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In News and Blog

Responding to Professional Misandry

Responding to Professional Misandry
Paul Nathanson
29 July 2021

Clinical psychologist Cameron Gibson is the program director for Manifest Wellness, a new mental-
health clinic in Vancouver. Warren Senkowsky, from the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE),
recently interviewed Gibson about his work.* Much of the interview amounts to a standard promo for
Gibson’s clinic, which is a pioneering outfit in one way: its focus on the mental health of men. Gentle and
soft-spoken, Gibson is an attractive speaker. The video is in keeping with the policies of CAFE, which
offers information not only on the various social services that are actually available to men, as such, but
also on the various psychological, ideological and moral approaches that social scientists and other
academics have used for the study of men.

In a brief introduction, Gibson mentions his surprise that this new focus on the psychology of men did
not provoke the wrath of psychologists at more established institutions, most of which have long focused
almost exclusively on those of women—and sometimes ignored, trivialized or even demonized men by
doing so. He is surprised for good reason but not for the one that he mentions.

Gibson discusses this conflict, perhaps unwittingly, in a particular way that has indeed provoked wrath. It
comes not primarily from women, however, but from men and the women who care about men (including
many members of CAFE). He seems to be appeasing feminist colleagues, or virtue-signaling, implicitly
thanking them for permission to proceed with his clinical emphasis on men. Worse, he suggests that men
cause their own psychological (and all other) problems, thus blaming the victims. Even worse, he tries to
legitimate his work by arguing that happier men will produce a happier society—which is to say, happier
women. If so, then the main reason for helping men at all would be to help women. Worst of all, he
describes the goal of his therapeutic approach as making men more like women, which amounts to
conversion therapy. Gibson invented none of these ideas. On the contrary, they are by now deeply
embedded in the profession as orthodoxy. This is not so much because most psychologists, by far, happen
to be women. It is mainly because many of those women have brought feminist ideology into the
profession and transformed it beyond recognition (which is what they have done to every other
profession).

My topic here, therefore, is not Gibson himself. I’m not cynical enough to believe that his words are
insincere, much less malevolent. We can gain nothing, at any rate, from ad hominem arguments. I refer to
him only as the amiable product of a seriously and dangerously misguided profession. Rather, my topic is
the ideological context of professional psychologists in our time. The ideology du jour is now Wokism,
but that relies on, and includes, Feminism (along with Marxism and Racialism). What follows, therefore,
is an edited version of my response to a very similar problem—actually, the same problem—several years
ago. In 2018, I wrote to the American Psychological Association (APA) about its recent publication of
Guidelines to the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men (2018). (Guidelines to the Psychological
Practice with Girls and Women had already appeared in 2007).

*

Though not a psychologist and not by any means a “traditionally” masculine man—I am, in fact, a gay
man—I find your guidelines with regards to treating male patients so misguided that I must register a

strong complaint. Because so many others have expressed their dismay, I’ll confine myself to a few non-
technical problems that trouble me personally.

Barbara Kay has compared your guidelines for treating female patients with these new ones for treating
male patients. The comparison is very instructive. Both rely on feminist ideology, not scholarship, but
there is one big difference. The former relies on the ideological premise that society (that is, men who
have allegedly created and sustained a “patriarchal” culture in order to privilege themselves at the
expense of women or even in order to oppress women) is responsible for whatever leaves female patients
in need of therapy. The latter relies on the ideological premise that men themselves, not society in general
and certainly not women, are responsible for what leaves male patients in need of therapy.

Taken together, these two guidelines suggest that what is at stake for the APA in these guidelines for
treating men is not ultimately the psychological health of male patients (the “few” who suffer from
collateral damage) but that of female patients. This means that the APA is not merely blaming the victims
but also replacing therapy, let alone scholarship, with a political ideology. One implication is that the
ultimate cure for masculinity is conversion to feminism. That amounts to conversion therapy, as I say, but
it looks to me also like every other form of religious proselytism—that is, something other than the
science in “social science.”

This ideological slant contaminates many, many features of the guidelines for both male and female
patients. How else can you explain references to “masculinity ideology” but not to “femininity ideology”?
Does the APA really assume that women have not, at the very least, colluded historically and cross-
culturally with men in the production of culture and received support for their own needs in return? Does
the APA really assume that feminism itself, in one form or another, is not an ideology? And whether you
call it that or not, how does feminism affect boys and men? I refer here specifically to the pervasive and
relentless shaming that it promotes either directly or indirectly. Evaluating the effect of all this misandry
would be an appropriate topic in the guidelines for treating female patients, because many of them engage
routinely in what I call the “identity harassment” of boys and men. But any guidelines for the treatment of
male patients that fail to acknowledge this problem in the face of massive evidence of increasing
dysfunction among boys and men is therapeutically, morally and intellectually bankrupt.

