Friday, May 3, 2019

SOUL DEVELOPMENT - MAY 2019


CYBELE THE GREAT MOTHER

MAY NEWSLETTER 2019 – SOUL DEVELOPMENT

INTRODUCTION

Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behaviour on interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given full expression by individuals and their cultures. In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious. The existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by using story, art, myths, religions, or dreams. The soul is considered the depository of the inherent elements of the collective, but it takes time to develop and mature this soul. (see later).

THE GREAT MOTHER ARCHETYPE

From around the 6th century BC, cults to the Anatolian mother-goddess were introduced from Phrygia into the ethnically Greek colonies of western Anatolia, mainland Greece, the Aegean islands and the westerly colonies of Magna Graecia. The Greeks called her Mātēr or Mētēr ("Mother"), or from the early 5th century Kubelē; in Pindar. She was a complex figure combining the Minoan-Mycenaean tradition with the Phrygian cult imported directly from Asia Minor. In Greece, as in Phrygia, she was a "Mistress of animals" (Potnia Therōn), with her mastery of the natural world expressed by the lions that flank her, sit in her lap or draw her chariot. She was readily assimilated to the Minoan-Greek earth-mother Rhea, "Mother of the gods", whose raucous, ecstatic rites she may have acquired. As an exemplar of devoted motherhood, she was partly assimilated to the grain-goddess Demeter, whose torchlight procession recalled her search for her lost daughter, Persephone.

DURGA MOTHER

HINDUISM

In Hinduism, Durga represents the feminine aspect and the shakti (energy/power) of the One God (The Brahman), as well as the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. From her forehead sprang Kali, who defeated Durga's enemy, Shumbh. She is considered the primordial energy as power of Time, literally, the "creator or doer of time"—her first manifestation.

 After time, she manifests as "space", as Tara, from which point further creation of the material universe progresses. The divine Mother, Devi Adi parashakti, manifests herself in various forms, representing the universal creative force. She becomes Mother Nature (Mula Prakriti), who gives birth to all life forms as plants, animals, and such from Herself, and she sustains and nourishes them through her body, that is the earth with its animal life, vegetation, and minerals. Ultimately, she re-absorbs all life forms back into herself, or "devours" them to sustain herself as the power of death feeding on life to produce new life. She also gives rise to Maya (the illusory world) and to prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into self-projection as the cosmos. The Earth itself is manifested by Adi parashakti. Hindu worship of the divine Mother can be traced back to pre-vedic, prehistoric India.

We can now reflect on the soul that is represented in the creative and destructive process of the great mother. There is the universal soul that is called the great spirit and our inner soul that arrives at birth and wants to grow and develop as a unique body & mind of a human being. It is Interesting to note that even today we worship the mother archetype in the name of MOTHER MARY. She is the embodiment of our collective spirit.

However, in contemporary Western society, the underworld journey is neither understood nor encouraged by most parents, teachers, health professionals, or cultural leaders, to say nothing of mainstream business, science, or politics. Yet a genuine soulful adulthood is possible for everyone. We need to restore the ways of soul initiation — but not by adoption of other cultures’ traditions or rites; rather, through the creation of our own contemporary and diverse models that better fit our post-industrial selves.

Spiritually, we can grow in two directions: toward spirit, on the one hand, and toward soul, on the other. Soul embraces and calls us toward what is most unique in us. Spirit encompasses and draws us toward what is most universal and shared. Our human souls are embodied (i.e., made visible in the world) through our core powers, our deepest and most enduring powers, those central to our character and necessary to manifest our soul-level uniqueness. Our core powers can be divided into our most central values, abilities, and knowledge. Our core values are the ideals for which we would be willing to die and for which we in fact live. Our core abilities are the natural talents or gifts indispensable for performing our soul work; these abilities are developed effortlessly or are capable of being honed to exceptional levels.

Although both are transpersonal, spirit takes you in one direction from the conscious mind or personality, and soul takes you in the other. The movement toward spirit is a journey of ascent, a journey of transcendence, while the movement toward your soul is a journey of descent.
Plotkin, Bill. Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (pp. 24-25).


THE SEVEN SEASONS OF GROWTH



Psychologists are using the concept “attachment theory” to study the ways young children and teens develop secure bases with others that help develop their personality. However, no science tells us how the SOUL aspect develops in relationships as humans grow to maturity. Here is one concept to reflect upon:

According to the great master OSHO, life has an inner pattern.  Every seven years, physiologists say, the body and mind go through a crisis and a change. Every seven years all the cells of the body change, are completely renewed. In fact, if we live over seventy years, our body dies many times. Each seventh year everything changes. It is just like changing seasons.  Finally, the line that moves from birth comes to death.  In fact, man’s life should not be divided into childhood, youth, old age – that is not very scientific because every seven years a new age, a new step is taken, that is the soul growing in all of us.

For the first seven years a child is self-centred, as if he is the centre of the whole world. The whole family moves around him. Whatever his needs are, they are to be fulfilled immediately, otherwise he will go into a tantrum: anger, rage, fury… He lives like an emperor. His mother, his father – all are servants, and the whole family just exists for him. And of course, he thinks the same is true for the wider world. The moon rises for him, the sun rises for him, the seasons change for him.

A child remains totally egoistic, self-centred for seven years. If you ask psychologists, they will say a child remains “masturbatory” for seven years, satisfied with himself. He does not need anything, anybody. He feels complete. After seven years – a breakthrough. The child is no longer self-centred; he becomes eccentric, literally. Eccentric – the word means going out of the centre. He moves toward others. The other becomes the important phenomenon – friends, gangs… Now he is not so interested in himself; he is interested in the other, the bigger world. He enters an adventure to know who this “other” Is. Inquiry starts. After the seventh year, the child becomes a great questioner. He questions everything. He becomes a great sceptic because inquiry is there; he asks millions of questions. He bores the parents to death; he becomes a nuisance. He is interested in the other, and everything of the world is of interest. Why are the trees green? Why did God create the world? Why is this so? He starts becoming more philosophic; inquiry, scepticism – he insists on going into things. He kills a butterfly to see what is inside, destroys a toy just to see how it works, throws a clock just to investigate it, how it goes on ticking and chiming – what is the matter inside? He becomes interested in the other, but the other remains of the same sex. He is not interested in girls. If other boys are interested in girls, he will think they are sissy. Girls are not interested in boys. If some girl is interested in boys and plays with them, she is a tomboy, not normal, average; something is wrong. 

