The flagship professional organization for American psychologists has issued new guidelines for working with men and boys that encourage mental health professionals to eschew “traditional masculinity” — which has been deemed by the 115,700-member American Psychological Association (APA) to be “harmful.”
“What is gender in the 2010s? … It’s no longer just this male-female binary … If we can change men, we can change the world,” said University of South Alabama’s Dr. Ryon McDermott, a psychologist involved in drafting the new guidelines, which were 13 years in the making.
This begs the question: Change the world in what way, exactly?
“They specifically name in their traditional definition of masculinity, competitiveness, stoicism — all qualities that I think a lot of young women like myself and women of all ages really probably find attractive,” Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist, said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday night.
“I think it’s sad that the APA lent its authority as an institution, lent its credibility as an institution to these guidelines, which are steeped in language, really, of fourth-wave feminism,” Jashinsky added, noting also that the APA’s research appeared bent on pathologizing masculinity.
“Traditional masculinity seems to be, in this report at least, conflated with being a pig, or a creep, or a Harvey Weinstein kind of person,” said host Laura Ingraham.
“I love competition,” said Democrat strategist Jemila Bey, a former women’s professional football player who played defensive line tackle and was also a guest on the show. “It’s just about making sure, frankly, that we hold everyone to the same standard.”
“Boys will be boys getting away with boorish behavior is something that has to be stopped,” Bey also said, adding her concerns that the terms used by the APA to describe these allegedly harmful aspects of masculinity were poorly defined.
“What hurts the feminist movement,” said Ingraham, “is to turn everything into a political statement.”
The APA, long a politically active bastion for liberalism, claims the new guidelines drew on 40 years of research that demonstrate “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful.”
The APA includes stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression as aspects of traditional masculinity that earn the shameful moniker.
They are harmful in part, the APA reasons, because such attributes lead to “risky health behaviors,” including “reluctance toward self-care” and “avoiding vegetables.”
Research also suggested that drinking and smoking were more common among men who conform to norms that are more masculine.
Other arguments the APA offered were more convincing.
Men are — by far — more likely to complete an attempted suicide, for example — and suicide rates among men have risen dramatically in recent years.
To describe the figures as alarming would be an understatement. Among white men, the increase was 28 percent between 1999 and 2014.
Among non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native men, the figure for the same time period is even more shocking: 38 percent.
Whether aspects of traditional masculinity such as stoicism are to directly to blame — and therefore fodder worthy of the chopping block — is unclear at best, however.
Complicating the discussion is the fact that the APA is undeniably partisan. Even a cursory glance at the organization’s piece describing the new guidelines reveals common socially and politically liberal verbiage and talking points, including illegal immigration, systemic racism, privilege, gender expression, sexual orientation, and intersectionality.
National Review’s David French offered a cogent analysis of the flaws in APA’s stance in a piece this past Sunday.
In French’s estimation, certain aspects of traditional masculinity that the APA decried are actually essential characteristics that young boys do and should emulate as they navigate the path to becoming healthy, virtuous, grown men.
I think we should be teaching all children to become mature, tough, and hard-working, and guide them to meaningful lives that have accomplishments of value. I think we are not doing a great job with either gender on this, actually.
— Jetberry (@Jetberry1) January 8, 2019
Equality movements are no longer about equality. It's now about the destruction of those with whom they wanted to be equal. And they use the very race and gender discrimination which they ostensibly opposed.
— Matt Deuitch (@REMattersAZ) January 8, 2019
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Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.