Old Hate, New Victim

I have been reading a book titled “The Death of White Sociology” that focuses on the birth of the black sociological viewpoint and also the death of what they term “white sociology.” It describes a shift in worldview from the traditional Euro perspective to the black sociological point of view written about blacks by blacks. It is a fascinating read. Parts of the book examine the ways that our culture, media, and academia in the United States fostered the potent messages that blacks were inferior to whites. It observes the period after slavery and maps out the different ways that the “common sense” lies of black’s inferiority were spread and maintained.

As I read through the book I became shocked to find that the very same tactics used to keep blacks “in their place” looked strikingly similar to the ones being used against men in today’s world. This is not meant to say that men are facing the same rampage of racism that blacks faced and continue to face to some degree. It is however, very apparent that the mechanisms that maintained and spread the lies of blacks inferiority to whites are strikingly similar to those being directed towards men in today’s world.

The book describes three basic arenas where the ideas of black inferiority were spread. The first was “common knowledge” which was basically the general public mouthing the accepted stereotypes of the day. Most of the public simply “knew” that blacks were inferior. it was accepted as fact. The second was the media who amplified the “common knowledge” by portraying blacks in a negative and stereotypical fashion. Third was academia who did studies that sought to prove the erroneous “common knowledge” of the day through biased and questionable research. The three together packed a powerful punch.

The Three General Paths: Common Knowledge, the Media and Science.

We all are familiar with the ways that ideas and stereotypes get spread at the water fountain at work or over the backyard fence. This sort of negative stereotyping of blacks was prevalent with almost everyone assuming that blacks were inferior to whites up until the 1960’s when things started changing. The stereotyping was global and was applied to not some blacks or to just criminal blacks but to all blacks. The same sort of stereotyping is now true today for men. Even paying casual attention at the beauty shop or shopping mall will show you that men are seen as the problem. Not some men, not criminal men but all men. The basic assumption is that there is something wrong with men. This is very similar to the early 20th century where all blacks were the recipient of extreme prejudice based on race. The similar assumption was that there was something wrong with blacks. As people today blame men as being, pigs, violent, selfish, greedy or other negative attributes the implied message is that men are indeed inferior to women. This same sort of prejudging could never happen now about blacks, women, Jews, gays or just about any other group. Men are the last group to be held up as a scapegoat by our culture and it is not hard to see, unless you are the one doing the judging.

We are also likely familiar with the media and their ways of perpetuating stereotypes and prejudiced ideas. Blacks were surely the recipient of these for many years. Think of Steppinfetchit and the way the media used him as an example of slow and dullard blacks, and as a befuddled and shiftless fool. Then came Amos n Andy with the same stereotype: blacks were slow and dull and not making very good decisions. Then after the 1960’s this started to shift until we ended up with the Bill Cosby Show, Will Smith and others who were being portrayed in a much different and highly positive light. Contrast that with the path of men being shown in the 1950’s and early 1960’s TV shows such as Father Knows Best, Roy Rogers, Bonanza or Andy Griffith. Now we don’t see those types of portrayals of men, what we see is more like Amos n Andy with men being routinely shown to be dull, insensitive, slow, and needing women to make decisions. It is clearly no longer the blacks facing stereotypes. Now it is men, especially white men, who are getting a similar sort of stereotyping and no one seems to notice or to care.

The most unlikely sources of proliferating stereotypes is our scientific community but sadly this book points out the various ways that our academics went out to prove that blacks were indeed inferior and in need of whites in order to be civil and successful. The book describes the white sociology and social science research that was designed with the intent of proving that blacks were inferior and needed whites. In today’s world we see something very similar in the research of social scientists that seems to try and prove that men are at the root of our problems and are consequently inferior to women. We will go into that in more detail later.

For now let’s move on to examining the specific ways the book showed that blacks were proven to be inferior and how this is similar to what we see in men today.

The Specific Paths That Were Used

Probably the most potent and global of the memes that were spread to prove blacks inferiority was summed up by the book authors as:

Blacks are defined as the perpetrators and creators of social pathology and not as its victims.”

By linking blacks as being perpetrators and creators of social pathology the culture was able to devalue blacks and paint them as inferior to whites. When blacks were shown to be victims of a hateful culture people turned a blind eye. The predominant meme was that blacks were the creators and perpetrators of social pathology and anything varying from that was ignored. Even in research when blacks were seen as victims it was all too often hidden from view by the researchers. This sort of devaluing took a huge toll on the collective esteem of blacks. When you live in a place that paints you as the problem and only sees you in that light it makes it pretty tough to feel proud and good about yourself. Many will remember that one of the first things that Black activists did in the 1960’s was popularize the phrase “Black is Beautiful.” It was this sort of phrase that helped to begin in shifting the long standing disdain held by the culture towards blacks. Far too many blacks had surely internalized these hateful messages. It is easy to see how this was damaging and how it took a great deal of effort to turn things around. Prior to the 1960’s I think often the activists had to deal with blacks whose spirits were simply too broken to even care to defend themselves. They had been too damaged by the weight of the years of judgements placed upon them by the culture. The 60’s started changing all of that pumping esteem back where it should be.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with the issues of men in today’s world will immediately see the connection here. At this point it is no longer blacks who are defined as the perpetrators and creators of social pathology, this has shifted and now it is men who are sitting in that seat. It is far too common to hear the cultural meme of “Men cause wars” or “Men are jerks” or “Men are violent” or “Men have ruined the economy if only women ruled the world.” Men are actively being blamed as the creators of social pathology both on a micro level and macro. Have a look at any newspaper and see if you notice any articles on men as victims of social pathology? It won’t take long to notice that men as a group are very rarely listed as victims, only the perpetrators while women are repeatedly seen as victims. What at one time was a mechanism to keep blacks in their place has now been shifted. This harness is firmly around the necks of the males in our culture. As with the blacks before, this is now taking a toll on the esteem of our men and boys. Since their sex is held as the root of our cultural problems they grow up thinking that they are inferior to women, that their sex is the cause of our difficulties, that growing up to be a man is something about which he should ashamed.

