‘The American Psychological Association has issued its first official warning against toxic masculinity. The new “Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,” marks the first-ever report published by the association aimed at helping practitioners care for their male patients “despite social forces that can harm mental health.”
I read this (and the guidelines) a few days ago thanks to an organisation I follow on Instagram. At the time I had been researching the terms trust, compassion, anger, betrayal, hoping to find some balance in the bitterness I’ve experienced this last two years making it hard to respond to what’s playing out in real time rather than my internalised script. Recent studies of the brain, neural pathways and neuroplasticity helps me understand that this is normal however if you want change, balance at the very least, you have to work at it.
The guidelines are to me an exciting and significant step in the right direction.
I identify as a cis woman and though I recognise the privilege my whiteness and middle class background has afforded me, I have been subject to a great many of the inequalities my sisters have faced. I have been enthralled by the recent awakening of feminism and subsequent revolution, the way women all over the world are challenging the social confines placed on us since the beginning of time.
Today, along with these guidelines however, I am wondering on a question mark that challenges me greatly and asks me to again, bow in compassion when I have my own anger and resentment.
What about men?
This investigation by The American Psychological Association is a necessary agent for change and equality. Men need support to challenge and reevaluate those confines placed on their gender if we are to end domestic violence, rape, murder (if we are to look at one end of the spectrum); infidelity, selfishness, power structures and equal pay at the other.
It can be hard for ‘us’ to acknowledge that indeed, constraints have been placed on men because historically we see men having had the privilege of choice and power. But there have been socially accepted modes of behavior and roles that have existed that are indeed unhealthy …such as infidelity (it was perfectly acceptable for a man to have a mistress ‘back in the day’); selfishness (it has been an expectation of women to put a mans needs first); and work / home balance (it is wonderful how many fathers are at the park with their kids and changing nappies my mum says regularly having not seen that ‘back in her day’). I would say home violence has been acceptable too in some places and communities, though to this and some of the above (and below) I personally don’t understand how any human can hurt another in such a way. Social constructs or not.
In investigating this question mark further, a conversation with a male friend revealed this: ‘It’s like if you tell a child for years their behavior is acceptable, then suddenly turn around and reprimand them / tell them their behavior is wrong. The child is like ‘wtf?’
With compassion, I get this.
I have wanted to have more conversations like this with men these last couple of years so that I can understand and divert some of my own neural pathways; but perhaps this is another issue men are facing: communication when it comes to how they feel. This has been socially unacceptable for men too for a long time and I equally acknowledge even harder to do when women are angry right now. Though I believe this is necessary for our health and for action, it also makes it hard to know how to approach ‘us’/ ‘the situation’.
I freely admit that I am exhausted. Tired because of the treatment I have been subject to by some men both intimately known and strange; tired in my mistrust and anger as well as the tension between wanting to be in relation and doubt that I will be able to because of my experiences.
I truly hope that these new guidelines in America, even if a first attempt with flaws, begins the next chapter of a dialogue I’ve been waiting for: a move past anger and division and a healthy ‘sit down and chat’… and listen… and learn… and understand… and change.
Wonder. Meant that, at the minutia, I fully accept that revolutions are slow and that all of us have a responsibility to assist in the shift that will benefit future generations.
You can find the guidelines here:
And a poem dedicated to the natural way of things under the tab ‘Poetry’.
It’s been awhile since posts but I’ve been busy.
In the year that was 2018, the seeds I’d planted somewhat bewilderedly in the year previous, grew. I juggled all four careers and added a couple of extras making it an extraordinarily creative, rewarding time complete with deeper (and new) connections and overseas adventures.
In 2018, watering my life as a writer and poet saw me as a feature at multiple poetry events. I also travelled to a remote island in Scotland for a writers residency with New York Times bestseller Jacqueline Sheehan, Patricia Lee Lewis and Jane Mortifee , walking the Scottish highlands after and travelling to The Eden Project in England to see my beloved Bjork.
Publications in VATE’s Idiom, Femagogy, a book yet to be released and a first chapbook ‘Yolk’ launching at Abbotsford Convents ‘Open Spaces’, also career highlights.
The Abbotsford Convent also housed the launch of my project Listening Room and Independent Schools Victoria filmed my teaching practice for a short documentary on progressive educators. I also had the privilege of training with Leisa Shelton and working on feature film Judy and Punch starring Mia Wasikowska.
In 2019 I will begin teaching teachers at ISV and run a series of programs for teachers and students at Victoria’s Arts Learning Festival. This is alongside my career as a teacher, as a writer and a student of life who like everyone else, sometimes falls, sometimes flys.
For more information see ‘About’ tab or follow the link below.