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The culture of masculinity and its negative impacts on men

The American Psychological Association in 2018 published its first-ever psychological practice guidelines for boys and men. The guidelines look at how concepts of masculinity and the socialization of men may be contributing to higher rates of suicide, depression, health issues and violence in male populations. Christopher Booker reports on efforts to disrupt this culture in some unexpected places.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The subject of masculinity is a topic of conversation these days. It's something you see from the op-ed pages of newspapers to shaving commercials.

  • Voice In Advertisement:

    Bullying.The Me Too movement against sexual harassment. Masculinity

  • Narrator In Advertisement:

    Is this the best a man can get?

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Those who think masculinity is under assault criticized the ad, some even vowed to boycott the company. But others applauded it. There is an effort under way to change the ways of the American male. You can find it on the football field, in the mosh pit, and in the work of the American Psychological Association.

    NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker explains.

  • Music Video Plays:

    Idles – "Colossus"

  • Christopher Booker:

    The rhythm is violent

  • Joe Talbot:

    "They laugh at me when I run. I waste away for fun.

  • Christopher Booker:

    and the pace is menacing.

  • Joe Talbot:

    "I am my father's son, his shadow weighs a ton."

  • Christopher Booker:

    But there is a contradiction running through the songs of the British band Idles. The sound may be hard, but it is driven by compassion….an unrelenting celebration of vulnerability, acceptance and mindfulness….all performed with the intensity of a freight train.

    And tonight the band is playing for a sold out crowd of 500 people in Albany, NY

  • Joe Talbot:

    "1,2. I don't want to be…"

  • Christopher Booker:

    Joe Talbot is the lead singer – and band's principal lyricist.

  • Joe Talbot:

    it's a purposeful– journey we're going on.

  • Christopher Booker:

    what is the– the purpose?

  • Joe Talbot:

    To start a conversation, I think. I think any good art starts conversation. It doesn't end it.

  • Christopher Booker:

    The conversation Idles is looking to start is a complicated one…but at its core, they are asking the audience – particularly the men in the crowd – to reconsider how they treat one another, how they treat women and how they treat themselves.

  • Joe Talbot:

    "If you share your feelings, your load gets lighter and you will have a better outcome."

  • Christopher Booker:

    Throughout their performance Talbot takes aim at what he sees as the traps of masculinity – how boys are taught to be tough and told to swallow their emotions.

  • Joe Talbot:

    Man up.Sit Down. Chin Up. Pipe Down. Socks Up. Don't Cry. Drink Up. Just Lie.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Were these the words you heard as a young kid growing up in England?

  • Joe Talbot:

    Yeah, you know, just pull your socks up, don't cry. All that stuff is completely normal and normalized I was definitely– part of that machismo, part of that– discourse of sucking it up. And you know, being tough.

  • Christopher Booker:

    But Talbot says being taught to suppress his feelings did little to help with what was to come his way.

  • Music Video:

    Idles – "Mother"

  • Joe Talbot:

    My mother worked 15 hours, 5 days a week.

  • Christopher Booker:

    At 16, his mother had a stroke and was paralyzed – and after his step-father died, he became her primary care taker. Despite being taught to be tough, Talbot wasn't prepared him for his mother's death in 2015. Her passing was followed two years later by the stillbirth of his daughter.

  • Joe Talbot:

    After my mum died– before my daughter died, I was just struggling to say all these things that I have never said. I was like, why haven't I ever said them? That's mental.

  • Christopher Booker:

    This is when Talbot decided to start therapy.

  • Joe Talbot:

    And I just crumbled. So I realized I had a lot of learning to do and it was the best thing I have ever done in my life.

  • Christopher Booker:

    And– and so, do you think– do you find your performances and the experience of playing with a band like this, is it a form of catharsis

  • Joe Talbot:

    Yeah, learning how to channel my feelings with behavior and art. Mindfulness. Practicing– (SIGH) self-respect and outward respect and learning how to create a new language within myself where I can live a better life and survive what I was going through.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Research is increasingly showing Talbot is correct …learning to be in touch with one's emotions can change lives …and the way men are traditionally taught to hold them in may be connected to an avalanche of unhealthy outcomes.

