Well, it’s been a milestone week for men, hasn’t it? And not in a good way.
First, the influential American Psychological Association (APA) announced that just being a man is to blame for many of the world’s woes.
In a new study, which provides guidelines for members, the APA argues that ‘traditional masculinity’ is responsible for, well, pretty much everything: from violence and higher rates of suicide to drug abuse, risk-taking, a reluctance to seek help for problems, even for the fact that men eat fewer vegetables!
‘Traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful, and [encouraging] boys to suppress their emotions causes damage,’ the study concluded. ‘Traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful.’
Critics claim the Gillette advert an assault on masculinity and portrays men as inherently bad
It’s been described by critics as a ‘declaration of war on men’, and it is hard to disagree.
Next up was the new Gillette advertising campaign — directed by a woman — which, inspired by the #MeToo movement, takes a stand against ‘toxic masculinity’. It, too, is another assault on men, portraying us all as inherently sexist boors. Just imagine if a man had come up with ads that depicted women in such a negative way? Of course, no one would dare.
Gillette may live to regret its new advert. The company is already facing a backlash, with some men saying they will boycott its products.
The APA guidelines, which will inform psychological counselling internationally, may have a more profound and damaging impact.
In my view, they are likely to discourage men from seeking counselling in the first place. Who wants to hear that your problems are all your own fault?
In one scene of the ad, a man speaks over his female colleague and explains what she means
The ad shows one man stopping his friend as he catcalls a woman who is walking by
When it comes to health, there is certainly inequality between men and women. Men have higher rates of suicide and lower life expectancies than women. On average, men die more than three years earlier than women.
If it was the other way around — if women were at a similar disadvantage — I have no doubt it would be used as evidence of widespread misogyny in society and lead to demands for special support for women.
Yet, because it’s men, they are now to be advised that they are architects of their own fate. The APA study is, I believe, politically motivated; it’s not based on an objective scientific approach.
Indeed, the new guidelines state that social forces play an overwhelming role in gender differences, despite the evidence from psychology and neuroscience that many male characteristics are biologically determined.
It is an illustration of how psychology — a predominantly female profession — seems happy to ignore facts when it doesn’t suit a particular ideology.
Gillette may live to regret its new advert (pictured). The company is already facing a backlash, with some men saying they will boycott its products
It is part of a new and alarming trend that ignores — or flatly denies — any biological differences between the sexes, arguing instead that such differences are a ‘social construct’.
Telling a man he should feel bad about his masculinity and the traits it confers is offensive, controlling and sinister. It is yet more evidence of growing misandry — the dislike of or contempt for men.
Who is to say how I, as a man, should or should not behave? And why are we ignoring the great positives of masculinity; courage, leadership, strength and protectiveness. Yet this is precisely what the growing ‘anti-man’ movement wants society to do. All men are bad, so let’s try to control them and dictate how they should and shouldn’t behave.
While I welcome the idea that men shouldn’t feel the need to behave in a certain way or conform to social expectations unless they choose to, this must include the freedom to be masculine.
This is important, and the APA guidelines must be challenged.
The most desperate of my patients — the most lost and hopeless and in need of help — are young men. It is they who are lacking purpose in their lives, who too often turn to drugs and crime, or try to kill themselves.
We are facing a crisis in meeting the needs of this vulnerable group. Preaching the credo of ‘toxic masculinity’ is no help at all.
Forget vitamin shots – just eat an egg!
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the average person with a reasonable diet needs extra B12 (the vitamin is present in fish, poultry, meat, milk and eggs)
Vitamin B12 shots are the new celebrity ‘quick fix’. Madonna, Rita Ora, Tamzin Outhwaite and Denise van Outen are said to swear by them, apparently. Advocates of the jab, which costs about £30 a go, claim it boosts energy levels and helps weight loss and depression.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the average person with a reasonable diet needs extra B12 (the vitamin is present in fish, poultry, meat, milk and eggs) or will benefit in any way from the injections.
The fact that some people claim to feel better after the jab is down to the placebo effect — the well-known psychological phenomenon whereby a person improves after a treatment simply because they have an expectation that it will make them better.
I prefer to follow the advice of one dietitian who pointed out this week that if you are worried about your B12 levels, then there’s a much cheaper and more pleasant way to boost them than forking out for an injection. Just have an egg sandwich or a boiled egg.
Doctors shouldn’t promote assisted death
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is to poll doctors on physician-assisted death.
Currently, the RCP has a ‘neutral position’ that reflects the lack of consensus among doctors on this highly emotive topic. I hope it stays that way.
It is a complex moral and ethical question and I, like many colleagues, feel very torn about it. I have seen lots of people who, despite the best efforts of doctors and nurses, have not had a ‘good death’ and have suffered great pain or distress.
Equally, though, I worry that endorsing physician-assisted death is a step too far.
While we might agree that it could be made available for those with a terminal illness who have a very limited time left, we know from countries where physician-assisted suicide is legal that the majority of those who opt for it do not fall into this group.
Many of those seeking help to die have mental illness or are elderly and frail. I know also that every week a Briton travels to Switzerland to die.
I understand people feel very strongly on both sides of the debate, but I do not believe it is for a body like the RCP to take sides. This is a much wider debate for us all.
IVF needs age limits
It has emerged that some British clinics are helping women have babies well into their 50s because there is no legal age limit or even guidelines on when IVF treatment should be withheld.
Susan Bewley, the Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Women’s Health at King’s College London, is a leading critic. She says that older mothers are at far greater risk of hospitalisation during pregnancy, of giving birth prematurely and of stillbirth — among many other complications, medical and social.
It has emerged that some British clinics are helping women have babies well into their 50s because there is no legal age limit or even guidelines on when IVF treatment (pictured) should be withheld
The astonishing response from one gung-ho IVF doctor was that it would be ‘sexist’ to deny help to older woman because men can father children well into old age.
What rubbish! It’s not sexism, it’s biology. The fact that bringing a child into the world is being viewed as a right rather than a responsibility says it all about a society that puts the wants of the individual above everything.
Nature decrees women should not be mothers after a certain age. Do we really know better?
There is a growing crisis in the NHS, with some of our best and most experienced doctors leaving in droves. A British Medical Association survey has reported that 60 per cent of senior doctors plan to retire before age 60. It’s not that these doctors want to go: the reason they’re quitting is because tax rules hugely penalise doctors once they’ve paid a certain amount into their pension pots.
Yes, I know it’s difficult to have sympathy for well-paid doctors who will receive generous pensions, but HMRC — and NHS bosses — must face up to the fact that we’re losing expertise at a time when we need it most. This exodus must stop or every one of us will suffer.
Dr Max prescribes… The super-duper self-help book
The Rules Of Life, by Richard Templar, is the self-help book to beat all self-help books — and one of my personal favourites.
Its genius lies in its simplicity and its reliance on common sense, but it is also deceptively profound.
Imagine what life would be like if we could all stick to Rule 22: Don’t dwell on the past. Or Rule 62: Be the first to say sorry.
My favourite is Rule 60: Be nice. Corny I know — but what a difference it makes when we follow it.