This sort of shaming was very rare in the 1950’s when men were held in relatively high esteem especially if they were providing and protecting. Then from 1960 onward things started to change. By the late 1960’s blacks were beginning to shed the onerous cultural burden that we are describing. At the same time women were expanding their sex roles and getting good press as being model human beings. Areas where women and girls faced victimization became common topics in the public domain, the media, and our new laws which attempted to protect them. The culture began to see women in a most positive light. Sadly, even to the casual observer, our culture seems unable to hold both women and men in a positive light. As it saw women as good and worthy of support it started its equal and opposite descent into seeing men as a problem. This was likely intensified by the false blame heaped on men at the time for allegedly having been the oppressors who had intentionally held women back for centuries with the associated assumption that all men had to pay for this. Men cause wars. Men’s greed ruins the economy. Men were now getting the cultural shadow projections. It was about this time in the 1960’s when young men started killing themselves nearly SIX TIMES as often as similarly aged young girls. Could this dramatic shift be related to boys feeling the impact of the cultural negativity that was now being broadcast about their sex? (see chart below) But we are getting ahead of ourselves, let’s get back to the book.

The Bondage of Common Sense

The book points out that after slavery blacks were held in a different sort of bondage, one that was unwritten and basically invisible. This bondage resulted from what most people know as “common sense” or common knowledge. It is what most people believe automatically without thinking. It is the accepted “norm” that lives just below the surface. What was this accepted normal, this common knowledge? It was that blacks are inferior to whites. This was just a given. These thoughts and memes were obviously culture-wide. The scholars from this book have mapped out just how this “common sense” functioned and how it resulted in putting blacks into a continued bondage. This is an unsettling story of the power of mainstream thought as expressed by “most” people. It’s a story of the power of the media to reflect that thinking and perpetuate it through news and entertainment. And finally, it’s a story of the power of our academic institutions to then capture the essence of the erroneous assumptions and assume they are true and then go on to prove them through “science” thus adding mortar to the bricks and solidifying a solid wall. When people hear that science validates their “common sense” those beliefs become entrenched and act like immovable objects.

So what were these memes that carried the cultural message of blacks inferiority? Let’s go through a few of them as described in this book:

Blacks are better if they are around whites.

In the early and mid 20th century one of the tactics the researchers used in painting blacks as inferior was to do research on blacks, whites and mullatoes. The conclusions were almost always the same. The more white influence in your blood the better you were. If you were light skinned you were automatically seen as better. They took this a step farther and would write about blacks being more cultured when they had more time being around whites. It was as if, the good manners and attitude of whites mentally rubbed off simply by contact. When blacks did poorly it was often assumed that they simply didn’t have the good influence of white people. This meme disdained blacks and glorified whites as being the truly cultured ones.

It’s easy to see how this transposes in today’s culture. Now it is men who are deemed “better” if only they would act more like women. Men who are not around women are seen as suspect. Men who don’t emote like women are thought to be in need of learning to be more like women which is assumed to be the default. This meme now glorifies the female way as being the default and shames men for not living up to this. This meme now glorifies women and disdains men.

Research showing blacks were superior to whites was hidden from public view.

When the early researchers would do studies where data was obtained that showed blacks to be better than whites in some way the researchers would consistently hide the findings. It simply wouldn’t see the light of day. In this way whites continued to be seen as always superior.

In today’s climate we see something very similar. When studies show that men and boys are victimized in some way the data is hidden and not published. Other times when men do better than women it is seen not as a strength of men but as discrimination against women. The man’s strength is ignored while the woman’s disadvantage is seen as a call to action with people scrambling to institute change. When men are shown to be victims in research, such as the domestic violence studies, the data is hidden and not published. These sorts of things solidify the cultural attitudes of the superiority of women and men as inferior. Even our president voices this message when he said in a speech “Girls can do anything boys can do, and do it better, and do it in heels”. Girls/women are seen as superior. Boys and men are seen as lagging behind.

Aversion of whites toward blacks proves their inferiority

The book points out that the aversion of the whites towards blacks was used as proof that blacks were inferior in the 20th century. The assumption was “why else would whites look down on them?”

Women’s aversion and disdain of men is now used as proof that men are inferior. Just think of some of the catch phrases we have heard in our culture. All men are rapists. Man hating is honorable. Men are Pigs. Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them. It has gotten so bad that the media responds to a man having his penis cut off by his wife with laughter and jokes. Can you imagine any other group that might garner such a response without censure? I can’t.

The psychological research of the day in the early to mid 20th century was not geared to help blacks but to blame them and chronicle how they need to change.

Articles that were written and placed their focus on blacks tended to feature issues that showed blacks to be at fault for problems and stayed intent on how they needed to change. This of course ignored the needs of blacks.

