• Conservatives Rage Over (APA) Report That Finds Toxic Masculinity is Bad For Men’s Health by Z. Ford

Conservatives Rage Over Report That Finds Toxic Masculinity is Bad For Men’s Health by Z. Ford


Disclaimer. I’m offering this reminder and disclaimer upfront for anyone who may be new to this blog, or who is not familiar with me: I am a conservative.

I have never been a liberal, and I don’t go by a feminist label.

However, I do find some merit in some points liberals or feminists have to say on some topics, with Toxic Masculinity being one of them.

Unfortunately, most conservatives misunderstand what the phrase “Toxic Masculinity” means.

In very brief terms, here is what Toxic Masculinity does NOT mean:

-it does not mean that masculinity is bad or wrong;
-it does not mean that all boys and men are rapists, sexists, or abusers of girls and women;
-it does not necessarily mean that boys and men should have to take on traits considered feminine and behave like stereotypical girls

So although I am a conservative, and the following appears on a liberal website, I find it has some merit. Just because an idea or view comes from liberals or feminists doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

I, a conservative, agree with most of the article…


I have a lot of comments to make below this really long excerpt…

Conservatives Rage Over Report That Finds Toxic Masculinity is Bad For Men’s Health

by Zack Ford
January 2019

New psychological guidelines for improving the health and safety of boys and men have conservatives outraged.

The American Psychological Association has issued new guidelines designed to improve both the safety and mental health of men and boys. Many of the recommendations involve dismantling aspects of masculinity that inhibit wellness, which has conservatives up in arms that men are under attack.

In the ensuing debate this week, conservative pundits, columnists, and religious figures have indicated that they believe masculinity is biological and fundamental, leading them to conclude that the report is purely political.

But what the APA actually highlights is that men themselves are harmed by the way society conditions them to conform to traditional stereotypes of masculinity.

Not only are those stereotypes not inherent, but there are ways men can be men without conforming to them.

Being socialized to these stereotypes, the report explains, “has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental health, and physical health.”

This pressure to conform helps explain why boys are more likely to have learning difficulties and behavioral problems, as well as why men are more likely to commit (and be victim to) violent crimes and why they’re over-represented in prisons.

Most importantly, these behaviors and attitudes often create barriers to receiving the mental health support men need to avoid such negative outcomes.

…It’s also important to highlight that the APA guidelines address how male stereotypes might interfere with the way psychologists themselves diagnose and treat men who do seek care.

For example, boys and men are far more likely to be diagnosed with what the guidelines refer to as “externalizing disorders” that address their behaviors, like ADHD or substance abuse disorder, than “internalizing disorders” like depression. Studies show that this diagnostic bias reflects stereotypes about how men can, should, and do express their emotions.

The APA took similar steps to address the negative impact of female stereotypes in a set of guidelines for girls and women most recently updated in 2007. [Note by this blog’s owner: I wrote a similar piece called Toxic Femininity]

That document outlines in parallel fashion the way women may have been conditioned by social expectations and how that conditioning might negatively impact how best to serve their mental health.

In other words, the APA isn’t coming after men or masculinity; it’s simply recognizing that the gender expectations set forth by a patriarchal society can have negative consequences for both men and women.

But conservatives believe men are under attack.

[Note: many conservatives, including Tucker Carlson, are also depicting boys and men as victims while criticizing liberals for supposedly depicting girls and women as being victims]

This is a drum embattled Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been beating for some time, in fact.

Just last week, for example, he warned that because women are making more than men in some industries, this means they won’t want to marry men who make less than them.

Drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, and fewer families will result, he claimed — without citation.

Carlson was unsurprisingly flummoxed by the APA’s new report. During his show Wednesday night, he and masculinity-defender Christina Hoff Sommers  [see more on Hoff Sommers on my blog here] bantered about how harmful they think the guidelines are to men. “I wonder if this dogma isn’t causing depression actually since its everywhere,” Tucker expounded without evidence.

“What would happen if you told girls the qualities that make you feel female are poison and you must suppress them. What would that do for their mental health?” Carlson was apparently unfamiliar with the APA’s previous guidelines for women.

[Note by this blog’s owner: see also my blog post piece called Toxic Femininity]

After Sommers mocked the idea that masculinity is socially constructed, Carlson quipped, “Only crazy people believe that because it ignores biological reality.”

Washington Examiner contributor Nicole Russell was even more adamant that masculinity is inherently biological. “They’re innately wired that way,” she claimed without evidence.

…Conservatives have not only been asserting that masculinity is essentially biological, but also that it’s also essentially Biblical. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, assailed the APA guidance on his daily podcast Wednesday. “Humanity depends on there being a difference between men and women,” he insisted, citing God’s creation of Adam and Eve to make his point.

…None of the conservatives who objected to the guidelines actually addressed any of its findings about the barriers to men’s mental health. They simply doubled down on their belief that “men will be men,” that it’s “natural,” and that it should even be encouraged.

But they’re shaking their fist at a straw man. The APA isn’t trying to erase all masculinity. As science writer Sarah Pappas explains for the organization, the goal is to help men understand “that they’re adaptable, emotional, and capable of engaging fully outside of rigid norms.”

Studies have found that — counter to conservatives’ insistence — men and women aren’t as inherently different as stereotypes suggest. If men are simply given license and opportunity to break free of gender rules that aren’t actually improving their lives, it could improve both their mental health and the welfare of society.
—(end article)—

As to the portions of the article such as this:

After Sommers mocked the idea that masculinity is socially constructed, Carlson quipped, “Only crazy people believe that because it ignores biological reality.”
—(end quote)—

Look, I’m a conservative, and I agree that by and large, there are only two biological sexes, male and female (and there is a smaller category of intersex persons). I accept that.

