Table of Contents: SPSMM Bulletin Deadlines:
January 31, April 30, October 31
Table of Contents:
SPSMM Bulletin Deadlines: January 31, April 30, October 31
The criminal, the casualty, and the
Nearly 30 years ago -- in the Fall of 1976 -- my good friend David called me one evening and said that he wanted to talk with me about a new book he'd just read. David was a journalist, and he kept up with new releases. The book was Herb Goldberg's, The Hazards of Being Male. David and I talked about that book for several weeks. We puzzled over it. We discussed implications of it. But mostly, we just thought -- really thought --about what it means to be male, perhaps for the first time in our young adult lives.
David and I were not alone that year. Many men talked about that book. Many women read that book as well, and wanted to talk to men about it. Not all of those conversations between men and women were calm and reflective, as I remember. Some were quite intense.
Nearly 30 years have gone by.
I have fathered two sons, now adults, and they are doing what many men
still do in this culture -- paying their own mortgages, talking about
their retirement plans, trying to make meaningful their relationships, and
watching college football games. In all of these things, they are doing
what I was doing more than a quarter century ago they are trying to figure
In many ways, those rules haven't changed much for them -- in spite my own best efforts to give them wider options. These rules -- or, more properly -- these social norms now have some empirical support. Goldberg mostly speculated about them. Chapter titles in his book included such themes as:
* The Destruction of the Male
Body (men pay little attention to health)
More recently, Jim Mahalik (Mahalik, et. al., 2003) and his colleagues have defined a dozen of these "social norms." Many of Goldberg's themes still define large numbers of men, who still avoid acknowledging illness, emotionality, and asking for help.
Given these norms, how are men doing these days in North America? More directly, to reprise the language of Goldberg, are there still hazards in being male?
Unfortunately, the answer seems to be...Yes. Three of these hazards are especially worth examining because of the high social and personal costs associated with them.
Hazard #1: The prison system. The chances of becoming a criminal are high for men.
Here is Goldberg's summary of the risk in the 1970s:
"the male tragedy is
highlighted by the following statistics in criminal and legal matters. He
is six times more likely to be arrested on narcotics charges, thirteen
times more likely to be arrested for drunkenness, over nine times more
likely to be arrested for offenses against children,
This picture has not improved. The Bureau of Justice Statistics -- an office of the U.S. Department of Justice -- has reported crime rates for a very long time. For roughly 50 years, from 1925 to 1975, the number of men in prison remained fairly constant. Then came the so-called "get tough" movement, and over the last 30 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in imprisonment -- a six-fold increase, to be exact. This rate of growth far exceeds population growth as a whole, of course.
Today, according to figures released on May 27 of this year, 2.1 million Americans are currently in jails or prisons. Add the number of people on probation or on parole, and the number is nearly 7 million. The projection is that if current rate increases continue unchanged, one of every 15 persons in the United States will serve time in a jail or prison during his or her lifetime.
To provide a larger perspective for interpreting these figures, compare them with incarceration rates of other countries. The following numbers were compiled by Marc Mauer (2003) of The Sentencing Project, and presented in a report the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
For every 100,000 people in the population'the United States has 702 persons in prison. That is more than any other nation, by far. The USA incarceration rate is 5 times higher than England's (139 per 100,000), 6 times higher than Canada's (116), 8 times higher than France's (85), 10 times higher than Switzerland's (68), and 13 times higher than Japan's (53).
Now, who is going to prison? In a word...men. Overall, here are the numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the United States Department of Justice (2003, 2004), and from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (2004):
* 93% of all State prison
inmates are men
At the moment, nearly one of every 74 men in the USA is living in a prison or a jail. The ratio for women: one of every 1020 women is living in prison. (This ratio is based on two figures: the US Census Bureau indicates that approximately 145 million men live in the country, and the US Department of Justice indicates that 93% of the 2.1 million prisoners are men).
These, of course, are overall numbers, and overall numbers obscure an important issue -- the differences that occur by ethnicity. African American males are the most heavily affected by current imprisonment practices. In the age group between 25 and 29 years of age, 1 of every 8 black males is in jail or prison (Mauer, 2003, p. 3). Taking a longer view, a black male born today has a 29% chance of spending time in state or federal prison during his lifetime.
What are men doing that gets
them into the prison system? What are the crimes that are getting them
locked up? In State Prisons (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001), of every
ten men who are
* 5 are convicted of a
violent crime (49%)
The ratios are somewhat
different for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Federal Bureau of Prisons,
2004), in that more than half (54%) of all offenders are there for
Sometimes, these new laws can be astonishingly harsh. To illustrate briefly, note the decision earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the sentence of a man in California. He was convicted of stealing $153 in videotapes from a department store; his sentence was 50 years to life. The reason: this was his third felony -- his third strike put him in jail for at least 50 years.
Is there any relationship
between the social norms for masculinity in this country, and the high
rates of incarceration for men? It certainly is tempting to think so. Here
are some of the subscale names in
Here are the categories of the top eight crimes that are actually committed by men at rates so much higher than by women.
1. The Use of Drugs. (Do the social norms of risk-taking, dominance, violence, and toughness make drug crimes more likely?)
2. The Use of Weapons, Explosives, and Arson. (Are these crimes made more likely by socialization toward dominance, violence, toughness?)
3. Robbery (Is this crime related to the pursuit of status, risk-taking, dominance, violence?)
4. Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses (Is this a reflection of the pursuit of status, physical toughness?)
5. Extortion, Fraud, Bribery (Are these crimes committed in the pursuit of status?)
6. Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses (Are the social norms of violence, power over women, and disdain for homosexuals related to these crimes?)
7. Sex Offenses (Are these crimes made more likely by themes encouraging violence, power over women, and disdain for homosexuals?)
8. Banking and Insurance Fraud, Counterfeiting, Embezzlement: (Are these crimes related to risk taking and the pursuit of status?)
To some degree, these are
rhetorical questions. But they would make interesting
What makes the prison system a hazard, of course, is what happens to men in prison. The risk of physical illness: HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis goes up. The stress of daily life is high: the noise, the food, the racial taunts, and the overcrowding. The tools used by the guards are ever-present: pepper spray, stun guns, restraint chairs, isolation boxes.
The main point, here, is that
the most significant demographic predictor of getting
Now. I want to highlight a very recent and very creative response to this hazard -- the hazard of being caught in the prison system.
Dr. Mark Hurst is a member of Division 51. He teaches at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and has a private practice that focuses on the work of men. Three months ago, he participated in a unique program at the Stafford Creek prison facility. The purpose was to give offenders an opportunity to behave in a way that is not consistent with masculine social norms -- especially the norm that men must hide their emotional lives from others. A prison is not a place where emotions beyond anger and lust get expressed frequently or easily.
The prison agreed to sponsor
a truly unusual program. Men were invited to a sit-down luncheon in order
to express an emotion -- in this case, gratitude -- to women in their
lives who had provided encouragement. The men were seated at a table with
the women who were being honored. And each offender read a hand-written
letter of appreciation and gratitude to his guests. During the event, a
Dr. Hurst then presented information that highlighted research showing the actual benefits that come from expressing the emotion of gratitude toward others. The event appears to have been an extraordinary success. Offenders wrote notes to the organizers of the Gratitude Event. Their comments are quite touching.
One woman --Donna Christian -- wrote a letter to her local newspaper, the Aberdeen Daily World (May 9, 2004):
"I had the privilege and
honor of being invited by my son, who is an inmate at the Safford Creek
Correctional Center, to take part in a ground-breaking event at the
prison...This was a moment in time when mothers, sisters, aunts,
grandmothers, wives, and girlfriends of specially selected inmates could
spend even a few hours in a near-normal setting, able, if even
temporarily, to forget where you were and why. How honored and blessed I
was just to be there was punctuated by what happened as we
Offenders themselves wrote notes (italics for the emotion words are added).
"I can't say enough
positive. Events like this may be characterized being "soft on
"I loved the
event...It was so meaningful. I have been incarcerated for 12
"(I liked) being in an environment where tears of joy are free flowing and normal.?"
"My fiance commented that she could not believe this was happening in prison...a place to share our gratitude and shed a tear...."
"It brought tears to me...A very positive and fun thing to do. Very emotional for us."
"I was very impressed by the amount of sincerity that you and the rest of the staff showed towards our visitors?.I didn't like the event; I loved it!"
"I can't even begin to
express my thanks for an awesome event that touched
"(Writing my gratitude allowed me to) express to my significant other what I am unable to say."
