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The War Over ‘Toxic Masculinity’

Thomas B. Edsall of The New York Times published a provocative piece [1] the other day on the American Psychological Association’s recently released “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.” The Guidelines, which seemed a kind of attack on what some people call “traditional masculinity,” had kicked up a fair amount of controversy among academics and commentators. That was entirely predictable. But Edsall predicts that the Guidelines and their underlying biological outlook will become “an integral element of contemporary political conflict.”

Edsall notes that, until recently, conversations over the role of men and women in society had focused primarily on problems confronting women. But that’s changing. Increasingly, Americans have become concerned about how these issues, as pressed by social science “experts” and feminist activists, are affecting boys. The Guidelines, Edsall suggests, are likely to intensify those concerns.

Some samples of Guidelines thinking:

“Traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.”


Psychologists should “strive to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms.”

“Thus, male privilege often comes with a cost in the form of adherence to sexist ideologies designed to maintain male power that also restrict men’s ability to function adaptively.”

The Guidelines also argue that many of society’s ills—homicide and other violent crimes, suicide, misbehavior in school, declining life expectancy, even attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder—stem from traditional masculinity.

In other words, traditional masculinity is the product of bad societal customs, which need to be reformed so boys and men can be reconditioned to become, essentially, more feminine and hence less troublesome to society.

Edsall’s insight: “Republicans and Democrats have sharply polarized views on such findings.” He notes that an October 2017 Pew Research Center report indicated that a quarter of Republicans believe that the country has not done enough to ensure equal rights for women, while 54 percent said the country had done enough and 18 percent said it had gone too far. Among Democrats, by contrast, fully 69 percent said the country had not done enough, while 26 percent said it had done enough and only 4 percent said it had gone too far.

Also, a far lower percentage of Republicans than Democrats believe that changing gender roles have made it easier for marriages to be successful—26 percent for Republicans and 47 percent for Democrats. Surveys also indicate that 36 percent of Republicans believe that changing gender roles have made it easier for women to lead satisfying lives, compared to 58 percent of Democrats. And 48 percent of Democrats believe changing gender roles have made it easier for men to lead satisfying lives, while only 30 percent of Republicans think so.

These numbers suggest that gender politics has driven a large partisan wedge through America. The clincher is the APA’s dogma that insists masculinity is essentially bad and a product of society and not nature or evolution.

But here again, there is a strong partisan divide. As the Times’ Claire Cain Miller has reported, Pew data indicate that more than half of Republicans believe biology determines differences in how men and women engage in parenting, express feelings, and spend free time. Two thirds of Democrats attribute these differences primarily to society.

Nature versus nurture is a social science debate going back at least to Darwin and probably earlier. It was hilariously characterized in the 1983 movie Trading Places, starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. But then it was easy and fun to parody because it was essentially an academic discussion, exercising little impact on ordinary people in their daily lives.

Now the American Psychological Association is trying to change that. These Guidelines are meant to influence psychological professionals in dealing with the problems of boys and men. Their underlying dogma is likely to become a powerful factor in the actions of school counselors, teachers, therapists, and others. They don’t call them “guidelines” for the fun of it.

This poses potential problems for parents who disagree with the Guidelines and the ideology that underpin them. As that ideology gets more and more firmly embedded in the consciousness of the educational and psychological establishment, those with opposing outlooks on masculinity will become increasingly marginalized. The aim of the Guidelines is to ensure that parents of boys have less and less influence over how their children are treated and the underlying outlook that guides that treatment.

The inevitable result: the political divide over gender issues identified by Edsall will become wider and more intense.

Consider also the powerful issue of transgender politics. A California writer named Abigail Shrier wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal a few weeks back about what she calls “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” This is different from traditional gender dysphoria, which generally begins in early childhood and entails a severe and enduring feeling that one was born the wrong sex. The late onset variety emerges suddenly in adolescence, besetting teenagers who had never before manifested any confusion about their genders.

Shrier describes the early research into this by a physician and researcher named Lisa Littman of Brown University, who in 2016 noted an increase in parents reporting that their daughters had suddenly insisted that their gender identity was different from their sex. After interviewing 256 such parents about their teens’ mental health, social interactions, and social media habits, Littman concluded that some of this may have been stirred by “social and peer contagion.”