Psychologists will say this second stage is mono-sexual. After the fourteenth year, a third door opens. He is no longer interested in boys; girls are no longer interested in girls. They are polite, but not interested. That’s why any friendship that happens between the seventh year and the fourteenth is the deepest, because the mind is mono-sexual, and no longer in life will such friendship happen again. Those friends remain friends forever. You will become friendly with people, but it will remain an acquaintance, not that deep phenomenon that happened between the seventh and the fourteenth year. After the fourteenth year, a boy is not interested in boy. If he is not stuck somewhere, he will be interested in girls. Now he is becoming heterosexual – not only interested in the others, but really the other, because when a boy is interested in boys, the boy may be other, but he is still a boy just like himself, not exactly the other. When a boy becomes interested in a girl, now he is really interested in the opposite, the real other. When a girl becomes interested in a boy, now the world enters. The fourteenth year is a great revolutionary year. Sex becomes mature, one starts thinking in terms of sex, sex fantasies become prominent in the dreams. The boy becomes a great Don Juan, starts courting. Poetry arises, romance. He is entering the world.

By the twenty-first year – the person becomes interested more in ambition than in love. He wants a Rolls Royce, a great palace. He wants to be a success, a billionaire, a prime minister. Ambitions become prominent: desiring for the future, being a success. How to succeed, how to compete, how to move in the struggle is his whole concern. Now he is not only entering the world of nature, he is entering the world of humanity, the marketplace.  Now the market becomes the most prominent thing. His whole being goes toward the market: money, power, prestige. If everything goes right – yet it never actually goes that way.

By the twenty-eighth year, a man is not in any way trying to enter an adventurous life. From twenty-one to twenty-eight, one lives in adventure; by the twenty-eighth year, one becomes more alert that not all desires can be fulfilled. There is more understanding that many desires are impossible. If you are a fool, you can go after them. But people who are intelligent, by the twenty-eighth year enter another door. They become more interested in security and comfort, less in adventure and ambition. They start settling. The twenty-eighth year is the end of hippiedom. At twenty-eight, hippies become squares, revolutionaries are no longer revolutionaries; they start settling, they seek a comfortable life, a little bank balance. They don’t want to be billionaires - that urge is no longer there. They want a small house, but established, a cosy place to live in, job security – so at least this much they can always have; a small bank balance.  They start settling.  They may purchase a house, start living a comfortable life…They becomes civilized. The word civilization comes from the word “civis”, meaning citizen. Now they become part of a town, a city, an establishment. The person is no longer a vagabond, a wanderer. Now he is not going to Kathmandu and Goa. He is not going anywhere – finished, travelled enough, known enough; now he wants to settle and be calm.

 By the thirty-fifth year, life energy reaches its “omega point”. The circle is half complete and energies start declining. Now the man is not only interested in security and comfort, he becomes a Conservative or orthodox. He becomes not only disinterested in revolution; he becomes an anti-revolutionary. Now he is against all change. He is a conformist; he wants the status quo because now he has settled and if anything changes, the whole thing will unsettle him. Now he is talking against hippies, against rebels; now he has become really a part of the establishment.

By the forty-second year, many physical and mental illnesses erupt because now life is declining. Energy is moving toward death. Just as in the beginning energies were coming up and you were becoming more and more energetic, you were becoming stronger and stronger – now just the opposite happens, you become weaker and weaker. But the habits persist. You have been eating enough up to the age of thirty-five; now you continue your habit. You will start gathering fat. Now that much food is not needed. It was needed but now it is not needed because life is moving toward death, it does not need that much food. If you go on filling your belly as you were doing before, all sorts of illnesses will happen: high blood pressure, heart attack, insomnia, ulcers – they all happen nearabout forty-two. Forty-two is one of the most dangerous points. The hair starts falling out, becoming grey. Slowly Life is turning into death.

By the forty-ninth year, the search becomes clear; seven years it takes for the search to become clear. Now a determination arises. You are no longer interested in the others, particularly if everything has gone right. Before this, life was too much and you could not be alone; there were responsibilities to be fulfilled, children to be raised. Now they have become young people. They are married – by the time you are forty-nine your children are getting married, settling. They are no longer hippies; they must be reaching the age of twenty-eight. They will settle – now you can unsettle. Now you can move beyond the home; you do not need a home. At the age of forty-nine, one should start looking toward the forest, moving inward, becoming introvert, becoming more and more meditative and prayerful.

By the age of sixty-three you again become like a child, only interested in yourself. That is what meditation is – to be moving inward, as if everything has fallen away. Only you exist. Again, you have become a child – of course, very much enriched by life, very mature, understanding, with great intelligence. Now you again become innocent. You start moving inward. Only seven years are left, and you must prepare for death. You must be ready to die. And what is the readiness to die? To die celebrating is the readiness to die. To die happy, joyfully, to die willingly, welcomingly, is to be ready. Existence gave you an opportunity to learn, and be, and you learned. Now you would like to rest. Now you would like to go to the ultimate home. Your soul is full.

By the age of seventy, you are starting to be ready. And if you have followed this natural pattern, just before your death, nine months before your death, you will become aware of it. As a child must pass nine months in the mother’s womb, the same circle is totally repeated, completely repeated, utterly repeated. By the time death comes, nine months before, you will become aware. Now you are entering the womb again. This womb is no longer outside in the mother, this womb is inside you. Indians call the innermost shrine of a temple the garbha, the womb. When you go to a temple, the innermost part of the temple is called the womb.

Ando so the soul is mature now. We know that many saints have declared their deaths. Exactly nine months before, a man of awareness, uncluttered with the past – because one who never thinks of the future will never think of the past. They are together, the past and future are together, joined together.
Osho International Foundation. The Chakra Book: Energy and Healing Power of the Subtle Body .

Note: In the modern wealthy society there are more years to cover but the idea of soul development is still valid.


IN CONCLUSION

I am always inspired by my mentor Michael Meade, the mythologist. His book:  AWAKENING THE SOUL. I highly recommend. He states:

"Awakening the Soul" addresses the issue of the loss of soul throughout the world and the loss of meaning and truth in modern life. Michael Meade shows how meaning is essential to the human soul and uses ancient stories and compelling insights to describe how soul can be recovered and people can learn to live in truth. Drawing from dramatic episodes in his own life, Meade shows how the soul tries to awaken at critical times, and how an awakened soul is crucial for finding medicine to treat the ailments and alienation of modern life. What we need now is not a minor repair, but a major transformation of the world that can only start with the awakening of the individual soul.”