    In 2018 the American Psychological Association published – the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.

    The first report of its kind, the collected research found that quote "traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful"

    Written over 13 years, and based on 40 years of compiled research – The report lays out some striking mental and physical health disparites between men and women.

    Men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide.

    And men die from heart disease and cancer — at rates 50% and 80% higher, than women

  • Chris Liang:

    We know that men on average die– five to six years earlier– than do women.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Psychologist Christopher Liang is the Chairperson of Lehigh University's College of Education and was a co-author of the APA guidelines.

  • Christopher Liang:

    When boys are not allowed to express their sadness, their hurts– when they're growing up, they're essentially taught– that they shouldn't have pain. And what that does over time is it creates a condition where boys who are becoming men– stuff their pain. And so the document seeks to help people understand– one potential pathway for how men– come to be at such greater risk for experiencing greater health problems, physical health problems and mental health problems.

  • Ted Bunch:

    We don't have to hide from this, it is okay to ask for help. we don't always have to be stoic and hold it in.

  • Christopher Booker:

    Ted Bunch has given this talk hundreds of times before. To everyone from NFL teams to law enforcement agencies and today he is speaking to Miami University of Ohio's men's football team.

  • Ted Bunch:

    There's a lot of pressure on athletes and they're not expected to ask for help. And they're, you know, you don't wanna do anything that's going to make you look weak in the eyes of– other players, coaches, anything. If take these boundaries off, right, then there's all these doors that open.

  • Christopher Booker:

    A Co-founder of "A Call To Men" – a non-profit "violence prevention organization." Bunch works to train and educate "men and boys to embrace" what he calls "healthy and respectful manhood"

  • Ted Bunch:

    When we experienced sadness hurt and pain and we were that little boy who that wanted to express that, like crying, what were we told? Stop crying, what else? Suck it up, What else? Don't show it. That's right we were told all those things.

  • Christopher Booker:

    But – the emphasis isn't solely on expanding the emotional range of men – it's also focused on how male socialization can be harmful to women.

  • Ted Bunch:

    We're taught– that women and girls have less value than men and boys, right? We give those messages all the time. saying this like, "You throw like a girl,"What does that little boy leave that interaction thinking girls are equal to him or less than him?

  • Ted Bunch:

    When we talk about domestic violence and sexual assult, While most of domestic violence and sexual assault is purpotrated by men, thats true. Most of its done by men, but most men don't do it, but we are silent about those that do and that is much of the problem as the violence is. Does that make sense folks?

  • Christopher Booker:

    Bunch believes the opportunity for change is now.

  • Ted Bunch:

    We're the first generation of men being held accountable for something men have always gotten away with. And we are going to deconstruct manhood, we are going to deconstruct, we are going to lift it up. right, because this is not an indictment on manhood. It's actually an invitation to men.

  • Christopher Booker:

    That seems like a remarkably difficult task to ask– within the context of the American folklore. Thinking about the American west, John Wayne, all these ideas of self-made, self-driven– existence.

  • Christopher Liang:

    Yeah.

  • Christopher Booker:

    It's in our DNA, for lack of a better term.

  • Christopher Liang:

    In our social DNA. What we're wanting– for boys and men is for them to understand that self reliance is good is healthy is important but they don't need to– conform to it so rigidly that they can't ask for help when they need to.

  • Christopher Booker:

    And this is what Idles is bringing to its audience night after night – a celebration of the relief that can come from letting go….. Two days after their show in Albany, the band is in Brooklyn – playing another sold out show – this time for 1800 people.

  • Joe Talbot:

    Fear leads to panic. Panic leads to pain. Pain leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.

  • Joe Talbot:

    We're not saying that you can't be masculine, just allow yourself the room to listen to yourself and breathe and find out who you actually are.

  • Christopher Booker:

    However you define what they are doing, Idles has found an audience. They were nominated as the best British Breakout artist for this year's Brit Awards and in June they played the largest gig of their careers at Glastonbury – England's annual mega festival that hosts over 200,000 people.

  • Joe Talbot:

    The feeling– I– I cannot explain to someone the physicality of alleviating that pain, of just talking about your feelings. It's life-changing. It is.

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