The American Psychological Association (APA) has released guidelines for Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men for the fist time ever. “The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful,” the January article from the APA states.
At first blush, this may seem unnecessary. For decades, psychology focused on men (particularly white men), to the exclusion of all others. And men still dominate professionally and politically: As of 2018, 95.2 percent of chief operating officers at Fortune 500 companies were men. According to a 2017 analysis by Fortune, in 16 of the top companies, 80 percent of all high-ranking executives were male. Meanwhile, the 115th Congress, which began in 2017, was 81 percent male.
But something is amiss for men as well. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color.
In other words, men being successful is problematic because they are disproportionately represented in positions of power, but they’re also more violent and prone to suicide, which is also problematic.
This lose-lose scenario is promoted by the people behind the project. Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and co-editor of the APA volume “The Psychology of Men and Masculinities” said, “Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy.”
The goal seems to be more than just helping men. Ryon McDermott, PhD, a psychologist at the University of South Alabama who helped draft the men’s guidelines says “If we can change men,” he says, “we can change the world.”
Here are some lowlights from the guidelines:
1. Psychologists strive to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.
In other words, despite all the data from social sciences that point to innate differences between men and women, girls and boys, masculinity is a social construct and can be changed.
2. Psychologists strive to recognize that boys and men integrate multiple aspects to their social identities across the lifespan.
In other words, being a man isn’t that important compared to “age, ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, spirituality, immigration status, and ability status.” Focus on those other things to be less masculine.
3. Psychologists understand the impact of power, privilege, and sexism on the development of boys and men and on their relationships with others.
In other words, if you’re a man, you’re sexist, so stop being a man in order to not be sexist.
4. Psychologists strive to develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence the interpersonal relationships of boys and men.
In other words, men should encourage boys to question their gender identity—that’s “healthy”.
6. Psychologists strive to support educational efforts that are responsive to the needs of boys and men.
This is straight out of the Prussian-industrial model play-book. Boys shouldn’t act like boys in school if they want to get a job and be a productive member of society after school.
9. Psychologists strive to build and promote gender-sensitive psychological services.
In other words, encourage gender fluidity in case men want to escape the masculinity enforced by society.