Real Men Don’t Shrink

For a while, the New York Times was on a kick about “toxic masculinity.” It was half an attack on Trump, as if he were the standard bearer for males, and half an attack on men who hadn’t dedicated their lives to being feminist allies. But the toxic masculinity began to fade behind Trump’s many other foibles and failings, and there’s only so much real estate to be had on the Times’ editorial page. So with a few exceptions, the “how to be a good man by being a woman” op-eds faded.

The American Psychological Association, undeterred by the fact that depression and anxiety are at an all-time high in their care, has chosen to be the caboose in the “real men are toxic” train by issuing its “first ever” guidelines for the treatment of men and boys. Why?

But something is amiss for men as well. Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color.

So men are obviously privileged, and significantly better at committing suicide than women, who try more often but fail to succeed. Obviously, the problem is “traditional masculinity.”

And indeed, that’s exactly where the APA wants the problem to be.

The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.

The problem isn’t that men don’t suffer from depression, anxiety and the litany of other issues that psychology is meant to address, but that the new reason they do is that they’re men. Toxic men. Traditional men. If only they were whiny, self-absorbed, passive and submissive, like . . . nope, not gonna say it.

This vision of masculinity may summon up an image of a closemouthed cowboy, à la John Wayne. But there’s more to masculinity than macho swagger. When the rules of manliness bump up against issues of race, class and sexuality, they can further complicate men’s lives.

Notice how they went from John Wayne to “macho swagger” without blinking? More importantly, notice how “race, class and sexuality” appears out of nowhere?

For example, the masculine requirement to remain stoic and provide for loved ones can interact with systemic racism and lead to so-called John Henryism for African-American men, a high-effort method of coping that involves striving hard in the face of prolonged stress and discrimination. John Henryism has been linked with hypertension and depression.

Of course racism gives rise to depression in black men who want to fulfill their “masculine requirement” of providing for their family. But the problem isn’t that they want to provide for their family, or “masculine requirements,” but racism. The APA’s solution is to relieve their sense of obligation to their family because it’s harmfully masculine? Watching your children go hungry isn’t as much fun as the APA seems to think it is.

Aside from the APA reducing itself to a social justice joke, does any of this matter? Well, yes, it may have real world impact.

It’s not that men and boys are somehow relieved of a need for therapeutic help. The issues of depression and anxiety, et al., are endemic to all people, and men may well need treatment for mental health issues like anyone else. But rather than treat their issues, these guidelines make the issue their masculinity, as in “stop being such a man and you won’t suffer these mental health problems.” That’s not going to help, and it’s not going to make stoic men more inclined to seek treatment.

Most traditionally masculine men aren’t killers or victims. They work hard for their families and open doors for others. When there’s a problem, they try to find solutions. When their neighbor needs a hand, they lend it. Most men don’t walk about with a “macho swagger,” but with courtesy toward others. Traditional men are gentlemen.

It’s not that traditional men won’t find themselves in need of psychological help. They do. They will. It’s that what they will not need is the new “conversion therapy,” that the cure to whatever ails them is to change from traditional masculinity to a feminist ally.

If traditional masculinity isn’t for you, don’t be it. Nobody is forcing you to be anything you’re not. In the same vein, if that’s what you are, the APA wants to cure you by turning you into a simpering wimp. This is the same old “toxic masculinity” agenda that’s being drummed into the woke, even as many young people secretly realize it’s bonkers and feign wokeness to get along with their peers, but knowing full well that they prefer to eat bacon and watch car chases than kale and romcoms.

The APA isn’t likely to change who men are, mostly because real men don’t give a damn what the APA has to say about it. But what it will do is deny those men who need therapy the ability to get the help they need by conditioning therapy on the acceptance of the premise that their traditional masculinity is the cause of their problems.

And then there’s the expert on the witness stand explaining to the jury, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the defendant’s violent nature is proven by his toxic masculinity of wanting to feed his children. After all, the APA guidelines for men and boys say so, and how much more conclusive does it get?

46 thoughts on “Real Men Don’t Shrink

  1. REvers

    I’ll bet it would be more cost effective to teach women how to be more violent. That way we could balance the statistics without trying to turn men into pussies.

  2. JB

    APA stands for Asinine Psychological Association. ‘nough said? You are right: Who cares what they say!