Prison is a hazard. About that, there is no doubt. But with the energy of people like Mark Hurst, some of the social norms of masculinity that may have contributed to decisions that led to imprisonment --can be challenged. In this case, the norm of withholding the softer emotions was successfully challenged, for those who participated. And Dr. Hurst is following up on this initial meeting. He has scheduled a series of five follow up workshops on the positive role of emotions in human life.
Hazard #2: The health care system. The chances of becoming a casualty are high.
In 1978, Herb Goldberg saw it this way:
"Either way he (a man) loses: If he is sensitive to body distress signals, takes good care of himself, goes to bed readily when fatigued or not feeling well, and refuses to work under those conditions, he may be considered hypochondriacal and self-indulgent and his masculinity may be questioned. If he ignores body signals, takes it "like a man," rises above his injuries, and pushes himself until he is forced to stop, he will be considered brave but he may thereby lay the foundations for a chronic illness and possibly early death." (p. 95)
This dilemma is still with us. A study released early in June this year offered a detailed look at disease rates, injury rates, and longevity. It was written by Daniel Kruger at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, and Randolph Nesse, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan's Medical School. It was published in the journal, Evolutionary Biology. They reported results on studies that compared male and female death rates -- using archival data.
The first comparison was a
look at male and female death rates in the United States at five year
intervals over the course of the human lifespan. To make the comparisons,
they calculated a simple radio they called the "Male to Female Mortality
Ratio." The ratio was calculated by dividing the male mortality rate by
the female mortality rate. A ratio of 1.0, for example, would mean that
They found that for every single five-year interval across the life span, the Mortality Ratio was above 1.0, meaning that the death rate was higher for men at each five-year interval, from birth to death. The gap was widest for the age 20-24 interval, with a Mortality Ratio of 2.94, meaning the death rate for males was almost three times higher than for females. When only external causes were considered (that is, deaths related directly to lifestyle choices and behavior), the Mortality Ratio went up from 2.94 to 4.17 in the 20 to 24 age range. The gap was narrowest at the end of life, between the ages of 75-79, when the gap was 1.46. But always, the Ratio was above 1.0.
A second Kruger and Nesse comparison was of the leading causes of death in the United States. Again, they organized the data into five year intervals. This resulted in 159 comparisons --159 separate calculations of five-year span mortality ratios. The ratio was above 1.0 or higher for men, in 156 of those 159 five-year intervals. The only intervals in which women had a higher mortality rate: cancer between the ages of 30 and 34, and cerebrovascular disease between the ages of 10 and 14, and again between the ages of 35-39. Otherwise, all ratios were above 1.0, indicating higher mortality rates for males than females for all of the leading causes of death.
The very highest Ratio, by the way, was for Suicide between the age of 75 and 79. The Mortality Ratio 9.03, meaning that the death rate from suicide was 9 times higher for men than for women. The average Morality Ratio for all causes, over all age intervals, was 1.58 to 1.
The obvious question is Why?
What contributes to these differences in death rates? For men, many
premature deaths can be attributed to lifestyle and risk-taking behavior.
Kruger and Hesse calculated a statistic called "Years Lost." It represents
the number of years lost to premature death, when subtracted from the age
of 80. They calculated that 65% of the "lost years" for men are due to
A final comment on Hazard #2: The most significant demographic predictor for early morality in the developed countries -- is being male.
With regard to the hazards of premature death what are some creative responses being used?
In a soon-to-be-published book called, Designing Effective Programs and Services for Men in Higher Education, Dr. Will Courtenay has a chapter that offers several examples. The basic idea is that it helps to use available research when addressing these health hazard issues with men. One example is a brochure that has been written to educate men on how to conduct a testicular self-examination. Research has shown that the impact of a brochure on self-exams can be increased for men:
* when the information is
presented in written form, rather than in a videotape
Some of these may seem counter-intuitive, but the evidence suggests otherwise.
Another example illustrates an approach to high risk-takers. The term "sensation seekers" has been familiar for a long time, now, as a way of describing people who have high needs for adventure, thrills, and new experiences. Men are more likely than women to be sensation seekers. And yet sensation-seeking is dangerous. These men are more likely to use alcohol and illegal drugs, more likely to smoke, drive dangerously, and engage in high risk sexual activity, high risk sports, and so forth.
Some researchers at the University of Kentucky have developed a set of strategies designed to help these men. A body of research now shows that men high in sensation seeking prefer certain types of media and health campaigns. They must be intense and exciting, graphic and explicit, unconventional, fast-paced, suspenseful and dramatic, use close ups, and have strong audio and visual effects.
When these guidelines are followed, high sensation seekers pay more attention to the campaign. They remember the message at higher rates, they phone hot lines at higher rates, they report more negative attitudes toward risky behavior, and they report less intention to use.
Hazard #3: The mental health system. The chances of becoming a client are low.
This was true in the 70s. Here are Goldberg's words:
"Many men who come for psychotherapy in the midst of a painful crisis are really individuals who have fallen under the weight of what I feel is basically a male emotional dilemma...Their emotional awareness of themselves and others had been aborted much earlier, creating critical blind spots and making them vulnerable to collapse during a crisis." (Goldberg, 1978 , p. 61).
This still happens. Men still
avoid seeking help from people in our profession. Dr. Michael Addis and
Dr. Jim Mahalik cited some of this evidence in their 2003 article in
American Psychologist. Men are simply less likely than women to ask
for help: for depression, substance abuse, physical disabilities, stress,
and so forth. This gender difference does not change by age, nationality,
ethnic group or racial
Men avoid seeking help for
medical problems, as well. Of those who have not seen a physician in the
last 2-5 years, 65% are men. Of those who have not been to a physician in
more than 5 years, 70% are men. (Courtenay, 2000). When men do make a
visit, they ask fewer questions than women. They get less information
about their health, and they receive less advice about habits and patterns
that are putting them at risk. This pattern is troubling. If we putting
this hazard alongside the first two hazards,
* More than 90% of those in
the prison system are men, creating enormous psychosocial consequences.
Men simply don't think they have problems. 70% of men think their health is either "excellent" or "very good." (cited in Courtenay, 2000). At times, the lack of information about psychological health is astonishing. Here are some examples:
* A highly educated man did
not know that depression is a frequent experience following heart surgery,
and that many of the medicines used to treat heart disease have depression
as a side effect; it took him more than a year to ask for help, and he was
feeling like a failure for simply being there.
Here are some creative responses to this hazard. How can help-seeking behavior be made more compatible with masculine socialization?
One example is the APPLE
Principle, developed for male farmers and ranchers by Peter Beeson at
Nebraska Health and Human Services. Rather than expect ranchers to come to
the offices of psychologists, he recommends that psychologists go to the
ranchers, and get to know them in the community -- at public meetings, in
coffee chops, and at sporting events. Then, when it's time to
Similarly, Dr. Randy Weigel, at the University of Wyoming, suggests that mental health services for farmers are much more credible when the provider is able to talk about "how little producers make on hay, wheat, milo, or corn, and about how expensive water, fuel, fertilizer, or machinery is."
This question of marketing mental health services to men is receiving renewed attention. Dr. Aaron Rochlen at the University of Texas is the editor for an upcoming special issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Rochlen and others present a series of ideas on how to be more effective in marketing health and counseling services to men. In particular, Rochlen examines the social marketing literature, and offers some specific suggestions. Social Marketing Theory addresses several issues:
* The challenge of marketing
services to people who have distaste for the product being offered; in
marketing lingo, this is called Negative Demand.
This approach has been applied to a variety of issues in the last few years: condom use and AIDS prevention; heart disease, and cholesterol reduction.
Rochlen and others (especially Will Courtenay) suggests combining some of the themes from Social Marketing Theory with some of the psychological principles of human change -- especially those articulated by Prochaska & DiClimente. The result is an approach that combines what we know about the effectiveness of social marketing with what we know about the stages of human change.
This is a much more complex and sensitive way of thinking about the problem of men's reluctance to seek therapeutic help -- much more promising than some of our early work published 10 years ago or so, which explored ways matching therapy styles with masculinity themes. As Addis and Mahalik put it, we are beginning to examine "who his likely to seek what sort of help for what sort of problem under what conditions" (Addis & Mahalik, 2003).