After all, as one parent reported to Littman, “To be heterosexual, comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth, and non-minority places you in the ‘most evil’ of categories within this group of friends.” Another said, “Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens.”

Perhaps this sensibility on the part of young people could be driven in some measure by a teen culture based on the need for people to “check their privilege.” If they can’t get themselves into some kind of minority, they end up in that “most evil” of categories—white privilege.

Perhaps researchers will determine that late onset transgender dysphoria is no different from the traditional kind. Littman’s work was designed to raise questions that could then be addressed by further study. But that will never happen if the professional ideologues have their way. They issued an attack on Littman so vehement that even Brown University took steps to distance itself from her study. One activist called Littman’s research “a naked attempt to legitimize anti-transgender animus with a veneer of academic responsibility.” Another called her questions “a hoax diagnosis.”

Shrier’s own conversations with parents of ROGD teens demonstrates that the medical community doesn’t want to hear about any distinction between traditional dysphoria and the late onset kind. “The standard for dealing with teens who assert they are transgender,” writes Shrier, “is ‘affirmative care’—immediately granting the patient’s stated identity” without any psychological evaluation. As the motto of one transgender activist declares, “The personal is empirical.”

This raises two profound questions. First, is it possible that some young women are allowed to rush into irreversible treatment without any serious effort to determine with assurance the underlying syndrome? Shrier believes this happens, including “top surgery” (a euphemism for double mastectomies), cross-sex hormones, and so on. She notes that Planned Parenthood furnishes testosterone to young women on an “informed consent” basis, sans any psychological evaluation. She adds that student health plans at 86 colleges, including most Ivy League schools, cover not only cross-sex hormones but surgery as well.

The second question is this: what is the role of parents when their young daughters decide they are transgender and seek help from the professional experts? The answer is that, in most cases, the parents are shunted aside. Writes Shrier: “Nearly every force in society is aligned against these parents: Churches scramble to rewrite their liturgies for greater ‘inclusiveness.’ Therapists and psychiatrists undermine parental authority with immediate affirmation of teens’ self-diagnoses. Campus counselors happily refer students to clinics that dispense hormones on the first visit.”

The matter has been so politicized that many parents feel helpless as their daughters rush into what may be disastrous decisions at the behest of the so-called experts. As one mother described her plight to Shrier, if your daughter joined the Moonies, there would be plenty of social sympathy. “With this I can’t even tell anybody. I talk to my husband, that’s it.”

Of course, the transgender issue will never reach the magnitude of the masculinity question as a political issue. There are a lot more boys than transgender teens. But the increasing boldness of ideological social science activists in these matters of family life is almost guaranteed to generate a backlash. It will emerge in the only place it can, as Tom Edsall predicts—the political arena.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century.

41 Comments (Open | Close)

41 Comments To "The War Over ‘Toxic Masculinity’"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 22, 2019 @ 11:09 pm

Bob, there’s only one possible adversarial response to your piece: “Quit your mansplaining!” and prepare to be de-platformed.

#2 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On January 22, 2019 @ 11:46 pm

Islamic societies practice female genital mutilation (FGM), Western societies practice transgender genital mutilation (TGM). Different gods but both are sick in the head. If we are lucky, the Chinese will take over the world and beat the stupid out of both societies.

#3 Comment By Stephen J. On January 23, 2019 @ 12:24 am

The writer states:”… the increasing boldness of ideological social science activists in these matters of family life is almost guaranteed to generate a backlash.”
I agree, and ask:
“How Much More…”

How much more are decent people going to take?
From politicians and those that are trying to society: remake
Some people are screaming for their perverted agendas
And are getting their way by promoting multiple genders

Man and woman, male and female, are words we know that are true
Now the weird word manipulators are telling us: who is who
Other sick propagandist are attempting to brainwash our children
By saying to them all kinds of perversions are not forbidden

At one time these mad and sick types of strange people
Would have been admitted to psychiatric hospitals as unstable
Now some of them are entrenched in positions of power
And forcing and attempting normal persons to cringe and cower