We see the same pattern in today’s research on men. It is not geared to be of help to men it is geared to expose and blame them for social problems. Over the past fifty years we have seen a profound shift in researcher’s attitudes and assumptions towards men. In the mid 20th century researchers were analyzing male roles and naming them as “confident” “risk taking” “level-headed” “independent” “aggressive” and other descriptors that seemed fairly accurate and not excessively value based. But since then we have seen a remarkable shift so that in today’s world we have psychological research that is labeling male norms not as the reasonable above descriptions but as “violent”, seeking “power over women”, having “disdain for homosexuality” and being “playboys”. Have a look at the chart below to see the shift in norms. It is eye popping.) We have gone from describing men as strong, aggressive and risk takers to seeing male roles as pathological and the source of our problems. The similarly to what blacks faced is striking. What you don’t see, just as you didn’t see it for blacks, is any mention of where men are facing hardship or discrimination.

The same sort of bias can be seen in the American Psychological Association’s section on the study of men and masculinity. What you see is a group of psychologists who openly blame men for the world’s problems and support the sexist sorts of attitudes described in the previous paragraph. The focus is on what is wrong with men and what is omitted is the places men face hardship and discrimination. Even the programs supported by this division focus on helping men to change the violent ways of other men in order to make the world a safe place. While this is a noble goal it speaks volumes to the worldview of this division. There are no programs to help men who are facing hardship or discrimination. In fact those men are never mentioned and bringing up this sort of topic will bring on shaming and fuming.

Blacks are just animals – without the influence of whites it was assumed that blacks were simply animalistic/primitive and constantly focused on sex. The fear was of black men raping white women. Black men murdering and stealing etc. Now this is focused on men. They even call men by the name of an animal “Men are PIGS”. All men are rapists! Men are violent! Same message, different recipient. Men cause wars, men are insensitive etc. Picture an exasperated woman shaking her head and saying out loud, “men.”

Blacks are Violent and criminals – The source of crimes are blacks. They were perennially linked to crime and in so doing linked to being the problem themselves. People who are the problem are not deserving. In today’s world men are linked to crime and to violence. Not just the one or two percent of men who commit crimes (just as it was a minority of blacks who committed crimes) but all men are seen as the problem just as blacks face a similar harsh and undeserved judgement. It is a curious fact that women are more often the abusers of children but we have never heard anyone blame women as a group for that. It would seem absurd to do so yet it seems okay for most people to label and judge men as a group due to the actions of a tiny percentage.

Blacks are immoral – Without the white influence blacks were seen to be immoral. They were thought of as animalistic and always interested in sex with little restraints. Rape was a strong fear that was apparently encouraged by the memes of the day. Immoral people are looked down upon. They are the problem. Now it is men who are looked down on as being immoral and lacking in restraint without the civilizing impact of a woman in their lives.

The book pieces together the various lies about Blacks that were maintained over time that had the powerful impact of “proving” that blacks were inferior to whites. So inferior in fact that the general assumption was likely that they deserved their sub-human treatment. These scholars tell us that this is part of the purpose of these common sense lies. They relieve any guilt that the bearer may have felt about poor or inhumane treatment that was doled out. Here’s a quote from the book:

“The group in power is always likely to use every means at its disposal to create the impression that it deserves to be where it is. And it is not above suggesting that those who have been excluded have only themselves to blame.”

So the “common sense” that was the cultural meme was propagated as common knowledge but had the impact of not only condemning blacks as inferior it was also key in justifying poor treatment or poor conditions. Blacks were obviously the victim of this type of thinking with the idea that since they were were root of social pathology they really didn’t deserve to be served like others. The same can be seen with men today. The assumption is that since men are the problem they really don’t deserve to get any sort of special treatment. These are both ways to justify poor treatment by those in power.

Conclusion

I think we are safe to assume that these memes were being propagated unconsciously. I don’t think that most citizens were intentionally hateful and judging towards blacks, they simply were going along with the tide of thought that was prevalent at the time. It is obvious that these sorts of memes were very damaging to blacks. It doesn’t take much imagination to conceive of the hurtful impact of being seen as inferior. Over time I am sure it was building up and building up. A new consciousness needed to arise in order to leave the old programming.

As we have seen blacks begin to shed the old judgements and racist attitudes a curious thing is transpiring. Black women are doing much better than black men on almost every parameter. Could it be that black men are now more free from the racist attitudes but are now forced to carry the harsh judgements about being male? This seems to surely be a possibility.

Today I think men are suffering because of this sort of cultural meme. Like the early 20th century no one notices that they are carrying and expressing this misandry. Even the men are slow to realize it. This is eerily similar to the invisibility of the 20th century treatment of blacks. No one (or very few) knew at the time that they were acting like bigots. It took years of challenging and exposure of the hatred for people to realize they were carrying and propagating racism. I can only hope that we are able to more quickly help people see that they are carrying a similar hatefulness towards men.

And so it goes.

 

Is Social Work Following Its Own Code of Ethics?

IS SOCIAL WORK FOLLOWING ITS OWN CODE OF ETHICS?

code-image2The NASW Social Work Code of Ethics is a very helpful but demanding document. It asks us to live a cognizant life both at work and at home. If we take this document seriously, and we certainly must, it demands that we are prepared to confront things not in concert with the Code.

Unfortunately there is a massive failure by the entire social work industry to adhere to that code going on right now.

If you will, think about a southern, rural town in the early 1950’s. Imagine you are there to give a workshop to the townspeople on racism. Can you guess their reaction to your words about racial equality? Their daily habits and way of life is based on something far from what you are describing to them. What do you think they would say and do? My guess is they might politely listen but after leaving conclude that you were some sort of nut — a “n***** lover” or even more likely an interloper who hates them and their way of life.