Rochlen cites two examples of outreaches to men that are consistent with these themes. The first is the Real Depression Campaign, which began a year ago in May. The purpose was to inform men about the reality of depression. The campaign put messages on the radio, billboards, television, and in brochure messages. Strategies included:
* Testimonials from
other men in masculine dominated professions (police, fire fighters,
A second example is called Tackling Men's Health, a website sponsored by the National Football League (www.nfl.com.tacklingmenshealth). Their goal is to provide men with information about six menss health issues:heart problems, prostate cancer, sexual wellness, stress, diabetes, and mental health. The site uses masculine many congruent terms: Coaches Corner, Game Plan, Tools You Can Use, and Playbook. Men are advised to take care of their "equipment." Mike Ditka shows up on the first page, and is quoted as saying, "Stay at the top of your game, on the job, on the field -- wherever, and at any age." The site provides statistics, which have been shown to break down judgmental biases. Under the phrase, Know your Opponent, there are concrete suggestions on things to do -- activities, exercises, steps, and the like.
Both these projects are expensive. Both are very serious attempts to help men. It will be interesting to see what empirical data are generated.
To summarize, the odds of being caught in the prison system are high. The odds of being taken to the hospital or to the undertaker at a premature age are high. The odds of getting help in a timely way are low. If you will, these are three faces of modern masculinity: the criminal, the casualty, and the reluctant client.
However, not all the news is bad. A fundamental belief in the work of members of Division 51 is this: what is learned can be unlearned, and then re-learned. What is constructed, can be deconstructed, and then -- most importantly -- can be re-constructed. What might such a reconstruction look like? At the end of his 1978 book, Herb Goldberg wrote about what he would like to see happen. The motivations that operate for a man could include:
"the drive to preserve himself, to live joyfully, to cherish and ensure his physical well-being, to get maximal pleasure from his sexuality, to give spontaneous and unashamed expression to his feelings, to openly reveal and share his fantasies, to personalize rather than objectify his relationships, ... (and) to relate to other men in a sharing, caring way."
Further, "'the free male' will celebrate all of the many dimensions of himself, his strength and his weakness, his achievements and his failure, his sensuality, his affectionate and loyal response to women and men. He will follow his own personal growth path, making his own stops along the way, and reveling in his unique and ever-developing total personhood." (p. 184).
My final comment in this series of columns for the Bulletin: I wish each of you the best as you seek to implement your own vision of masculinity in all of the worlds in which you live.
Beeson, Peter G. (1999). Farm crisis and mental health summit: A summary of findings. In Party-line, ed. Peter G. Beeson, 28-29. St. Cloud: National Association for Rural Mental Health. Also available online: http://www.narmh.org/pages/farmfotn.html.
Bureau of Justice Statistics
(2004, May 27). Nation's prison population increase largest in four years.
Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs, United States Department of
Weigel, R. R. (2004). The
ranch culture: A barrier to cowboys seeking mental health. Available:
This issue is my first as newsletter editor. I look forward to many quality submissions from the members and will strive to carry on the tradition of excellence from the most recent editor, Fred Rabinowitz, and those who served before him. Please let me know if you have an idea for a newsletter article or even for a special issue.
This issue contains a special focus on teaching the Psychology of Men -- an idea that grew out of the continuing education workshop conducted by Jim O'Neil, Michael Addis, and me at APA in Honolulu, where Division 51 also decided to form a standing committee on teaching. I hope that you enjoy this special issue and that you will participate in this initiative if you have an interest in teaching.
By the time the next issue comes out, I will have turned 50. Just a number, I know, and I'm sure the older readers look back on 50 with nostalgia, just as the younger ones ponder just how old that sounds. These decade numbers have meaning as transitions -- points to stop and reassess one's life, reflecting on the past and speculating about the future.
Age 50 is a special transition for me because on April 16, 1980, my father died of heart disease at the age of 50, so to reach that milestone is to transcend this all-powerful figure in my life. And although I am not an obsessive or even a particularly introspective kind of person, I will admit that I have calculated the exact day in which I will become older than he ever was. I'd like to get it over with, so I'm very much looking forward to turning 51 in Division 51.
Even though it has been 24 years since his death, I want to tell you about my father, to celebrate his life, to describe both the tragic and wonderful sides of him, and mainly, to give you a biographical case study of masculinity and the related issues of parenting, health, emotion, and mental health.
James Edward Kilmartin grew up in rural Pennsylvania. His biological father left my grandmother when Jim was very young, and his "father figure", after whom he would later name his first born son, was my great Uncle Chris. Jim was an excellent high school student and a fine athlete, turning down a partial baseball scholarship to Notre Dame (He could not afford the part of the tuition he would have to pay.) and even playing semi-professionally for a short time. He attended a local college and his studies were interrupted when he enlisted in the army to serve in the Korean War.
I never got him to talk about his war experience. Once, I asked him if he had ever been in combat and he told me that he had. I asked what it had been like, and he said, "never mind". End of conversation. This was one striking example of his belief that men should never discuss their vulnerability. I was probably in my twenties before I realized that he was sometimes sad, worried, unsure of himself, or troubled in any way. Because I compared my inner experience (and was, of course, all of these things from time to time) with his appearance, I felt different and inadequate. This, I think, is an all-too-common experience of sons with emotionally withholding fathers, and perhaps part of what makes these fathers powerful to the point of being larger-than-life. When my dad told me a story of nearly being seriously injured by a pitched baseball (Batting helmets had not yet been invented.), he told the story like it was a fun adventure, not a terrifying glimpse into his mortality.
In the army, young Jim was stationed in Japan as the assistant to chaplain Thomas Fennell, who became the other part of my namesake. I'm Christopher Thomas Kilmartin, named after Uncle Chris, a drunken coal miner, and Father Tom, a Catholic priest. This dichotomy, I believe, has followed me through my entire life. Jim took a liking to the church organist, later marrying her and bringing her home to the States. They raised seven children together. Jim had returned to college and then completed a master's degree in English Literature, specializing in Chaucer, but gave up his dream of becoming a college professor to follow a more lucrative path in the corporate world. It was not until four years before his death that he told me that he hated his job.
My dad had a great sense of humor and an ability to communicate his love, albeit in indirect ways. He was a do-the-right-thing kind of guy, once writing multiple letters to a business because they had failed to send him a bill for his purchases and he was determined to pay what he owed. He ran for county council one year, and even though he lost the election, he kept his campaign promise to his church that he would become more involved as a parishioner. He taught religion classes to the parish children who attended public school.
But he also had his dark side. He believed that physical punishment was appropriate and often used shame as a discipline technique. As he aged, he seemed to revisit these issues and softened as a parent with my younger siblings. In fact, he seemed to be revising his masculine ideologies, becoming more open and relaxed in his forties. I often wonder what he would have said about men's studies. I've had those conversations with him many times and wish that he could answer back.
It is not lost on me that I've become the college professor he wanted to be. Sometimes ambitions take a couple of generations to be realized. Jim Kilmartin was the son and grandson of bricklayers, but he wanted to live in the world of ideas. His experiences in higher education and graduate education set the stage for my own. My interest in men's studies started with an interest in men's health, as I realized that the brevity of his life was partly the result of a harsh masculinity. Thus, my identity and my career are both bound up in the person my father was.
So this one's for you, dad, and I know you're happy that I'm going to be 51 soon.
Psychology of Men: A Potential Growth Area for Psychology and Division 51
Report from the APA Honolulu Convention
Special Focus Editor:
James O'Neil, University of Connecticut
From left to right: Jim O'Neil, Michael Addis, and Chris Kilmartin immediately following their Teaching the Psychology of Men Continuing Education workshop at APA in Honolulu, August, 2004.
The following papers reflect the work by the Teaching of the Psychology of Men Committee of SPSMM. At the end of each paper is a link to the syllabus for each of the psychology of men courses described. We hope that you will become involved in the teaching of the psychology of men by sharing what you know or by creating a new course. We invite you to our proposed Continuing Education Workshop "Teaching the Psychology of Men" during the APA Convention in Washington, D.C., August, 2005.
Teaching the Psychology of
Men: A Potential Growth Area for Psychology and Division 51 - A
At the 2003 APA convention in
Toronto, we had some provocative discussions about the status of the
teaching of the psychology of men. We agreed that the teaching the
psychology of men was a critical but underdeveloped area for SPSMM. We
also recognized that the teaching of the psychology of men had no official
status in psychology. Moreover, we felt that developing pedagogy about men
could advance the psychology of men as a discipline. We reasoned that by
formalizing the teaching of the psychology of men that knowledge about men
could develop more rapidly, become more coherent, and influential. We also
concluded that promoting the teaching of the psychology of men could
increase membership in Division 51 and promote more relevant research on
boys and men. For these reasons, we decided to do something about this
neglected area and increase its visibility in the profession of
Overall Description of the Workshop Content and Process
The purpose of the workshop was to assist psychologists in developing course work on the psychology of men using the theoretical and empirical literature on men and masculinity. The workshop provided basic knowledge on how to create a psychology of men course or how to infuse this content into existing courses on gender or the psychology of women (O'Neil, 1995; Russo, 1996). There has been very little information on how to teach the psychology of men. Therefore, the workshop provided a rationale for the teaching the psychology of men, using the emerging scholarship in this area (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Blazina, 2003; Brooks & Good, 2001; Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2002; Cohen, 2001; Horne & Kiselica, 1999; Kilmartin, 2000, 2001; Levant & Pollack, 1995; Pleck, 1981, 1995; Pollack, 1998). Participants were provided with a rationale for teaching the psychology of men that explained this discipline as an expanding field, that intersects with the psychology of women and Women Studies, and that relates to critical social issues such as societal and family violence, effective fathering, homophobia, and men's and physical and emotional health.
