Lashing Out at Psychologists for Messing with Men

The controversial Gillette razor ad unleashed a barrage of comments supporting and rejecting the meme of “toxic masculinity.” The American Psychological Association, which recently presented new guidelines for identifying the aberrant condition is at the center of the debate. In reality, some “toxic” men are heroes (John McCain, Navy Seals, 9/11 Firefighters) or qualify as “toxic” by their extraordinary skills and risk-taking (Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Martin Luther King.) Below are voices protesting the idea of reengineering men.


In my practice as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen an increase of depression in young men who feel emasculated in a society that is hostile to masculinity. New guidelines from the American Psychological Association defining “traditional masculinity” as a pathological state are likely only to make matters worse.

True, over the past half-century ideas about femininity and masculinity have evolved, sometimes for the better. But the APA guidelines demonize masculinity rather than embracing its positive aspects. In a press release, the APA asserts flatly that “traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.” The APA claims that masculinity is to blame for the oppression and abuse of women. – Erica Komisar, The Wall St. Journal


The latest example of the American Psychological Association’s political hackery concerns the topic of “traditional masculinity.” In the APA journal, it announced that it had released new guidelines to “help psychologists work with men and boys.” Those guidelines suggest that “40 years of research” show that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.” The APA explains that “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful. Men socialized in this way are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors.”

Never mind that traditional masculinity — a masculinity geared toward channeling masculine instincts of building and protecting, rather than tearing down — built Western civilization and protected it from the brutalities of other civilizational forces. Never mind that traditional masculinity protected femininity and elevated women to equal status in public policy. Traditional masculinity is actually just men sitting around and eating burgers while grunting at one another about football, all the while crying on the inside because they have been prohibited by society from showing their feelings. — Ben Shapiro, Real Clear Politics


The ideological misandry is unmistakable. Check out the equivalent guidelines for women and girls, issued in 2007. Where stoicism is a bad thing for men, especially black men, here’s how it works for women: “In therapy, teaching, research, and supervision, psychologists are encouraged to become aware not only of the challenges that women and girls have faced, but of the resiliency and strength that women and girls have shown in response.” For men, “assertiveness” is part of a pathology; for women, it is a virtue. –Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine


To be fair, it’s not all PC codswallop, but given the social justice warrior jargon throughout, I suspect this is mostly about psychologizing the gelding of American males. I do not trust Ryon McDermott, PhD, to decide what is and is not healthy masculinity. “What is gender in the 2010s?” asks McDermott, PhD, a psychologist at the University of South Alabama who also helped draft the men’s guidelines. “It’s no longer just this male-female binary.” –Rod Dreher, The American Conservative


We do our sons no favors when we tell them that they don’t have to answer that voice inside them that tells them to be strong, to be brave, and to lead. We do them no favors when we let them abandon the quest to become a grown man when that quest gets hard. Yes, we do them no favors when we’re not sensitive to those boys who don’t conform to traditional masculinity, but when it comes to the crisis besetting our young men, traditional masculinity isn’t the problem; it can be part of the cure. —David French, National Review


APA’s membership is 58% female, and upwards of 75% of the graduate students in psychology are female. While men hold many of the industry’s highest honors and highest paying jobs, there is clearly a massive feminine bias in the profession’s growing base.

Ronald F. Levant, the co-editor of the report and former president of the APA, is himself a feminist activist, has edited several books on “new masculinities” which steer men into the service of the feminist agenda.

As I wrote in The Way of Men, when you strip away the ever-shifting details of culture and separate masculinity from morality, the basic features of masculinity remain essentially the same. They are directly related to biological differences between men and women, and the evolutionary roles of men and women.

Men are on average physically stronger than women — there’s nothing cultural about that fact — and men who were stronger than other men have always and everywhere been regarded as being more masculine. Men are on average less risk-averse than women — and decreased risk aversion is a known effect of higher testosterone. Men have always and everywhere been expected to show less fear and display more courage. This also makes a lot of sense in the big picture, because nature gambles with men. Men are more expendable — because sperm is a lot more plentiful than eggs, and one industrious man can impregnate thousands of women.  Men have always competed with each other, not merely for women, but for the esteem of male honor groups. Being esteemed by the right group of men often makes a man more desirable to women — an aspect of human social dynamics often missed by evolutionary psychologists who are maybe a bit too used to observing patterns of competition and display in less socially complex animals.

If you review the greatest and earliest works of human literature, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Greek tragedies and myths and poems the same familiar distinctions between masculine and feminine characteristics are there. If you look at Chinese concepts of Yin and Yang and the differentiation between the sexes in myth and culture and art from around the world, if you read about alchemy and Jungian psychology, the same themes emerge. There is polarity of gender defined by the biological and behavioral extremes of difference between the sexes.

Blog of Jack Donovan, writer on masculinity


3 thoughts on “Lashing Out at Psychologists for Messing with Men

  1. Helpful from pro-male psychologists would be screening questions men can ask potential therapists to discard those who may mistreat them. They are vulnerable people who deserve protection.

    1. It isn’t just them — as mental health “screenings” increasingly become part of medicine in general, we need to worry about our primary care physicians and everyone else.

      Even worse is the “Social Behavioral Learning” that has come into K-12 with Common Core, and which is now proceeding to infect a lot of Human Resources departments as well. We need to be worried about this, really worried about this….

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