In my practice as a psychotherapist , I’ve seen an increase of depression in young men who feel emasculated in a society that is hostile to masculinity. New guidelines from the American Psychological Association defining “traditional masculinity” as a pathological state are likely only to make matters worse.
True, over the past half-century, ideas about femininity and masculinity have evolved, sometimes for the better. But the APA guidelines demonize masculinity rather than embracing its positive aspects. In a press release, the APA asserts flatly that “traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.” The APA claims that masculinity is to blame for the oppression and abuse of women.
The truth is that masculine traits such as aggression, competitiveness and protective vigilance can not only be positive, but also have a biological basis. Boys and men produce far more testosterone, which is associated biologically and behaviorally with increased aggression and competitiveness. They also produce more vasopressin, a hormone originating in the brain that makes men aggressively protective of their loved ones.
We will probably never return to rigid sex roles, and maybe we shouldn’t. But it’s wrong to devalue the important and positive differences between men and women that have complemented and enriched our relationships for tens of thousands of years.
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