In some ways I feel like that person right now. There is a form of discrimination that is clearly present, potently hurtful and yet most of those around me are hostile to hearing about it. They just don’t and won’t see it. If you call attention to it, if you point to the elephant in the room, they become hostile.

Who is the group that faces discrimination that no one sees? It is men and boys. And the treatment of them in the arena of social work has taken a very, very disturbing detour from the NASW Code of Ethics for quite some time now.

Where it concerns the interrelationship between men and women our early survival mandated cooperative gender roles. Men would provide, protect and risk in order to ensure the safety of women and children. Women provided the essential immediate care of children.

This arrangement is what we have come to know as gynocentric in that the roles taken on by men and women hinged on the fact that women and children had to be protected at all costs. While both roles are or were vital in the overall picture, life and limb sacrifices, the role of protector and provider fell on the shoulders of the male. In short, the male is replaceable. The women are not, because men can’t have children.

This arrangement worked spectacularly for a long time. However, human advancement, through the cooperative efforts of men and women, resulted in a world where gender roles are generally not essential for human survival. We have far fewer concerns over our immediate safety than we did on the African Savanna and technology has made many professions accessible to both men and women. Accordingly, women’s roles have evolved and expanded, affording them the opportunity to make more conscious choices, and to experience more freedom than strict gender roles could have ever afforded.

Men, however, have lagged behind in this area and that is where we start to encounter some of the problems that they face today. To more fully understand this, we must take a look at cultural development through the gynocentric lens.

Even before the industrial revolution, while the male role was functional and successful without question, it was one of significant, unrecognized and unseen sacrifice. Of course that made sense. Were humans to practice the same protection and compassion for men as they did for women, it would have destroyed us. In an environment of hardship we could not afford to busy ourselves with men’s suffering and pain. That unrecognized burden was what kept us alive.

Men’s roles threw them into positions where people just didn’t know if they would ever return home at any point. Whether in the Paleolithic realm of hunting and tribal conflict, or more modern warfare, the certainty of any man’s survival was never assured. When there is constant uncertainty about a person’s fate we tend to detach for our own psychological benefit. We see them as more disposable and basically live in a state of preparedness for their possible demise.

cher

Let’s take an example. Those who are designated to die in war are treated like heroes if they accomplish the miraculous and survive. That “heroism” is offered to young men as a standard of manhood in order to have them fulfill the expectation of sacrifice when needed. When something or someone is seen as disposable we generally ignore their pain and hardship. Indeed, most antiwar sentiment in America is based on the fact that we are killing, not because we are dying. That is expected of the disposable sex.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I worked as a psychotherapist with many traumatized men and women, it was clear that society’s focus was to help women suffering from emotional trauma. Matters became a lot more fuzzy where it concerned men’s pain. I found out very quickly that a man’s emotional pain was taboo. No one wants to hear it, people want to run away.

Honestly and compassionately addressing men’s pain usually triggers an instinctive fear that in doing so those men will no longer be available to provide and protect. They become, at least in our unconscious minds, a liability that we cannot afford.

It took me some time to understand that this fear created an empathy gap that is still rampant in the field. Even in what is supposed to be an enlightened field of work, we are operating on some level as though compassion for men will bring us to ruin. This detachment, indifference to and even hostility toward men’s pain and hardship will be made quite visible to you in the remainder of this article.

You will also see how and why social work currently operates as a professional culture in violation of the NASW Code.

We will demonstrate these issues one by one by first quoting from the code and then documenting how it is systematically violated. Let’s start with discrimination by laws.

Here’s what the code says:

  1. 4. SOCIAL WORKERS’ ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS PROFESSIONALS 4.02 Discrimination Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

That is very unambiguous language. It paints a clear, ethical path that social workers must follow when performing professional duties. Failing to follow those edicts is not just an ethical violation, it is an act of moral turpitude and an abuse of individuals entrusted to their care.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Domestic Violence

We know now that men are a significant portion of the victims of domestic violence. The latest CDC research confirms this and in fact states that in the past 12 months men were 53% of the victims of domestic violence. (see image below) Most estimates about the percentage of male victims of domestic violence seem to be between 25-50%. However when you search on domestic violence on the NASW web site the focus is on female victims. Here’s an example andanother here. Not only NASW focuses more on women, the services on a national level for domestic violence are astoundingly built to serve only women. This is overt discrimination.

dv-stats

We know from the research of Denise Hines1 that when males do seek help as victims of domestic violence at these female only services for victims they are not only turned away, they are often told they are the abusers. Many battered men have reached out for help for themselves and their children only to be offered anger management classes because that is all these facilities will offer men.

This is profoundly destructive. It is, if we are to be honest, a second perpetration of abuse, this time at the hands of professionals who are ethically bound to do just the opposite of what they are doing.

Nearly everything related to the amelioration of domestic violence has been built for women. Social workers have said very little about this but the courts have started to acknowledge the discrimination that men face as victims of domestic violence.

In the Woods et. al. vs California2 case in 2008, a Superior Court in Sacramento, ruled that male domestic violence victims had been unconstitutionally denied services. The court held that state laws violated men’s equal protection rights by excluding male victims from state-funded domestic violence services. The court found: “domestic violence is a serious problem for both women and men” and that “men experience significant levels of domestic violence as victims.”