 ANCIENT MOTHER EARTH









Monday, April 1, 2019

APRIL AND EASTER - 2019



SOUL CRAFT AT EASTER – BLOG 2019









April is Easter time. Most if not all people of the Christian faith believe that at this time Jesus Christ resurrected after being crucified on Golgotha. Yet, in ancient times it was the Spring celebration (in the northern hemisphere) that dates back some thousands of years. All tribal societies celebrated the ‘resurrection’ of the Earth. Nature became alive again when the sun warmed the fields and melted the snow. Flower and animals are born at this time and we still consider spring as the resurrection of life. Here are some early spring celebrations as examples:

Ēostre or Ostara, the goddess of spring – Germanic tribes.

In Roman mythology, Flora was a Sabine-derived goddess of flower and of the season of spring.

Jarylo (Cyrillic: Ярило or Ярила) Slavic god of vegetation, fertility and springtime.

The ancient Greek goddess Persephone is associated with spring, among other things.

Thallo (Thalatte), a hora of spring, classic ancient Greece, corresponds to Flora.

the great Spring God (春大神), of Ba Jia Jiang (The Eight Generals), Chinese folk beliefs and myths.

SYMBOLISM:

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades.

However, SOUL CRAFT is more than just celebrating spring. It is a celebration of the SOUL. Soul and Spirit are one aspect of Nature. Soul is our inner Spirit. Osho, a great Indian guru (teacher) spent most of his life teaching about Life and how we need to live with “soul awareness” and not forgetting our daily task of ensuring that Life be meaningful, that our soul is open to Love and thus grow in joy. 

Here is a quote from Osho:

“Life is an opportunity. Whatever moments we have lost, there is simply no way of getting them back. The opportunity life brings can be used in many ways. Whatever we do with it changes our life accordingly. Some people use it to earn wealth. For their whole life, they use all the opportunities of life, put all their energy, into earning wealth. But when they come face-to-face with death, all their wealth becomes useless. Some people toil their whole life to use this opportunity to attain fame and prestige just so their ego is fulfilled. But when death comes, all their ego, fame, and prestige become futile. So, what is the criterion that your life has not been in vain? The only criterion is that when death confronts you, all that you have earned in life should not be worthless. When you face death, however you have used the opportunity of life – whatever you have staked your whole life on – its meaningfulness should remain intact.

 Only that which is meaningful in the face of death is worthwhile.

Just go from the thinking that tomorrow morning you won’t be able to get up – what should you do? Depart from here with this thought: tomorrow morning you won’t be there, then what should you do? Someday a morning will surely come when you won’t be there. At least this much is certain; there is no reason to doubt it, there is no need to explain it either. There will certainly come a day when the sun will rise, but you won’t be there. Many people have been on this earth, but now they are not here anymore. Today you are here, and someday you won’t be here. In life, nothing is more certain than death, but we hardly ever think about it. Everything else is uncertain, everything else is doubtful. It is possible that God may or may not exist; it is possible that the soul may or may not exist. It is also possible that the world we see around us may or may not be there; it may be just a dream. Yet, there is one thing that is certain, one thing that is inevitable and there is not the least doubt about it: someone who is here now will not be here forever. Death will certainly come; there is no greater truth than death”.
Osho. The Independent Mind: Learning to Live a Life of Freedom . . Kindle Edition.







BODY MIND & SOUL

I teach in my workshops, that ‘Risking Being Alive” is a way of leading a meaningful life. We must be aware of our BODY MIND AND SOUL. The body is a fixed ‘machine’ of Nature dependant of resources that make it grow and thrive. The Mind can become independent and yet, it is dependent of the culture, traditions, education that I call all the INTROJECTS we swallow whole and believe they are ours. The mind is also a slave of words, scriptures, dogmas, stories from outside.

You may have many thoughts in your mind, so just watch them a little. If you watch, you will find that they have come from somewhere and have accumulated inside you. Just as the birds come and sit on the trees in the evening, similarly the thoughts have come and inhabited our minds. They are all others’ thoughts; they are aliens, borrowed. Only someone who can generate one or two thoughts of his own has the right to call himself free. Then the inside freedom begins.

The methods that began in ancient India are now adopted in the West called MINDFULNESS. This is one way to free the “mind slave” and once free, we reach our Soul.

SOUL- CRAFT

There is a great longing within each of us. We long to discover the secrets and mysteries of our individual lives, to find our unique way of belonging to this world, to recover the never-before-seen treasure we were born to bring to our communities. To carry this treasure to others is half of our spiritual longing. The other half is to experience our oneness with the universe, with all of creation. While embracing and integrating both halves of the spiritual, Soulcraft focuses on the first: our yearning for individual personal meaning and a way to contribute to life, a yearning that pulls us toward the heart of the world — down, that is, into wild nature and into the dark earth of our deepest desires.

And so, we search. We go to psychotherapists to heal our emotional wounds. To physicians and other health care providers to heal our bodies. To clergy to heal our souls. All of them help — sometimes and somewhat. But the implicit and usually unconscious bargain we make with ourselves is that, yes, we want to be healed, we want to be made whole, we’re willing to go some distance, but we’re not willing to question the fundamental assumptions upon which our way of life has been built, both personally and societally. We ignore the still, small voice. We’re not willing to risk losing what we have.

The most effective paths to soul are nature-based. Nature — the outer nature we call “the wild” — has always been the essential element and the primary setting of the journey to soul. The soul, after all, is our inner wilderness, the intrapsychic terrain we know the least and that holds our individual mysteries. When we truly enter the outer wild — fully opened to its enigmatic and feral powers — the soul responds with its own cries and cravings. These passions might frighten us at first because they threaten to upset the carefully assembled applecart of our conventional lives. Therefore, many people regard their souls in much the same way they view deserts, jungles, oceans, wild mountains, and dark forests — as dangerous and forbidding places. Jung called it the Universal Unconscious.

Entry into the life of the soul — a life of passion, enchantment, and service — demands a steep price, a psychological form of dying. We do not easily give up our claim on the good life of extended adolescence, what Jungian analyst James Hollis refers to as our “first adulthood.” Nature-based societies, understanding this, provide their youth with extensive preparation for the encounter with soul followed by an arduous initiation rite. These rites, now beginning to reappear in our own society, facilitate the radical shift in consciousness required to turn our focus from familiar egocentric concerns to those of the soul, from our first adulthood to our second. In contemporary Western society, the underworld journey is neither understood nor encouraged by most parents, teachers, health professionals, or cultural leaders, to say nothing of mainstream business, science, or politics. Yet a genuine soulful adulthood is possible for everyone. We need to restore the ways of soul initiation.
Plotkin, Bill. Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (p. 19). New World Library. Kindle Edition.