What will it take before the majority say: “We’ve had enough”
“Your tantrums are over we are calling your sick guff”
“You all need help and restraints galore
We are not taking your mad and sick B.S. any more”…
[more info at links below]



#4 Comment By Karl Pettersen On January 23, 2019 @ 3:03 am

As a non-American I feel like Americans in general, but especially Republicans, tend to misunderstand the whole issue of “toxic masculinity. In fact, this article commits the cardinal fault right at the start. It’s not that the traditional masculine traits are bad, it’s how they are channeled. So, competitiveness is fine, but taunting the loser is not. Compare the father who says “I win, but you’re getting there. Next time you might take me, son” to the one who says “Hah! Suck it, loser!”.
Even with the propensity to violence, it’s the same: it’s the use of violence to assert dominance or intimidate that is bad, while using force or the threat of to protect your loved once is still admirable.
I thought the Gilette ad was actually quite measured on this, and made it pretty clear that what is needed is positive masculine behaviour, rather than feminized masculine behaviour. No one except some fringe loonies are saying that, and pretending (or even believing) that they represent the majority is… well, stupid.

#5 Comment By TheScientist880 On January 23, 2019 @ 7:25 am

You social conservatives can complain about the shifting gender roles in America but you guys played arguably the biggest role in helping those roles to change. Women should have the right to work and top end ambitions women were always going to eventually enter high power careers once they were opened up to them, but working class women were forced into the labor force thanks to conservative support for union busting, tax cuts for the rich, starving of public services and globalization. Working class men CAN’T make a family supporting wage for the most part. Electricians average around $45-50k a year but those kinds of construction trades have periods of unemployment associated with recessions. Since the social safety net is gutted, a family would be taking a major risk by just depending on the wages of the husband.

Ronald Reagan fires the air traffic controllers union en mass and you guys cheered it. Nixon went to China. NAFTA was started under HW before being signed by Clinton who was forced into capitulating to conservative demands after 12 years of republican rule and never winning a majority of the popular vote. Elections have consequences.

#6 Comment By John On January 23, 2019 @ 7:39 am

Might explain

Someone just showed me this..

“The Overhauling of Straight America” (look that up and read it all)


In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be cast as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to assume the role of protector. If gays are presented, instead, as a strong and prideful tribe promoting a rigidly nonconformist and deviant lifestyle, they are more likely to be seen as a public menace that justifies resistance and oppression.

For that reason, we must forego the temptation to strut our “gay pride” publicly when it conflicts with the Gay Victim image. And we must walk the fine line between impressing straights with our great numbers, on the one hand, and sparking their hostile paranoia-“They are all around us!”–on the other.

A media campaign to promote the Gay Victim image should make use of symbols which reduce the mainstream’s sense of threat, which lower it’s guard, and which enhance the plausibility of victimization. In practical terms, this means that jaunty mustachioed musclemen would keep very low profile in gay commercials and other public presentations, while sympathetic figures of nice young people, old people, and attractive women would be featured.

(It almost goes without saying that groups on the farthest margin of acceptability such as NAMBLA, [Ed note — North American Man-Boy Love Association] must play no part at all in such a campaign: suspected child-molesters will never look like victims.)


AND this looks like an exaggerate but not entirely..creepy


#7 Comment By JeffK On January 23, 2019 @ 7:55 am

War, war, war. So much war. The war on … Alcohol. Afghanistan. Boys. Cancer. Christmas. Civil War. Cops. Crime. Drugs. Expertise. Free Speech. Guns. Hunger. Human Trafficking. Iraq. Isis. Korea. Love. Northern Aggression. Obesity. Poverty. Police. Queers. Religion. Science. Sugar. Terror. Ukraine. Vaccines. Video Games. Vietnam. Voting Rights. Weed. Women. Yemen. Zombies. There is virtually a war on everything.

Why don’t we label things like they actually are. Most of the ‘Wars’ listed above are disagreements.

So much hyperbole. No wonder society is in such a mess. Maybe if everybody experienced a real war there would be less histrionics over what are basically different points of view.

