• unenlightened
    3.5k
    This topic could be in philosophies of politics, mind, science, ethics, epistemology... It follows on from my previous thread, and it's liable to be controversial, so I hope the mods are awake. The identity I want to focus on is gender, and in order to slow you down a bit I'm going to ask you to read some stuff before you fulminate, viz:

    APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men

    Twelve Scholars Respond to the APA’s Guidance for Treating Men and Boys

    These are the two sides of the war, and if you want to follow up any of the links on either side, feel free. But before you join battle on either side, maybe consider the possibility of neutrality.

    But It looks like even the attempt at gender neutrality is politically one-sided. And that is where I want to begin to look. Sweden has been conducting this one-sided political/educational experiment for long enough that there are human cultural results:

    In Trodje, the first wave of preschoolers to attend gender-neutral preschools are now 20-somethings.

    Elin Gerdin, 26, part of that first wave, is studying to be a teacher. In appearance she is conventionally feminine, her long dark hair coaxed into spirals with a curling iron. This is something she points out — that in appearance she is conventionally feminine. It is the first sign that she views gender as something you could put on or take off, like a raincoat.

    “This is a choice I have made because this is me,” she said of her appearance. “And this is me because I am a product of society.”

    There are moments when her early education comes back to her in flashes.

    Ms. Gerdin’s friends have begun to have babies, and they post pictures of them on Facebook, swathed in blue or pink, in society’s first act of sorting. Ms. Gerdin gets upset when this happens. She feels sorry for the children. She makes it a point to seek her friends out and tell them, earnestly, that they are making a mistake. This feels to her like a responsibility.

    Perhaps you have evidence to the contrary, but it does not seem to me from what I have read so far, that this sort of gender neutrality in education has resulted in much trauma or confusion about gender identity. Whereas, the politicised gender war taking place in America does seem more poisonous. To be specific, I would suggest that the conflict exemplified in the links above puts pressure onto children to conform to or else to rebel against gender stereotypes that may result in an increase in identification as transgender and so on.

    So here is a hypothesis to consider philosophically:

    To the extent that gender differences are biologically rather than culturally conditioned, gender neutrality in education and wider society will have no effect on personality or identity. To the extent that such differences are culturally conditioned, they are distorting constraints on human freedom, barriers to equality, and potential causes of psychological conflict and trauma.
  • Echarmion
    322
    To the extent that gender differences are biologically rather than culturally conditioned, gender neutrality in education and wider society will have no effect on personality or identity. To the extent that such differences are culturally conditioned, they are distorting constraints on human freedom, barriers to equality, and potential causes of psychological conflict and trauma.unenlightened

    This of course assumes that gender neutrality policies are executed in such a manner as to not turn into distorting constraints themselves. The argument, as far as I understand it, of the "conservative" faction is that gender "neutrality" is biased against traditional gender roles, aiming to suppress them. In a gender neutral environment, there might be peer pressure not to overtly display attributes traditionally expressed with your biological sex.
  • MindForged
    763
    This of course assumes that gender neutrality policies are executed in such a manner as to not turn into distorting constraints themselves. The argument, as far as I understand it, of the "conservative" faction is that gender "neutrality" is biased against traditional gender roles, aiming to suppress them. In a gender neutral environment, there might be peer pressure not to overtly display attributes traditionally expressed with your biological sex.Echarmion

    The problem is there's just no reason to think so. U.S. conservatism in particular has a long history of endlessly saying that any attempt to change things at all is an "attack" on their traditionalist ways. It has the merit of being trivially true in the sense that if by "attack" or bias one means "not staying the same" then sure, it's an "attack. At the same time, it seems to be besides the point. As another example of this behavior, this was and is exactly the claim made against allowing homosexual marriages, that it represents an attack on the traditional concept of marriage, interracial marriage, women in the workplace, and so on.

    From OP's Sweden example it certainly doesn't appear that there are any issues regarding peer pressure against overt displays of gender expression (whatever exactly 'overt' means in this context). I'm not saying you're agreeing with the conservative view on this, but I confess I find it very irritating to see an identical argument made for repressive views repackaged for every perceived sleight and then having to give any real consideration to the people making the argument. It's a boy who cried wolf situation. Eventually, at least when made by the group in question, it can't be taken to seriously on their word alone. An actual analysis of potential issues in practice would need to be done.
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    Whereas, the politicised gender war taking place in America does seem more poisonous.unenlightened

    Americans, don't you know, wish to be left alone to their own devices, permitted to do whatever they want? The offensiveness of seeing a boy clothed in pink is dwarfed by the offensiveness that the schools, the government, or any APA "expert" knows better how to raise my kids and thinks he or she has the right to weigh in on it.

