Traditional Masculinity Hurts Boys and Men: American Psychological Association

Citing harm caused by “traditional masculinity,” the American Psychological Association has issued its first-ever guidelines for treating men and boys.

The group said it’s been developing the new guidance for 13 years, and they’re based on 40 years of research showing that men are conditioned to exhibit dominance, stoicism and aggression — and as a result, are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors.

The 36-page document defines “masculinity ideology” as a “constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure risk and violence.”

The report, featured in the January issue of APA’s magazine, finds that “masculinity has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, resulting in gender role strain and gender role conflict, and negatively influence mental health and physical health.”

In an article accompanying the guidelines’ release, the group concludes “something is amiss for men,” noting that they commit 90 percent of homicides in the U.S., constitute 77 percent of homicide victims, are 3.5 times as likely as women to die by suicide and have a life expectancy nearly 5 years shorter than women’s.

The organization found those who conform to masculine norms are less likely to seek help, and their emotional suppression can result in more risky and aggressive behavior, sexual harassment and homophobia. But, it added, there are positive masculine ideologies — such as courage and leadership — that can replace the more harmful ones.

The APA previously issued its “Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women” in 2007. It also has guidelines for other groups, such as ethnic and linguistic minorities.

But, the organization noted, no guidelines were issued for men until now because the field has “focused on men (particularly white men), to the exclusion of all others.”