FINAL WORDS

Michael Meade is my Mentor and his work is mainly teaching about SOULCRAFT. He and some very well-known community leaders in his men initiation groups like Malidoma Somé, Robert Bly and many others. His work as a mythologist is the best we know today, and he speaks of social change as primarily Soul initiation. Go to his web page: https://www.mosaicvoices.org/ He said:

“ Ritual has to do with change. In Western culture, everything is in constant alteration and change. But philosophically, Western culture still tends to deny change. People spend a lot of time trying to establish that they're the same person all the time. Tribal culture is always trying to throw up the fact that everything has changed. It changed because the cycle moved, or the wind blew, or someone's ancestor”

 Cultures that did initiation based it on change-the understanding of change and the capacity to move with change. The Chinese call this the Tao, which means the Way, but it also means the Wave. It means that things are in flux. Right now, we are in one of the biggest changes that anyone could be involved in. Soul craft is the WAY!









Monday, February 25, 2019

MARCH - 2019 BLOG









THE DECLINE OF REASON

Dear reader,

This is the Chinese year of the pig. Many may say that is a fortunate year because the pig is meant to be calm, artistic, refined, intuitive, intelligent and well-mannered. Yet, there is another “pig” and that is the Boar. This one is wild, invasive, aggressive and a predator.

One way we may reflect on the year 2019 is to pay attention to the two aspects of this astrological pig.  One aspect is its fragility, passivity and close to the human and the other is the aggressive fighter and predator. This pig metaphor is a good description of today’s social malaise. We experience it in particular all over the modern world called the “Western democracies”.

This western culture may be considered to have a history of aggression and conquering the world for over 400 or so years (read about the British and Spanish empires) and now it is suffering of a huge surge of an overriding focus on sensitivity, being nice and a mountain of soft feelings. We can call this a polar opposite of historical events.

Perhaps it is time we examine and reflect on the “Boar” character of our culture, if not, we will suffer and become weaker and weaker as a democratic and free society. The “boar” polar opposite of being aggressive is not bad and may give us some strength to maintain a balance in face of the Political Correctness disguising as kindly oppressors.

One example of this trend is a report in the news about the well-known actor Liam Neeson. He gave an interview to promote the new movie COLD PURSUIT ( I recommend it). The movie is an amazing story of revenge and killing of bad guys by the father whose son dies of drug overdose and the father discovers that the drug was injected by a gang leader. His revenge is Boar-like.

Liam while at an TV interview, describes his own feelings about revenge that he experienced many years ago after his friend was raped by a black man. In all honesty Liam said that he went out at night hoping to find this “black bastard” so he could kill him in revenge. Although Neeson did not kill anyone and described his thinking as awful, he was learning that revenge is our human urge and is universal.

Well, the social media exploded against him. He was called a “racist” and the movie premier was cancelled. He explained and apologised in later interviews, but the fury continued unabated.
Reflecting on this story, we can become aware of the two “pigs” qualities used by the “political correct tribe”. The focus is especially on men. They are considered as pigs and not human beings. Well known men like actor Liam Neeson, psychologist Jordan Peterson, or comedian Kevin Heart (who happens to be black) and who quit as host of the Oscars and so on and on. YES! They are all men!

This blog is not meant to be a political, cultural or social argument of who is right or wrong, but a reflection on the PIG VS BOAR metaphor. For a more detailed reflection (for those interested), I am including here a report from the Quillette magazine entitled: Scholars Respond to the APA’s Guidance for Treating Men and Boys. You are free to comment here.







Introduction — John P. Wright, Ph.D.
John Paul Wright is a professor of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. He has published widely on the causes and correlates of human violence. His current work examines how ideology affects scholarship.

Thirteen years in the making, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the newly drafted “Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men.” Backed by 40 years of science, the APA claims, the guidelines boldly pronounce that “traditional masculinity” is the cause and consequence of men’s mental health concerns. Masculine stoicism, the APA tells us, prevents men from seeking treatment when in need, while beliefs rooted in “masculine ideology” perpetuate men’s worst behaviours—including sexual harassment and rape. Masculine ideology, itself a by-product of the “patriarchy,” benefits men and simultaneously victimizes them, the guidelines explain. Thus, the APA committee advises therapists that men need to become allies to feminism. “Change men,” an author of the report stated, “and we can change the world.”

But if the reaction to the APA’s guidelines is any indication, this change won’t happen anytime soon. Criticism was immediate and fierce. Few outside of a handful of departments within the academy had ever heard of “masculine ideology,” and fewer still understood how defining traditional masculinity by men’s most boorish—even criminal—behaviour would serve the interests of men or entice them to seek professional help. Instead of passing quietly into the night, as most academic pronouncements do, the APA’s guidelines did what few such documents have ever done: They engendered a social media maelstrom, and likely not only lost professional credibility, but potentially created new barriers for men who need help.

It is tempting to excuse the APA’s guidelines as the by-product of a select group of scholars whose intentions were good but whose delivery was tone-deaf. In today’s hyper-politicized environment, good intentions are often converted into the currency of ill-will. Yet the APA was forewarned by at least one psychologist that the guidelines would not be well received; that the document’s overtly partisan language and politically progressive narratives would not encourage men to receive services, but to keep them away.

When it became clear that those warnings should have been heeded, the APA found itself in an untenable position. Unfortunately, instead of calming the storm by acknowledging the validity of at least some criticism, the APA doubled-down, releasing a public statement asserting that the APA supports men, and the guidelines had been misunderstood and mischaracterized. In the same statement, they explained, “When a man believes that he must be successful no matter who is harmed or his masculinity is expressed by being sexually abusive, disrespectful, and harmful to others, that man is conforming to the negative aspects associated with traditional masculinity.” In other words, according to the APA, these selfish, violent, and abusive behaviours are not an issue of a person’s character, nor are they related to a person’s individual pathology. They are about “masculinity”—especially “traditional masculinity.” For added authority, the statement was signed by three presidents of the APA.

