Mas­culin­ity traits a risk to WA men, says char­ity

The West Australian - - NEWS - An­gela Pow­nall

The head of a WA sui­cide cri­sis cen­tre has backed con­tro­ver­sial new guide­lines that de­nounce tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity as psy­cho­log­i­cally harm­ful, warn­ing that WA men dis­play more of the dam­ag­ing manly traits than men else­where.

The Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, the world’s big­gest pro­fes­sional body for psy­chol­o­gists, has re­leased its first guide­lines for work­ing with men and boys, gen­er­at­ing a back­lash and ac­cu­sa­tions of an at­tack on men in the US.

It comes af­ter Amer­i­can wrestler and ac­tor Dwayne “The Rock” John­son, be­low, hit back at a British news­pa­per, say­ing it falsely quoted him as slam­ming a so-called “snowflake cul­ture” and “PC soft­ies”.

The APA guide­lines de­fined tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity as a “par­tic­u­lar con­stel­la­tion of stan­dards that have held sway over large seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing: anti-fem­i­nin­ity, achieve­ment, es­chewal of the ap­pear­ance of weak­ness, and ad­ven­ture, risk and vi­o­lence”.

Life­line WA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Lorna MacGregor said men were three times more likely to die by sui­cide and sig­nif­i­cantly less likely to seek help be­cause of their mas­cu­line traits.

“I would ar­gue that the model of mas­culin­ity is even more pro­nounced in WA and the rea­son why I make that call is that 36 per cent calls to (help line num­ber) 13 11 14 are from men na­tion­ally but only 27 per cent of calls in

WA are from men,” she said. “They are less likely than women to reach out for help and in WA, men are sig­nif­i­cantly less likely to reach out for help. My view is that all of those mod­els, or re­quire­ments, of what is mas­cu­line is even more the case in WA.”

Ms MacGregor said the dif­fi­culty of get­ting men in WA to seek help for is­sues they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing was a “con­tin­ual frus­tra­tion”.

“I think it’s to do with WA’s self-im­age, its iso­lated ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment which does re­quire in­de­pen­dence and rugged in­di­vid­u­al­ism. It’s also to do with em­ploy­ment and a lot of peo­ple em­ployed in the min­ing in­dus­try,” she said.

The APA said re­search showed tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity — marked by sto­icism, com­pet­i­tive­ness, dom­i­nance and ag­gres­sion — was, on the whole, harm­ful.

“Tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity is psy­cho­log­i­cally harm­ful and that so­cial­is­ing boys to sup­press their emo­tions causes dam­age that echoes both in­wardly and out­wardly,” it said.

It linked mas­culin­ity to risky be­hav­iour, such as heavy drink­ing and smok­ing, as well as vi­o­lence, higher sui­cide rates and a shorter life ex­pectancy than women.

The guide­lines, re­leased in Au­gust but pub­li­cised only last week, have caused a strong re­ac­tion in the US from those who ar­gue it sig­ni­fied a war on men.

“We need to find a way of al­low­ing men to be men but al­low­ing them to seek help as well,” Ms MacGregor said.

Life­line 13 11 14

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