Each presenter discussed how
to develop and implement courses in the psychology of men. We shared our
syllabi, reading materials, evaluation processes, and other resources.
Handouts of syllabi, class manuals, and teaching resources were
disseminated in a 100 page workshop booklet. The workshop presented
information on pedagogical approaches such as traditional lecturing,
psychoeducational techniques, group discussion techniques, and the
infusion of diversity and multiculturalism as critical content areas
(Landrine, 1995; Madden & Hyde, 1998). Important process issues in
teaching the psychology of men were delineated (Kilmartin, 2000; O'Neil,
2001; Urschel, 1999). These processes included norm setting, expectancy
setting, conflict management, data gathering, self-assessments, group
work, "journaling", stereotyping, and working with resistance and
defensiveness as part of the learning process. Brief examples of video
media and self-assessment exercises were shared with the participants.
Another major area that was addressed was how to manage the
problems/dilemmas that occur when teaching the psychology of men. Some of
the problems addressed were: 1) how to enroll men, 2) sexism and
heterosexism in the classroom, 3) "male bashing" and women's anger at men,
4) the merits and problems with professor self-disclosure, 5) integrating
research into courses. The instructors personally shared their struggles
and successes when teaching the psychology of men and encouraged
participants to share their own experiences and insights through an
There were four overall
workshop goals. The workshop was designed to help psychologists:
The workshop schedule
included the following time period and activities:
There is very little information in the literature on how to teach the psychology of men. Therefore, numerous issues need to be discussed if the discipline is to develop and have impact in psychology and the greater society. Given this lack of conceptualization, an initial framework was created that captured the ideas from each of us about the critical issues in teaching the psychology of men. The initial framework included the following pedagogical areas: 1) teaching goals, objectives, and professor's roles, 2) course content from psychology, 3) course content from outside psychology, 4) process issues including psychoeducation, writing assignments, journaling, interviews, and incorporating empirical research into courses, 5) infusing the course with multiculturalism and diversity, 6) use of media, psychological biographies, and self assessment exercises, 6) Dilemmas, problems, resistance, conflict, and defensiveness in the classroom, 7) classroom solutions to problems, 8) unanswered questions. These eight areas were presented as an initial way to conceptualize teaching the psychology of men. We emphasized many of these areas as we described our courses' content and processes.
Overall, the feedback on the
workshop was very positive. Participants gave numerical and written
feedback. Here are their verbatim comments: "Outstanding opportunity;
Interesting, relevant, and dynamic, great seminar; Incredible workshop
that greatly exceeded my expectation; Consider extending the length of the
workshop; Excellent, make it a full day so process and content can be
played out in the workshop; Well prepared, entertaining teachers who
sparked my enthusiasm; Awesome workshop, highlight of the conference for
me; I really appreciated all that you shared; Creative assignments; I am
really impressed by the gender role journey videos; A superb well
organized workshop; Excellent, please do again; Great idea and great
energy; Very helpful, appreciated efforts and enthusiasm of instructors;
Very well done; great information, energy, inspiring".
Another aspect of this
workshop was how the four of us worked together over the entire year. Jim
O'Neil indicated that he initially felt somewhat intimidated by the
prospects of developing a teaching workshop "from scratch", obtaining
endorsement by APA, activating an enrollment, and then actually
implementing the workshop. Many of his concerns were lessened by working
with the Michael, Chris, and Jim. There was a communal interest in
developing something new, a shared mutual support, and a collegial respect
for each other. We all admitted feeling isolated in our teaching the
psychology of men over the years. Preparing the workshop together broke
down that isolation and opened up some possibilities for mutual sharing,
critical thinking about our teaching, and disclosure about our teaching
processes. We were able to learn from each other as we worked out the
content and process of the workshop. Doing the workshop together was a
positive collegial experience that focused on a noble cause and that
challenged the patriarchal and competitive structures that continue to
separate and isolate us all.
Addis, M. E. & Mahalik,
J.R. (2003). Men, masculinity, and the context of help seeking. American
The great developmental psychologist Sandra Bem (1993) once referred to gender as a set of default options preprogrammed into the individual by the culture. As a psychologist long involved in violence prevention and the study of mental health problems in men, I hold the firm belief that some of these default options have the potential for dire negative consequences for men and the people who come into contact with them. If we are to help people transcend gender roles when it is their interest to do so, we will have to teach them to override the defaults.
The most common modern usage of default is in the computer world, which provides a useful analogy to gender. When you boot up your computer, you see icons on the screen that represent various programs. In a standard operating system, these icons are about one inch square. But you can change the size of the icons. Doing so requires three steps. First, you have to become aware that the icon size on your screen is a default option, and that therefore it can change. Second, you have to be motivated to alter the default. Perhaps you've taken the first step and know about the default, but you think that the icon size is fine the way it is. But, maybe you don't see very well and want them bigger, or need to fit so many on your screen that you want them smaller, or maybe you just want your screen to look different from everyone else's -- it's a fashion choice. Third, you have to know how to change the default - to learn some set of procedures that will result in your reaching the goal of changing your icons.
If gender is a set of default options, then we need the same three steps to change them. Men's Studies fulfills the first step: it exposes the default options by giving men (and women) a new language for symbolizing their experience. Once understanding that they don't just have to "go along with the program", they are now in a position to decide if it is their desire to challenge dominant conceptions of gender at times (step 2), and undertake a process of transformation (step 3).
My personal definition of gender is social pressure to behave and experience the self in ways that the dominant culture defines as sex-appropriate. To change the default options is to resist the pressure, and it is very difficult to resist a pressure that one cannot name. A basic example: we have long conceptualized hegemonic masculinity as antifemininity. Although most people know that stereotypical men refuse to ask for directions when they are lost, they do not understand that the probable reason behind this seemingly ridiculous behavior is the cultural definition of asking for help as a feminine activity. When men intellectually apprehend the absurdity of this oppositional behavior, they are in a better position to perform feminine-defined behaviors and move themselves toward some life goal. Men's Studies puts men into position to challenge dominant masculinity when it is important for them to do so. Interestingly, women who take a men's course also come to a better understanding of the gender pressure they face.
Another computer analogy:
sending students out into the world without gender awareness is like
sending them out without computer skills - they are only going to become
more important as the years go on. Because of changes in the sex division
of labor, definitions of family, and reproductive technologies,
conceptions of gender will continue to change. In fact, we have seen
remarkable changes just within our short lifetimes. Men need to learn that
they reduce their chances of reaching their life goals if they simply
attempt to apply the same formulas to success that their fathers and
Toward the end of having students understand gender from a variety of perspectives, I assign readings from various disciplines in addition to the textbook, and I hold discussions of these readings. When I first began to do so, I found that students often did not complete the readings before class, and so they were not prepared for the discussions. So, on the suggestion of a colleague in our English department, I required them to produce a one page, single-spaced summary of each reading along with their reaction to it. They print their paper, bring it to class, and make further notes as their thinking evolves during the discussion. These assignments are evaluated as part of the participation grade, so their grade suffers if they do not complete the reading before class.
I have found a simple and very effective technique for getting students to apply academic material to the world outside of the classroom. In order to sensitize students to the pervasiveness of gender assumptions and arrangements in society, I ask them to turn in 5 journal entries three times during the semester, for a total of 15 entries. By the time they are turning in the second set of 5 entries, they tend to say, "I never realized it, but gender is everywhere! I'm sick of seeing it." This sensitization, they tell me, lasts a long time -- some say permanently. It puts students into the habit of noticing and evaluating what is around them, surely a valuable skill. The assignment to the student is as follows:
The journal is a vehicle for
engagement with classroom material in non-academic ways, and a way of
having a dialogue with yourself (and the instructor, if you wish). You can
use journal entries to react, disagree, agree, associate to, or speculate
about a television show, newspaper article, conversation, observation of
behavior, thoughts about an issue, lecture (in this class or another
class), movie, or anything else pertinent to the topic.