  3. Billy Bob

    Breaking News: Rod Rosenstein to quit DoJ in coming weeks. Sources say he is no shrinking violet. He was however recently diagnosed with “toxic masculinity” syndrome which can be contagious at the highest levels of government.

    It is furthermore rumored that his “sessions” with the President have caused him psychic pain, depression and sleeplessness. He plans to spend more time with the family while recovering his wholesomeness. No more nights at Motel 6.

  4. delurking

    Follow the money. Men suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress at much lower rates than women, and visit psychologists at much lower rates than women. I’m shocked, shocked!, to find that the APA suggests men should be more like women.

    I’ll stick with stoicism, thank you.

    Hey, on the bright side, the APA is just maybe hinting that we men can get in on some of this victimhood action. We are the most at risk of being victims of violent crime! If only I could overcome my stoicism and play the victim part from time to time.

  5. Richard Kopf


    This utter rubbish disregards tons of research by evolutionary biologists about sex differences in males and females throughout the various species. See, for example, “Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom” (Princeton University Press, 2013), for a book written for general readers by a distinguished evolutionary biologist, Daphne Fairbairn. Emeritus Professor of Biology at UC Riverside.

    All the best.


    1. SHG Post author

      Frankly, Judge, I wasn’t in need of a 2013 study to inform me of evolutionary biological realities. I was persuaded by the great philosopher, Lesley Gore.

      1. Richard Kopf


        Would be more interested in the rape culture of dogs in parks in Portlandia?

        All the best.


  6. Dan

    So it isn’t OK to tell a boy who thinks he’s a girl that he’s actually a boy. But it is OK to tell a boy who knows he’s a boy that he should act like a girl. I can’t even.

  7. Hunting Guy

    Robert Heinlein.

    “Most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers.”

  8. DaveL

    Don’t be so hard on the psychologists. I’m sure it’ll be a real science someday, with replicability and everything.

  9. B. McLeod

    So, a “professional association” with three initials has been hijacked by a bunch of idiots with a political agenda. That is hauntingly familiar somehow.

  10. Jake

    Yeah, well….They gotta talk about something. You and your silver spoon shining friends aren’y going to like it anymore if they start sniffing around the real causes of increasing male, middle-aged suicide.

  11. L. Phillips

    If enough heads aren’t already exploding around you tell a psychologist that your favorite form of therapy is good friends, good cigars, and 25 year old scotch.

    1. rojas

      Lacking the advanced palate that many here share. I find Redneck immersion therapy a prerequisite for extended excursions to Asia. Shrinks are optional. If a particular phobia is to be overcome there’s always someone who will hold your beer.

  12. Matthew Scott Wideman

    Ironically, the traits the APA are most disgusted with are the ones I admire most in my father and Grandfathers and Great Uncles.

    My heart doesn’t swell with pride when my family tells stories of them writing in their dream journal or posting thoughtful posts on Instagram. I admire them for selfless work ethic to feed their families during the depression, parachute into France, provide a college education to their kids, get up at 5 am well into their 70’s. They didn’t brag, bitch, or complain. We didn’t figure out that my grandfather parachuted into France with the OSS until a few years ago OR my great uncle had two silver stars and four bronze stars for service in WW2 and Korea (we all thought he was too young, but he lied about his age). The decorations were in the back of a closet somewhere. I don’t know where we would be without the contribution of that toxic masculinity. I know I would be playing Xbox in my parents basement if I didn’t get exposed to it.

      1. Matthew Scott Wideman

        “young men think they could do it but they couldn’t. They could fight the first Marne again but not this. This took religion and years of plenty and tremendous sureties and the exact relation that existed between the classes. The Russians and Italians weren’t any good on this front. You had to have a whole-souled sentimental equipment going back further than you could remember. You had to remember Christmas, and postcards of the Crown Prince and his fiancée, and little cafés in Valence and beer gardens in Unter den Linden and weddings at the mairie, and going to the Derby, and your grandfather’s whiskers.”

        SHG your post reminded me of this passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald. Come to think of it. WW1 was pure toxic masculinity.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Masculinity, and fear of losing it is major theme in Christopher Clark’s book about the origins of WWI The Sleepwalkers. The Austrian chief of staff was particularly worried about loss of moral fiber and thus pushed hard for war before his country went soft.

  13. Nigel Declan

    Old system:

    Patient – My arm hurts when I do this
    Doctor – Stop doing that.

