The American Psychological Association’s latest guidelines suggest parents are playing with fire when they instill boys with “traditional masculinity.”
Turn off those iconic Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies: researchers now say that “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful,” for boys and men.
The “first-ever” guidelines are described on APA’s website as follows:
“APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field’s androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.
APA’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women were issued in 2007 and, like the guidelines for men and boys, aim to help practitioners assist their patients despite social forces that can harm mental health. Many researchers who study femininity also work on masculinity: Several contributors to the guidelines for girls and women have also contributed to the new guidelines for boys and men.
‘Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy,’ says Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and co-editor of the APA volume ‘The Psychology of Men and Masculinities.’ Levant was APA president in 2005 when the guideline-drafting process began and was instrumental in securing funding and support to get the process started.”
Clinicians are encouraged to recognize their own biases when dealing with males, the “integrated nature of masculinity,” and ways that “power, privilege, and sexism work both by conferring benefits to men and by trapping them in narrow roles.”
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