    My assumption, and it seems to bear out in the Swedish example, is that modern society doesn't require regimented male/female roles so much anymore, and it's entirely possible to live happily ever after never being exposed to them. Whether there is an innate inclination for boys to rough house and girls to play house, maybe, but it's doubtful that not catering to those innate drives will amount to much harm. It's also doubtful that raising boys like traditional boys and girls like traditional girls is going to do much harm either, assuming there is no abusiveness or humiliation in the process.

    This strikes me as a government intrusion issue more than an issue of conservatives trying to demand how their neighbors raise their children.
  • tim wood
    2.2k
    Fulminate indeed! Fulminate, fulminate, fulminate.......
    gender neutralityunenlightened
    In my opinion, no such thing. Nature favors, i.e., is not neutral (except within some pretty abstract considerations of nature). He's bigger, I'm smarter, She's prettier, They're stronger. We're quicker. Thicker skin, sharper claws. More formidable for now. More flexible for later.
    Neutrality then, isn't natural, and to achieve it requires the unnatural. And never yet has the unnatural got away with pretending to be natural.

    And before letting any psychologist tell us what should or could be, or especially to act on such statements, let them first exhibit their successes in telling us simply what is.

    It seems to me we all work through the illusion of similarity - we're all the same, brothers and sisters. We get to difference, eventually. Some of which differences we suppress, some celebrate. Live long enough and recognize uniqueness and celebrate being.

    Can a boy or girl learn about uniqueness? I think they can, but I think it requires a big backyard and trees, or in other words, extensive exposure to the natural
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    It's one thing to respond to the Quillette piece; it's quite another to respond to the APA document--31 pages worth, loaded with statements with which one might argue, or affirm. That includes the bibliography which is worth taking a look at.

    Just for instance, the APA highlights "gender strain". I know a thing or two about that, and can affirm that sexual partner preference and most comfortable gender role can put one in conflict, not just with the dominant society but with one's preferred deviant sexual subculture as well. There also are the gender strains having more to with occupational roles, and competitive performance on the job. And more besides.

    The APA claims there is such a thing as "Masculinity Ideology" which "is a set of descriptive, prescriptive, and proscriptive of cognitions about boys and men" including

    anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence. These have been collectively referred to as traditional masculinity ideology

    Is there such a thing as "Masculinity ideology"? Probably not. Is there a preference among boys and men for masculine behavior (whatever all that might mean), achievement, (at least the appearance of) strength, pleasure in adventure, tolerance of risk, and a certain tolerance for violence (at least in some situations)? Most likely.

    I know what fascist ideology is; I know what capitalist or communist ideology is. They exist. They're been formalized, elucidated at great length. Masculinist ideology? No. There is a much stronger argument for a feminist ideology. Where does the APA stand on feminist ideologues?
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I looked at some of the responses to the APA guidelines and was surprised at how completely they missed the point. They seem to believe that gender-neutrality means discouraging behaviour that gender norms label as Male. They conjure fears of how society will survive if there is nobody to be assertive, or even aggressive, when the situation calls for it.

    Oh deary me, who will defend out poor neutered nation?

    It's hard to comprehend just how badly people that are purportedly intelligent and educated can misunderstand a simple message. So hard that one can't help suspecting that the misunderstanding is, at least in part, deliberate.

    Let's lay out the message that they were unable to discern:

    Society may indeed need some people to be aggressive and others to be nurturing, but there is absolutely no reason why the aggressive ones must be male and the nurturers must be female. So let's raise out children so that it is open to them to be either, or some mixture of the two. Let us discourage only harmful behaviours and encourage any non-harmful behaviours that the child enjoys.

    For all we know, such raising may result in our having more aggressive people than we currently do. Perhaps the world's fiercest army will be that of a country where gender-neutral raising occurs, and will be dominated by women.

    There are more features encompassed by gender norms than just aggression and nurturing, but exactly the same rule applies to those. Perhaps a gender-neutral country will have more female physicists and more straight, male designers.

    But the thing that irks me the most, as well as confirming the poor education or analytical skills of the twelve fulminators, is their misuse of the term Stoic. As an admirer of the Stoic philosophy, I abhor the tendency of philosophical ignoramuses to use the term as if it means emotionless and uncaring (it doesn't), and as if it were specifically associated with being male (it isn't). This is tolerable and understandable in street talk amongst those that have no reason to know better. But it is disgraceful from people that string lists of letters after their name in their byline to apparently demonstrate how educated they are.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    The APA claims there is such a thing as "Masculinity Ideology"Bitter Crank

    They are circumspect, but I can afford to name names. https://jordanbpeterson.com/political-correctness/comment-on-the-apa-guidelines-for-the-treatment-of-boys-and-men/
  • Baden
    7.6k


    Yes, fairly mild liberal stuff from the APA. But that's all it takes for the reactionary hordes, sorry, "scholars" to emerge foaming at the mouth.

