Mascupathy: Giving a New Name to an Old Problem

There has been a lot of talk about domestic violence over the past few weeks. Healthy conversation that came from horrific events. Except, there was a big problem in this dialogue: for a reason unbeknownst to many, blame was put on the victim instead of the abuser.

“Why did she stay?”

“Why did she still marry him?”

“She must be a gold-digger.”

“Well, what did she do to provoke him?”

Questions like these are damaging to domestic abuse victims and survivors because they reinforce the idea that the abuser was right in their actions. These phrases also make it more difficult for the victim to step forward and report the abuse.

The question we should be asking is “Why aren’t we holding the abuser accountable?”

Charlie Donaldson LLP, LPC and Randy Flood, MA, LLP are trying to do so by recognizing that in a term they created called “mascupathy.” They define the term as:

Mascupathy is a mental health disorder, a pathology of masculinity, stemming from a socialized exaggeration of genetic masculine traits — aggression and invulnerability — and a reduction of inherent feminine characteristics — openness and sensitivity.

This isn’t just the case for domestic violence, either. While three in 10 women and one in 10 men will face domestic abuse in their lifetimes, there are more factors that point to mascupathy at work.Think about this statistic:

According to Mother Jones magazine, between 1982 and 2013, 66 of the 67 mass shooters were men.

Yes, men can be victims of violence, but what this information shows is that men are causing these violent acts on a much larger level.

“If women were shooting at the rate of men, we would ask what is going on with women,” said Flood, who started conceptualizing the term, mascupathy, with Donaldson in 2010.

Both Donaldson and Flood have more than two decades worth of experience working and studying the effects of masculinity, specifically in court-related and clinical services.

“We started asking questions,” Flood said. “Why is it mostly men who are getting in trouble with the law? … Are men born brutes and beasts to commit these acts of violence? Is it in their genes, their DNA? kind of that notion that ‘that’s just the way guys are’ or ‘boys will be boys’.”

Once they were cognizant of the issue, they started to notice a trend, that trend being an unwritten “man-pack,” which “is a code of conduct that demands toughness and invulnerability,” according to their book, Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.

“There’s a toxic arrangement we’ve had in gender roles,” Flood said. “Society pummels emotionality out of men and they learn to disrespect [emotions] in themselves, so they disrespect that in women.”

The book, which was published in May this year, goes into detail about mascupathy, its characteristics and how we can help men to recover from it. Flood and Donaldson mention that the effects of mascupathy take hold early on in a man’s life. They can be taught by a father or father figure, told to ‘take it like a man’ as part of parenting or enforced on the schoolyard.

“The names that boys get called are virtually always feminine,” the book reads.  “Sissy, bitch, girl, pussy — and boys learn not only how to avoid feminine behavior, they also incorporate the mascupathic principle that the feminine is inferior, to be disrespected and ridiculed.”

Because society tells men and boys not to show weakness, not to show emotion, the result is externalizing anger, pain, sadness, shame and other negative emotions. While men externalize their emotions, Flood uses self-harm as an example of how society teaches females to internalize their emotions. This, Flood says, is where the connection between men and violent acts begin.

“There wasn’t a real emphasis on treating them as a special population of men,” Flood said. “Kind of like if you were to be running a clinic for eating disorders and that was your specialty and you were seeing a group of women who were anorexic or bulimic. Perhaps, if you’re savvy, you’d ask the question, ‘What is it about female socialization that creates this common problem they struggle with?’”

While Donaldson and Flood have recognized these patterns and given the disorder a name, they also recognize the paradox between giving men the help they need and how mascupathy works against men asking for that help.

“There’s permission in female socialization to ask for help,” Flood said. “There’s not an assault on your womanhood to ask for help. … whereas a guy will say, ‘I’m seeing a therapist because I need help’ and they might get [negative responses] from their peers, who may say, ‘What’s wrong with you? Are you weak?’”

To fight that paradox, Donaldson and Flood work with court-related services and referrals from probation officers to get men the help they need. They also provide workshops and help educate marriage therapists and ministers around the issue of mascupathy.

“It’s not a way of denigrating men, it’s not anti-male. It’s a way to invite society, to invite people into talking about how we can actually raise boys differently so we’re not socializing them into mascupathy.”

“It’s a way in which it gives new language to talk about an old problem,” Flood said.

Reprinted with permission by The Good Men Project. See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/mascupathy-giving-a-new-name-to-an-old-problem-kerj/

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