Then, in October 2009, a West Virginia judge3 struck down state rules for regulating domestic violence shelters because they operate “on the premise that only men can be batterers and only women can be victims” and “exclude adult and adolescent males from their statutory right to safety and security free from domestic violence based only on their gender.”

Family violence against men is seen as humorous.
Family violence against men is seen as humorous.

It’s clear that this problem is now widespread in the United States. Yet where is any objection to any of this being raised by social workers who are deeply embedded in the provision of services to the victims of domestic violence?

Consider this. In California and West Virginia they were sued and found culpable for violating anti-discrimination laws. In both states they were found guilty of violating laws that almost exactly replicated their code of ethics.

So if social workers were involved where are the professional sanctions against them? What NASW sanctions were placed on any social workers responsible? What investigations were done? What recommendation offered? Why, despite the fact that there is open and systemic discrimination against men practiced by social workers, is the NASW not taking action?

Does NASW draw the line at adhering to their own ethics where it concerns women and less so with men? It seems a possibility.

In fairness it must be said that social workers are also people. And people, generally speaking, are detached from men’s pain.

Our humanness, however, does not excuse us for doing damage instead of rendering aid. We are educated people who must be expected to operate in accordance with our own professional codes. Just as we are expected to rise above every other area of potential bias we may have toward other groups, we are also beholden to practice the same with men and boys.

If you are a social worker working in the area of domestic violence are you aware of this discrimination? Are you speaking out against it? Remember, being aware and doing nothing is what the code calls “condoning and facilitating.” As social workers we need to stand up for those who are facing discrimination and in this case it is men and boys. If you do see this and say nothing you are a part of the problem. You are living in a small, rural town in the 1950s.

Will you follow the code and stand up for these men who face discrimination?

OB/GYN

Social Workers in hospitals pediatric or OB/GYN units should be aware that there is severe discrimination going on right under their noses, a discrimination that is built right into our laws. Baby girls are protected from having their genitals mutilated by law. No exceptions for cultural or religious differences. No exceptions for anything, as it should be. Penalties for breaking this law are severe. At the same time genital mutilation of baby boys is one of the most popular surgical procedures in America. This is not a minor prick of the skin.

Circumcision on average removes 6,000-10,000 nerve endings of erogenous tissue, nearly as many nerve endings as the entire female clitoris which many estimate to have around 8,000 nerve endings. The adult male equivalent in terms of amount of skin removed is the size of an index card, about 3 x 5 inches.

And there is now an abundance of medical research concluding for the most part that circumcision is actually just a euphemism for genital mutilation. There are deaths associated with this medically unnecessary procedure and now a variety of confirmed and suspected negative side effects.

From the group, Doctors Opposed to Circumcision:

“Memory starts before birth and newborn infants have fully functioning pain pathways. One would expect, therefore, to find psychological effects associated with the painful genital cutting operation [circumcision].” Doctors Opposed to Circumcision

Any loving parent, and for that matter any responsible mental health worker who is working with new parents, should consider the following demonstrated facts and known side effects of neonatal cutting, as follows:

What we find, when considering all the evidence about circumcision is that the only difference between male and female genital mutilation is that one is socially acceptable and one is not. It seems obvious when you consider the longstanding, programmed indifference to the pain of males, which is which and why.

Here are some sources demonstrating the severely negative impact of circumcision on infants, their parents and how those consequences follow the victims through life.

http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201501/circumcision-s-psychological-damage
http://www.circinfo.org/Warren.html

There is an abundance of other research. True enough, there are studies that conclude that circumcision does not produce significant problems for men but as we find in criticisms of those studies, circumcised researchers and circumcised doctors who perform circumcisions both have emotional and financial investment in the procedure.

What is most damning in my mind though is that social workers in the OB-GYN and neonatal fields may not deliver information to parents that might make them reconsider whether circumcision was healthy for their child.

This failure to educate and inform their clients, or indeed to inform themselves of the research is a clear violation of NASW ethical codes.

Part of what drives this is that male genital mutilation is a profitable venture. Aside from the money made doing the procedure the foreskins can be sold for around $400 each depending on how they are used.

Some are used for research while some are turned into very expensive women’s facial cream advertised on Oprah. We are now aware that these circumcisions, the majority of which are conducted without anesthesia, are causing psychological problems and physical problems for the boys and men who are unfortunate enough to have been subjected to them.

Alexithymia (a deficit in emotional acumen and experience) and PTSD have both been connected to male infant circumcision and it is doubtless that many more negatives will be found. In fact much of what we know about girls who have faced genital mutilation is also being found true for the millions of little boys and the men they become.

Social workers are rightly very concerned about female genital mutilation but are failing roundly to address this concern on behalf of boys. If you are a social worker are you following the code and speaking out against the mutilation of children for profit, or are you turning a blind eye to the matter altogether as long as the victims are boys?

And have you considered that if you are working with a family going through childbirth and postnatal care, and you have remained silent about this issue that you can reasonably considered accessory to the abuse?

These are tough questions but as social workers we are not ethically afforded the luxury of failing to answer.

Now let’s move to an area where men and boys face discrimination not from laws but from societal ignorance and lack of compassion.

Here’s what the code says:

6.04 Social and Political Action (a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully.

Places men face discrimination based on ignorance and/or lack of compassion.

