The American Psychological Assoc. (APA) released new “guidelines” on how psychologists should begin to deal with men and boys. They claim that their research proves traditional masculinity is causing men and boys to do a plethora of terrible things.
On the heels of that very disturbing release was a new commercial by Gillette, a razor manufacturer, shaming both men and boys for unbecoming actions. Ironically the male is their market! I read a Facebook post by someone saying she “got goosebumps” watching the ad and that maybe now “healing can begin.” So, men and boys, you could surmise, are sick?
Masculinity is not only being attacked as toxic, now it’s an illness. Really!
Masculinity isn’t why a boy would walk into a school and begin shooting. Masculinity isn’t what causes a man to abuse a woman. Those men, those actions truly are an illness, they’re sick.
As a facilitator, an evidence-based researcher and male I find this unacceptable!
Masculinity is by definition:
A set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with boys and men. Words like virility, manliness, maleness, machismo, vigor, strength, ruggedness, robustness and testosterone are often associated.
I’m both mad and glad this is getting attention. It’s about time we begin to ask ourselves, “why are” men and boys behaving differently.
I have seen over 2000 boys since 2000 in The Quest Project® and there was never a time masculinity was the issue. What has been the issue is (most of the time) these young boys didn’t have an engaged father. Do you know that on average dad spends 5-10 minutes A WEEK with his son? Do you know that is absolutely not enough time to teach a young man how to be a healthy man?
A healthy engaged father teaches his son “how to” be a man and what it means to be a man. He teaches healthy appropriate masculine attributes associated with males and “how to” best channel those. He guides his boy innately on a rite-of-passage to be a man.
One thing the APA got right is they noted this change has been occurring since around 1950-that’s true. The processes a father and son shared in a healthy rite-of passage ended when The Industrial Revolution took fathers out of the home to work in factories, offices, and sales. They forgot the importance of time to witness and to pass important wisdom on to their son. Systemically, little by little, each generation has lost that knowledge and wisdom.
Thus, for the last couple generations of men, boys have had to rely on each other to “figure out” how to be a man. That’s an issue.
Time for Change
Fatherlessness (physically and/or emotionally) is an epidemic. Without the father a boy learns how to be a man from other boys. Without the father boys are teaching each other how to be masculine. In many cases, they’re learning from violent movies, social media, YouTube and video games, which are given to them by a parent. These boys grow up and become fathers and the cycle repeats itself, in an even more disturbing version.
Put the responsibility where it belongs, nudge that Dad that’s working 80 hours a week, or the divorced Dad that didn’t pick his son up last weekend. Encourage him to educate himself; there are numerous books on parenting or get advice and mentoring from a healthy dad that’s doing it right. Call a professional. Most importantly spend more time (3-5 hrs. a week) with his son. A boy needs his dad to be physically, emotionally, and knowledgeable about growing up to be a healthy man!
Finally, let’s be careful attacking masculinity and get more focused on changing what they’re missing in order to be happy, healthy and responsible!
Masculinity vs Passivity
Consider what occurs when masculinity is squelched or eliminated. Typically, just the opposite, passivity.
- passivity waits for action-masculinity initiates action
- passivity avoids-masculinity enters
- passivity enables-masculinity leads
- passivity backs off-masculinity stands firm
Assertiveness and aggressive behaviors are present in both the young and old; in male and female, the masculine and the feminine!
Time to read my new book “Generation of Men-How to raise your son to be a healthy man among men” it’s available now on Amazon!