By now, many of us have heard about the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, released in early January of this year.
The guidelines suggest that traditional masculinity, defined in the report as a social construct consisting of such characteristics as stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression, is, on the whole, harmful to men and to society.
Though even some APA members might admit that it is near-impossible to conceive of the development and maintenance of our technologically advanced and wealthy societies in the absence of these male qualities, the APA insists that masculine men should learn to be softer, less self-reliant, more open to discussing their problems, and more sensitive.
But what has not been reported is that new guidelines have also been released by a body called the Northeastern Ontario Psychological Establishment, or NOPE, a little known but no less respectable alliance of mental health experts.
Its guidelines are for “Psychological Practice with Girls and Women,” and address the characteristics of modern femininity. These feminine characteristics do not include stoicism in any form, but they do have a more than passing acquaintance with competitiveness, dominance, and aggression. The release of the guidelines was prompted by the recognition on the part of NOPE board members that nothing like the APA Guidelines could ever have been written if the APA did not have an abundance of members with feminine characteristics.
The NOPE observes that the socialization of girls and women has undergone a significant shift since the 1960s. Girls and women were once socialized to see themselves as partners with men in the formation of families and communities. As the vice-chair of the NOPE healthy community advisory board reports, “Feminine qualities such as empathy, chastity, loyalty, care-giving, resourcefulness, intelligence, modesty, and self-restraint were once highly prized.”
Since the 1960s, however, girls and women have been socialized for conflict with men, a conflict in which the leadership, inventions, achievements, physical work, and sacrifices of men, rather than being recognized as a social good benefiting women and children, are now seen as threats to female dominance.
Under the new socialization, girls and women are encouraged to exhibit traits of self-interest and self-aggrandizement. As the NOPE’s Director of Health Outreach explains, “Emotional volatility and emotional display—especially extremes of anger, resentment, and self-pity—have emerged in recent years as specifically feminine covert strategies of power.”
An NOPE study conducted in late 2018 found that feminine demands for recognition and praise, for everything from unpaid emotional labor, a non-existent phenomenon, to headgear shaped like female genitalia, now characterize women’s political and social expression to an extent previously unimaginable.
Outbursts of rage at perceived male failures or transgressions, including the invention of entirely new categories of transgression such as mansplaining or manspreading, indicate generally unrecognized and often denied hyper-aggression now typical of feminine behavior.
The NOPE has found that such feminine attitudes and behaviors are profoundly unhealthy, causing lasting damage both to the women themselves and to their communities. Women socialized in the new femininity are far less likely than traditionally socialized women to form stable relationships with spouses or children, and report far higher levels of dissatisfaction with their lives.
“In extreme cases, they become unable to feel empathy for male human beings, even their own male children, are subject to delusional ideation of innocent victimhood, may engage in false accusations of violence against their male co-workers, friends, or family, advocate increasingly unworkable solutions to social problems, and may even contemplate with equanimity or exhilaration the complete destruction of the societal structures that for centuries protected and supported their female ancestors.” –NOPE Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women.
A study by an NOPE researcher has found that the more women conform to the new feminine norms, the less likely they are to be able to evaluate with any degree of objectivity the conditions of their society or to take personal responsibility for the circumstances of their own lives. As the past President of the NOPE reports, “Our feminized society benefits women, but also harms them.”
The NOPE notes that professional psychotherapists have a key role to play in helping women overcome their negative socialization. Psychotherapists must be aware of these increasingly common feminine characteristics and understand how feminine aggression and dominance manifest in claims of victimhood and accusations against others. They can combat female mal-adaptation and arrested emotional development by encouraging women to take responsibility for themselves and to recognize the harm that false allegations can cause.
Along the way, they can teach girls and women to develop empathy and respect for the boys and men in their lives while fighting against female tendencies to narcissism, delusion, manipulativeness, selfishness, misandry, and other feminine pathologies. The NOPE report concludes on a note of muted hope that with concerted effort, our societies can be improved for both men and women.
Unfortunately, I am the President and currently the sole active member of the Northeastern Ontario Psychological Establishment.