Suicide

Did you know that eight out of ten completed suicides are males4? Have you heard that stat tossed around? Have you ever heard a social worker rise up to say that we are ignoring the glaring problem of male suicide? Probably not. The gynocentrism in modern social work does not permit for men, as a group, to have any of their issues given due prominence. This is true even when men are killing themselves at four to five times the rate of women.

suicide-stats

NASW studied suicide some years ago. The study focused on girls and suicide. I asked at the time why they didn’t study boys since boys were 80% of the victims and Elizabeth Clarke, the NASW Executive Director at the time said the funding requested the study focus on girls. Sadly, this is not uncommon. The focus of the media, researchers and clinicians is on girls and women even though they are a fraction of the victims. As a social worker, do you see this discrimination? Shouldn’t a commensurate amount of research be done based on those who are most victimized? Shouldn’t any conference on suicide have most presentations related to male suicide and what to do about it? Shouldn’t we create services designed for those who are most at risk? We need to stand up for the victims and potential victims of suicide that are being ignored and marginalized. Will you stand up for boys and men? Do you think that ignoring that question puts you in direct violation of your professional responsibilities?

Longevity

Men tend to live shorter and sicker lives than women. The fact is that white women have the greatest longevity followed by black females, followed by white males, followed by black males. Both black and white men live shorter lives than both black and white females. Some are thinking that black males are at the bottom since they face the burden of both racism and of being male.

longevity

“‘Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death,” says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”

Nesse’s colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that “over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.” (New Scientist Magazine, July 2002)

Men die earlier and more often than women from nearly every major cause of death except for one, Alzheimer’s. And the reason for that is that they do not live long enough to compete for that honor.

Even with the longevity and poor health experienced by men what we find is that the services available to them are considerably less than what is provided for women. The United States has seven national offices for women’s health but none for men. They have web pages for womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov but none for menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov. Why do we discriminate and treat men and women so differently? As a Social Worker are you speaking out and standing up for the men and boys who are obviously being marginalized? If not, are you violating our code of ethics?

 

Education

The roles in education have been reversed. What was once considered discrimination against women and girls in their 22% deficit in college degrees has now reversed. It is the boys and men who are getting far fewer degrees than the women and girls. The difference? Now we don’t call it discrimination against boys — we call it empowerment of girls. The disadvantage and discrimination of the boys and men is simply ignored and reframed as a positive. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination against boys and men?

education

I hope you are starting to see the profound bias facing men and boys in today’s world, and in the way that that the social work field is not just ignoring, but facilitating that problem.

The hardship and discrimination they face is ignored and worse, they are villainized and blamed for the problems they experience. Where did Social Workers learn this? In grad school. Our social work education is clearly anti-male and is in dire need of an overhaul to close the empathy gap, and to restore the social work profession to its own ethical standards. If we are educating and training social workers to violate their own code of ethics then it stands to reason that we are left with a pervasive problem throughout the field. We are left with the disturbing reality that the field is the problem.

Part Two will focus on Social Work Education and its anti-male bias.

References

  1. Douglas, Emily M.; Hines, Denise A.; McCarthy, Sean C.Violence and Victims, Volume 27, Number 6, 2012, pp.871-894(24)

Abstract:

Research since the 1970s has documented that men, in addition to women, sustain intimate partner violence (IPV), although much of that research has been overlooked. A growing body of research is examining the experiences of men who sustain female-to-male IPV, but there is still much to be learned. This exploratory study assesses the experiences of 302 men who have sustained IPV from their female partners and sought help from 1 of 6 resources: domestic violence agencies, hotlines, Internet, mental health professionals, medical providers, or the police. We examine what demographic characteristics and life experiences are associated with where men seek help and how they rate those experiences. We make recommendations for agencies, service providers, and first responders about how to tailor services for this specific population and their families.

  1. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2013/may/15/denying-male-domestic-violence-victims-aid-is-unconstitutional/
  1. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/w-va-court-tosses-rules-governing-domestic-violence-programs

excerpt – “This is just basic unfairness. It’s raw gender bias,” said Harvey D. Peyton, attorney for Men & Women Against Discrimination.

The West Virginia legal challenge is among a growing number of battles being waged across the country by groups that allege state laws requiring gender-neutral programs are skewed by discriminatory rules and regulations that embrace gender biases.

  1. https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

Resources

  1. These three reports were written by the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health and explore the problems of domestic violence, suicide, and men’s health.
  2. Youtube’s with more information on Domestic Violence, men’s issues,

Is Social Work Following its Own Code of Ethics? Part Two

code-art-1Part One of this article addressed some of the historical aspects of gynocentrism, its necessity in early civilization as a survival mechanism, and how it has become antiquated and restrictive for both sexes as we evolved into modern society.

We examined how men and boys, even after decades of a “sexual revolution,” are still very tightly bound by expectations based on their sex, and indeed how this even extends pervasively into the areas of mental health and social work.

Time after time, as we look first to the NASW Code of Ethics, then examine what is actually happening in real world social work, we see a profession that has all but severed itself from its guiding principles and has done so in order to practice sexual discrimination rather than prevent it.

I cited examples from the areas of domestic violence services, genital mutilation, suicide prevention and other areas where the social work profession has become a wealth of contradictions and an embarrassing lack of ethics that often crosses the lines into civil rights violations.

Sadly, social work schools do little to address any of these things. In fact, as we further this examination we will see that social work schools are actually contributing to the problem rather than helping.

While it is not an excuse for violating the NASW Code of Ethics, it is little wonder that most social workers are unaware of the issues men and boys face, given that all these issues are simply ignored and even suppressed by the social work educational system.

That is not hyperbole and I am about to prove it to you.

