Blog 4: Academic research & Ethical Issues

The term: “toxic masculinity” has become popular in recent years, linking violence and sexism with men. It has become prevalent in these times we live in right now where everyone is a special snowflake and trying to be “woke”. Instead of pooling the opinions of everyone for the discussion and trying to understand why people have personal values and understanding of something. The media and Internet especially creates a pro-snowflake environment which censors everything that goes against their beliefs and challenges the universal right of free speech and discussion on the Internet. The special snowflakes lock themselves in their bubbles where everything caters to their belief system. There is no room for argument or outside opinion. They have created Lalaland for themselves on the Internet.

Masculinity now is portrayed as old-fashioned: aggressive and misogynistic. Men have become overly sensitive. Here is a short video of what university students nowadays think about toxic masculinity:

It is funny how everyone seems to be against this toxic masculinity phenomenon, but no one seems to be able to pinpoint what exactly it is. Almost as if the students were spewing propaganda.

The American Psychology Association (APA) created a guideline for therapists working with boys and men. It held controversial views: stating masculinity in its core is damaging to men and those around them. Masculine men apparently, were less likely to take preventive health measures and more likely to take part in harmful activities like abusing alcohol and smoking. This “study” perpetuates the belief of traditional masculinity being negative.

The APA received a lot of flak online after posting this guideline and instead of accepting the validity of some criticism, released a public announcement in their website (now deleted): “When a man believes that he must be successful no matter who is harmed or his masculinity is expressed by being sexually abusive, disrespectful, and harmful to others, that man is conforming to the negative aspects associated with traditional masculinity.” So according to the APA, these negative behaviours are not related to an individual’s flaw in character but about “masculinity.” (Wright, 2019)

The guidelines’ heavy focus on “traditional masculinity” does not do much to help the boys and men. By failing to become compassionate and trying to understand people with values different from their own, setting up this guideline has not only offended but turned away men who were considering psychotherapy. Men and boys may want to seek out counsel to develop traditionally masculine behaviours. (being assertive, taking risks and controlling their emotions) These guidelines will only have an adverse effect, dissuading the men and boys from taking part in psychotherapy. The APA guidelines also display numerous usage of jargon such as power, privilege and microaggressions. Language like these are highly manipulative and makes the guidelines appear more ideological and less scientifically objective. (Ferguson, 2019)

According to Frueh (2019), this manifesto throws away the history of human biology and evolution for a “progressive fantasy” fuelled by the modern ‘social justice’ movement. Masculine traits like individualism; courage, stoicism; ambition; and a willingness to protect and sacrifice for others have contributed to securing freedom and prosperity, but so many people now take them for granted. There is a reason cultures all around the world have similar, if not all the same gender roles, men need to have a healthy amount of masculinity. If not, then who will rise to the occasion in crisis? Armed forces; the police/fire departments’ and workers who risk their lives are all integral to society. Whatever wishful thinking you might have, men require masculine traits.

The whole “gender-sensitiveness in therapy is playing with fire because it allows therapists to assume that the patient’s gender is the cause or determinant of their problems. And since the patients are highly suggestible in their vulnerable state, therapists have to be careful not to gaslight their patients with personal assumptions. (Satel, 2019) The guidelines become ironic here as it seizes the opportunity in the vulnerability in men and boys to indoctrinate them into its ideology by teaching them about the “toxicity of masculinity.” (Smith, 2019)

Other researches claim young men who conformed to traditional masculine norms scored higher on psychological well being. It was because men who valued success and held a winning mentality were more likely to experience mastery in their craft as well as gaining a sense of achievement through their endeavours. (Kaya, 2018) People who have greater self-control: people who choose to hold their anger instead of venting out in particular, lead healthier lives. They had better grades; consumed less alcohol; had fewer physical pains; were less depressed, anxious and paranoid. They also had higher self-esteem, were more conscientious and had healthier relationships. (Pinker 2002)

Pinker also states that men nowadays need encouragement to be in tune with their masculine side – dignity, responsibility, self-control and self-reliance. And to restrain their violence and drive for dominance. Masculinity and femininity are not toxic in themselves. It is to what extreme people take them that makes them look bad.

I have realised that my topic is involved with social science and its resources(both in libraries and online) are not 100% factual as it is not a hard science and relates to human psychology. Although I have had some biases in choosing research papers and sources to fit my beliefs, I strongly believe in the case I am making and have tried to be as truthful to myself and my viewpoint.

Reference:

APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys. (n.d.). https://www.apa.org. [online] Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/ce-corner.

Campus Reform (2019). Students Hate Toxic Masculinity… But Can’t Define What It Is. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsYKb3T13Wk&t=77s [Accessed 28 Sep. 2020].

Kaya, A., Iwamoto, D.K., Brady, J., Clinton, L. and Grivel, M. (2019). The role of masculine norms and gender role conflict on prospective well-being among men. Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 20(1), pp.142–147.

Mahalik, J.R., Burns, S.M. and Syzdek, M. (2007). Masculinity and perceived normative health behaviors as predictors of men’s health behaviors. Social Science & Medicine, 64(11), pp.2201–2209.

Pinker, S. (2002). The blank slate : the modern denial of human nature. New York: Viking.

Poole, A. the author G. (n.d.). Male Psychology: What’s Wrong With APA’s Masculinity Guidelines ? [online] Australian Men’s Health Forum. Available at: https://www.amhf.org.au/male_psychology_what_s_wrong_with_apa_s_masculinity_guidelines [Accessed 28 Sep. 2020].

Psychology Today. (n.d.). What’s the Problem with “Traditional Masculinity”? [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-and-the-pursuit-leadership/201903/whats-the-problem-traditional-masculinity.

Quillette. (2019). Twelve Scholars Respond to the APA’s Guidance for Treating Men and Boys. [online] Available at: https://quillette.com/2019/02/04/psychologists-respond-to-the-apas-guidance-for-treating-men-and-boys/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2020].

Research Digest. (2019). Young Men Who Endorse The Masculine Ideal of Success Enjoy Greater Psychological Wellbeing. [online] Available at: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/01/18/young-men-who-endorse-the-masculine-ideal-of-success-enjoy-greater-psychological-wellbeing/ [Accessed 24 Sep. 2020].

Salter, M., Ardell, J. and Getty (2019). The Problem With a Fight Against Toxic Masculinity The popular term points toward very real problems of male violence and sexism. But it risks misrepresenting what actually causes them. The Atlantic. [online] Available at: https://www.speechwire.com/files/9316-7%20-%20Discussion%20Artifact%20-%20CURRENT%20EVENTS.pdf [Accessed 24 Feb. 2020].

Traditional Masculinity Can Hurt Boys, Say New A.P.A. Guidelines. (2019). The New York Times. [online] 10 Jan. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/science/apa-traditional-masculinity-harmful.html.

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