e pluribus unum

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I learned today that “gender is a non-binary construct that is distinct from, although related to, sexual orientation.”   Thanks, American Psychology Association.  I think what they’re saying is that, even though biologically we are a binary construct (xx or xepluribusunumy chromosomes), some credentialed people wish boys weren’t boys, or men weren’t men.  The APA just released a new report that has it’s first warning against “toxic masculinity.”

Let me think… when I was a child, I rode bikes recklessly, I used a sled while passing under a barbed wire fence, I built rafts of uncertain quality to go in a pond, I walked on a train trestle without railings, I took gunpowder from firecrackers and stuffed it into pill boxes to make a bigger boom, I shot BB guns at all sorts of things for general destructive enjoyment, I built a tree house that collapsed when I was sleeping in it, I… well, the rest may risk parental disbelief.  Let it be said that I was a boy who played with other boys without supervision, and that I wouldn’t trade those friends and experiences for anything.  We had girls in the neighborhood, but we didn’t play with them.  Not because we were violent, aggressive or didn’t have a softer side, but because a natural tendency, both experienced and observed, was that boys gravitated towards playing with boys, and girls with girls.  Go to a social occasion as an adult, and it’s still very much the same – genders tend to separate for comfort level and interests,  at least at a conscious level it seems.

The APA does not care what I think.  Their job, I would think, is to help people who struggle to cope with the stresses of life and counsel them to live more happily in whatever circumstances (in context, gender), they find them.  To that end:

“Psychologists, the APA recommends, should seek to not only understand the intricacies of masculinity and its context, but also encourage community figures (teachers, religious leaders, sports figures, parents) to become educated as well. This may require psychologists to examine “their own assumptions of, and countertransference reactions toward, boys, men, and masculinity.”

So, teachers, religious leaders, sports figures and parents aren’t meeting expectations.  There’s either too many males seeing psychologists, too many females who suffer from the males in their lives, or it’s a social engineering endeavor by people who believe they have the cure for modern ills.  Based on the quote,  I gather that everyday events do not put impressionable boys as frequently in touch with psychologists as would be needed to help guide them to a less demonstrably masculine, more satisfying life.  Therefore, adults in general need to be made to understand that they’re not helping males reach the APAs goals of gender modification.

Of the10 guidelines included in the report, I’ll poke at a few:
1. Psychologists strive to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.
  • So, boys would be as sedate and civil as girls if they were not exposed to other boys, or TV shows or other media that exhibit masculine behavior?  Let’s try one boy per girl’s school and see how it plays out.  And let’s be careful about this, also, because an ample part of the women’s movement is to step outside these same social, cultural and contextual norms, or, at least what is left of them. 

3.  Psychologists understand the impact of power, privilege, and sexism on the development of boys and men and on their relationships with others.

  • Understand, eh?  I gather that the APA posits that being born a male inherently and necessarily includes guilt for any ills directed at them by those who claim a context to feel victimized.  Well done!  More billable hours consulting on both sides of that fence.  When it gets to the many societal divisions that are shredding e pluribus unum, the APA seems quite comfortable pointing towards masculinity as the cause?  If a case is to be made, it should be that toxic masculinity, however that is intended, is more likely the consequence of a societal tinkering by elites… and entropy.   

6. Psychologists strive to support educational efforts that are responsive to the needs of boys and men.

  • … for their own good, of course.  Don’t pay any attention to the changes in school curriculums that result from this guideline, folks.  Indoctrination is a given; it’s just the authors that change over time.  Nothing to worry about there.

7. Psychologists strive to build and promote gender-sensitive psychological services.

  • Actually, every snowflake is special, or, less popularly articulated, there is sanctity in every human life.  We’re not struggling to accept individualism.  We’re just carrying the baggage for the generations who didn’t.

10. Psychologists understand and strive to change institutional, cultural, and systemic problems that affect boys and men through advocacy, prevention and education.

  • A female law professor I know was thrilled that the Boy Scouts are now the Scouts and opined that any institution that is all-male is unhealthy for males.  It’s hard for me to fathom the level of hurt and/or condescension that would come to that conclusion.


I’ll leave that alone.  I read recently that 40% of children in the US are born out of wedlock.  It used to be said that children from two-parent households had an inherent advantage in life, but that is an unpopular position these days.  Why?  No one should be advantaged in this day and age, but instead of lifting those who are disadvantaged up, we seem intent on social engineering our way down to the lowest common denominator.  

Regardless, ineffective parenting exists (and always has), and I have no doubt psychologists play a role in helping those that can afford or are provided their services.   I get that violence is primarily a male issue, and it used to be acceptable to point to objective evidence that males are born/made/wired differently than females.  But if blame is to be found, it’s not with those who carry a y chromosome.  The pace of societal change and upheaval has been unparalleled in the past 50 years, begging the question which came first, the chicken or the egg?  People changed.  The institutions and cultural norms changed.  In many, many ways, we’re better for it.  But it’s a strange time where individualism is considered, if not a right, then the ultimate expression of personhood.  When individuals disagree and one person’s expressions is rejected, one individual is supported and the other is shamed, demonized or even terminated by not subscribing to “the right values.”  The nerves of every possible social issue have been rubbed raw to the point that social media and political rhetoric have the nation set to implode.  Masculinity, toxic or not, has nothing to do with that. 

Back in 1992, I guess I was too self-absorbed to realize how society was shifting.  Otherwise, I would have heard Rodney King for the prophet he was.

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