The Making of Gynocentric Foot Soldiers

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Psychologists have studied and argued about male sex roles for many years.  They have done a decent job, with a few exceptions, of describing these roles.  These include the independent, tough, competitive and unemotional types and many others.  But they have missed possibly the most important aspect of these roles completely, and that is the connection of the male sex role with gynocentrism.  Without gynocentrism the male role would simply not exist. It is an essential element in the male sex role and describing the traits that might make up such a role is very short sighted. They have failed miserably at identifying the underlying reason for the roles.  On that point there is mostly silence.  Take the example of the recent movie titled “The Mask.”  In this film male roles are villainized and seen as a problem that boys need to remove as if they can take off these roles like they might take off a mask. There is zero mention of why those roles have evolved as they have.

This article will start a discussion about the connection of male sex roles with gynocentrism and how our zest to push boys into male sex roles is actually a push to train them to be gynocentric foot soldiers.

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I can remember  in the 1950’s when I was a little guy the common phrase used in my elementary school was “girls first.”  Whether it was a line to get ice cream, leaving a large school assembly, or just getting a drink from a water fountain.  The standard chant was girls first. The girls got to go before us boys simply because they were girls.  I can remember asking when the boys would get to go first and was rebuked and told to just wait my turn.  What is the message to boys?  Your needs are secondary.  Your job is to sacrifice and let the girls go first, get used to it. Of course there was never a time when any teacher said “boys first.”  Boys first has a strange ring to it, doesn’t it?  The message was clear.  As boys we needed to put our needs second and allow the girls to go first, simply because of their biological difference,  they were girls. And if you complain about this unfair advantage you will be shamed and labelled as a troublemaker.

If you are going to be a gynocentric foot soldier you had better learn that your needs are never first.  You will be facing many situations in the future where you will need to put women’s needs ahead of your own.  Get used to it.  This is the beginning of basic training. 

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While the overt usage of the “girls first” or “ladies first” adage may be diminished I think that the idea is still  prevalent.  All one has to do is search google and see how many images sport the “ladies first” meme.  This gives us the odd mix of “ladies first” alongside “we are all equal.”  Yet another bizarre twist in our misandrist culture.

Added into this crazy mix is the big boys don’t cry message.  Nearly every male in the US has heard this repeatedly.  Much has been made about how this stops men from emoting in public and encourages them to avoid their tears.  Men have been shamed for eons for not “dealing with their feelings.”  I think this obvious blue pill assessment is limited and misses the mark. If one ignores the gynocentric connection then one sees only a man avoiding emotions. But why?  Why would a man want to avoid emotions?  The first reason is that in a  gynocentric world women’s needs and feelings are important and men’s are not. Think back to a little boy being told that big boys don’t cry.  What are they saying to him?  They are saying that his needs and hurts are not as important as his sister’s.  When do young boys cry?  They cry when they have needs that are not being met, or when they need attention to a hurt.  The message is clear.  When you are a boy and you are hurt or have needs, they are less important than your sister’s. And if you dare complain about it you will just hear the same message once again, “big boys don’t cry.”  Voicing your needs is seen as whining.  If you are going to be a good gynocentric foot soldier, that is, be a good provider and protector of women you can’t whine or cry.

But there is another piece of this mess that is rarely mentioned.  By saying to a young boy that big boys don’t cry you are not only telling him to STFU you are also alleviating yourself from any  responsibility to tend to a boy’s pain or to muster even a rudimentary degree of compassion. So the message to the boys is clear, your pain does not matter as much as our sister’s and it matters so little that those who love you don’t feel the need to offer you support or compassion.  Deal with it.  Be a man.   Boys learn to handle it themselves because very few others will step forward and offer them a hand.  But they also learn that others simply don’t care about their pain. This is the basic training of a gynocentric foot soldier.

And then there is the mess that starts for boys in early childhood where they are told to never hit a girl and if they do they will face severe punishment.  This rule is enforced, not only by the parents or authorities but also by the toughest boys. The girls catch wind of this and take advantage.  Some start hitting the boys knowing the boys cannot hit back. But wait, the girls violence is ignored. No one lifts a finger.  The boys already know that no one will likely listen and will turn away and shame them for complaining. Now they find out that violence is just one more area where their needs don’t count. They also know that if they report a girl who hits them they will face a gauntlet that labels them a pussy.  Boys learn to stay quiet about their needs, even safety needs. This is what a foot soldier is supposed to do. The girls learn that they can be damsels in distress and turn on the waterworks to get what they want.  They also learn they can get away with violence against boys. The boys learn they face a very unfair system and they better stay quiet about it.  If any of the boys speaks up and complains they regret it. They get punished for speaking up.  Quiet, you just take care of yourself and take it like a man.  Reminds me of our present day domestic violence system.