This was an excellent journal
entry. Not only did the student show insight into gendered arrangements in
the culture, but she also related what she had observed to the class
material. An example of a less satisfying entry:
The student went on to vent her frustration and puzzlement over these men's behavior. In this entry, the student notices a gender issue, but does no speculation on its source and makes no connection between the observation and the class material. She also shows a low level of awareness of gender and power relationships (which we discuss in class) by referring to college women as "girls," a term that describes children. I also might invite the student to make some other observations, such as: how often do boyfriends come to watch women's intramural games? (Not very often). What does this say about gender?
Students tend to like these assignments because they get to write about whatever they are interested in, and it is nice to have a professor that will listen to their voices. Occasionally, students might write about disturbing or intimate things, and an instructor has to be prepared to respond sensitively in these cases. Overall, however, this assignment tends to produce very valuable learning that involves little if any pressure or unpleasantness. In fact, I can say that grading these journals is actually enjoyable, and there are not many grading tasks that I can say I look forward to.
Following is an example of a great journal entry (My Fall, 2001 student Katrina Wilson, gave permission for me to print her entry and credit her):
Battle of the Sexes
In class we talked about the battle of the sexes. It was interesting that everyone in class raised their hand for having a conversation about the differences between the sexes, but no one raised their hand for a similarity of the sexes conversation. This brought to mind a very recent dispute of the sexes between my boyfriend and I. These talks always end up getting us into heated debates in which we often make general and offensive statements. This particular battle started innocently enough as we were talking about our future career plans. I made the comment that his working/career life would be easier than mine because he has a penis. The rest of the conversation followed the pattern for typical "battle of the sexes" debates.
It was ironic that only a few days after this debate we talked about it in class. After class I thought about the similarities of the genders. Later that night I called my boyfriend and we had our first similarity of the genders conversation. We started by talking about how we both like to eat and watch TV but soon moved on to how we both value our education, want success, and want to raise a family in the future.
This was an interesting activity for us. I learned a number of things from doing this activity. These insights are:
1. The conversation was
personal when we talked about similarities as opposed to using broad,
generalized, stereotyped statements.
Students often report that
the course changes the way that they look at the world in a fundamental
way. They become aware of their own gendered behavior and that of others.
They feel a sense of empowerment that comes from the realization that they
have choices about their behavior and do not have to conform to gender
expectations when there are good reasons not to do so. They modify their
preferences for the men that they would like to be and the men with whom
they would like to interact.
Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses
of gender: Transforming the debate on sexual inequality. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press.
Bem, S. L. (2001). An
unconventional family. New Haven, CT: Yale University
Coltrane, S. (1998).
Theorizing masculinities in contemporary social science. In D. L. Anselmi
I have really enjoyed teaching the psychology of men over the years. Watching students question, deconstruct, and expand their gender role ideologies has been a very gratifying part of my career. One of the greatest pleasures in academia is hearing that a difference was made in a student's life because of what they have learned. On the other hand, I admit that teaching the psychology of men has also been troublesome and challenging for me. At times, I have been perplexed and frustrated with my course. During most of the 1990's, I experienced an uneasy feeling about teaching the psychology of men and was critical of my pedagogical approaches. I should have been satisfied with my teaching of the psychology of men. My teacher ratings were usually high, the class was always overenrolled, and the university had endorsed my course as a General Education elective in the diversity section.
I have pondered my mixed feelings about teaching the psychology of men. Maybe, like Michael Addis (this issue) my expectations have been too high or I have been over invested in the material. The paradox of being pleased and annoyed with my course relates to my course's multidimensionality. I wanted my psychology of men course to be theoretically driven, empirically based, and a dynamically psychoeducational. A course that reviews both theory and research and produces a psychoeducational process may be too much for one course. My problem was that I insisted on having these multiple dimensions in my course. I have been very reluctant to give up the theory, the empirical research or the psychoeudcational processes. Over the years, I have systematically stripped the course of all tangential information. After four major course revisions, I am now beginning to feel satisfied with how the course is organized and taught.
Description of HDFS 259: Men and Masculinity: Social Psychological Perspectives
I decided to teach the psychology of men because no course existed at the University of Connecticut. I felt that men's issues deserved a place in our curriculum along with our strong Women's Studies Program. HDFS 259 has been taught at the University of Connecticut since 1990 in the School of Family Studies as an undergraduate, three credit class. The course integrates traditional lecturing with psychological, experiential, and hypermedia learning (Jensen, 1993; Kolb, 1984). The teaching process includes an organized set of lectures, experiential/affective activities, group discussions, self evaluation checklists, music, music videos, seven gender role journey biographies, and media clips from movies. These teaching interventions are sequentially ordered to activate both cognitive and affective domains of learning (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1964). The lectures and assigned readings provide the conceptual basis for the psychology of men. The experiential activities, especially the self-assessment activities and media, are designed to stimulate personal and emotional exploration.
The average enrollment for HDFS 259 is fifty students with two thirds of the students being women. Most students are either psychology or family studies majors. The primary textbook used is Chris Kilmartin's The Masculine Self (Kilmartin, 2000). I use this text because, in my opinion, it is the most useful undergraduate text to teach the psychology of men. Students also read six manuscripts on the gender role journey and gender role conflict ( O'Neil, 1981; O'Neil & Egan, 1992 a b; O'Neil & Egan, 1993; O'Neil & Harway; O'Neil & Nadeau, 1999). Transparencies are used in the lectures and all visual information presented is collated into a 136 page class manual (O'Neil, 2003). This manual contains all the class transparencies and allows students to think and participate in class rather than just compulsively take notes. Students take a midterm and final exam using a multiple choice test items.
Students are required to write a gender role journey personalization paper. The purpose of this paper is to promote the personal growth of students using the course concepts and to facilitate class closure. Students are asked to summarize their gender role journey from infancy to the present. An eleven part outline is used to focus these gender role journey papers. Students write about their childhood memories of gender role socialization in their families, experiences with sexism, gender role transitions and gender role conflict, and intentional ways to resolve past and current conflicts.
Table 1 describes the topics
and lecture content, psychoeducational interventions, and the media used
in the course. Each week specific academic content is paired with
psychoeducational interventions including music, video clips,
self-assessment devices, documentaries, and seven gender role journey
biographies. Checklists and class discussions are used to enhance the
theoretical understanding and personalization of the concepts. I have
summarized this course in more detail in an earlier publication (O'Neil,
2001) and only a brief summary of how I teach is given
I have spent many hours thinking about what I mean by psychoeducational. I define psychoeducational as using psychological principles and processes to facilitate students' personal, emotional, and intellectual development in a classroom or group setting. Psychoeducation focuses on both the cognitive and affective domains of learning (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1964). With psychoeducation, feelings and emotions have equal weight with conceptual and factual knowledge. Emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995) and academic content are true partners in the psychoeducational process. With the psychoeducational approach, students both think and feel in the classroom. The teacher is interactive, personal, self disclosing, and strategic.
How are psychoeducational approaches operationalized when I teach the psychology of men? There are seven dimensions to my psychoeducational approach. They include: 1) Setting positive expectancies, 2) Context setting, 3) Creating classroom norms, 4) Student assessment, 5) Using stimulus diversity techniques, 6) Managing resistance and student defenses, 7) Helping students with their psychoeducational processes. Each of these is briefly discussed to explain how I teach the psychology of men.
Using Stimulus Diversity
Resistance and Defenses During Learning: Three Strategies
First, I let student know that studying the psychology of men is not a "breeze" and at times difficult. I normalize defensiveness and resistance as we deconstruct the myths about gender roles. To normalize defensiveness and hopefully limit it, I give a mini lecture on the following topics: 1) the nature of unconscious defenses, 2) what purposes defenses serve when trying to cope or avoid threatening insights, and 3) what the major defenses are (repression, denial, projection, rationalization, ect). The goal of this lecture is to help students work with their defenses during the semester. Usually with some resistance on my part, I discuss my own personality defenses. I model self-disclosure, introspection and the deeper emotional processing that I want students to actualize during the semester.
A second strategy to reduce defensiveness involves the use of the gender role journey video biographies. Over the years, my students and I have studied six celebrity personalities and documented their gender role journeys. Using video clips from documentaries, movies, music videos, and biographical and autobiographical literature, we have created gender role journeys video shows of John Lennon (O'Neil, 1988), Marilyn Monroe (Goldberg & O'Neil 1997), Elton John (Brooks, 1996), Frank Sinatra, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Marvin Gay. These video shows are shown throughout the semester to illustrate how these men and women have coped with sexism (and other forms of oppression) during their gender role journeys. These emotional videos allow students to experience the course concepts through the lives of these personalities. Rather than just focus on their own problems and pain, these videos demonstrate that almost everyone experiences pain, loss, and suffering in their lives. By observing these life stories, students become more comfortable looking at their own lives. Furthermore, these videos stimulate questions about how to effectively resolve gender role conflicts, work with the pain, and emotionally heal.
