January 15, 2019
Here’s an outside-the-box — not to say crazy (are you allowed to say crazy anymore?) — suggestion for the gang at the American Psychology Association: If you’re going to issue what Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse calls an “an indictment … of rigid, traditional masculinity,” you might want to talk to some “traditional” men first.
That way, you won’t be blindsided when some folks think your research belongs under the scientific classification of “crap.”
The APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys says that men have all kinds of problems at rates women don’t have. Why? “One cause,” Hesse explains, is “‘Traditional masculinity’ itself — the term refers to a Western concept of manliness that relies — and sometimes over-relies — on stoicism, dominance, aggression and competitiveness.”
“Traditional masculinity?” That’s kinda general. You want to lay suicide and bad grades on men behaving like men, as men have behaved for thousands or tens of thousands of years? Might get some pushback there …
But, according to Hesse, former APA president Ronald Levant is “shocked” that the Guidelines have drawn criticism. Hess also cites Matt Englar-Carlson, director of something called the Center for Boys and Men at California State University at Fullerton. Englar-Carlson worked on the Guidelines too, and he’s mystified that people think the point is “that men were bad, or even that many forms of masculinity were.” He tells Hesse:
“The guidelines are about, how do we help men live healthier lives?” he says. “How do we help men live lives that aren’t trapped in straitjackets of gender expectations?”
Well, try not saying things like “straitjackets of gender expectations.” It’ll likely put off any man with more testosterone than PajamaBoy.