But then, click bait….. And our endearing obsession with outrage.

#8 Comment By TomG On January 23, 2019 @ 9:04 am

On, Mr. Merry, embrace your feminine side. History has never been short of ideologues who spend their time and energy dividing ‘us’ against ‘them’. Yea–you are really doing your part not to politicize child development with this piece.

#9 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On January 23, 2019 @ 10:38 am

Where, oh where, are we going with all this?

#10 Comment By Stephen Pickard On January 23, 2019 @ 10:40 am

With a note of irony, my copy of this article came with a caricature of large bosom young lady showing a lot of cleavage. It is a click bait for an ED advertisement. I think men are so screwed up now that they can not get it up.I suppose this take on the harm masculinity does to men will be debated endlessly with both sides taking the most extreme position possible. Someone always over reacts as can be seen by some of the posts. This study is not done by evil people. It is based on years of study. The attack should be on the weakness of the study , its flaws and the like. As a society trying to get this right is important. Maybe men will not need ED help.

One last point. I became aware of my white privilege when I went off to college in 1963. Examples were everywhere as it relates to minorities. The privileges were not right’s but rather simply taken because we could. the Tide is turningand we white men can bow our backs like over muscled men or we can embrace the facts and become part of the solution. If only there would bill blue pill for us.

#11 Comment By Dominique Watkins On January 23, 2019 @ 10:48 am

I agree, there will be a backlash eventually and it will get ugly.

#12 Comment By MM On January 23, 2019 @ 11:59 am

JK: “Why don’t we label things like they actually are.”

Ironic, coming from someone who hyperbolizes like it’s a bodily function.

But the reaction to the Covington school boys in DC by the press and the left over the past few days qualifies as war. They’ve received violent threats, and they’re boys.

No weaseling out of that fact…

#13 Comment By polistra On January 23, 2019 @ 12:16 pm

Social “science” was poisoned 40 years ago. This line of thought has been universal since the ’70s, and hasn’t been secret. The latest official public pronouncement is a marginally new development, but thorougly expectable.

#14 Comment By Creme Fraiche On January 23, 2019 @ 2:17 pm

Nothing is wrong with masculinity, yes it’s natural in the sense that testosterone and other hormones are required for men to function properly but also have destructive effects without good channeling. I think it’s not about being a man but how you decide to be a man. Why is it that so many men feel as thought they want to kills themselves if they lose a job and economically it makes more sense for them to take care of the kids?

Aside from evolution, one must also consider adaptation. Similar to bacteria who have adapted to live in hotter zones, or birds who have changed their migration patterns due to global warming, cave fish who have lost their eyes, men will, must (!) learn to adapt their behaviors to survive. And realize that the economic environment that has led them to this point has been created by powerful men, though violent war and economic conquest. This is not about crying into the dishwater and dirty diapers. Women can’t do that, neither can you. This is about survival. Do you want to live and for your kids to live?

Learn to adapt, learn soft skills. Learn new stuff and be humble. Join the gig ecology like the rest of us, and please correctly identify who hurt you. Not all the women in the world.

Let’s Figure out how to put the good old days ahead of us.

#15 Comment By Werd On January 23, 2019 @ 2:26 pm

“I became aware of my white privilege when I went off to college in 1963.”

Well of course you had “White privelage” in 63. I, as a 25 year old White man, have absolutely zero “White privelage” in 2019. None, I’m an oppressor by default, and wouldn’t be shocked to have my wealth and assets “appropriated” by our government in my lifetime. You’re reality from 1963 is not the reality of your grandchildren in 2019.

#16 Comment By JonF On January 23, 2019 @ 2:54 pm

MM, No, wars involve a lot more than just nasty talk or even
threats. I once received a gruesome, and anonymous, threatening email from soneone who apparently did not agree with some of my opinions- but I didn’t claim there was a “War on Jon”

#17 Comment By David R. Burwasser On January 23, 2019 @ 3:20 pm

The article assumes gender is biological and transgender is choice, no exceptions. That’s as blindly dogmatic as the opposite.

#18 Comment By Lee On January 23, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

@ MM
“over the past few days qualifies as war. They’ve received violent threats, and they’re boys.”