What you do see in social work education is a lop-sided (read discriminatory) focus on women and their issues. There is no question that women face hardships. There is also no question that they are not alone in that capacity.

The social work code of ethics rightly states in the preamble that social work is concerned with ALL people and yet our social work educational system is actively and consciously avoiding and ignoring difficulties faced by half the population based on their sex.

Here’s what the Code says:

1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity (c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

So the Code encourages us to understand diversity based on sex and to practice with informed compassion about the same. Let’s take a look at what the schools charged with educating our social workers actually provide.

If you survey the courses of an MSW program you will see courses about working with women, gays, minorities and other special populations but what you are very unlikely to find are courses about working with men. Specialized training is vital for an education that works to enhance the understanding of practitioners and to further the mandates of the NASW Code.

Yet when we acknowledge that men comprise a large portion of social work clients and certainly represent a population in need of those services we must also conclude that they are, as a group, largely marginalized in social work education.

At this point perhaps you can think back to Part One of this series for a moment and recall what I said about gynocentrism; about how human beings have an instinctive fear about and resistance to elevating the needs of men into a prominent position.

Could it be that gynocentrism at least partially explains the exclusion of men, as a group, from social work education?

Are the schools breaking their own code of ethics by focusing on one sex and ignoring the other?

A quick glance at the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s online available coursesshows a course focusing on clinical issues with women, one on clinical issues with adolescents, one for clinical issues with gays, one for clinical issues with African Americans, one for aging, one for immigrants, one for just about everything but none for men. If you search on their web site for the word “women” you get nine results. See below:

code-art-2

When you search for “men” you get three results, all of which say “men and women.” Can you see how men would feel marginalized by that sort of thing? There is zero interest in teaching about men and their needs while the dominant focus is on women, girls, minorities, and gays. That is not acceptable.

At this point you may be in disagreement. It is common, especially within the social work profession, to operate on the assumption that these specialized courses are a natural response in a world which has always been about prioritizing men (the subtext of that being that men either do not need or do not support).

It should be noted that the assumption that men need no specialized support is directly a part of the gynocentrism we have discussed in this series. It is also a product of misandry. Misandry, even if not hatred of men and boys, is a rationalized neglect of and indifference to their pain and suffering.

It is the same mode of thinking demonstrated by people who scoffed at women’s suffrage or indeed wondered what on earth African Americans were complaining about in the 1950s rural south. And it is in clear and egregious violation of the NASW Code.

Another way to evaluate the degree that men and boys are being ignored in social work education is to have a look at the index of social work textbooks. When you look for “men” in the index you will usually find nothing. When looking at the index of the 2014 edition of American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach, written by two men, Howard Karger and David Stoesz you find no mention of men in the index. However, there is an extensive entry under “women.” The image below shows page 441’s index entry for women. Note there are 17 entries under the heading “women.” Enough said.

code-art-3

The Code says that Social Workers should seek education about social diversity based on sex but what we see is a focus only on women and girls. Social work schools are predominantly female institutions. It is a sad fact that this majority has created a system that focuses nearly exclusively on themselves and ignores the minority (men).

If this same dynamic were played out with race instead of sex the racism would be obvious and quickly condemned. If the roles were reversed for the sexes it would be equally obvious that there was a problem. And social workers would be deeply invested in correcting the problems.

What we are witnessing here on an institutional, day to day basis, is sexual discrimination in action. The interests and needs of women are put at the forefront while men are marginalized.

Can you see that this focus on women and a lack of interest in the lives of men creates a chilling effect on men? Shouldn’t social work attend to men and women equally? At this point it is clear that it does not. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination? If you are an administrator at a school of Social Work are you willing to stand up for Social Work to be more inclusive?

The social work educational system is failing to teach about the issues that disproportionately affect men and boys. Male suicide, genital mutilation, men as DV victims and a range of other issues are simply treated as though they do not exist.

If it were just an omission of content it might be an easy fix but it goes a number of steps further and literally creates a hostile environment for male students.

The research of Hyde and Deal shows clearly that men in social work schools are reluctant to speak up in class for fear they might be judged as sexist or racist. Casual conversation with these male students will give you a sense of their fears of being judged for their opinions. Here’s a quote from Hyde and Deal:

Many (males) indicated that they were viewed as the “symbol of oppression” and lamented that they were not treated as individuals.

And this:

“It’s like some instructors hate white male students—like we’re the ones responsible for discrimination.” Or, as another student forcefully stated, “I am sick and tired of apologizing for having a penis!”

The male students in the study and likely many more male social work students see their school as promoting an anti-male agenda where males, especially white heterosexual males are blamed for the ills of the world. Is it any wonder that men don’t flock to social work schools?

If it is true that white males get a more negative and disparaging treatment than others it is clear that they are being prejudged based on their sex and race. This, of course, goes against every basic concept in Social Work and leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that Social Work schools that maintain this practice are both racist and sexist.

Being negatively pre-judged by sex and race must create a hostile environment for these males. Here is an quote about the all female focus groups and their harsh judgment of the men:

However, only in the all-female groups were the following caveats added: “It’s about time they experienced being silent” or “They might feel censored, but they still dominate the conversation.” When these views were shared with the mixed-gender and all-male groups (who did not generate these ideas), the female members smiled and said nothing; the male members indicated that such statements “proved” that there was hostility against them.

This seems to simply add to the hostile environment. A good case could be made for institutional bullying. It seems that there are many roadblocks that male social work students face.