These three, girls first, never hit a girl, and big boys don’t cry are the marching orders of the gynocentric foot soldiers. Each one informs the boy of his role.  The gynocentric army is all about the safety and satisfaction of women through the sacrifice of men.  It’s pretty simple and has been functioning effectively for centuries.  “Big boys don’t cry” tells boys that their needs are simply not as important as the tears of women and girls they are destined to sacrifice for.  “Girls first” tells the boys to get used to the idea of sacrificing their own wants and desires in order to help women and girls. “Never hit a girl” marks out who is the enemy (other men) and who is to be protected (women and girls).  All of this goes on under the radar with most people simply being ignorant of what underlies these messages. 

We can’t blame the culture totally for this.  I think there is compelling evidence that there are biological factors that are driving gynocentrism.  If there were no biology involved do you think for a second that boys would do exactly what they are told?  Hell no.  Do boys follow just about any other dictum offered by parents or the culture at large? No.   Do boys unquestioningly follow?  Of course not, boys by nature are rebellious and very slow to do what is demanded of them.  But do they follow through on these three things?  Pretty much.  Not only do they follow through they also patrol the males around them to be sure that they are also following through.  This is more than just culture.

Boys are surrounded by these gynocentric messages.  At home they will likely see their dads put his needs last and focus on what mom wants and rarely saying “no” to her.  In the media they get more gynocentrism. Men saving women from harm and sacrificing their own safety, needs, their desires or even their lives in order to do so.  Worse yet, if they are not saving women they are portrayed as stupid and incompetent  which seems to be a gynocentric man’s way of trying to make women feel better in comparison.  Men are shown to be unable to make a simple decision without the help of a smart woman who can show him the way.  Most men don’t complain.

Our college campuses are overrun with gynocentrism.  No one dares to cross the gynocentric party line of the women studies departments for fear of their job.  Women first?  Yes, maam.

In our legislators the boys see the same.   Like automatons, our gynocentric male legislators do exactly the same thing.  We have seen them focus on women’s and girls needs,  especially for the last 50 years and ignore the needs of men.  Just like the boys were taught, just like the boys saw from their father, just like we see in the media. Now our legislators are acting out this same foot soldier pattern by enacting laws to help women and girls and completely ignore the needs of boys and men.  Domestic violence laws like the Violence Against WOMEN Act, the rape shield laws, sexual harassment laws, workplace harassment, affirmative action for women and girls, title IX and on and on.  Boys and men are an afterthought.

Gynocentrism is bad enough but what happened In the past 50 years put a new sinister spin on the gynocentric foot soldiers  Now it wasn’t just girls first and big boys don’t cry, now the new fabricated twist was that women and girls were oppressed, by men.   Our young men make it to middle or high school after years of gynocentric training and now they must deal with a new monster, the lethal and incorrect mantra:  Men oppressed women and women are victims. If they contradicted or questioned a party line about women and girls being victims or having special needs they would face overwhelming opposition.  Much of that opposition would be from gynocentric soldiers protecting women. 

So on top of the ideas that boys are here to protect, care for, and provide for women is the bizarre notion that the very people who had been providing and protecting them were now guilty somehow of being perennial abusers of women and girls. So now men and boys need to provide and protect women and also atone for some mythical oppression of those they have sacrificed for years.  Really? Maybe put even more simply, it’s like having a slave owner tell his slaves that they had oppressed him in the past and that their ancestors had oppressed him as well and they now need to make up for that with special treatment for him.  Enough said.

Our boys face a routine and unacknowledged training to be gynocentric foot soldiers. The male sex role is based on placing the needs , safety, and desires of women and girls on a higher level than those of men.  If we ignore this foundation we are sure to fail in serving men.   From the childhood messages like big boys don’t cry to viewing the vast majority of male role models who are serving the needs of women and neglecting their own wants and needs our boys rarely see a man choosing consciously and going his own way.  This needs to change.