You do realize, I hope, that the Parkland kids got the same kind of treatment from the right?

The whole CavCath thing was started by people outside the country, the original poster and a series of anonymous accounts that amplified the post were taken down by Twitter. Left AND Right are being manipulated. You can declare war and make those foreigners happy or you can pipe down and declare peace. We all have that choice.

#19 Comment By Crstylus On January 23, 2019 @ 3:48 pm

I notice that Merry uses the term “social sciences” when referring to Psychology.
Psychology is not a science – not it is a bogus science. Genuine science makes progress builds on past achievements, makes generalizing principles and moves forward. Any of its major findings contain within them a wealth of information and insight that comes out as those findings are considered and experimented on. As Feynman says, With a genuine scientific law or finding, you get out more than you put in.
Psychology has none of this – except for a very small corner that is biological and that part is really biology.
With Psych the same questions are debated endlessly with no end in sight or no progress made. Certainly progressives should be suspicious of something that does not progress. 😉
We are wasting our time with this crap.
Fire all the psychologists.

What is being discussed here and causing all the dispute is bogus science pure and simple – we spend too much time on it and academia devotes too much funding and space to it.

#20 Comment By JohnInCA On January 23, 2019 @ 4:16 pm

Some of the problems of “toxic masculinity” those guidelines talk about are men feeling the need to “tough it out” and not seek medical or mental health treatment.

This avoidance of treatment contributes to lower life expectancy and (in the case of mental health) higher suicide risk.

Do you feel the APA is in error in saying this is a problem, and that it is in fact healthy and normal to ignore problems and hope they’ll go away?

#21 Comment By Grumpy Realist On January 23, 2019 @ 6:24 pm

I suspect that as rapid-onset transgenders discover after all the surgery and the hormones that they still have the same problems as before fewer and fewer people will get sucked in to this.

And I’m a liberal. A very grumpy liberal at the moment.

#22 Comment By Good Reason On January 23, 2019 @ 8:33 pm

Two thoughts:

1) I am surprised that you did not comment on the fact that while the APA is condemning toxic masculinity, the young teens who want to become another sex are, for the most part, young teen women wanting to become men. Why do young women want to become men? Is it possible that the life a young woman lives is, in fact, made problematic by the way men are acting towards them? Might this suggest there is something to the notion that how we currently define masculinity in our culture that is harmful?

2) I think every single Christian would agree that there are certain conceptions of masculinity that are truly at odds with living a Christian life. The good men of the church I attend are not promiscuous, they do not abuse their wives and girlfriends, they do not drink or smoke or do drugs. These good men are also strong, brave, and willing to stand up for what is right, even if that means having to put their lives on the line. I’d say these good men are manly, masculine men, but they are very out of step with the current “markers” of masculinity–the womanizing, greedy, abusive, selfish, destructive, drunk definition of what a man is. I think every Christian would suggest the world would be a better place if men were true Christian men, and not the pagans they are taught to be in our culture. There is definitely room for debate over what masculinity is and should be, and Christians should welcome it and contribute to it.

#23 Comment By Benjamin On January 23, 2019 @ 10:12 pm

It’s unfortunate that the APA is pushing a social agenda as opposed to a scientific one. This may be ok, but the actual scientific consensus is that gender exists and it expresses itself similarly across culture and is not exclusively a social construct.

But don’t take my word for it: [6]

I’m liberal but the far left is starting to scare me more than the far right. Yeah racism is bad, but people in general recognize hate is bad, but and too many morons on the left are buying into this unscientific narrative that gender doesn’t exist. It does. Science says it does. Science also says man made climate change exists, vaccines are a miracle, and the wall won’t be an effective deterrent to illegal immigration.


#24 Comment By Pearlbuck On January 24, 2019 @ 1:42 am

Hey, this one goes out to all the Progressive Koolade-drinkers who hang out at The American Conservative because of your masochistic need to get trounced in debates:

If you could go back in time, would you have given up the embarrassing, hysterical, unhinged, irrational and ultimately failed protests against Kavanaugh in exchange for a REAL blue wave?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. Enjoy your senate, and the NEXT GOP Supreme Court appointee.