    Typical example:

    "Psychologists strive to build and promote gender-sensitive psychological services."

    "It has been suggested that many men do not seek psychological help because services are not in alignment with masculine cultural norms that equate asking for assistance for psychological and emotional concerns with shame and weakness (Addis & Mahalik, 2003). An understanding of gender norms when designing services for boys and men may lead to greater participation among this population (Mahalik et al., 2012)."

    Foam-at-the-mouth-reactionary-scholars:

    "How dare you! You'll turn them into sissies!"

    The offensiveness of seeing a boy clothed in pink is dwarfed by the offensiveness that the schools, the government, or any APA "expert" knows better how to raise my kids and thinks he or she has the right to weigh in on it.Hanover

    These are guidelines for psychologists dealing with kids. And, yes, if someone brings their kid to a psychologist, the presumption is that they want that expert to "weigh in" on things. I'm not seeing the offensiveness here.
  • Echarmion
    322
    The problem is there's just no reason to think so. U.S. conservatism in particular has a long history of endlessly saying that any attempt to change things at all is an "attack" on their traditionalist ways. It has the merit of being trivially true in the sense that if by "attack" or bias one means "not staying the same" then sure, it's an "attack. At the same time, it seems to be besides the point. As another example of this behavior, this was and is exactly the claim made against allowing homosexual marriages, that it represents an attack on the traditional concept of marriage, interracial marriage, women in the workplace, and so on.MindForged

    This seems like a general indictment of conservatism to an extend. I don't disagree with you, but might a conservative not say that keeping things slow to avoid too rapid social changes is the point? One legitimate reason for a conservative position is to wait for more data when the consequences of a change may be far reaching.

    From OP's Sweden example it certainly doesn't appear that there are any issues regarding peer pressure against overt displays of gender expression (whatever exactly 'overt' means in this context). I'm not saying you're agreeing with the conservative view on this, but I confess I find it very irritating to see an identical argument made for repressive views repackaged for every perceived sleight and then having to give any real consideration to the people making the argument. It's a boy who cried wolf situation. Eventually, at least when made by the group in question, it can't be taken to seriously on their word alone. An actual analysis of potential issues in practice would need to be done.MindForged

    Actually analyzing what a "gender neutral" education looks like and pointing out specific problems is certainly the rational approach. One can come up with possible problems, but all of those depend on the practical implementation. It also depends on just how much common problems that are statistically linked to gender/sex are actually linked only to biological sex.
  • Echarmion
    322
    Americans, don't you know, wish to be left alone to their own devices, permitted to do whatever they want? The offensiveness of seeing a boy clothed in pink is dwarfed by the offensiveness that the schools, the government, or any APA "expert" knows better how to raise my kids and thinks he or she has the right to weigh in on it.Hanover

    Americans seem to sometimes exhibit a particular psychosis concerning government involvement, but the APA is not a government agency. So I wonder what the issue is with a group of private citizens providing their view?


    I thought Jordan Peterson ideology was that everything bad in the world is due to postmodernist cultural Marxists (who, according to this piece, sometimes disguise themselves as psychologists).
  • Baden
    7.6k

    Actually makes my satirical "How dare you! You'll turn them into sissies!" look mild.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    Despite training in counseling, despite working as a counselor, despite receiving psychotherapy (some good, some indifferent), I do not have much confidence in the whole enterprise of psychological services. Of course there are good, bad, and indifferent workers in the field, but the main problem with the field is that it focuses on individual problems, often with the explicit aim of helping the client achieve a better fit in society as it is. That's understandable. People experience life as individuals in a social context (which they may or may not like).

    It seems clear, though, that the largest part of mental suffering is the result of social craziness--(Erich Fromm: The Sane Society, 1958). (Sane Society PDF)

    Psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, etc. are in no position to take on a crazy society.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Here's the thread theme tune.

    Along with a word of wisdom from the mother-in-law. 'Even the lowest, foulest tramp looks down on every woman.'