If we are really going to free men from their roles we will need to help them first with what has been drilled into them and is facilitated by their biology: putting women first.   Instead of trying to teach boys to cry we need to teach boys that their needs are of importance.  We will need to teach boys that it is not mandatory for them to provide and protect for others, that it is also okay for them to simply care for themselves.  We need to help them see the value in their being, not just in their doing and we need to help them see that, in spite of what the culture and feminists might say,  men are good.  Then once they have the data, once they get the information and understand the gynocentric yoke, then and only then should we let them go whatever way they want.  If they want to get married then so be it.  If they want to move to the desert and be a hermit then so be it.  Unlike the feminists who push women into certain roles and shame them for others, we need to bless the boys in their own choices whatever they might be.  

Men are indeed good.

Men’s Issues – Mice, Men, and Disposability

“Men should be like Kleenex. Soft, strong and disposable.”  Cher

The world can be divided into two camps, one camp believes that men are disposable and the other believes that men deserve the same choice and compassion that is afforded to women.  The first camp is almost everyone and the later is as rare as a purple sheep.  Almost everyone believes that men “should.”  You know, men should die in wars, men should die at dangerous jobs, men should work full time to provide for a family, men should be the protectors etc etc.  Whether it is the media, our legislatures, our universities, our entertainment industry, our courts or the general public, the default assumption is that men are disposable. Men SHOULD ignore their own needs and focus on the needs of others. It is so much the default that most people have never considered anything else.  It’s like asking a fish about water.  It’s what he lives in, what he is swimming in and his entire world revolves around it.  Try telling mr fish that he has water all wrong and see what happens.  Even more interesting is to try and tell someone from the “men should” MAD (Men Are Disposable) camp that men deserve compassion and choice.  You will usually get fireworks since these concepts go against the grain of men being disposable. You don’t offer compassion to a plastic fork, or a paper towel. Those are disposable.  Just toss them out.  You don’t give those who are disposable choice and compassion.

Take Hillary Clinton as an example.  It was the default cultural belief of the disposability of men that allowed her to say “Women are the primary victims of war.”  If anyone had compassion for men they would have cried out at the insensitivity and hatred that such a statement carries as it ignores the pain and suffering of millions of dead men.  Just imagine Bill Clinton saying “Men are the primary victims of breast cancer.”  He would take a terrible political beating.  Even though he is using the same basic idea as Hillary, that those left behind are the ones who are the primary victims.  Somehow it just won’t fly if men are those who are being left.  Why  not?  Because men are seen as disposable and conjuring up compassion towards them is beyond most people.

But why is that?  Why is there a connection between being seen as disposable and then not giving choice and compassion to that group?

Have you ever known anyone who owned a large pet snake?  Those who own large snakes as pets need to feed them.  Guess what the diet is?  Little teeny mice.  They go to the local pet store and load up on these little twinkies and keep them handy for feeding time.  Does the owner have an urge to get close to the mice?  No.  Does he have endearing names for them?  No.  He stays detached from them and uses them as fuel, not as beloved pets.  These mice don’t get any compassion, that would be silly.  They also don’t get any choice about their lives, they are simply there to sustain the life of something much more beloved. When you are the disposable one you will rarely get compassion and choice.

Just imagine that the snake owner decided to give a mouse choice.  What do you think the mouse would say?  He would likely say “No, I choose to not be eaten by the snake.  Then other mice would do the same thing and how would the owner feed his beloved pet if the mice went on a disposability strike?

And what would happen to our culture if men went on a disposability strike?  We can see this in microcosm when someone suggests that men deserve choice and compassion.  In other words, when someone asks for a man to be relieved of his disposability.  (Maybe suggesting that men get services as victims of domestic violence or some other situation where compassion is considered for men.)  What happens?  What is the defense against a man escaping disposability?  The MAD people get upset and the first line of defense is to call the messenger a whiner.  He’s not a real man.  A real man would just let himself get eaten by the snake!  Next they turn to calling him a fanatic, hostile, a loser, a lunatic, and my personal favorite, a hater of women. Mice must hate the snake if they refuse to be eaten! How will the snake survive?  You mean mouse! This mouse doesn’t care about the snake (women) at all, he is putting his own needs first. They are more interested in their own lives than they are in dying for the benefit of the snake. All of this arm waving by all of these MAD people is simply a diversion from discussing the importance of treating everyone with compassion and offering as much choice as is possible to each.  In today’s world men rarely see compassion.  We don’t have anything near true equality.

