‘Toxic masculinity’: A public health crisis?
The American Psychology Association just joined the war on masculinity, said Andrew Sullivan in NYMag.com, issuing treatment guidelines for men and boys that effectively “pathologize half of humanity.” The report asserts that traditional masculinity, marked by “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression,” is harmful to both men themselves and society, resulting in oppression of women and minorities and an epidemic of violence. The APA accepts the modern gender theory that men and women are not intrinsically different, that testosterone is irrelevant, and that masculinity is a social construct that can be changed for the better. Yes, “there are indeed issues that men today need help with, and emotional repression is definitely part of it.” But telling men that masculinity itself is diseased and that they need “conversion therapy” will only drive them away. The APA “should be a science-based organization,” said mental health counselor Michael Gurian in TheFederalist.com. By denying that the male brain is different, the report’s authors walked into an “ideological swamp.”
Notice how so many men took this as “an indictment” of all masculinity, said Monica Hesse in WashingtonPost.com. For years, American men have felt under attack, while also believing “nobody was paying attention to their suffering.” Male depression, isolation, and suicide rates are a national crisis, and that’s precisely what the APA seeks to address. Not incidentally, the organization has also issued specific guidelines for treating the elderly, racial minorities, LGBT people, and, yes, women. This time, the APA asks us “to wrestle with a complicated idea”: that historically rigid gender roles suppress the true, complex natures of both men and women. Sometimes, “healing yourself might mean letting go of the very things you believed defined who you were.”
There’s nothing “toxic” about true masculinity, said David French in NationalReview.com. A healthy adult male is “physically and mentally tough,” rises to challenges, and shows leadership under stress. His innate aggression and sense of adventure has been channeled into “virtuous ends”: service to others, defending the weak, and stoic self-sacrifice in the pursuit of difficult goals. It’s the loss of these values—and fathers who embody them—that has left so many boys and men lost and angry. When “it comes to the crisis besetting our young men, traditional masculinity isn’t the problem; it can be part of the cure.”