The third method to reduce resistance and defensiveness is when I step out of my professor role and selectively self disclose about my own gender role journey and problems with sexism. This self-disclosure is sometimes premeditated and other times it is spontaneous, but in both cases it is tied directly to the course content and process. This self-disclosure communicates my personal vulnerability to very issues that the students are hopefully struggling with. Through my self-disclosure, I try to give hope that over time they too can work effectively with their gender role conflict and transitions over the life span. The primary way of self disclosing is through a biography of my own gender role journey. Using my mother's photographs of me from 6 months to the present, I have created a 30-minute video summary of my own journey with my gender roles. Using Barbra Streisand's music (The Way we Were), video photography, and overheads, I discuss my psychosocial development using the course concepts. Being a private person, this is one of the hardest parts of the course for me. I have to work with my resistance and defenses, just like the students. I explain to students that I should not expect them to do self exploration and disclosure if I am not willing to do it myself. My gender role journey presentation comes a few weeks before students complete their own gender role journey personalization papers.
Helping Students With
Their Psychoeducational Processes
My teaching role includes
helping those students who discover pain and unresolved gender role
conflict in their gender role journey. This means convincing them that
negatives can be turned into positives and that anger can be
constructively used in the activist stage of the gender role journey. I
introduce two major concepts to help students with their pain. The first
concept is metaphors for healing and the second is forgiveness. Both of
these concepts help students decide what to do with their gender role
journey after the class ends. Developing metaphors for healing and
forgiveness are powerful vehicles for ongoing growth and recovery. The
most important point is that some students need practical ways to recover
from being hurt by sexism and other forms of oppression. Some students can
be directly helped through the class and others need to be referred
directly for counseling and psychotherapy.
I also need to know more about how students experience the class. I am amazed at how many students have repressed aspects of their sexist gender role socialization. This amnesia is understandable given that children and adolescents usually repress painful experiences they cannot understand or label. The gender role journey papers are full of painful experiences with sexism in homes, at schools, and with peers. Furthermore, many men in the class report being razed and ridiculed for just taking the class. Most of the comments have homophobic overtones with innuendo like "So you are really into men these days?!". Men in the class may need more help in responding to these insults, jokes, and threatening comments. For many women, the major class issue is how to work with past and present anger at men. Women's pain does get activated as I explain how men's gender role socialization contributes to men's violence against women (Harway & O'Neil, 1999). I need to figure out more direct ways to reach out to these students as they individually process their conflicts, emotions and pain from the class.
As you can see from this lists of next steps with my course, there are clearly more things to be done to improve my psychology of men course. Experimenting with more effective ways to teach the psychology of men is what is so exciting about being involved in this emerging area of psychology.
Click here for Jim O'Neil's syllabus.
Brooks, B. (1996) Video:
Elton John's Gender Role Journey: I'm Still Standing. School of
Goldberg, J. & O'Neil,
J.M. (1997). Marilyn Monroe's gender role journey: Promoting women's
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional
intelligence. New York: Bantam Books.
Harway, M. & O'Neil, J.M.
(1999). What causes men's violence against women? Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Jensen, R.E. (1993). The
technology of the future is already here. Academe, 79 (4),
Kilmartin, C.T. (2000) The
masculine self. Boston: McGraw Hill
Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential
learning. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S.
& Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational
O'Neil, J.M. (1981). Patterns
of gender role conflict and strain: Sexism and fears of
O'Neil, J.M. (August, 1988).
Definition of gender role conflict: A study of John
O'Neil, J.M. (2001).
Promoting men's growth and development: Teaching the new
O'Neil, J.M. (2003). Resource
Manual for HDFR 259(Men and Masculinity: Social
O'Neil, J.M. & Egan, J.
(1992a). Men's gender role transitions over the lifespan: Transformation
and fears of femininity. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 14,
O'Neil, J.M. & Egan,
(1992b). Men and women's gender role journeys: A metaphor for healing,
transition, and transformation. In B. Wainrib (Ed.) Gender issues across
the life cycle. (pp. 107-123). New York: Springer Publishing Co.
O'Neil, J.M. & Egan, J.
(1993). Abuses of power against women: Sexism, gender role conflict, and
psychological violence. In E. Cook (Ed.) Women, relationships, and power:
O'Neil, J.M., Egan, J., Owen, S.V. & Murry, V.M. (1993). The Gender Role Journey Measure: Scale development and psychometric evaluation. Sex Roles, 28, 167-185.
O'Neil, J.M. & Nadeau, R.
A. (1999). Men's gender role conflict, defense mechanisms, and self-
Every spring at Clark University I have the opportunity to teach Psychology 265: The Psychology of Men. I look forward to this course each time I teach it. More than any course I teach, it covers issues that are central to my research, and are also of great personal interest to me. I chose to teach this course not only because I find the topic area fascinating, but also because I believe that students need to be exposed to the psychology of men and masculinity. There seems to be an increasing awareness in popular culture that men's experience, like women's, is gendered. Every month I see more magazine articles and television programs either drawing on popular stereotypes of masculinity, articulating some problematic aspect of men's experience, or attempting to reinforce traditional hegemonic constructions of masculinity. In short, I have a strong sense that if we don't get busy teaching students about men and masculinity, somebody else will!
I also experience a good bit of dread every time I anticipate teaching Psychology 265. I know the process will be difficult at times and will fall well short of my expectations for myself and the students. I know the class discussion will periodically devolve into stereotyped discussions about sex differences (i.e., "men are…women are…"). I know it will be very difficult to engage the men in the course without putting them on the spot. I know from experience that the women in the class will be extremely curious and concerned about the issues we discuss. I know there will need to be a very fine balance between personal interest and investment in the material, and more "objective" analysis of theories and research. I know I will have to be very careful about how much and what I self-disclose to get the process moving.
In short, perhaps because I care so much about the material, the stakes always seem high when I anticipate teaching about the psychology of men. And yet, I look forward to teaching this course every spring. I will draw on this dualistic experience of teaching psychology of men as a framework for thinking about how I approach the course. But before moving further into the course, let me say a bit more about the context in which Psychology 265 takes place.
Many of the faculty strive to creatively work the tension between competing demands common to an undergraduate liberal arts college versus a research university by integrating teaching, mentoring, and research. For example, roughly fifty percent of undergraduate majors at Clark are actively involved in research with faculty members. The psychology major itself is designed to be rigorous with a primary emphasis on critical conceptual thinking in addition to active involvement in research. The capstone seminar is the final requirement for the major and is typically taken in the senior year. Course enrollments are limited (I cap Psychology of Men at 12) and students are expected to read, discuss, and write critical responses to primary literature (i.e., not textbooks, but journal articles, books, and book chapters that faculty would routinely integrate into their own scholarship). Finally, doctoral students often enroll in capstone seminars and the level at which material is discussed varies depending on the particular mixture of graduate and undergraduates in each course.
I have two broad goals for students in the course. The first is that they come to understand the problematic nature of masculinity. By problematic I don't mean "bad" "harmful" or other negative qualifiers (although we do discuss many harmful aspects of masculinity). Problematizing masculinity means first de-fusing it from men and recognizing it's socially constructed and socially learned nature. Many students come to the course thinking masculinity refers to personality characteristics inherent to men. I hope they come away recognizing that masculinity, to the degree that we can define it at all, is a very short-hand term for a whole range of social and psychological processes that influence, and are influenced by, broader layers economic, political and otherwise social processes that occur within cultures.
I alluded earlier to my second goal for students; I would like to see them increase the precision, scope, and depth of concepts and terms they bring to their understanding of men and masculinity. Precision means using the various terms and concepts found in social scientific analyses of men and masculinity with greater accuracy and theoretical integrity. For example, the first day of class, I write the following terms on the board:
Men, Male, Masculinity, Masculinities, Gender ,Gender Norms, Gender Stereotypes, Gender Socialization, Selection Pressures, Social Construction, Social Learning, Gender Roles, Feminism, Patriarchy, Sex
I then ask students to define each term to the best of their ability. What often becomes apparent is that the definitions students provide for many terms overlap considerably. I then tell students that my hope is by the end of the semester they will be able to use each term with precision to make specific statements or interpretations about the psychology of men and masculinity.