What should we make of not only the guidelines, but the APA’s inept handling of the criticism?  To better understand these dynamics, three of us, Quillette columnist and psychology professor Clay Routledge, along with criminology professor John Paul Wright, and Psychology Today contributor Pamela Paresky, sought commentary from a diverse range of voices, including therapists who focus on men’s issues, researchers whose work examines the complexity of men’s lives, and writers with diverse viewpoints. While we make no claim that the comments below are representative of the full range of views, we gave authors full editorial control over the content of their commentary and encouraged them to feel free to address both the positives and the negatives within the guidelines. Since we solicited many responses, we asked each contributor to limit her or his response to around 300 words.

We are heartened by the criticism that emerged from the APA’s guidelines. Why? Because we don’t believe that most of the backlash resulted from crass political motives. Instead, much of it was rooted in a deep concern about men and boys. The culture wars have not been kind to men, and data from an assortment of surveys tell us that boys and men are not thriving. Documents can be edited, but goodwill is a commodity no one should erase. If the APA is truly concerned about the mental and emotional health of men, it will recognize the goodwill and constructive intent underpinning much of the criticism and consider the feedback as a starting point for a broader and more productive discussion of how to most effectively provide successful treatment for boys and men.

Flipping the APA on its Head — W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D.
W. Keith Campbell is a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia. He has authored and co-authored several books including The Narcissism Epidemic.  

I ran a little thought experiment with the APA traditional masculinity model: What kind of society do you get when masculine values are centred on emotional self-focus rather than stoicism; cooperativeness rather than competitiveness; submissiveness rather than dominance; and kindness rather than aggression? Would men be happier and healthier in such a society? Well, given how bad traditional masculinity is, reversed masculinity should be flourishing in other cultures. Oddly, the APA doesn’t offer any examples. The closest example I found was this hot take on Asian men (birthplace of Genghis Khan—literally the most badass male ancestor of all time). The APA notes that “at least among white college students, Asian-American men are viewed as less manly than white or black American men.” We aren’t told if that is good or bad. If you look at the massively underpowered and poorly sampled study, it turns out that 250 psych undergrads think masculinity lines up with physical strength and athleticism, and place men’s masculinity in the order of black men being most masculine, Asian men the least, and white men in the middle. The closest you find to the flipped masculinity script are peace-focused masculine cultures that exist as protected subcultures in larger liberal cultures (e.g., India currently protects Tibetan spiritual culture—explicitly nonviolent groups like the Jains, etc.). Without this protection, peaceful groups get killed off. When there isn’t war, cultural aggression is celebrated in ceremony and sport, like this proud masculine display at the India-Pakistan border. No traditionally masculine men at the border means no men of peace in the nation.


My Warning to the APA About the Draft Guidelines — Chris Ferguson, Ph.D.
Chris J. Ferguson is a professor of psychology at Stetson University. He has published one book on video game science, Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong as well as a murder mystery, Suicide Kings.

In August, 2018 before the APA’s Council of Representatives (of which I am a member) voted on the controversial practice guidelines for boys and men, I shared with them a review I conducted of the proposed guidelines. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in interesting the Council in discussing the scientific merits and shortcomings of the guidelines. The version finally announced publicly has some superficial changes, but fundamental problems remain. Specifically, the guidelines lack a broad scientific base, particularly an understanding of biological contributors to gender identity, tend to use terms such as “traditional masculinity” in ways that lack conceptual integrity and are often stereotyped, and tend to read too often as a socio-political ideology than a balanced and nuanced scientific review.

I don’t doubt the need for practice guidelines for men. Men do struggle with many issues, such as lower school success, higher suicide and violence. A data-based, objective and compassionate document could have been useful. However, the APA’s practice guidelines’ obsession with “traditional masculinity” ultimately failed to help practitioners find compassion and understanding of those with values different from their own and have probably offended and turned away many men who might most have benefited from psychotherapy.

Unfortunately, from my view the APA has a poor track record of biased and scientifically misleading policy statements including practice guidelines. Usually such statements exaggerate the consistency, quality, and policy applications of a field of study. The APA’s statement on violent video games, my own field, does not resemble the actual science, which has not provided good evidence for links with aggression. Other statements on issues ranging from abortion to a divisional review of spanking have, likewise, stoked scientific controversy. In many cases, statements are developed by scholars reviewing their own work and declaring it beyond debate, a clear conflict of interest. At present, the APA’s policy statements often read like marketing tools rather than objective reviews. Fixing this will require significant change in how APA policy statements and practice guidelines are developed and reviewed. Until then, they should be regarded with scepticism.  

Who Will Mount Up and Ride to the Sound of the Guns? — B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D.
B. Christopher Frueh is a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. Under the pen name “Christopher Bartley,” he is author of They Die Alone and other hardboiled novels.

The APA’s latest manifesto is an embarrassment to the discipline of psychology. It is an abdication of scientific responsibility, denying biological and evolutionary realities in favour of a progressive fantasy pushed by “social justice” and “feminist” ideologies. It is harmful to all members of our society and dangerous to our national security. Masculine qualities like rugged individualism, courage, stoicism, ambition, and a willingness to protect and sacrifice for others helped secure the freedom and prosperity that so many now take for granted. 

At a time when many academics are virtue-signaling by whining about “toxic masculinity,” taking offense at every imagined “microaggression,” and listing their “pronouns” in their email signature blocks, we should ask where does this line of absurdity end? Perhaps the next APA manifesto will seek to abolish religion, athletics, heterosexual marriage, eating meat, etc. Whatever happened to common sense? And where does this take us? Will we next ban books, movies, and podcasts by people named Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, or Jocko Willink?

How will this affect our armed forces, police and fire departments, and all the other dangerous but important jobs that must be done? Who will volunteer to mount up and ride to the sound of the guns to protect our nation and its founding principles when masculinity has been smothered in our society?
“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
—C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

The APA Guidelines for Working with Male Clients: Ambitious but Severely Flawed — Roy Wayne Meredith III
Roy Wayne Meredith III is a graduate student of social work at Columbia University.

Practitioners should treat the new APA guidelines with caution. For starters, the document itself is poorly written. It frequently employs passive sentence constructions and modal verbs, such as “may,” “can,” or “it has been suggested that.” This strongly implies that the authors lack confidence in the robustness of the research they cite.

In some cases, this hesitation is clearly warranted. Psychologists such as Scott O. Lilienfeld have demonstrated that microaggression theory, for example, lacks construct validity. Seeing that its proponents classify offenses that range from calling on students too often to outright racist slurs as microaggressions, it is hard to imagine how Lilienfeld could be wrong. However, the authors fail to mention this and other glaring problems.

