE following shows that a similar horrible charge may be brought against an innocent man:–

“Two little wretches, of ten and twelve, who had been thrashed by their father for stealing, promptly turned round on him with a charge of having ‘seduced’ them both, giving here an interesting example of female revenge of the direst kind, attempted at an unusually early age. The charge had not the slightest foundation, and they admitted as much when they found they were not believed. Stepmothers give frequent examples of the same abominable attempts to punish their husbands by trumping up such charges, and in three instances mothers used even their own children as the instruments of their diabolical designs.”


As to the prejudice accusations of sexual crime incite, Dr. Lawson Tait says:–

“Matters are such under this unrighteous combination that how- ever men may laugh at it and make jokes, they do not willingly travel with single unknown female companions in railway carriages. They know very well that for a man to have the finger of a woman pointed at him with a charge of a sexual offence is to secure that man’s extinction, no matter what the verdict of a jury may be. In 1881 (Lond. Med. Gazette ) a case was tried in which a girl, to shield herself against her equal share of guilt, charged her partner in it with the crime of rape. The jury could hardly be got to acquit the innocent man even though the prosecutrix had to admit that she never called out, her mother sleeping in the next room, because she was afraid her cries would waken the old lady.”

The following indicates strongly one of the disadvantages the undefended prisoner labours under:


“This new arrangement by which a defendant is allowed to go into the box and give evidence on his own behalf is most mischievous when a poor prisoner is undefended. His poverty involves ignorance, of necessity, and in the hands of a prosecuting barrister his slightest slip in cross-examination will be made to tell against him mercilessly. That is the case if he elects to be sworn. If, on the contrary, he declines, either from ignorance or fear, the jury invariably reckons the fact against him. “I sat through a case quite lately and saw a poor ignorant wretch who, being undefended, did not understand the purport of the invitation, neglected this opportunity. The judge charged clearly in his favour–indeed, there was hardly any evidence against him. But the jury brought him in guilty, and in talking the matter over with one of them after I learned that they were much impressed by the fact that he did not give evidence.”

In considering the results arrived at by Dr. Lawson Tait we must bear in mind that the series of charges he analysed had all been brought under the notice of the police. The vast number of charges compromised for money, without any appeal to the police, must be added to form any fair estimate of the situation. The foregoing catalogue as regards specific crimes is striking enough, but it does not quite exhaust the criminal law privileges of women. As regards punishment, prison treatment and pardon, there are come additional immunities.


(a) Flogging.

The sacrosanct hide of female fiends must not he touched with the lash. Consequently, a wretch who tortures for years innocent children–like the Montague wild beast–must not be flogged. The female garrotter must not be flogged. By express enactment no one but a male call he sentenced to corporal punishment.

(b) Hanging.

As has already been shown the punishment of hanging has been practically abolished for women who murder mere men. If they murder some other woman or babies of some other woman it is quite a different thing. They are, however, exempt from hangings if they murder their own babies.

(c) Duration of Imprisonment.

In every case the duration of the term of imprisonment passed on a female offender is, as everyone knows, enormously less than the punishment imposed on a man for a similar or a lesser offence.


(a) Flogging.

Under no circumstances can a female prisoner he flogged for breaches of prison discipline. Men and boys can be, and are, flogged like dogs for the most trivial disrespect to the governor and other officials.

(b) Less Rigid Discipline.

In one of the convict prisons a strike of female prisoners was announced against some disciplinary regulation to which they objected. The obnoxious regulation was rescinded. If they had been men they would have been flogged into submission. (Riot at Wormwood Scrubbs, 1894.)

(c) Lighter Labour.

This is quite apart from the fact that they are assigned much less toilsome forms of labour.


The comparative facility with which remission or commutation of sentence on female criminals can be procured is known to every solicitor conversant with Criminal Law Procedure –not merely in cases of infanticide– but in all cases of crimes of violence, the chances of pardon are immeasurably greater than in the case of a male.

Portrait images & media

Bax profile from book 'Reminiscences and reflexions of a mid and late Victorian '
Ernest Belfort Bax from Reminiscences and reflexions of a mid and late Victorian (1920)

NPG Ax39123; Ernest Belfort Bax by Walter Stoneman, for  James Russell & Sons
Ernest Belfort Bax at age 62 – © National Portrait Gallery, London

Ernest Belfort Bax – portrait by Europa Phoenix

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Bax red
Ernest Belfort Bax – modified image

Bax long red tint
Ernest Belfort Bax – modified image

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Ernest Belfort Bax – modified image

Bax mid size red tint
Ernest Belfort Bax – modified image



Ernest Belfort Bax – Wikipedia
Ernest Belfort Bax – Internet Archive
Ernest Belfort Bax, Thinker and Pioneer by Robert Arch 1927
Ernest Belfort Bax – Spartacus Educational
Ernest Belfort Bax – National Dictionary of Biography
Ernest Belfort Bax: Marxist, Idealist, Positivist
The Jacobinism and Patriotism of Ernest Belfort Bax



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