“Sexism may be harmful to men’s mental health. Men who see themselves as playboys or having power over women are more likely to have psychological problems than men who conform less to traditionally masculine norms.”
Professor Joel Wong and colleagues just published an article on “masculine norms” and well-being that has warmed the hearts of the Marxist and politically correct left. That is, anything that demeans and marginalizes males is good by definition and consistent with the plan to subvert Christian and traditional values and replace them with “diversity” and multicultural mush. Any hint of a traditionalist male “warrior class” must first be deconstructed and then destroyed.
For many decades, psychotherapists have been viewed as “secular priests” who are perfectly capable of offering mental health salvation to their clients without any recourse to God, religion, or tradition. For many, the religion of Marxism is a better pathway to psychological well-being and heaven-on-earth than the God-believing, next-world superstitions of the Christian masses. Indeed, modern counseling and psychotherapy are quickly becoming substitutes for God and religion. Caveat emptor!
Let’s take a closer look at the Wong study on masculinity vis-à-vis mental health. This statistically overwrought study appears of great import at first glance, but, in fact, offers little more than a precious few highly circumscribed and rather obvious findings of interest. In spite of the elaborate meta-analyses, factor analyses and simple correlation, the study boils down to relationships between the fairly new and marginally validated “Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-94” on the predictor side and a host of obscure mental health measures on the outcome side.
The study is premised on the assumption that many masculine traits are simply bad for one’s health and well-being. It is simply not good for you be the way guys have been since the dawn of time. The goal here is to show that a masculine trait like “being a playboy” will correlate positively with a “negative” outcome like depression or anxiety. That is, when “playboy” scores are high, then depression scores will be high as well.
Major problems in the Wong study are the reliabilities and validities of the predictor and outcome measures used. Reliability refers to test stability over time. You do not want a test that gives you one result today and a different one tomorrow. Validity is much more complex and problematic – “What exactly does this test measure?” It may take years of research, thousands of research subjects and millions of dollars to validate a really good psychological test like the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
The Wong measures seem adequate in reliability – as most tests are – but validity of the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory-94 and the outcome measures leave considerable room for doubt. The authors themselves waffle on this, and they end their report with a very long section on “limitations of the study.” They realize that more specificity is needed in defining masculinity, that masculinity may have both positive and negative effects, and that all results are correlational and thus no cause-effect relations can be discerned.
They recognize an even more serious problem – that of “social desirability.” Let’s look first at a few of the “masculinity” items from the inventory used. The various items fall into a number of general categories, including emotional control, winning, playboy types, violence, self-reliance, risk-taking, power over women and disdain for homosexuals. None of these categories are culturally neutral, and some – like violence, power over women and disdain for homosexuals – have an obviously negative valence. Thus, when did the male subjects give an honest response, and when was it the socially “correct” response?
The social desirability issue loomed large in the recent election and contributed to the embarrassing predictions of a Clinton win by the political pundits and media. When polled, many people who planned to vote for Trump responded “Hillary” because that was the socially desirable answer. Given that so many items in Wong’s “masculinity” inventory are clearly culturally negative and non-PC, the social desirability effect places a dark cloud over his already modest findings.
When the fire and brimstone are cleared from this statistical extravaganza, what exactly did Wong and colleagues find? Merely that masculine guys have no desire for seeking help in the form of counseling and that self-reliance, being a promiscuous playboy and power over women are not “healthy” relative to (I think) rather questionable measures of health and well-being. I guess this is what qualifies as path-breaking research in the PC world of the college campus.
How in the world can these few questionable findings morph into a deluge of articles about how the evils of “sexism” are finally shown be deleterious to the health of the male perpetuators themselves as well as their female victims? It fits the liberal, progressive and Marxist narrative perfectly and thus apparently helps dull Hillary’s agonizing loss a bit.
Note that most of the “masculine norms” in the Wong study (emotional control, desire to win, self-reliance, violence when needed, risk-taking and low help-seeking) are the defining features of the warrior complex and closely mirror the personality characteristics of warrior king Donald Trump!
The last thing the American left wants is a large warrior contingent on the political right to stand in the way of their hordes of feminized troops in the media, courts and academia. And they are not above using counseling and psychotherapy research and practice to further the cause.
Finally, note that the database for Wong’s meta-analysis included over 19,453 subjects from 78 projects spanning more than a decade of research. So not only is the Wong study itself weak empirically and conceptually, the entire field of “masculine norms and psychopathology” is of dubious and overwrought significance.