However, it is also a fact that from the time we are boys and girls that our parents, churches, teachers, friends, and the culture (via movies, magazines, etc) condition us to act in certain ways depending on whatever our biological sex is.

American culture has expectations for how girls and women “should” behave vs. how boys and men “should” behave.

For example, most girls get the message that being a girl or woman means having attributes such as be passive, meek, soft spoken, frail, helpless, nurturing, helpful, and agreeable.

We women are discouraged from the time we are girls from being bold, assertive, out-spoken, and putting ourselves and our goals, dreams, and ambitions first.

Now, in my family, my mother, on the one hand, was a stereotypical girly girl, June Cleaver, feminine house wife, and she pressured, conditioned, and brainwashed me to act and behave in that manner – to be passive, nurturing, sweet, maternal, non-confrontational, and so on.

(And God knows I got those same detrimental, sexist views taught to me by most of the entertainment I was exposed to, and by the gender complementarian Southern Baptist Church I was raised in.
Those traits may be fine if a woman chooses them of her own accord, but many girls are pressured into unquestioningly accepting them. I was a tom boy when I was a kid, I was not a “girly girl,” and I grew really tired of always having to repress my needs and to be agreeable, even to jerks, as I got older.)

However, at the same time (and as I explained before in this older post), my father was socially conditioning my brother, sister, and myself more or less in the same way.

Sometimes my Dad does fall into gender stereotypes of expecting me, a female, to act like a deferential, passive doormat around other people, but for the most part, he did not differentiate the messages he was sending to my male and female siblings when we were kids and teens growing up.

My dad did not role model for me typical “feminine, girly” behavior.

My sister and I got raised by my Dad – for the most part – to act and think like stereotypical boys and men.

My sister and I were brought up by our father to be tough, out-spoken, self-reliant, to stuff any and all feelings down, we were taught don’t openly discuss your problems and feelings (because that would be considered un-masculine and weak).

My sister and I were not raised too differently from our brother. My brother got all the old-school “what it means to be a man” type messages from Dad, but so too did my sister and myself. 

My mother was wanting me, a female, to be a stereotypical helpless Damsel in Distress and to therefore always be sweet,  gentle, quiet, and deferential…

While, at the same time, my Dad was mostly encouraging me (and my sister) to be just like him: a loud- mouthed, opinionated, sarcastic, stubborn, blunt, in- your- face, take- no- crap- off- other- people, uncompromising, tough guy.

So, while I was born female, I was getting socially conditioned by one parent to behave under expectations for one biological sex, and by the other parent, to have qualities associated with the other biological sex.

If you are a conservative, you need to acknowledge the reality that while most people are born of one of two sexes – male or female – that gender (with gender not being the same thing as biological sex), can in fact be socially constructed.

Gender – how you your culture says you “should” act if you are a female or a male – is something you are taught and role modeled. It is not always or only something one is born with. It is not innate. It is not biological.

Your biological sex is not necessarily or always the determining factor in why you may be tough, meek, shy, passive, assertive, out-going, extroverted, introverted, or what have you.

A lot of those qualities are absolutely social constructs.

All women are not gentle, meek, mild, maternal, forgiving and nurturing. All men are not tough, bold, assertive, independent, or violent.

One can find members of either biological sex who don’t fit their culture’s or their religion’s ideas of what a man or woman “should” be or “should” act like.

Additional Coverage (Off Site):

‘Traditional masculinity’ officially deemed ‘harmful’ by American Psychological Association

“Traditional” masculinity is harmful for men, says psych group

Psychologists call ‘traditional masculinity’ harmful, face uproar from conservatives


More On This Blog:

Toxic Femininity, the Flip Side of Toxic Masculinity, and the Love of Scientific- Sounding Jargon to Endorse Sexism – Sexist Beliefs and Practices are Acceptable so Long As There is a Scientific Study That Defends Them

Three Sexist Myths About the Brain, Debunked, by Murali Doraiswamy and Tara Swart

Jesus’ Vision for Masculinity: The (Actual) Best A Man Can Get by Rob Dixon 

There Is No Biological Difference Between Male and Female Brains

The Biggest Myth About Our Brains is That They are “Male” or “Female” Lila MacLellan

Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)

What Happens When Children Are Asked to Draw a Surgeon, Firefighter, and a Fighter-Pilot – Re: Gender Stereotyping in Occupations

Stereotype Threat, Girls, Women, Text Anxiety, and Choosing Careers

Article by H. Farrell that Muses About the Possible Reasons For The Extreme Push Back Against Equality and Feminism, Particularly by Conservative Men

 Jordan Peterson Critiques and Commentary – He’s the Secular Complementarian

Let’s Say Good-Bye To The Straw-Feminist by Cordelia Fine

How Puberty Kills Girls’ Confidence by C. Shipman

How to Be Assertive – Even When You’re Constantly Talked Over by M. Welding

The Anti-Feminism Conservative Bias (written by a Conservative)

You Say You’re Against Victimhood Culture Yet You Depict All Men As Victims

Women (and the men) Who Argue Against Feminism, Who Claim Men and Masculinity Are Under Attack, Or Who Insist That There is Little, to No, Sexism In The U.S.A.

On Men Not Believing Women and Being Blind to the Sexism and Harassment Women Often Endure

The Growing Partisan Divide Over Feminism by Peter Beinart – The Republican and Conservative Women Who Want to Remain in Denial About American Sexism

The James Damore Google Tech-Bro Meme Stating that Women are Biologically Unsuited to Work at Tech Professions (Part 1) – (Part 2)

A Study Used Sensors to Show That Men and Women Are Treated Differently at Work

Are Schools or Pedagogical Systems Designed to Favor Girls Over Boys? No, Not By and Large

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