#25 Comment By Nick R. On January 24, 2019 @ 1:57 am

Just a couple points:

I think you need to be more clear about distinguishing the actual Guidelines from the APA magazine article written recently in regards to the guidelines. Some of the content you quoted isn’t from the guidelines but are rather taken from the article, which has received widespread negative feedback from a great deal of psychologists themselves. I have read a few “responses” to the recently published article from psychology blogs and newsletters; all of them that I’ve read so far have criticized it heavily, often because of its lack of resemblance in tone and content to the actual guidelines.

Just one more thing about something you stated: “The aim of the Guidelines is to ensure that parents of boys have less and less influence over how their children are treated and the underlying outlook that guides that treatment.” Though I agree with many of your remarks regarding the guidelines seemingly pushing an ideology, as it were, this observation is a bit off. Having read the guidelines in their entirety, and comparing them to guidelines dedicated to other “groups” of people over the years, I did not see any indication that the guidelines even covertly suggest that psychologists somehow undermine how boys’ parents choose to raise them. In fact, an entire guideline is dedicated to encouraging father involvement and healthy family relationships. Though much of the guideline explanation is filled with “findings” about how fathers have changed their roles compared to the traditional family structure, an equally significant portion enumerates the various observed benefits of increased father involvement and the problems associated with a lack thereof.

The tone of the guidelines is much more, “Here’s some of the things we’ve observed and these are things you should consider when counselling boys and men,” than they are, “This is what we think about boys, men, and masculinity and you should think the same way.” The article published recently, however, is the exact reverse.

#26 Comment By MM On January 24, 2019 @ 11:54 am

Lee: “You do realize, I hope, that the Parkland kids got the same kind of treatment from the right?”

I don’t recall any major conservatives or media personalities on the right saying David Hogg should be physically attacked or killed, like we have with the press and the left in this instance. Even though Hogg himself proceeded to call people who disagreed with him on gun control murderers and demand boycotts to silence people.

Conversely, Kyle Kashuv, also a Parkland suvivor and not on the same page as Hogg, was attacked by CNN and others for daring to dissent.

Comment, sir?

#27 Comment By MM On January 24, 2019 @ 12:07 pm

JohninCA: “Do you feel the APA is in error in saying this is a problem, and that it is in fact healthy and normal to ignore problems and hope they’ll go away?”

I’ve read the guidelines and can speak to this. Since the APA did not quantify the problem, and defined it in vague terms using pseudo-scientific jargon such as “oppression” and “patriarchy”, which are totally irrelevant as to the mental health of an individual male patient, the onus is on them to prove their claims.

And they didn’t do that. They merely claimed that there’s a problem with a type of masculinity, as they defined it, without any statistical evidence.

In their guidlines on women from about 10 years ago, they made no such negative generalization about feminitity.

#28 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On January 24, 2019 @ 2:11 pm

What about the racial component of a particularly salient form of toxic masculinity, in which the woman is literally helpless? Is the below article accurate?


#29 Comment By Grumpy realist On January 24, 2019 @ 2:24 pm

P.s. if you want to see what “toxic masculinity” is I suggest you look up the arrest of that doofus posting how he was going to a Women’s Rights March and shoot up as many women as he could see because he didn’t have a girlfriend and no woman wanted to sleep with him.

Killing members of the opposite sex because you can’t get laid…..maybe you guys could start policing yourselves before ranting about feminists?

#30 Comment By DRK On January 24, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

I’ve read the guidelines and can speak to this. Since the APA did not quantify the problem, and defined it in vague terms using pseudo-scientific jargon such as “oppression” and “patriarchy”, which are totally irrelevant as to the mental health of an individual male patient, the onus is on them to prove their claims.

And they didn’t do that. They merely claimed that there’s a problem with a type of masculinity, as they defined it, without any statistical evidence.

