For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) has issued guidelines for mental health professionals working with men and boys. That may not sound like a momentous event, but the APA is a powerful body. It has 117,500 members, including the vast majority of practicing psychologists, and an annual budget of $115 million. Its guidance documents carry the imprimatur of scientific authority and are hugely influential when it comes to policies and behavior in public institutions. This edict will be referred to by university administrators when policing sexual interactions on campus, by the courts when deciding who to award custody to in divorce hearings and by HR departments when assessing complaints about male employees. It’s not an exaggeration to say this new guidance will affect the lives of millions of men and boys for years to come.
I cannot claim to have read the entire 30,000-word document, but I’ve got the gist: masculinity is a bad, bad thing. Traditional male qualities like courage, self-reliance, competitiveness, stoicism, personal ambition and a love of adventure are ‘psychologically harmful’. On the face of it, men and boys might appear to benefit from ‘patriarchy’ — after all, 95.2 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are men — but in reality the emotional repression needed to maintain this ‘privilege’ exacts a terrible toll. It is the ethical duty of psychologists, as well as parents, teachers, coaches, religious and community leaders, to root out these masculine pathologies and help men become…well, less manly.
If you’re in any doubt about the takeover of the American psychological profession by grievance studies professors, look no further than these guidelines. There’s scarcely a sentence that isn’t freighted with the ideology of the social justice left. Gender is ‘socially constructed’ and ‘non-binary’; sex is ‘assigned at birth’ rather than observed and recorded; ‘dominant masculinity’ is historically dependent on ‘the exclusion of men who are not white, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied and privileged’; psychologists should learn about ‘the impact of racism and homophobia on the behavior and mental health of boys and men’ and ‘counter the damaging effects of microaggressions’; on it goes. Racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism… blah, blah, blah. The word ‘transgender’ occurs more often (56) than ‘masculine’ (53). This isn’t impartial, evidence-based advice. It’s a manifesto.
Needless to say, this identitarian mumbo jumbo is about as ‘scientific’ as the ravings of David Icke. The ‘unhealthy’ male characteristics the APA believes are created by ‘gender stereotypes’, such as a reluctance to spend hours talking about your feelings, are not foisted on men by white, heteronormative society. Rather, they’re rooted in our biological nature. Contrary to the postmodernist dogma that the differences between men and women are ‘socially constructed’, men exhibit the same basic qualities regardless of what sort of society they’re brought up in. The psychological drives experts attribute to ‘Western culture’, such as territorial aggression, date back to the emergence of homo sapiens from the primeval forest. Indeed, many masculine traits are cross-species, too. When baby monkeys are given the option of playing with toys, the males choose trucks and the females pick dolls. The traditional male characteristics these pseudoscientists are objecting to are part of our ineradicable essence.
What does appear to be genuinely psychologically harmful is this unending war on masculinity. The effect of telling men that their desire to protect and provide is ‘sexist’, as well as persuading women they’re better off without us, has been to unleash an epidemic of family breakdown. A whopping 25 percent of American children are being raised by single mothers. No doubt the APA thinks boys who grow up without fathers are better off. After all, they’ve been spared exposure to noxious male role models. But the grim reality is they’re more likely to drop out of school, become alcohol and drug addicts and end up in the criminal justice system.
Meanwhile, the men who’ve been told that they’re no longer needed spend their lives playing video games, getting addicted to opioids and, in increasing numbers, committing suicide. The average life expectancy of American males last year was 76, down for the second year in a row. If the APA is looking for toxicity, it should start by examining itself.
This article was originally published in The Spectator magazine.