If we give men choice and compassion what will happen? Will they choose to stop dying in wars?  Who will die then?  Women?  Nearly 100% of people would not accept that.  Women are not disposable.  Will men stop laying down their lives for others? Will they choose jobs as secretaries rather than risk death on jobs being loggers, roofers, trashmen, electrical linemen etc.  You see, if men had choice our world could change drastically.

We have experienced some change over the last 50 years as women have experienced a shift in roles but this shift has not threatened the fabric of our culture.  If men stop risking their lives our culture will experience a huge change, a change that likely threatens the bedrock of our way of life.

Think back fifty years ago and remember the default assumption of women being housewives.  We have broken that rigid idea over the years but have yet to even be aware of the rigid roles that we expect of men.  We have a long way to go. What are you doing to break down this rigidity?

NASW News Ignores the Hardships Faced by Men and Boys

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NASW is mandated by its own code of ethics to be there for those in need.  Sadly, it seems that those in need are defined as those who fit the narrative of political correctness.  Men and boys don’t fit that narrative and simply need not apply.  I could give you numerous examples but here is a start:

I was reading the NASW News a national monthly publication for NASW and noticed an article on suicide.  I was aware of NASW’s past history of focusing on girls and suicide even though 80% of completed suicides are males.  I read the article and found that there was no mention of men and boys being the vast majority of those completing suicide.  I wrote the author a letter which he was kind enough to print in the May edition.  Here’s the letter to the editor: (bold text was in the original letter but omitted by NASW)

– I just read your article on suicide in the NASW News.  I am both saddened and shocked that there was no mention of the fact that males comprise 80% of those who complete suicide.  80%.  Jut imagine for a minute that some other malady had 80% of the victims be female or black or just about any other demographic.  Under those circumstances the article would have likely featured entire sections on this or that group that face the bulk of the problem. The least they would have done would be to call attention to the group most impacted.  Why not so with men?  Sadly this is not a new problem.  NASW has been ignoring men as victims of suicide for many years having sponsored research on the suicide of women even though women are a fraction of those who actually complete suicide.

The obvious importance of the 80% stat is that men comprise a group that is unlikely to seek help in traditional settings.  If people are very serious about wanting to help with suicide they had better start figuring out what might help men and how to attract men to treatment.  At this point we are failing miserably and that is important for Social Workers to know.  Finland was the world’s first country to take actions to help men and they have had considerable success.  Australia is starting to work in that direction.  The US is a Neanderthal with the media blacking out this important bit of information.

It is an embarrassment to me that NASW maintains such a sexist and misandrist attitude towards men and their difficulties.  NASW was at the forefront of creating a White House Council on Women and Girls but when NASW was approached about supporting a proposed White House Council on Boys and Men they at first said they would look into it, but failed in ever responding, even after being prompted.  Many wonder why there are not more men in Social Work.  It seems clear enough to me.

I wrote a report on men and suicide when I served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health.  If you have any interest you can see the official version here (appendix D): http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/Exec/DHMH/HG13-2407_2010(add).pdf

NASW Disappears When it Comes to Men and Boys Issues

My first message to Angelo McClain:

8-8-13

Hello Angelo McClain and thank you for creating this email for feedback.

I have been writing to NASW for some time and often have had the frustrating experience of getting no response.  The topics I usually bring are simply not pc and have been ignored.  I am hoping you may have a different response.

I have been working most of my social work career with men who are traumatized and have developed a number of ideas about the uniqueness of the way men heal.  I have come to these conclusions from a variety of sources but one of those sources is the Indigenous African grief rituals and their tendency to treat men very differently in their healing paths following a significant loss. I studied several African tribes and one in particular the Dagura people and found a huge amount of information that helped me in understanding the men in our culture.  Much of this is in my first book Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing.

This work has drawn me into seeing the plight of men and boys in our culture today and it is not a pretty sight.  Men and boys face hardship and discrimination in a multitude of places and most people are simply unaware of this and focus instead on the hardships and discrimination faced by women and girls.  These hardships are not stopped by racial boundaries.  A quick look at the black community shows Black women and girls prospering on almost every index far ahead of black males.  Why?  My belief is that both black men and women face the hardship of racism but black men have the additional burden of all of the hardships of being male.