I very much doubt you did read the guidelines, as, contrary to your statement, the guidelines were heavily footnoted and included a ten page bibliography supporting their claims. Here is just one paragraph from page 3:

Despite these problems, many boys and men do not receive the help they need (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Hammer, Vogel, & Heimerdinger-Edwards, 2013; Knopf, Park, & Maulye, 2008). Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own (Pollack, 1995) yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Wong, Ho, Wang, & Miller, 2017). Further complicating their ability to receive help, many men report experiencing gender bias in therapy (Mahalik et al., 2012), which may impact diagnosis and treatment (Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2000). For instance, sev- eral studies have identified that men, despite being 4 times more likely than women to die of suicide worldwide (DeLeo et al., 2013), are less likely to be diagnosed with internalizing disorders such as depression, in part because internalizing disorders do not conform to traditional gender role stereotypes about men’s emotionality (for a review, see Addis, 2008). Instead, because of socialized ten- dencies to externalize emotional distress, boys and men may be more likely to be diagnosed with externalizing disorders (e.g., con- duct disorder and substance use disorders) (Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2000). Indeed, therapists’ gender role stereotypes about boys’ externalizing behaviors may explain why boys are dispropor- tionately diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls (Bruchmüller, Margaf, & Schneider, 2012). Other investigations have identified systemic gender bias toward adult men in psychotherapy (Mahalik et al., 2012) and in other helping services such as domestic abuse shelters (Douglas & Hines, 2011).

All those footnotes can be found in the bibliography. You may disagree with the guidelines, but you cannot do so on the basis of lack of statistical analysis.


Littman’s study on so-called Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria was attacked because of its methodology; her study was supposed to affirm the validity of this new diagnosis, ROGD, but in order to confirm that this is a valid diagnosis, she interviewed only parents of children whom the parents had deemed victims of ROGD. She recruited parents only from three trans critical websites, and she never bothered to interview the children themselves. Imagine doing a study on whether a particular disease exists without ever examing the patients who you claim have the disease! Unbelievably sloppy work, I’m surprised it was published in the first place.

#31 Comment By MM On January 24, 2019 @ 4:49 pm

DRK: I’ll admit to not reading the various studies the APA references, and they didn’t summarize their methodologies in the guidelines, but I did track down a couple online (Addis, 2008). Their sample sizes were in the low hundreds. Others were self-selected, as most men and women don’t ever see a therapist.

But the APA and you could have addressed my primary point, if the data are so clear obvious:

What share of men fall into the definition of “traditional masculinity”, and what is the causal relationship between that and negative outcomes, for the entire population.

At least they mentioned positive father roles, which is hugely important. But what junk like privilege and patriarchy, which the APA heavily references, have to do with mental health escapes me.

#32 Comment By LFC On January 24, 2019 @ 5:02 pm

Like so many things today “toxic masculinity” has be basis in fact but is blown out of proportion. I look at it as being a chest-thumping, tantrum throwing, woman degrading douchebag is NOT being a man. Grow up, show a little respect, don’t tell women how they must act for the benefit of your feelings, and exercise some self-control. I don’t think that should be all that controversial. I also think it doesn’t impact the majority of men, or at least I hope not.

Then we have Tucker Carlson telling us that one of the big problems faced by men today is that women are making more money than they are which I guess hurts their little feelings. Again, grow up. If having to compete with women in the job market is too much for you to handle then you weren’t raised to be a man. The world is becoming too advanced to have everybody continually wiping the noses of a pile of 20+ year old adolescents.

#33 Comment By MM On January 24, 2019 @ 6:02 pm

DRK: “You may disagree with the guidelines, but you cannot do so on the basis of lack of statistical analysis.”

I don’t disagree with any guidelines that would help individual men with their problems in therapy. But that’s not how I read the APA’s guidelines at all. They employed a broad definition of “traditional masculinity” based largely on research by this guy named Levant, he’s cited everywhere. None of the research that I can see is based on large, random samples that could allow extrapolation to the general male population. Most appears to be small convenience samples that have no statistical significance.

And the APA also regurgitates political terminology like privilege, oppression, and patriarchy that have no place in a scientific analysis. If a therpaist brought those things up with me, I’d walk out the door.

The link between “traditional mascinulinity” and negative outcomes is never quantified nor causally demonstrated, anywhere I can see. The APA is painting with a broad brush to describe a subset, because not all men consider themselves nor behave in traditionally masculine ways.