Some statements are so obvious that I wonder why the authors even bothered to include them, such as “inconsistent and contradictory messages can make the identity formation process complicated for some populations of boys and men.” No kidding.

Nevertheless, the APA deserves praise for emphasizing the importance of fatherhood in childhood development, the gendered bias that therapists often have against male clients, and the pitfalls boys and men face in educational settings. Furthermore, the authors correctly assert that racial disparities in criminal sentencing, health outcomes, and other measures of welfare are significant enough to compel therapists towards social activism. That these are still pressing issues, however, is even more reason to ground our solutions in research that utilizes rigorous methodology.

The APA Guidelines Are Unethical — Pamela Paresky, Ph.D.
Pamela Paresky writes for Psychology Today and is a senior scholar in human development and psychology at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Dr. Paresky’s opinions are her own and should not be considered official positions of FIRE or any other organization with which she is affiliated.

The APA’s code of professional ethics requires that psychologists respect clients’ “dignity and worth” and their “rights to self-determination.” It urges them to “take precautions” about “potential biases,” to refrain from taking on a clinical role when “other interests” could impair their objectivity and reminds psychologists that they must “establish relationships of trust” with clients. The new guidelines violate these ethical standards. The guidelines’ basic premises are rooted in a set of ideological biases that are likely to impair psychologists’ objectivity, ability to respect the dignity and worth of certain clients and make it difficult if not impossible to establish a therapeutic relationship based on trust.

The guidelines include, “Psychologists understand the impact of power, privilege, and sexism on the development of boys and men and on their relationships with others,” and “When working with boys and men, psychologists can address issues of privilege and power related to sexism.” Regardless of what a given male client brings to therapy, it appears that “issues of privilege and power related to sexism” can be addressed.

Some of the guidelines are positive. But psychologist Ryon McDermott, who was among those who drafted the APA guidelines, admitted in the APA’s own publication that they contain an overarching ulterior motive: “If we can change men,” he explained, “we can change the world.”
Changing men starts with the premise that there is something wrong with men. If these guidelines are followed, how will men who see themselves as “traditionally masculine” trust that their sessions will be used for their own goals of psychotherapy rather than to address their masculinity?
Any guidelines issued by the APA should be for more effectively treating the problems that clients bring to psychotherapy. Ulterior motives are countertherapeutic and undermine trust. These guidelines subvert the purpose of clinical psychology and will jeopardize the public’s trust in the profession.

The Passive War of Attrition on Masculinity — Natalie Ritchie, M.A.
Natalie Ritchie writes for Child Magazine and is the author of Roar Like a Woman: How Feminists Think Women Suck and Men Rock (2018).

For years, feminism has fought a passive war of attrition on masculinity, starving it of honour. With its 2018 guidelines, the inherently feminist APA has gone on the offensive. This assault is not as simple as misandrist pay-back by feminism for a history’s-load of oppression. It has its roots in the feminist need to be man-identical. When your idea of gender equality is a 50/50 breakdown of men and women in any given situation—that is, when you think that 100 percent of women should do what 100 percent of men do—masculinity poses a threat. Making men less like men (and more like women) becomes a backdoor route to making women more like men. Such gender denial is the new Aryanism; unscientific, unprofessional, immoral. Insisting that each gender is “wrong” and must be more like the other to be “right” cripples both and shrivels the human footprint to only what the genders have in common.

“Traditional masculinity” is a sorry litany of criminality, suicide, violence, and “sexism,” the APA claims. Yet it seems that the APA’s real target is the core male trait of taking responsibility. It was responsibility that channelled the male spirit of efficiency into the industrial and digital revolutions’ sensational wealth; that deployed the male instinct for combat to highlight both sides’ viewpoints to the max in the superb Western legal system; that kick-started democracy when the nobles heavied bad King John into signing the Magna Carta; that met Messerschmitts with Mustangs and Spitfires; that turned up to work (or risked livelihood and life to strike for the 40-hour week); that made good fathers.

Many of the male problems the APA laments vanish with taking responsibility. Yet “responsibility” only appears twice in the guidelines’ 36 pages, “responsibilities” once.

A Case Study of Traditional Masculinity — Clay Routledge, Ph.D.
Clay Routledge is a professor of psychology at North Dakota State University. He authored the 2018 book Supernatural: Death, Meaning, and the Power of the Invisible World.

Instead of focusing on the cherry-picked research, over-reliance on blank slate thinking, or the general progressive ideological bias observable throughout the guidelines, I would like to share a personal, but I hope helpful, anecdote.

The rule in our house when I was a kid was we had to participate in at least one sport or related physical activity. I wasn’t very interested in typical sports, so I decided to give martial arts a shot. I was just a scrawny kid with glasses who was regularly picked on by bigger boys so learning how to fight seemed like a good idea. I learned so much more.

For the first few years of training, I was still just a skinny kid, but I was developing a variety of psychological, social, and physical skills that would prove very helpful as I got older. Our martial arts gym was old-school, run with military-like structure. Workouts and sparring were intense. The training disciplined my mind and body, gave me the opportunity to work my way through a hierarchical system that rewarded hard work and dedication, and helped me become a strong and focused young man.

The training involved a healthy dose of traditional masculinity—aggression, stoicism, confidence, and competitiveness. Critically, using a traditional martial arts philosophy and traditional military-style teaching methods, this training took advantage of traditional masculinity to build positive characteristics such as dignity, restraint, personal responsibility, and a sense of duty to others.

Mental illness is a real problem that haunts even some of the strongest of men. And all of us, men and women alike, grapple with psychological vulnerabilities and life stressors. But I would argue that traditional masculinity is not the problem. Instead, it can be part of the solution to the problems that plague many modern boys and men. With proper guidance from positive male role models and institutions that give males a code to live by and connect them to a purpose-providing moral system, traditional masculinity plays a vital role in creating healthy men as well as building and preserving safe and prosperous societies.

Psychotherapy Is Meant to Be Personalized Medicine — Sally Satel, M.D.
Sally Satel is a practicing psychiatrist, a lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The APA guidelines risk subverting the therapeutic enterprise altogether because they emphasize group identity over the individuality of the patient. 

Psychotherapy is the ultimate personalized medicine. The meanings patients assign to events are a thoroughly unique product of their histories, anxieties, desires, frustrations, losses, and traumatic experiences.

“Gender-sensitive” psychological practice, as the APA calls it, is questionable because it encourages clinicians to assume, before a patient even walks in the door, that gender is a cause or a major determinant of the patient’s troubles.