I also hope that students will learn to use terms and concepts with a greater degree of scope. In other words, they should by the end of the course be able to apply terms and concepts to a wide range of social and psychological phenomena. Finally, I hope that they will increase the depth of their understanding of men and masculinity. In other words, I would like them to be able to identify and articulate the ways various concepts can be linked across different "levels" of social organization from the individual to the cultural.
The Personal "I, My"
Versus the Collective Average
The Essential "Men are…"
Versus the Situated "Some men…in Some Circumstances"
The Psychological Versus
Expectations can run high when we teach courses in our specific areas of interest or scholarship. I know they do for me. And they need to be tempered with recognition that the study of men and masculinity is often very new for the students. Not only is it new, it can be a very personal and emotional process regardless of how intellectually the material is framed. The personal relevance of the material and the emotional arousal it often generates can make it hard for the students and me to engage in the sort of critical analytic thinking we might otherwise apply to less evocative topics in psychology. But this sort of thinking is precisely what I hope to see come out of the course. Indeed, thinking and talking with greater precision, scope, and depth will not only be useful for students, but for all of us interested in furthering the study of men and masculinity.
Click here for Michael Addis' syllabus.
Addis, M.E. & Cohane,
G.H. (in press). Social Scientific Paradigms of Masculinity and their
Implications for Research and Practice in Men's Mental Health. Journal of
Kaufman, M. (1994). Men,
feminism, and men's contradictory experiences of power. In Brod, H., &
Kaufman, M. (eds.) Theorizing Masculinities. pp. 142-163. California.
Linehan, M.M. (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford.
I have taught the graduate level "Issues in Counseling Men" at Boston College for almost a decade. In many ways, the class is similar to other classes I teach. It has a pretty traditional format with weekly readings, I do some lecturing with PowerPoint, there is a paper and students also complete a take-home final. In the class, I do some "break-out" groups with students, and sometimes we pull the whole class (usually between 20-25 masters students) in a circle for discussions, but the majority of the time students are in straight rows in the classroom.
Unlike other graduate courses I teach (e.g., personality theories or research design), the material in this class is especially personal. For the men in the class, they have the opportunity to reflect on themselves and their experiences in a way that they have rarely ever done before. They are reading about their lives. They are remembering their experiences. They are telling their stories in class and having a roomful of their peers nod and laugh and sympathize. The experience for them is one where they are subject in the class, and they seem to generally be engaged in the class in the same way that we tend to pay attention to a conversation when someone is talking about us.
Many of the women approach the class with a sense of curiosity about "the other". Many have taken a "Psychology of Women" class or been exposed to feminist ideas applied to women's lives. At the beginning of the class, some women will talk about how they wanted to take the class in order to hear from "the other side." They say this because they perceive men's experiences as somehow alien to their own and they want to learn about this other world. A frequent experience reported by the women later in the class is that they come to feel a sense of genuine empathy with the men in their lives as they come to see both men and women as enduring similar experiences that shape them and sometimes silence them.
Sometimes when women say that they want to hear from "the other side", they mean that they are curious to hear the non-feminist side of the argument in gender relations. It is surprising for some when I tell them that I teach a class about understanding and counseling men from a pro-feminist framework. In many ways, this represents an important and useful tension in the class (and my own work). For example, I help students acknowledge the reality of patriarchy in our society as it disempowers women, but also recognize that most men in U.S. society do not experience themselves as having much power and are also hurt by the structures of power in society. I try to acknowledge the genuine benefits that traditional gender roles bring while also exhaustively detailing the costs to individuals, families and society to traditional masculine socialization. I want to help students recognize the uniquely positive difference that many males make in our lives, but also to face the facts that men contribute to much of the violence and anti-social problems we experience in families and communities.
Of critical importance to me
is that the class also attends to other social issues related to
masculinity such as homophobia and racism. Because I am convinced that
men's homophobia is one of the most powerful influences on boys and men,
we focus significant time throughout the class on the issue and return to
it throughout other topics. We work with the topic in light-hearted ways
(e.g., viewing the Simpsons episode "Homersphobia") and more sober ways
(e.g., reading an interview with Matthew Shepard's father after the murder
of his son). I think most students already understand how homophobia hurts
gay men. My goal is to help them see and experience how homophobia also
significantly constrains the lives of straight men, creates conflict and
pain in families, and significantly constrains both straight and gay men
in their lives.
In developing the class, I
saw the tremendous successes that had been made addressing women's lives
and developing training for psychologists to work with girls and women. It
was (and is) very noticeable to me that the majority of training programs
in psychology do not have any training for their students to work with
boys and men. As such, my class is somewhat different from the others
described in the Special Focus Section because its purpose is to apply the
psychology of men and masculinity to help graduate students in counseling
psychology work clinically with men. To do so, I structure the early part
of the class to focus on socialization issues to help students develop a
gendered set of lenses from which to view boys and men. We typically spend
a lot of time viewing the media, discussing examples of traditional
masculine socialization, and examining the "sub-text" to socialization
messages. We often focus on identifying shaming messages to men if they do
not conform to traditional gender role norms. This part of the class is
often the most fun and is usually very eye-opening for students. It is
also typical to have students come to class being excited and telling
stories about recent interactions they have had with family members and
experiences with friends that make great examples of what we have been
talking about in class. They are also very excited to talk about examples
of socialization messages they see in the media where they can see the
subtext about gender role socialization.
After describing the process
of masculine gender role socialization and its effects on boys and men, we
try to make connections to issues involved in counseling men. We look at
the effect of those gender norms on men's personal development through the
life span including issues of men's health, body image, violence, life
roles (e.g., partners and fathers), and how men approach mental health and
other health services. We pay particular attention to men's emotional
lives. We look at cases trying to learn about how socialization history
may be connected to presenting concerns (e.g., depression, substance
abuse, interpersonal isolation), and try to integrate a gendered lens into
established and popular counseling treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral
therapy, interpersonal therapy) and psycho-educational approaches.
Because I do not typically
run the class as an interpersonal process class, I do not often have
interpersonal conflict in the class. That being said, the issues we talk
about affect the people in the class in a very personal and powerful way.
There are times when people's feelings get stirred up in the class and we
need to move the focus to the interactions in the classroom. In doing so,
I view my task with my students as creating an environment where their
experiences and viewpoints are respected, while also gently confronting
them with alternative views they may not have considered. One example I
remember was a class interaction with an older male student who was
divorced and had a bad time in family court. He was a vocal supporter of
fathers' rights groups, and angry at feminists for "setting up the courts
to discriminate against men." Even though there were many negative
reactions to his characterization of feminists (and by extension, his
pro-feminist professor), we focused on slowing everything down and
agreeing to listen to everyone who had something to say. In telling his
story to the class, the other students became more aware of the injustices
and tragedies that can happen to fathers in the family justice system. He
was then asked about other places where they saw discrimination against
men, but did not list many more. When I asked the women in the class to
identify places where they saw discrimination against women, they listed a
very large number. Everyone was heard. Everyone was respected. And
everyone came to a somewhat bigger understanding of the world that
included more compassion for the other person.
The successes for the class that stand out most to me, though, are usually things having to do with the personal lives of the students. Some students have told me that they have tried to repair a relationship with a father after a long period of bitterness. One student came out to the class telling us that he was gay but that this is the first time he had ever told anyone. Women will often talk about being more sympathetic and compassionate toward men. Men will talk about challenging others who shame boys or men, or making a decision to live a little differently because of the class. Most will talk about seeing things differently in their personal lives and being more critical of the media. One student once told me that he was now so aware of how commercials sold masculinity along with their products that I ruined his ability to just sit down and watch television. I would like that put on my gravestone.
In closing, I believe it is
critical for us to develop courses that address the psychology of men and
masculinity to raise consciousness in the academy, educate our students
and advance our profession. Arguably, no more effective strategy could be
employed to bring boy's and men's issues into the national consciousness
of our society and profession of psychology than to educate large numbers
of smart, energetic and challenging students about the psychology of men
and masculinity. Did I also mention that it was fun?
Click here for Jim Mahalik's syllabus.
The recently concluded 112th APA conference in Hawaii was a phenomenal experience for us, the new student representatives of Division 51. We were welcomed into the Division with open arms, and after just a little while, felt as if we were spending time with old friends rather than newly made acquaintances. As we met the other members, including past leaders and long-time supporters of the Division, we began to feel a sense of community and camaraderie not normally found in professional settings. Rather than stiff handshakes and stilted dialogue, we were welcomed with hugs and laughter. To see a group of men and women so comfortable with themselves and their emotions was a breath of fresh air in a world of distance and machismo.