That being said, I found this fascinating. The CYA department for the APA quickly issued this statement for “clarification” on the new guidelines:


“When we report that some aspects of “traditional masculinity” are potentially harmful, we are referring to a belief system held by a few that associates masculinity with extreme behaviors that harm self and others. It is the extreme stereotypical behaviors – not simply being male or a ‘traditional male’ – that may result in negative outcomes. For example, people who believe that to be a ‘real man’ is to get needs met through violence, dominance over others, or extreme restriction of emotions are at risk for poor physical, psychological, and social outcomes.”

So, they had to qualify their original negative stereotype to an even smaller subset of men. I’m glad they did that, it at least shows some small amount of intellectual dishonesty.

But since none of you geniuses managed to provide the real answer on this issue, I had to dig hard to find the truth. Hot off the press, not from a tiny research project, but a large, nationally-representative survey organization:


31% of men describe themselves as “very” manly or masculine.

By race: 28% white, 34% hispanic, 49% black

At most, that’s the population of men who *could* have negative outcomes. And the APA had to roll their definition of “traditonal masculinity” back quite a bit, limiting it to extreme behaviors.

In summary, all this is rubbish is on account of a small share of less than 1/3 of U.S. men.

Am I wrong?

#34 Comment By JimDandy On January 24, 2019 @ 6:07 pm

When I heard the words “toxic masculinity”my mind’s eye immediate brings up an image of a co-worker–tall and lanky, born female, identifies as male, favors snap-button cowboy shirts and a gelled up flattop haircut, sits in an exaggerated “manspread” and walks around with a cartoonish strut-swagger, answers questions at meetings with brusque belligerence, openly talks about throwing their administrative power around to make people obey, and in general conducts theirthemself in a combative state of perpetual cockiness while lecturing everyone else about microaggressions. A real man couldn’t get away with that persona, because first and foremost other men would put a stop to it. But this person’s grotesque manface act is hailed as Progressive triumph.

#35 Comment By Donald a On January 24, 2019 @ 8:22 pm

It’s obvious. Masculinity is so toxic that it’s what women want. [11]

#36 Comment By Maj Rage On January 25, 2019 @ 9:36 am

“Traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.”

Uh, no…..it is not. It is essential to those whose responsibilities include overcoming disorder, violence, crime, chaos, and all of the other less desirable or disastrous elements of a Hobbesian universe. In simpler words: manly qualities are necessary for victory in any form of win-lose scenario.

Traditional masculinity emerges when the prospect of ‘loss’ threatens social cohesion. Traditional roles and practices tend to feature sharp, clear distinctions between ‘win’ and ‘lose’. Wherever these distinctions are faded or vague – then, we find masculinity is less valued.

A fitting example is the arts and entertainment industry where one’s aptitude for flattering the feminine personna is worth more to a budding artist than all the Super Bowl rings ever cast.

#37 Comment By mrscracker On January 25, 2019 @ 11:56 am

Does Toxic Femininity get equal time?

#38 Comment By JeffK On January 25, 2019 @ 2:06 pm

@mrscracker says:
January 25, 2019 at 11:56 am

“Does Toxic Femininity get equal time?

Yes ma’ am, it certainly should. Hence, the Crazy/Hot Matrix.

#39 Comment By MM On January 25, 2019 @ 2:33 pm

mrscracker: “Does Toxic Femininity get equal time?”

According the APA, it either doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem worth mentioning.

You know, because ladies never abuse their spouses in any way, right? 🙂

#40 Comment By MM On January 25, 2019 @ 9:19 pm

Dr. DRK?

As the self-appointed spokesman for the APA, your comment on the male population statistics I laid out would be greatly appreciated…

As well as the APA’s hedging on what they really mean by “traditional masculinity” and “negative outcomes”.


#41 Comment By AZ Joe On January 27, 2019 @ 10:01 pm

TheScientist880: You made some excellent points as to how conservative union busting since the 1980s created an economy that forced many working class women into the workforce that would have stayed home if they had the choice.

Someone needs to write an article about toxic masculinity, increasingly practiced by leftist women.