Momma, Don't Let Your Boys Grow Up to Be Men
In what could pass as the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson version of behavioral science, the American Psychological Association's Stephanie Pappas informs us the APA has issued its "first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys."
"At first blush," Stephanie says, "this may seem unnecessary." Because, as we learn:
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.
Yep, sure sounds like a problem. And, at second blush, Stephanie nails it down:
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.
Not to worry though, Mr. Trouble never hangs around when he hears APA's Mighty Mouse has come to town:
APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field’s androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.
Well we don't have to worry about "the field's" nasty "androcentric past" any more because it has apparently already come to its gender-Jesus moment. As APA's own Center for Workforce Studies told us in July, 2015, psychology's now a gynocentric profession:
The gender gap in the psychology workforce has widened. More females and fewer males have been entering the psychology workforce. In 2013, for every male active psychologist, there were 2.1 female active psychologists in the workforce.
No doubt "the field's" gender gap has widened even further in the intervening five years as academia -- fueled by Federal student loans now totaling $1.5 trillion -- pumped out five more graduating classes of presumably mostly female psychologists (not to mention legions of cultural warriors in "the fields" of feminist studies, racial studies, queer studies, and anti-old-dead-white-men-in-general studies).
Is there something ironic about a national behavioral profession in which women now outnumber men by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, informing the rest of us that the opposite gender's "traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their... [femininity] causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly"? Couldn't be a little gender bias there could there?
And speaking of cultural warriors, the APA's Center for Workforce Studies tells us "the field's" racial/ethnic gap is faring even better than "the field's" gender gap:
Although members of racial/ethnic minority groups accounted for less than one-fifth of the psychology workforce in 2013, the profession has become more diverse over time. Between 2005 and 2013, the percentage of racial/ethnic minority groups within the psychology workforce grew from 8.9 percent to 16.4 percent, compared to 39.6 percent for the overall workforce and 25.8 percent for the general doctoral/professional workforce.
Larger numbers of young racial/ethnic minority psychologists are entering the field. Compared to Whites, the distributions for racial/ethnic minority groups were relatively more concentrated at younger ages. Accordingly, the mean age of all racial/ethnic minority groups was statistically lower than that of Whites by approximately 4.1 years.
Whatever, just get those nasty old white men out of there.
Apparently, the APA's now gearing up to help us get over all that toxically masculine nonsense. After all, as Stephanie notes one of her psychology colleagues at the University of South Alabama said, "What is gender in the 2010s? It’s no longer just this male-female binary.” And it may no longer have much to do with "white men and boys" (or even biological sex) either because, as Stephanie tells us:
Prior to the second-wave feminist movement in the 1960s, all psychology was the psychology of men. Most major studies were done only on white men and boys, who stood in as proxies for humans as a whole. Researchers assumed that masculinity and femininity were opposite ends of a spectrum, and “healthy” psychology entailed identifying strongly with the gender roles conferred by a person’s biological sex.
But just as this old psychology left out women and people of color and conformed to gender-role stereotypes, it also failed to take men’s gendered experiences into account…
The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity -- marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression -- is, on the whole, harmful.
Dare we anticipate a bit more pointed APA guidance in the future? Judging by this abstract -- in something called the "APA PsyNET" -- of an article by Columbia University's Derald Wing Sue, we just might:
In our society, Whiteness is a default standard; the background of the figure-ground analogy from which all other groups of color are compared, contrasted, and made visible. From this color standard, racial/ethnic minorities are evaluated, judged, and often found to be lacking, inferior, deviant, or abnormal. Because Whiteness is considered to be normative and ideal, it automatically confers dominance on fair skinned people in our society. Whiteness would not be problematic if it weren't (a) predicated on White supremacy, (b) imposed overtly and covertly on People of Color, and (c) made invisible to those who benefit from its existence. Seen from this vantage point, Whiteness is an invisible veil that cloaks its racist deleterious effects through individuals, organizations, and society. The result is that White people are allowed to enjoy the benefits that accrue to them by virtue of their skin color.
This may require a little male stoicism after all.
Particularly white male stoicism.