    New system:

    Patient – My arm hurts when I do this
    Doctor – You are clearly suffering from “traditional masculinity.” I prescibe you to be less of a “man,” thus solving all your problems.

  14. ElSuerte

    I really hope this doesn’t end up with the baby getting thrown out with the bathwater. There are some important ideas there (so I hope you all don’t dismiss the entire thing out of hand), but it’s all buried by social justice douchery.

  15. Casual Lurker

    Yes, I appreciate the post’s title. Unfortunately, at the moment, my free time is extremely limited.* While I’d rather focus on the point of your post (and Prof. Wright’s tweets) — both of which I largely agree with — I believe it’s necessary to spend what limited time I presently have available to clarify some overlooked details, hopefully avoiding making anyone stupider.

    First, there are multiple APAs. For our purposes, we’re only dealing with two of them: The “American Psychiatric Association” and the “American Psychological Association”. For convenience, I will refer to the member Psychiatrists as APA-1, and the member Psychologists as APA-2.

    As the unwashed tend to conflate the two APAs, the need to carefully delineate between them becomes obvious when you consider that Govt. bureaucrats love members of APA-2, and state DDS (Disability Determinations Service) offices routinely employs them to deny SSI or SSDI to otherwise eligible applicants, often with some nonsensical boilerplate that doesn’t even apply to the case before them.

    When those applicants appeal, an SSA ALJ (many of which are retired federal magistrates) will frequently overturn that denial, often based solely on the opinion of an APA-1 member. Why is one groups opinion almost universally taken over the other, you ask? (Well… maybe not you… but someone is asking).

    Members of APA-1 are Medical Doctors. (M.D.s). Members of APA-2 are, well… NOT medical doctors. Mind you, I don’t want to disparage the large body of mostly solid research performed by the latter group,** much of which was done prior to a time when politically informed, outcome-based research goals became fashionable.

    Getting into the details of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) are not on today’s docket. But anyone interested in how different groups of clinical practitioners and researchers go about their business should research those terms.

    In any case, after my anecdote,*** you’ve honed in on the largely standardized phrase, often heard during testimony and seen in sworn affidavits used by one class of consultants and expert witnesses:to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.”

    This brings me to my second point: APA-2 members *cannot* say anything “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty“, because they are NOT medical doctors. In hearings, while rare, erroneous use of the “medical certainty” phrase with APA-2 members can lead to some embarrassing exchanges with opposing counsel.

    Furthermore, in both court documents and filings used in administrative hearings for the SSA and other Govt. agencies, you will usually see members of APA-1 referred to as “the medical consultant”, and members of APA-2 referred to as “the psychological consultant”.

    While not directly relevant, it should also be noted that in a hospital or medical clinic or other medical facility, as a general rule, you are prohibited from referring to any staff member not having a medical license as “doctor”, no matter how many PhDs they’ve collected. Doing so, at minimum, can earn you a letter of reprimand from HR. The reason for this rule should be self-evident.

    As an aside, some believe that APA-2’s leadership became a captive of the SJW crowd in the aftermath of the CIA torture case, as they sought to erase any taint in the eyes of the public.****

    You may remember when I mentioned***** how one of Comrade de Lousy-O’s apparatchiks informed the Chair-Person of the City Council’s Committee on Mental Health how “dealing with toxic masculinity would be a priority.” There’s nothing like having a non-medically-trained bureaucrat issue edicts, telling you how to evaluate and treat patients. Especially when those edicts are contrary to any recognized medical guidelines or clinical protocols. As Prof. Wright points out, those guidelines and protocols could change if APA-2 continues on its current path.

    For the time being, medical doctors at city-run and/or funded hospitals and clinics are largely free to ignore any such edicts. Psychologists and social workers, for the most part, don’t enjoy that level of independence, hence, the bureaucrats preference.

    All the best!

    *January is when many agencies and institutes ask that we justify our continued presence on the Govt. nipple. Regrettably, I’m one of the guys obliged to do some share of the justifying.

    **None of this is to say that APA-1 hasn’t also had its share of problems, including past serious errors in judgment.

    ***SJ: “The Year of Living Shamelessly”
    Dec. 31, 2018
    (See 5th paragraph down in my comment).

    ****Report To The Special Committee Of The Board Of Directors Of The American Psychological Association
    Sidley Austin LLP
    July 2, 2015

    *****SJ: “Is Innocence Just Himpathy?”
    Feb. 27, 2018

    The links are provided solely for your convenience.

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