To be fair, the APA does emphasize that it does not intend to mandate changes in practice. But therapy is a delicate business not readily amenable to guidelines tailored to gender—or to any group affiliation, for that matter. So when the APA encourages practitioners to engage in vaguely defined activities— “address issues of privilege and power related to sexism” or “help boys and men, and those who have contact with them become aware of how masculinity is defined in the context of their life circumstances”—it seems more focused on a political agenda than on the patient.

Leading with an ideological agenda risks alienating the patient and thereby compromises a critically important phenomenon called the therapeutic alliance. In his classic book Persuasion and Healing (1961), psychiatrist Jerome D. Frank describes the alliance as “the therapist’s acceptance of the sufferer, if not for what he or she is, then for what he or she can become.”

Through that therapeutic relationship, the patient gains insight, a degree of mastery over himself and alternative ways of thinking about his problems. Frank believed, as do many therapists today, that the power of a clinician’s dedication to the patient is not only essential but may also be the most active ingredient in the therapy itself.

People seeking help are in a state of suggestibility. Therapists need to be careful about imposing their “gender-sensitive” worldview on them.

The New APA Guidelines Are Predatory — Shawn T. Smith, Psy.D.
Shawn T. Smith is a licensed, clinical psychologist. He is the author of several books, including The Practical Guide to Men: How to Spot the Hidden Traits of Good Men and Great Relationships.

The APA, not known for its high testosterone level, seems to view masculinity with the same distaste a Disney princess has for manual labour. They speak of masculine traits with deep suspicion, even though their safe world rests on the backs of men who possess those traits.

I won’t spend these few paragraphs repeating the efforts of those defending masculinity. Instead, I hope to persuade other clinicians to take a stand against the APA’s ideologically-driven guidelines for working with men and boys.

If the APA were truly concerned about males, they would strive to help those who are suffering by building on the time-tested virtues of masculinity. Instead, they frame the “patriarchy”—that nebulous bête noire of radical feminism—as the root of all suffering. Seeing the world through that tainted lens, their response to men and boys can only be that of the radical feminist: tear men down. Denigrate noble traits. Advance feminist ideology at all costs.

Under this APA policy, any man unwise enough to trust a psychologist is to be chastised for his alleged privilege and sexism, and he is to be re-educated into something far more docile and apologetic than a full-blooded man.

If the predatory nature of the APA’s new guidelines isn’t immediately apparent, consider the inverse: psychologists organizing ‘en masse’ to dismantle femininity, treating each female patient as an opportunity to reshape women as the APA sees fit.

People generally seek psychologists in moments of vulnerability. It is plain vicious to seize on that vulnerability for the sake of advancing an ideology. Ironically, the APA’s mercenary approach to the culture war—a war in which they have no business taking sides—exemplifies the destructive and ruthless qualities they wrongly attribute to honourable men everywhere.

Professional Best Practices Are Not Ideological — Debra W. Soh, Ph.D.
Debra W. Soh is a Canadian science columnist, political commentator, and the co-host of Wrongspeak.

I have several concerns regarding the APA guidelines for practice with men and boys. Perhaps a good starting point would be the belief that masculinity is an “ideology,” “socially constructed,” and “learned during socialization,” as opposed to biological and the result of hormonal influence. Secondly, the guidelines portray abusive behaviour as a natural extension of being male-typical, as opposed to being due to anti-sociality and negative views about women.

If we were to follow this suggested line of thinking, masculinity should be something that can be corrected and unlearned. As someone who has worked clinically with incarcerated male sexual offenders and violent offenders, I can tell you that therapeutic interventions informed by intersectional feminism and its ideas about “power and privilege” will have zero effect when working with these populations.

Progressive talking points, like calling gender a “non-binary construct” and openly advocating for “participation in social justice activities,” have no place in a document detailing professional best practices. They foreshadow a future in which psychologists must alter their therapeutic approach, not in the best interest of their client, but because this new orthodoxy is trendy, and they are afraid of having their licenses revoked. Psychological services should be scientifically-informed and cater to an individual’s needs and history, instead of being based on sweeping, politically motivated assumptions about their sex.











Sunday, January 20, 2019

FEBRUARY 2019 BLOG


                                                         

       THE GENDER-IFICATION OF MEN










Recently we had in the news about the Gillette company ad about making men a better. The ad depicts a series of “bad” behaviours of boys and how and adult can correct them. This is another consequence of marketing that is getting a lot of support by the “political correct” madness that is formulating rules how we must behave. Men are the bad guys.

Yet, the most damaging consequence of the crusade against masculinity is its corrosive influence on the psychological and moral development of boys. From a very early age, they are told that they must curb their boyish attitudes and behaviour. They continually are bombarded by the message that they are not as emotionally intelligent, sensitive or as flexible as their girl counterparts. When they learn that masculine behaviour is considered by some of their teachers and other adults as something of a cultural crime, they naturally become disoriented and uncertain about their identity. (I have written about the emasculation of men in earlier blog post).

The Gillette ad now is a metaphor for the dichotomy that is permeating all aspects of modern democratic cultures. What is the truth? We ask. Had Gillette truly wanted to pave the way for actual change in gender inequities, they could have taken a far bolder step. The men who disproportionately figure in P&G’s U.S.’s executive (only nine of 30 are women; its 13-member board of directors features four women) could have acted “the right way” and in a truly radical way: by ending the absurd gender-ification and price discrimination perpetuated in the marketing of shaving products. That is, the men razor are blue in clour and defined by names as: “Mach 3 Turbo,” the “Sensor 3,” and the “Fusion 5 Proshield Chill Razor with Flexball Technology.” While women razors are defined as: The “Venus” that offers the illusion of choice with little differentiation, unless you care about how your razor smells when you’re shaving your armpits.There’s the “Embrace,” the “Comfortglide Freesia,” the “ComfortGlide White Tea Scented,” the “Comfortglide Plus Olay Coconut” and the “Swirl.” There’s also the “Cosmo Pink” and so on.

The point of this is that even Gillette products are now blaming men as negative and so the boys need a re-education. But if we’re going to get there any time soon, we need to stop seeing men as inherently problematic. We now talk about “toxic masculinity”, as though the Y chromosome itself was a poison, the unfortunate by-product of biology. The implication of the “MeToo” movement is that if all women have been victims, then all men have been culpable. In progressive circles it is an accepted truth that simply being male makes you part of the problem, an inevitable contributor to the status quo.