    Aqualung
    Jethro Tull
    Sitting on a park bench
    Eying little girls with bad intent
    Snots running down his nose
    Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey, Aqualung
    Drying in the cold sun
    Watching as the frilly panties run, hey, Aqualung
    Feeling like a dead duck
    Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, oh, Aqualung
    Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
    Taking time, the only way he knows
    Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
    He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
    Feeling alone, the army's up the road
    Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
    Aqualung, my friend, don't you start away uneasy
    You poor old sod, you see it's only me
    Do you still remember
    December's foggy freeze
    When the ice that clings on to your beard
    It was screaming agony
    Hey and you snatch your rattling last breaths
    With deep-sea diver sounds
    And the flowers bloom like
    Madness in the spring
    Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
    Taking time, the only way he knows
    Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
    He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
    Feeling alone, the army's up the road
    Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
    Aqualung my friend don't you start away uneasy
    You poor old sod, you see it's only me
    Aqualung my friend don't you start away uneasy
    You poor old sod, you see it's only me
    Sitting on a park bench
    Eying up little girls with bad intent
    Snots running down his nose
    Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey Aqualung
    Drying in the cold sun
    Watching as the frilly panties run, hey Aqualung
    Feeling like a dead duck
    Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, hey Aqualung
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    These are guidelines for psychologists dealing with kids. And, yes, if someone brings their kid to a psychologist, the presumption is that they want that expert to "weigh in" on things. I'm not seeing the offensiveness here.Baden

    This discussion deals with what policy ought be adopted by a society in raising children, with the OP suggesting gender neutrality is a defensible objective. My objection would be in that policy being enforced on others who haven't asked for direction. Good parenting is as much based upon personal morality and tradition as it is a science, and it would be an intrusion to enforce the opinions of psychologists upon parents if they've not sought out those opinions.
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    Americans seem to sometimes exhibit a particular psychosis concerning government involvement, but the APA is not a government agency. So I wonder what the issue is with a group of private citizens providing their view?Echarmion

    I'm not trying to censor their beliefs, but more so just trying to relegate them to the role of jeering from the sideline. They can say whatever they want, but I don't want them making parenting policy for the masses.

    And no, there's no psychosis in questioning government. Do you need examples of why that is so?
  • frank
    2.4k
    I think it's about mental health.

    Providing an affirmative and caring
    environment where clients can explore
    the intersecting influence of masculinities
    and race, sexual orientation, and class on
    behavior is significant to resolving mental
    health difficulties for sexual and gender
    minorities
    — From the source mentioned in the OP
  • Baden
    7.6k
    They can say whatever they want, but I don't want them making parenting policy for the masses.Hanover

    They're not, they're making policy for psychological practice, i.e. for psychologists, which is what they're supposed to do. Why can't you let them have their cake and you eat yours? Why the defensiveness?
  • Baden
    7.6k
    Good parenting is as much based upon personal morality and tradition as it is a scienceHanover

    Sure, but if I go to a psychologist, I expect science. If I want personal morality and tradition, I'll consult my conscience, or a priest, or a witchdoctor (depending on my tradition).
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    Sure, but if I go to a psychologist I expect science.Baden

    You're liable to be disappointed. However, they are well known for banging on about education, parenting and politics, as well as giving solicited advice to the gullible distressed.
  • Baden
    7.6k


    I expect their bangings on to at least be based on scientific research, which is better than the alternatives on display, and respect their right to bang on each other, and find the vitriol directed at such banging misdirected.
  • Baden
    7.6k
    I also find the level of fear at such stuff as epitomised by the hysterical counter-reaction of Jordan Peterson rather unmanly and suspect said Professor's parents made him wear pink on Sundays or nicknamed him "Jordania" or something.
  • MindForged
    763
    This seems like a general indictment of conservatism to an extend. I don't disagree with you, but might a conservative not say that keeping things slow to avoid too rapid social changes is the point? One legitimate reason for a conservative position is to wait for more data when the consequences of a change may be far reaching.Echarmion

    Perhaps the examples I gave weren't apt then, because the U.S. conservatives were not for introducing gay rights or interracial marriage slowly, they staunchly opposed it completely (the only noteworthy other view was the idea that it should be left to the states... Not hard to know what that actually means though). And in fact, it would sound rather odd for them to have argued the previous examples I gave would be OK if done slowly. Like are gay rights *really* going to have some terrible far reaching negative consequences if given quickly or is that more likely to be fear mongering against the idea itself?


    One can come up with possible problems, but all of those depend on the practical implementation. It also depends on just how much common problems that are statistically linked to gender/sex are actually linked only to biological sex.Echarmion

    Well sure but you mentioned before that the conservative argument is that these gender neutrality policies are biased against traditional gender roles and expression with the intent to or resulting in suppressing them. By itself it's just a claim that falls in line with their general antipathy to social change of any sort beyond the usual, it doesn't have any inherent plausibility and so we need to actually to as dispassionate an analysis as we can, without giving undue credence to their complaints going in.