As we began to become comfortable with our new roles, we each began to think about what it meant for us to be student representatives. Our interest in the study of men and masculinity is certain, along with a wish to further research and public awareness about men and men's issues. What, though, could we as students do to advance the mission of the Division?
As we each thought of what roles we would like to fulfill within the Division, we came up with a virtual "to-do" list of ways we could help the Division. We all agree that we would like to see masculinity go from being a marginally recognized category of analysis to being understood as a very real force in the lives of men and women around the globe. How, though, can we accomplish this?
One of us, Jennifer Lane, had a unique perspective upon the Division. She was welcomed into the Division, and serves as an example of the type of collaboration we would like to see fostered within the Division. By actively seeking collaboration with members from other Divisions, and the Divisions themselves, we can help to spread awareness about the ongoing research in Division 51. Ideally, we could establish ongoing dialogues, doing research and discussing practice alongside anyone and everyone who does work on the social construction of identity. We have many potential allies in divisions 17, 35, 43, 44, 45 and 52. Our visibility and membership are bound to grow if we engage with others who recognize that gender roles are socially constructed and culturally nuanced. We could sponsor cross-talks at APA, specifically targeting sections of the organization that might not normally hear our message. We can also reach out internationally to the growing number of psychologists and others interested in masculinity (by organizing an international conference on the topic, for example), and invite members of other divisions to be guest reviewers on our panels.
Another theme that was repeated in our individual impressions was a desire to bring together the clinical and research aspects of masculinity. It often feels as though there is a dichotomous splitting among psychologists between researchers and clinicians. At the conference, there seemed to be minimal mixing of the two groups: researchers went to presentations on research, and clinicians went to presentations on clinical methods. By attempting to shed light on the research and clinical aspects of masculinity, we can appeal to both sides of this de facto segmenting of practitioners. Non-researchers might currently have a diminished interest in the work the Division promotes, but most clinicians recognize that gender has a huge impact on their clients, and would likely desire more insight as how to work on gender issues in therapy. As a Division, we should take advantage of our experience with masculinity research and connect with practitioners as well as researchers who want dialogue on the subject.
Each of us is excited about the prospect of expanding the Division's involvement with advocacy. Bryant Smalley will be representing the Division to the APAGS Division Student Representative Network (APAGS-DSRN), a group comprised of a student representative from each Division. Several student representatives from APAGS-DSRN are hoping to institute an advocacy network, allowing graduate students to become involved in community, state, and federal advocacy in the form of lobbying and promoting understanding and awareness within communities. We are also excited by the prospect of arranging for workshops for students about how to become involved in local, state, and national legislative efforts at the next APA Conference given its location in Washington, D.C.
We would also like to encourage further student involvement within the Division. By continuing the warm and inviting environment that we experienced and combining it with actual recruitment efforts to draw in more students, we can expand membership in the Division, which will also serve to raise awareness of issues surrounding masculinity.
The conference offered much more than just sun and beach. For the three of us, the 112th conference marked a milestone of sorts in our professional careers-our official adoption as student representatives to the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity. We are all honored to be serving Division 51, and are looking forward to getting involved within the Division to help promote research, advocacy, and social awareness of the study of masculinity.
Participate in SPSMM-L, the listserv for SPSMM members. It is a place to share current psychology of men and masculinity news, as well as updates regarding organizational aspects of SPSMM. If you have access to the Internet, you can subscribe to SPSMM-L at no cost. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org—Michael E. Addis, PhD.
The Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (SPSMM) promotes the critical study of how gender shapes and constricts men’s lives, and is committed to an enhancement of men’s capacity to experience their full human potential. SPSMM endeavors to erode constraining definitions of masculinity which historically have inhibited men’s development, their capacity to form meaningful relationships, and have contributed to the oppression of other people. SPSMM acknowledges its historical debt to feminist-inspired scholarship on gender, and commits itself to the support of groups such as women, gays, lesbians and peoples of color that have been uniquely oppressed by the gender/class/race system. SPSMM vigorously contends that the empowerment of all persons beyond narrow and restrictive gender role definitions leads to the highest level of functioning in individual women and men, to the most healthy interactions between the genders, and to the richest relationships between them.
Has your address
Contact: Penny Harrison
APA Membership Status:
Member/Fellow Associate Member
Student Affiliate Non-APA Member
APA Membership No.:____________________
SPSMM Membership Status Desired:
Member (Psychology Doctorate, APA Member/Fellow) • $25
Associate Member (Associate Member of APA) • $25
Student Affiliate (Student Affiliate of APA) • $5
Affiliate (Interested in SPSMM & Non-APA Member) • $25
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Division 51, SPSMM. Send application & check to Division 51
Administrative Office, American Psychological Association,
SPSMM provides book reviews for members to learn about the latest books in the field. Currently, book reviews are published in the SPSMM Bulletin because page space in the Division’s journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity (PMM) is at a premium with priority being placed on publishing manuscripts. This policy could be revisited once additional pages are allocated to PMM.
Persons interested in
reviewing books or having their books reviewed in the Bulletin should
contact the SPSMM Book Review Editor. The SPSMM Bulletin Book Editor will
exercise his or her discretion as to which book will be reviewed in any
given issue based on his or her judgment about the interests of the
membership and mission of SPSMM. The current SPSMM Book Review Editor is
Dr. Jay Wade, Department of Psychology,
Book reviewers must assert in writing that they do not have a conflict of interest or personal relationship that would interfere with providing an objective review. The Book Review Editor will select reviewers in response to an author’s request, and the author will provide a copy of the book to the Book Review Editor.
Psychology of Men and Masculinity is among the world’s first scholarly publications devoted to the dissemination of research, theory, and clinical scholarship that advance the discipline of the psychology of men and masculinity. This discipline is defined broadly as the study of how men’s psychology is influenced and shaped by gender, and by the process of masculinization, in both its socially constructed and biological forms. We welcome scholarship that advances our understanding of men’s psychology, across the life span, across racial and ethnic groups, and across time. Beginning in 2005, the journal will be published four times per year.
Examples of relevant topics include, but are not limited to, the processes and consequences of male gender socialization, including its impact on men’s health, behavior, interpersonal relationships, emotional development, violence, and psychological well-being; assessment and measurement of the masculine gender role; gender role strain, stress, and conflict; masculinity ideology; fathering; men’s utilization of psychological services; conceptualization and assessment of interventions addressing men’s understanding of masculinity; sexuality and sexual orientation; biological aspects of male development; and the victimization of male children and adults.
Submitted manuscripts must be written in the style outlined in the 1994 Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (fourth edition). Psychology of Men and Masculinity will accept both regular length submissions (7,500 words) and brief reports (2,500 words). Submitted manuscripts must not have been previously published and must not be under consideration for publication elsewhere.
Four copies of the manuscript should be mailed to: Sam Cochran, PhD, 3223 Westlawn, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1100, Phone: (319) 335-7294, Fax: (319) 335-7298, Email: email@example.com.
Nominations for Fellow Status in divisions 51, APA are presently being accepted for 2005. If you are aware of a member who has been exemplary in the areas of Research or Service for the Psychology of Males and Masculinity (or if you yourself fit the mold), please forward names to our new Fellows Chair: Mark S. Kiselica, Ph.D., HSPP, NCC, LPC Professor and Chairperson, Department of Counselor Education, 332 Forcina Hall, The College of New Jersey, PO Box 7718, Ewing,NJ 08628-0718. Office phone: (609) 771-3462 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Division’s Cookbook is
ready for release and people are raving about it. In the words of Sam
Cochran, “This is a spectacular collection of recipes and stories, truly distinctive in the world of cookbooks .
. . I will treasure this book for many years to come. After all, in what
other cookbook will you find Lenore Walker’s Holiday Turkey, David Lisak’s
inspirational recipe for red chile sauce, Murry Scher’s ‘best blueberry
muffins in the world’ recipe, Ron Levant’s couscous-stuffed green pepper
recipe, or David Rose’s Teppanyaki Pancake recipe (yum). All the recipes in the book are clearly ‘family
favorites’ that are conveyed with a loving and charming sense of personal
history. This is a cookbook that everyone must own!” The Division’s
Cookbook is now available by sending a $20 check to Larry Beer at Child
and Family Psychological Services, 5380 Holiday Terrace,
Division 51 of the American Psychological
John Robertson, PhD
Kurt DeBord, PhD
Neil A. Massoth, PhD
CODAPAR LIAISON TO DIVISION
Mark S. Kiselica, Ph.D.,
HSPP, NCC, LPC (2004)
DIVISION 51 WEB SITE
DIVISION 51 LISTSERV