Big picture overview: There is little or no acknowledgement that the way men are wired can be a very good thing
In the APA report, there was almost no acknowledgement that the way men are created can be very positive and absolutely necessary for family and society—the strength, the protectiveness, the desire to take care of people, the desire to do good things. There was a whole section on the vital importance of fathers, but I didn’t see a single recognition that many of the reasons fathers are so important are the commonly-male wirings that were being hammered in the report!
There also didn’t seem to be any explicit recognition of the fact that the toxic (abusive, harmful) application of masculinity is a small percentage compared to the entire population of men. The stereotypically negative/clueless/hapless/overly aggressive portrayal of men in the media is, in reality, far from the majority of men. (More on that in Part 2.)Most men just want to be good husbands, be good dads, be good at their job, and do good things. But by definition as men, they are “masculine.” They may all be different from each other—some are the traditionally “macho” or stoic types, but many are sensitive, thoughtful, talkative, every pattern of the rainbow—but they are all men. They’re not women, and they don’t want to be women—they want their masculine strength to help people, not hurt people.
But men (and boys) today are caught in a bizarre situation. As a man next to me on the airplane recently told me, “It does feel as if there is a war on men. Have you noticed that on TV shows, men are the only people-group you’re allowed to have overt derision toward? You can’t do that with different religious groups, or women, or various ethnicities—but men as a whole are fair game. It doesn’t really affect me, because I’m 53 years old, and I know who I am. I don’t take it personally. But I do think it is probably deeply affecting our younger men. They don’t even know whether they can or can’t open a door for a woman without being yelled at. And when you can’t win, you check out.”