Screengrab from https://youtu.be/vTZ8MEi2yCo

 

I guess we all should have seen this coming. The same organization that declared homosexuality a mental condition and then declared it completely normal and followed up by declaring that gender was, indeed, fluid have now found something they can agree is bad. Masculinity.

The main thrust of the subsequent research is 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. For example, a 2011 study led by Kristen Springer, PhD, of Rutgers University, found that men with the strongest beliefs about masculinity were only half as likely as men with more moderate masculine beliefs to get preventive health care (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 52, No. 2). And in 2007, researchers led by James Mahalik, PhD, of Boston College, found that the more men conformed to masculine norms, the more likely they were to consider as normal risky health behaviors such as heavy drinking, using tobacco and avoiding vegetables [wtf, “avoiding vegetables?” is this real or Calvin and Hobbes?], and to engage in these risky behaviors themselves (Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 64, No. 11).

This masculine reluctance toward self-care extends to psychological help. Research led by Omar Yousaf, PhD, found that men who bought into traditional notions of masculinity were more negative about seeking mental health services than those with more flexible gender attitudes (Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2015).

For this reason, mental health professionals need to be aware that men are often reluctant to admit vulnerability, says Fredric Rabinowitz, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Redlands in California who has stewarded the new guidelines since 2005, when he was president of APA Div. 51 (Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities).

“Because of the way many men have been brought up—to be self-sufficient and able to take care of themselves—any sense that things aren’t OK needs to be kept secret,” Rabinowitz says. “Part of what happens is men who keep things to themselves look outward and see that no one else is sharing any of the conflicts that they feel inside. That makes them feel isolated. They think they’re alone. They think they’re weak. They think they’re not OK. They don’t realize that other men are also harboring private thoughts and private emotions and private conflicts.”

I have to admit to being raised within a home that valued masculinity–and feminity–and my father and all the males in my life exhibited it daily. I never once heard my Old Man talk about his feelings with anybody. I never once saw him ask anybody for anything. I did see him go to work every single day of his working life, rain or shine, because that is what it took to put food on the table. I remember my Old Man coming home from work one night with a handkerchief scrap stuffed in his work boot to staunch the bleeding where he’d been “nicked” by a jackhammer slipping off target. I remember, as a kid sitting, mostly transfixed in horror, and watching him trim stray scraps of skin and torn toenail with a combination of his Barlow pocket knife and nail clippers…without a word or a change of facial expression. Whenever I’m sick or injured, that image flashes through my mind and I bite my lip and continue on without complaining. I learned to not talk about my personal business, particularly finances, with anyone outside the immediate family. When we fell on hard times, as we did on occasion, none of our neighbors knew. And to the best of my belief, I’ve modeled that behavior for my kids because life can be hard and unfair and panic and crying solves nothing.

The things I saw in the Old Man I saw over and over in the best officers and noncommissioned officers I served with in the Infantry. No excuses were accepted (“the maximum effective range of an excuse is zero meters). You didn’t let people see you sweat because if people see you sweat they don’t trust your leadership. Emoting under stress does not build confidence in anyone around you. You make the hard decisions and press on and own the outcome–good or bad. That principle, by the way, applies exactly as much to exercising a leadership role in your family as it does to leading troops in combat. I can’t imagine why any woman would want to make a life and family with a man who was constantly acting uncertain and weak and filled with self-doubt. How could you ever feel safe raising a family with him?

I’ve had personal and professional setbacks in my life, and I’ve never felt the need to ask anyone for their advice on what I needed to do to get MY life back in order. I’ve certainly never had the overwhelming need to get weepy and tell one of my friends about my problems and then light the watermelon candles and take a long bubble bath. I don’t see how sitting around in some kind of a circle jerk and talking about my feelings helps me or anyone else.

A far greater danger to society is treating young men as though they were women but with (at least for the time being) different genitalia. We’re creating an entire generation where about half of the young men have never been in a home with a permanent male role model. Our schools are being denuded of male teachers so boys who don’t have a father living with them might very well never have an encounter with an adult male until they are in their teens. At the same time, those schools are indifferent, if not outright hostile, to boys. Statistics tell us that boys and girls are equally distributed on an IQ Bell Curve yet special ed classes are disproportionately male and magnet programs disproportionately female. Despite there being more women than men in college there are virtually zero programs out there to encourage boys to go to college but there are numerous programs funded by federal grants to encourage girls to do so. Male behavior is treated as a pathology and treated with mood-altering drugs. We are creating a society that has plenty of wolves and sheep but damned few sheepdogs.

As C. S. Lewis said, we are creating “men without chests.”

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

So now we’ve made aberrant behavior mainstream and made the virtues that built this nation a mental condition. Whatever could go wrong? If you want to explain suicide, drug abuse, and all manner of other ills, don’t blame masculine virtues, blame a society that has nearly criminalized being male.

For my part, I want none of it. And neither does my son.

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