Choosing the Constraints That Make Boys Men

Further affirming what many of us have long thought about its ideological agenda, the American Psychological Association (APA) has apparently decided that traditional masculinity is a mental disease.  David French has it right:

Carlson has triggered a critical debate on the right, but then — just in time to remind us that well-meaning people from all sides of the political spectrum can propose solutions worse than the disease — along comes the American Psychological Association with its first-ever “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The APA sees the challenges facing young men and rightly seeks to overcome those challenges, but then diagnoses the wrong cause. As Stephanie Pappas notes on the APA website, the new guidelines conclude that “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful.”

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The guidelines themselves argue that “traditional masculinity ideology” — defined as socializing boys toward “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence” — has been shown to “limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict,” and negatively influence mental and physical health. …

It is interesting that in a world that otherwise teaches boys and girls to “be yourself,” that rule often applies to everyone but the “traditional” male who has traditional male impulses and characteristics. Then, they’re a problem. Then, they’re often deemed toxic. Combine this reality with a new economy that doesn’t naturally favor physical strength and physical courage to the same extent, and it’s easy to see how men struggle.

French is dead on when he emphasizes the personal fulfillment men get when they do the sorts of things — when they can do the sorts of things — that were traditionally expected of them, when they can provide for their families, protect their children, overcome obstacles.  Can the attitude be taken to far or be misapplied?  Absolutely, but the same is true of any attitude.

One point French doesn’t emphasize, though, is that the APA statement is bunk.  To see why, consider that among the supposed harms of traditional masculinity, according to the organization, is that it “constrain[s men’s] behavior.”  Well, what is it that the APA is hoping to do?  The unspoken bridge is that the group wants to constrain and free men (and everybody else) in accord to its guiding, radical beliefs.

In the competing vision, that David French offers, the often-challenging constraints we place on boys is what guide them toward becoming fully men.  It is constraint to a greater self-fulfillment founded on men’s nature.  The radical view is much more in the line of “slavery is freedom” as a permanent state of being.

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