Frank Furedi, a sociologist, makes a clear statement of this invasion on manhood and the creation of a masculine psychological disturbance that needs psychological counselling. He states:

“The APA’s (American Psychological Association) guidelines are principally targeted at boys and young men. They warn that the bad habits associated with masculinity, such as “suppressing emotions and masking distress, often start early in life”. The APA contends that traditional masculinity is “psychologically harmful and that socialising boys to suppress their emo­tions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly”.

The medicalisation of masculine behaviour by the APA is designed to devalue boyishness and alter the meaning of what it means to be a boy.

That the guidelines are a political statement masquerading as a scientifically informed document is highlighted by its stated ambition of changing the world through changing men. One of the authors of the guidelines, Ryon McDermott, declares that if “we can change men” then “we can change the world”. From this standpoint, masculinity serves as the moral equivalent of a disease that must be eradicated.

The APA’s opinion reflects the wider cultural project of marginalising masculinity and altering the identity of boys and men. Our era, which constantly celebrates people’s identities, finds it difficult to endow the identity of the male with positive qualities.

On the contrary, masculinity has turned into what sociologist Erving Goffman, in his classic study “Stigma”, has characterised as a “spoiled identity”. Because of a constant barrage of criticism, masculinity has become delegitimated and often is portrayed as a marker for pathological behaviour.
A significant section of the psychological community has become critical of masculinity because of its dislike for men’s supposed aspiration for control and autonomy.

Since the 1990s, exposing the emotional illiteracy of men has become a growth industry. There are thousands of publications that decry the failure of men to acknowledge their vulnerability and refusal to seek help. Back in the 90s, critics of masculinity applied the terms high masculinity and hegemonic masculinity to those who refused to embrace the advice of psychologists. Today, the term “toxic” masculinity is deployed to disparage stoic men drawn towards autonomous behaviour and self-control.

Criticism of the “male desire for control” represents an attitude towards emotional life in general. That’s why, ultimately, the APA’s hostility to masculine values is not simply about men. Women who display “masculine” characteristics such as self-control, rationality and strong ambition also have come under intense suspicion.

In contrast, men who act like women are clearly preferred to women who act like men. According to the emotionally correct hierarchy of virtuous behaviour, feminine women come out on top. Feminine men beat masculine women for second place. And, of course, masculine men come last.

The weaponisation of the term “toxic masculinity” is one of the most significant accomplishments of the culture war that has raged in the US in recent years.

Gillette’s cautionary tale about men is widely echoed in US institutions of education. Many universities have launched anti-toxic masculine initiatives designed to resocialise male under­graduates. The term has become an all-purpose weapon wielded against male targets.

However, since the term implicitly equates masculinity with toxicity, virtually any assertive and self-confident boy or young man can become a recipient of this label.

The term toxic masculinity, like any other cultural stereotype, has no scientific value. But that has not stopped the Australian Psychological Society from stating that although the term is sociocultural and not medical, it is useful for exploring “poisonous” behaviours. As the APS’s use of the word poisonous indicates, it is not merely a sociocultural but a moral term of abuse. It is unlikely the APS would ever dream of linking the term toxic to femininity.

The term toxic masculinity is often used to draw attention to different forms of destructive and damaging behaviour such as sexual aggression, violence, homophobia and violent behaviour. No doubt these are malign and dangerous types of behaviour.

However, the representation of such negative traits as the normal feature of masculinity is motivated by the imperative of propaganda rather than a dispassionate view of human relations. Unfortunately, many policymakers have embraced this prejudice and are promoting campaigns against the moral authority of masculinity.

The Australian government’s recent campaign against domestic violence offers a textbook example of the casual manner with which a conceptual leap from violence to boyishness is made. Like the Gillette ad, the target of this campaign is to explicitly focus on the “boys being boys” attitude in society.

As someone who still remembers his mother’s reactions to her son’s mistakes and achievements with statements such as “Boys will be boys”, I find a campaign directed against her attitude deeply disturbing. From my mother’s standpoint, “being a boy” meant being a little bit rough, assertive, single-minded and ambitious.

The government crusade against this attitude signals the conviction that boys who misbehave in school grow up to be abusers of women.

A widely distributed video titled “Stop It at the Start” depicts a father sitting in his car by the school gate, incredulous that his son received a detention for “flicking up a girl’s skirt”. In the back seat, the offender’s young brother pipes up and asks why the teacher does not understand that it’s “just boys being boys”. Sitting next to him is his little sister, who casually remarks, “Yeah, I mean, I’ve already accepted that as I grow up I’ll probably be harassed and even abused.”

The sight of a young girl fatalistically acknowledging that her life will be plagued by little male monsters such as those sitting in the car is likely to instil any responsible individual with a sense of unease if not horror.

Fortunately, this fantasy display of anti-boy animus bears little rela­tionship to reality. The project of targeting children “at the start” will do nothing to curb anti-social adult behaviour. Its main outcome is to confuse children, especially boys, and reinforce the confusion surrounding the meaning of male identity.

The most damaging consequence of the crusade against masculinity is its corrosive influence on the psychological and moral development of boys. From a very early age, they are told that they must curb their boyish attitudes and behaviour. They continually are bombarded by the message that they are not as emotionally intelligent, sensitive or as flexible as their girl counterparts. When they learn that masculine behaviour is considered by some of their teachers and other adults as something of a cultural crime, they naturally become disoriented and uncertain about their identity.

Not surprisingly, a lot of young men find the transition to adulthood particularly difficult because values that are associated with being a man receive little cultural validation. In the absence of any clear cultural guidance of what it means to be a boy or a man, many are confronted with an identity crisis inflicted on them by the campaign against masculinity.

The corrosive effect of the war against masculinity is not simply confined to the world of boys and young men. Society suffers from the loss of validation for the values that are wrongly attributed to men.

The virtue of courage, the value of autonomy and risk-taking have played a significant and positive role in the moral development of humankind. Even, the much-derided ethos of stoicism has helped humanity deal with the threats and challenges it faced in difficult circumstances.

Whatever its intent, the campaign against masculinity is much more than a crusade designed to change men. Our version of what it means to be a human will truly diminish if society becomes inhospitable to so-called male values such as courage, self-control and risk-taking.

I trust that you will have your own reflections on the important subject. Feel free to comment here.

PS: here are some research facts on men:

https://www.chatelaine.com/survey-define-masculinity/#men-manliness