When I have seen articles that focus on the needs and hardships of women and girls I have usually written to NASW and asked about the male side of things.  This is when I usually get ignored.  Issues like domestic violence, suicide, divorce, educational opportunities, males in Social Work and many others.

I have been involved with a group that has written a document that covers much of these difficulties and has been presented to the White House as a proposal for a White House Council for Boys and Men.  Our thought is that this would parallel the already existing White House Council on Women and Girls.  So far the response has been far from enthusiastic.  What I would like to see is for NASW to get behind this effort in a similar way that they got behind the creation of a White House Council for Women and Girls.

What do you think?  The web site about this group and our proposal can be found here

http://whitehouseboysmen.org

Thanks for your time in reading this. I do hope to hear back.

 

 

McClain responded eight days later:

Dear Tom,

Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.

I’m not sure what work NASW did in support of a White House Council on Girls and Women (I’ll have to look into that).  And will assess how NASW might get involved in this effort.  Next month I will be involved in a national panel discussing the issue of meeting the needs of boys and men.I can tell you that under my leadership as Child Welfare Commissioner in Massachusetts, we made many in roads regarding the issue of fatherhood as discussed in Component 3 of your proposal for a White House Counsel on Boys and Men.  Essentially, our work involved getting dads involved (or re-involved) in their children’s lives for children known to child welfare or placed in the foster care system.  A part of this work was changing the culture within the community regarding the value that was placed on fatherhood and father’s roles within families.  We created Fatherhood Engagement Leadership Teams (FELT Teams) at the 29 Department of Children and Families Area Offices across Massachusetts.  The FELT teams were co-lead by a father (with a child known to the system) and a DCF staff person.  The bulk of the work was around changing the culture regarding how fathers were viewed, and as you say their healing process.  We also did quite a bit of work connecting our work to prevent domestic violence with our fatherhood engagement work. Efforts here were focused on challenging and changing the notion that views men as being especially dangerous.  One our biggest accomplishments was hosting an all-day conference in October 2012 that include 15-20 human service and corrections agencies as well as the judiciary.  In fact, we had 14 judges and 2 chief justices in attendance.  The 14 judges were there for the entire day and had numerous examples of how they had changed their practices to be more engaging and respectful of fathers.  The focus of the summit addressed find ways to address institutional barriers and bias that discouraged participation of fathers in their children’s lives.  The Summit was a validation that our previous five years of work had made a significant impact within the community.  That work continues today.

Take care,

Angelo

From: trgolden3@gmail.com [mailto:trgolden3@gmail.comOn Behalf Of Tom Golden
Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 2:00 PM
To: naswceo
Subject: Hello Angelo McClain

Wonderful to hear that you have experience in focusing on the needs of men and taking helpful action. Great!  My hope is that you can bring that to NASW.  Our profession is in dire need of understanding the uniqueness of boys and men and to learn where they face hardship and discrimination.  Have you written any on your experience in Massachusetts?  Might be great to have something like that in the NASW national newsletter.  I wrote an article for the Maryland chapter’s newsletter back in 2009 titled “What Every Social Worker Needs to Know About Men.”  That might be good to have in there too.Hi Angelo –  Thanks for your response.  It’s a breath of fresh air.

I will be curious to hear from you about the history of NASW and the White House Council on Women and Girls.  NASW was very active in promoting that council.  They signed a letter to the president from a number of women’s organizations about the need for such a council.  Numerous articles appeared in the NASW Newsletter about the process.  It was big news for some time.

Here’s a link to the letter  http://www.now.org/issues/constitution/Letter%20to%20President-Elect%20Obama.pdf

Note that it was signed by “50 Women’s Groups” I am sure you understand how this marginalized our few male members of NASW.

Tom

 

Hi Angelo –  It’s been a couple of months since I heard from you and wanted to check and see if you have checked on the NASW connection with the white house council on women and girls.  Any news on that? Have  you thought of how NASW might support a white house council on boys and men?<<I’m not sure what work NASW did in support of a White House Council on Girls and Women (I’ll have to look into that).  And will assess how NASW might get involved in this effort.  Next month I will be involved in a national panel discussing the issue of meeting the needs of boys and men.

Thanks

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 2

 

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:

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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.

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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

Men in Social Work