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APA Guide on Working with Men and Boys: Good or Bad?

I do think there is value to psychology and its use to help people. However, the fact is, as a science psychology is very limited. Some people go to the extreme and call it worthless. That of course just shows their own ignorance of the subject. It is very useful. However, it is also very prone to being turned from a science into a philosophy. I don’t think this is the fault of the science of psychology itself but rather of the people and organizations surrounding it. Because psychology deals largely with emotion and a mental trauma it tends to attract a certain kind of practitioner. It isn’t the science itself that is at issue but rather the influence of those who choose to practice it and study it. For many the science has become one of cognition rather than emotion. Rather than focusing on trauma and emotion it focuses instead of what processes of the brain bring about these things. The emotion itself is just a symptom, a manifestation of some underlying cognitive problem. Masculinity isn’t a problem, rather how a person thinks about it can be. The APA is trying to help people understand men and how they think and interact. However, in so doing they have caused some people to get upset at how they have addressed it. Linked is a new guideline from the APA on the dealing with men and boys.

Where they succeed or fail depends on your philosophy. The guide reads, “Boys and men have historically been the focus of psychological
research and practice as a normative referent for behavior rather than as gendered human beings…”

Man Glitter

To understand that sentence you have to know what the APA thinks gender is.

“Gender refers to psychological, social, and cultural experiences and characteristics associated with the social statuses of girls and women or boys and men, whereas sex refers to biological aspects of being male or female. Gender includes assumptions, social beliefs, norms, and stereotypes about the behavior, cognitions, and emotions of males and females (Pleck, 1981, 1995). Gender norms and stereotypes also vary within and between groups associated with other dimensions of diversity such as ethnicity, sexual orientation (McDermott et al., 2017), ability (Griffith & Thorpe, 2016), socioeconomic class (Liu, 2017; Liu, Colbow, & Rice, 2016), and race (Hammond, Fleming, & Villa-Torres, 2016; McDermott et al., 2017). Although gender and sex can be seen as overlapping and fluid categories with multiple meanings (Marecek, 2002), this document uses the term gender to refer primarily to the social experiences, expectations, and consequences associated with being a boy or man.”
Gender as a social construct, which is how they seem to be interpreting it, must have an origin. What is that origin?

That’s actually a very important question. There is a constant back and forth right now between those who say gender has nothing to do with sex and those who say otherwise. I say otherwise.

I say that sex, meaning the biological differences between men and women, have driven gender norms.

“This framing could be seen as needlessly emphasizing the message that being a man is bad, says John Barry, a professor at University College London who is the editor of the upcoming Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health. “People already tend to focus on things like toxic masculinity,” he says. “If men are hearing that they’re the ones with all the power and privilege, when men are having these problems emotionally in relationships and contemplating suicide, it’s kind of implied that it’s all their fault.” (Source)

Unlike the left and the APA I don’t believe there is any such thing as toxic or bad masculine traits. The left speaks as if masculinity in itself is a bad thing. I do not agree with this.

Of course men can carry things too far. Some men might do that but I think that most men don’t. They just work things out differently. Work them out as men do. Some of the ideas of toxic masculinity are a lie, a myth. For example the notion that men don’t cry. They do. They just do it differently. A man cries, but he is measured and in control. They cry when they are sad, they cry when they are happy, they cry when they are triumphant. Probably some men are taught that they shouldn’t cry. I suppose. Though to be honest I’ve never met any of those men. I’ve dealt with some of the toughest, most manly men you can think of. Men who could easily destroy the average person in a fight. They are hard men. Men who have seen things others should never have to see. Those men cry. Those men hug. Those men feel love and camaraderie for one another.

Do they try to hold in the tears? Yes. Yes they do. They do because that attempt is manly. there’s nothing toxic about that and nothing unmanly about the emotion.

Crying man

It isn’t masculinity that is the problem. It’s power.

There are some who confuse masculinity with power. This is a reasonable confusion to have since the two have been tied together for so long. What the left sees as a problem with masculinity is actual a problem with how people (not just men) deal with power and authority. You will find those same undesirable traits in women who aren’t able to deal with power and authority well too.

To be a gentleman one must first be a man. That’s a sentiment I stole from John Wayne.

Part of being a man is learning how to control oneself. It is those men who don’t learn to control themselves that abuse the strengths that come with being a man. It is not the masculinity that is the problem but that particular man’s inability to master himself.

The left confuses power and masculinity. I think that their doing so is part of the feminist manifesto that has too deeply invaded our society. It is not male chauvinism to say that the feminist movement has hurt men and boys.

What the early feminists wanted was a bit of the power. The power to vote. The power to have jobs. The power to inherit. These are all things they should have. They got that power. But a movement had been built up with leaders who were loath to give up the limelight, ironically loath to give up their own power. So they made sure the movement stayed alive and they made men the enemy.

Men are men.

You aren’t going to change millions of years of evolution.

So they have created men and boys who are conflicted. No longer can they be masculine. Yet, they are wired to be masculine.

It is no wonder there is pain, confusion, violence, lashing out.

The left sees these things as proof of toxic masculinity and they ignore their own hand in the creation of this cultural event.

Rough Rider, Theodore Roosevelt said most succinctly, “Over-sentimentality, over-softness, in fact washiness and mushiness are the great dangers of this age and of this people. Unless we keep the barbarian virtues, gaining the civilized ones will be of little avail.”

Sometimes men just have to rise up and be men.

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