Young men, in particular, are giving up in and dropping out of a world that apparently has no room for
them specifically as men. They’re dropping out of school, dropping out of society and dropping out of life
itself at much higher rates than those of young women. How could it be otherwise when “society” keeps
telling them that either masculinity or maleness itself (or both) causes every conceivable societal problem
from violence (which is to say, “violence against women”) and domination (a.k.a. “hegemony” or
“privilege”) to “manspreading,” “mansplaining” and who knows what accusation will be invented next?
I’ve written four books, along with my co-author, Katherine Young, on misandry. I still need to explain
over and over again that misandry is the sexist counterpart of misogyny. Both are rampant but only one,
misogyny, is carefully monitored, publicly denounced and harshly punished.

Among the few academics to focus attention on young men at all is Michael Kimmel, and he’s a
sociologist. Unfortunately, he’s also a feminist. His main argument (which the APA has clearly adopted)
is that they feel a sense of “aggrieved entitlement” to privilege. Deprived of unearned status and power as
men, supposedly learned from their alpha-male fathers, they turn against women. This is a spurious and
pernicious theory. It’s true that young men feel a sense of aggrieved entitlement, sure, but to a healthy
collective identity as men, not to “privilege.” A healthy identity is surely something to which every human
being has a right. Young and I have written about this problem—the meaning of “healthy identity” (in the
hope of stimulating research by psychologists) and historical factors since the Neolithic period that have
made it increasingly difficult for men to sustain a healthy identity. To have a healthy identity, personally
or collectively, means being able to make at least one contribution to society that is (a) distinctive, (b)

necessary and (c) publicly valued. The APA should ask how men can now do anything at all that’s
distinctive. But one possibility remains, albeit very tenuously. I suggest that only men can be fathers. If
so, then fathers and mothers have different functions in family life and are therefore not interchangeable
“social constructs” even apart from pregnancy and lactation.

I want to conclude with a note on “traditional” masculinity. The APA has identified that, mistakenly, with
a perversion of it. My father’s masculinity was very traditional but not even remotely “macho” (which
now refers to a grotesque stereotype of masculinity). He was a gentleman. I never heard a vulgar word
from him. I never saw him drunk or violent. He taught me, by both precept and example, the importance
of courtesy. His idea of being a good father was to visit museums with me, attend synagogue and study
groups with me or take me to his class reunions at MIT—not to go hunting, drinking or whoring. He
didn’t understand homosexuality, it’s true, because no one did in those days (certainly not the
psychologists or psychiatrists), but he never threatened to abandon me or withdraw his support for me. He
treated my mother protectively (although he often tried to teach her about money), because that’s what
she and other women of her class expected husbands to do. When she decided to go into business as an
interior decorator, he encouraged her to take courses and set up shop with her friend (although she soon
realized that she had no interest in the business, as it were, of business). In short, he was a good father, a
good husband, a good citizen and a good man. He deserves admiration, not contempt

And he wasn’t alone. I think that my father was the best one in the entire world and in all of human
history, of course, but I do know that he was not some kind of genetic mutant. He was produced largely,
though not entirely, by a cultural tradition. And that tradition was far more widespread than upper-
middle-class Jews were. It was the paradigm, for example, in countless movies from before the 1960s.
Not all men were gentleman; some were cads or worse. But the ideal was indeed a gentleman (until all
hell broke loose during the Sexual Revolution seemed to make earlier ideals for both men and women
obsolete). Even today, though, millions of men become fathers and struggle to do what many, including
some psychologists, now consider superfluous or even oppressive. Even though most men don’t take
Psychology 101 in college, partly because they don’t, they do understand that fathers are not merely
assistant mothers or walking wallets.

Some, in fact, are beginning to realize that their distinctive function in family life becomes increasingly as
children prepare to leave home and enter the larger world. The American Psychological Association owes
every male patient a sincere and unambiguous effort to promote some form of the traditional Western
ideal of manhood, not to heap scorn on it or try to replace it with something that no healthy male, gay or
straight, could ever accept without pay a high cost in self-hatred (a psychological problem that the
association should consider carefully).

*Warren Senkowsky, “Cameron Gibson on Opening a Men's Counselling Practice,” CAFÉ (PoM #4), 7
June 2021; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O3A0jm2jxE&t=0s).