The American Psychiatric Association released an article recently highlighting how gender characteristics have contributed to an overabundance of "bad men" in our culture.
The author is basically calling for changes to the guidelines that compel APA members to ignore the development of otherwise natural manifestations of masculinity in young males and perhaps try to program it out of them. To justify it all, the author points to nothing but feminist dictums. The bias here is blisteringly obvious...They might as well come right out and say "the world will be much better if everyone acted like women". Seeing as though that's not even possible, we're in for a long stretch of failures.
Needless to say, I'm going to do everything within my power throughout my career to destroy this deeply disturbing misconception about what constitutes healthy male behavior and its relationship with masculinity. We have to stop believing people when they say that gender is ONLY a social construct because it obfuscates any reasonable formulation of actual problems in our society. We can't solve problems if we can't even agree on what the problem is...
If we're concerned about violence, we can talk about all the psychological, environmental or genetic reasons why people become violent. Blaming gender expressions is not helpful nor scientific - it's lazy. All human behavior is a multivariate issue. There isn't an honest psychologist or social scientist who would disagree with that statement...
I'll end with this question for the forum: is aggression a universally human trait with some evolutionary utility.... or is it explicitly a "masculine" trait that ought to be eradicated?
I really look forward to your answers!
So why do you feel violence is more commonly perpetrated by men than women, even those in the exact same environment?
And I am speaking here of violence, not aggression. Aggression is fine, violence has victims and so yes--should be eliminated. And the need for that elimination is currently greater in relation to men who make up the majority of perpetrators and victims.
First, just because lots of men do a particular thing doesn't mean it wlll affect the definition of masculinity. Are we going to keep redefining masculinity with every behavior we notice? Most men pee standing up but it wouldn't make much sense to say that's masculine to do so. Masculinity therefor should not be conflated with violence. So, there's that.
How about compassion? That's typically thought of as a feminine characteristic but I'd hate to get between a compassionate mother and her offspring...
Most people haven't even thought about what these terms mean...Masculinity/Feminity is as old a concept as time itself.
Second, men also pay a price for being predisposed to aggression. It's men who fight and die in most wars. It's men who make up 99 percent of the prison population. It's men who are mostly the victims of each others violence. It's mostly men who commit suicide. It's men who lose most custody battles and we're often expected to provide resources to women indefinitely whether they deserve it or not. Long story short, each gender is going to experience a tradeoff for being the way they are.
Thought experiment: Imagine a man who was once violent but then reforms and becomes a non-violent productive member of society. How much of that reform is attributable to a rise or fall in his individual expression of masculinity?
The answer is: he became more masculine. Masculinity is about impulse control, responsibility, and using our strengths for the good.
What do you call female violence? Toxic femininity? No. That would be ridiculous right? This topic has been so convoluted, its ridiculous we have to have this conversation.
Further, what should we propose we actually do about these problems? One reason its not okay to be racist is because people don't choose their race -no more than anyone chooses their gender or what environment they're born into.
So, even if you could prove that overall violence is growing as we become more populated with men (which its not unless you count the rise of male suicide) and its traceable to masculinity, you'd have to forgive the fact that men didn't ask to be men and maybe they need more love instead of blame and stigma. But being loving to a man is different than stripping him of something that is fundamental to his being.
If I may?
Males evolved to be more physically aggressive in the forms of hunting, fighting, defending their families and clans, etc. Females traditionally take on a role of caregiver and, as Jesse mentioned, compassion. People can claim all day that there's no difference between male and female but this simply isn't true.
Sure, violent behaviour is done more by men, statistically. That doesn't mean all masculinity is harmful. Masculinity has won wars, built cities, led innovation. We don't need as many of these physical traits in today's society, and for feminism to claim that masculinity is "toxic" is, in my opinion, harmful.
That's just my two cents.
I am not talking about definitions--no one ever solved a problem with a dictionary. If being male contributes to being violent, it is problematic yes? I think you are getting caught up in semantics for emotional reasons. You are saying, just as everyone else is that how men "be men" affects whether they are violent. No one I know is suggesting men stop being men, just that being men stops having so much with violence. As you say, mature and well-adjusted men may be constructively aggressive but they aren't violent, they are strong and protective of the vulnerable. That is the goal here.
"I think you are getting caught up in semantics for emotional reasons"
Why is it not okay to feel passionate about something? It doesn't invalidate anything I've said. It's pushed me to think deeper about the problem, actually.
"No one I know is suggesting men stop being men, just that being men stops having so much with violence"
It helps if you do more than skim over the contents of the OP. Masculinity and men being men is most certainly at the center of this debate.
Fact: Men commit most of the violence in the world
What society is doing about it: Blaming masculinity as evidenced by the article published in one of the most prominent psychiatric organizations in the country.
So, it doesn't matter if anyone you actually know is saying these things. Because it's happening anyway...
Thanks for chatting, as unproductive as it has been.
Interestingly, the article goes out of its way to ensure we are aware that most of the work in this field has focused on men, particularly white men, throughout its existence.
Seems to me an argument can be made that the practices of the members of this organization could have contributed to the problems the article is attempting to address. If they've already mucked things up, why trust their opinion?
"most of the work in this field has focused on men, particularly white men, throughout its existence."
You see, this is troubling for me because I spend every day of my life studying within this field and I just don't find that to be the case. The category of "men" or even categories of race can't tell us much by themselves about human behavior. If their work has only been focused on white men, its because they've decided to play the identity politics game. Part of that game involves coming up with terms like "toxic masculinity".
I believe we all want the same things but the language that's being used has really made it difficult to talk about these things in depth.
Thanks, Live to Learn
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