All over the news in December of 2009 was a story about 50 women’s organizations who had written a letter requesting President Obama create a White House Council for Women and Girls. Note that it was “Women’s organizations.” Who was the fifth on the list of women’s organizations to sign this letter? The NASW.

Then farther down the signees you find the Council of Social Work Education.

code-art-4

A government council on women and girls is a noble but incomplete idea. The solution, though, is pretty obvious. A council for men and boys. That council was an effort in which I took a personal interest.

Several years later a group of 35 top scholars, researchers, authors, and clinicians came together to create a similar proposal for a White House Council on Boys and Men. NASW was contacted to possibly support this effort. CEO Angelo McClain wrote back in response to our initial request saying he would check into things. We never heard from him again. I sent several reminders over a period of many months but he simply never responded. Nothing.

What message is NASW sending to men and boys? NASW bends over backwards to portray themselves as a women’s organization in working to help women and girls and willfully disappears when it comes to the needs of boys and men. (If you don’t think we need a White house Council for Men and Boys just have a look at the proposal.)

There is one last devastating piece to this. The prevailing theoretical framework at many social work schools is now feminism. This ideology is surrounded by a deep moat of political correctness that disallows dissent, challenge or questioning in any way.

What are the unquestionable tenets of feminism? Patriarchy and so called “toxic masculinity.” Both blame men for their own ills and the ills of the world, saddling them with a sense of original sin. The imagined culpability for that sin translates to a depravation in services and bigotry in education on every level.

There is little question in the minds of the male social work students (as seen by the above quotes) that they are being held accountable for the problems of the world. They can clearly see that seeds are planted in the minds of the students that men are the problem, men are privileged, men are greedy, me are violent, and on and on.

I can’t blame men for avoiding social work school in the least. Their needs are ignored. They are a marginalized minority and they are personally scapegoated by professionals who are supposed to educate them. It would take a brave man to venture into that sort of hateful judgment.

It would be easy (and quite justified) to push more into this very troubling aspect of social work education. There are crippling problems so deep and widespread that the challenge to correct them appears overwhelming. And we see those problems writ large in society as a whole where it concerns the lives of men and boys. Each and every one of those problems has a tangible connection to gynocentrism.

Our war dead are nearly all males. If that were any other group it would not be tolerated but since it is males, many in their teens, the response is silence. They are disposable. Our workplace deaths are 93% males. Child custody after divorce almost always means the virtual removal of one parent, more often the father. Rather than our courts seeking to restructure families through sensible plans of shared parenting, they opt for profitably ugly battles and persecution.

No one suffers more from this than the children of divorce. Fatherless children are clearly and negatively impacted by every psychosocial measure we can make of their lives. Truancy, delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use, academic failure, violence and mental illness all skyrocket in homes where the father is largely absent.

Rather than point to the discrimination in courts and how it is ultimately damaging children, many, some social workers included, are generally more likely to sloganize the problem in terms of “deadbeat dads” and other shallow and misleading buzzwords.

Adding insult to injury men are forced to pay child support without being a frequent part of their child’s life. Fathers who failed to pay child support in Georgia now comprise 25% of the Georgia prison population.

Many of those men were unemployed and unable to find work so they have essentially been imprisoned for being poor, meaning they are 100% removed from the child’s life and guaranteed to continue their inability to provide.

It is time for me to ask you some more questions. If you are a social worker reading this information do you maintain the position that there is nothing wrong in the profession or the education system that informs and educates its members?

Do you think the social work industry isn’t affected by gynocentrism or misandry? Do you think the apparatus for teaching social work adheres to the ethics it is based on?

With all respect I have to tell you that I hope your answer is different from what I have been hearing for years. My experience is that when I offer this information to people, including fellow social workers, I hear a disturbing amount of comments like “You must hate women,” or “You are a misogynist,” or “You must be lonely/horny”, or “you are just a whining privileged white male” and so many other sexist and insensitive responses. And it is at this point when I understand that they are simply from that small southern town, immersed in a culture that can’t or won’t muster compassion for anyone but themselves.

How about you? Do you think I am a misogynist and a whiner or do you see the need for all of us as social workers to stand up for any group that is facing discrimination and hardship, even if that group is not our own? Are you willing to take a stand? Or are you just willing to operate in bigoted defiance of your ethical imperatives?

That is not meant to personally insult you but it is meant to be very direct about some very obvious problems in the profession. The problem here for me is that I have subscribed to a code of ethics that demands I be open to the needs of all human beings. That code does not allow me to block coursework on women’s issues or issues faced by African Americans or any other identifiable group for that matter.

It also does not allow me to treat men and boys any differently. Not for ideology and not for money.

In fact, by writing this series I am actually following the mandates of NASW. It is with deep sadness I note that NASW and most of its members appears to be doing the opposite. We have become, as an industry, more like the pathology and less like the cure.

It is time for that to change.

References

Hyde, C. A., and K. H. Deal. “Does Gender Matter? Male and Female Participation in Social Work Classrooms.” Affilia 18.2 (2003): 192-209. Web.

disposability – http://menaregood.com/wordpress/mice-men-and-disposability/

domestic violence – http://menaregood.com/wordpress/maryland-report-domestic-violence-and-male-victims/

longevity data http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_07.pdf

univ of md curriculum http://issuu.com/umssw/docs/2014_msw_catalog?e=8856154/8719217

education http://whitehouseboysmen.org/blog/the-proposal/the-education-of-our-sons

selective service https://www.sss.gov/FSbenefits.htm