    Like if their complaints really come down to "But things are/will be different" and we indeed find some small difference in the rate of certain sexes expressing their gender a certain way, that cannot be taken as validating their preconceived notion that they're being oppressed. Unless by "oppressed" we just mean "different". It seems to me that the claim of kids being made to act different is what would have to be borne out.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    I expect their bangings on to at least be based on scientific research,Baden

    You are going to be disappointed again.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    Most of the psychologists I've come across seem well-balanced, thoughtful and to have evidence-based practice methods. Sure one comes across the occasional Jordan Peterson, but most of them seem pretty sane and to provide a helpful service.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I just noticed the following, as an example of how either sloppy or dishonest Jordan Peterson is in his arguments:
    The authors are claiming that men who socialize their boys in a traditional manner destroy their mental health. — Jordan Peterson
    [Italicisation by Peterson. Bolding and underlining by me.]

    If that were the case, the APA document could rightly be interpreted as an attack on men, as Peterson claims it is, because it would be saying that it is either exclusively or predominantly men that inflict psychological damage on their sons by forcing gender roles onto them.

    Yet I cannot see anywhere in the APA document that it says it is men doing this enforcement. It uses the passive voice everywhere I saw, and talks about how it is damaging for a gender role to be forced onto a child. Never does it mention men doing the forcing. The natural inference would be that it is both parents. A more realistic inference might be that, since women still do most of the child-rearing across society on average, most of the gender-role enforcement is being done by women.

    If Peterson cannot get this simple, and utterly crucial, fact right, how can he be taken seriously in anything else he says?
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    I too have known some psychologists who, likewise, seemed like quite decent folk.

    I don't find Jordan Peterson objectionable, but maybe that is a matter of taste (degustibus...) and of course I don't know the guy -- beyond text and video.

    Those trained to the doctorate level seem more reliable than the masters level, or less. "Counseling" can boil down to providing what a good friend provides -- a patient ear, common sense, stuff like that. Not to devalue having a "good friend" whether paid by the hour or not paid at all.

    Psychiatrists, being MDs and having the power and competence to prescribe drugs and admit patients to hospital, are essential for the management of major mental illness, like schizophrenia, bi-polar, severe depression, psychosis, etc.

    I've been in consciousness raising groups and have led group support meetings. Individuals can sometimes gain solid therapy for themselves from the group of untrained participants. Peer-led mental health support groups seem to be helpful for people, even if they are no substitute for psychiatric care.

    One of the problems I see with counselors is that like some other professionals, they are out practicing on their own. They're not part of a group, and they don't have much oversight. "Psychotherapy" is not as well defined as dentistry, for example. (And unsupervised dentists can be bad news, too,)
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    It seems that gender neutrality is about gender discrimination. Does equality preclude differences? I think a good part of equality requires respect of differences, especially those that are natural and unavoidable.

    There are many levels at which men and women differ. We should scan these and judge which are harmful and which are not. We can't simply dump everything under the pretext of equality. It's a tough decision because it's a choice between equality, a rational choice and gender differences, a fact. I'm not saying women should be treated as lesser then men but different, yes, because they are different from men.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    We can't simply dump everything under the pretext of equality.TheMadFool

    Well I think we can dump all ourother preconceptions under the pretext of equality. I think we understand that it is not true - posters are not all equal on this site, but one treats them equally until they individually give us reason to do otherwise.

    I'm not saying women should be treated as lesser then men but different, yes, because they are different from men.TheMadFool

    So how should women be treated differently? On this site too?
  • TheMadFool
    3.1k
    Well I think we can dump all ourother preconceptions under the pretext of equality. I think we understand that it is not true - posters are not all equal on this site, but one treats them equally until they individually give us reason to do otherwise.unenlightened

    I understand. I can't stress how important equality is. I see it as fight against discrimination which is irrational.

    However, there are many factual difference between men and women. Men are physically stronger, for example. Where physical strength is a requirement (like in the army) it would be stupid to say men and women are equal. This isn't discrimination because it isn't irrational.

    On some matters we can achieve parity but in some cases it's simply impossible.
  • unenlightened
    3.5k
    However, there are many factual difference between men and women. Men are physically stronger, for example.TheMadFool

    This is not true. There are many, many women stronger than me, for example. It is exactly the sort of thing that is irrational. Let us suppose you have reason to separate a bunch of people into stronger and weaker halves. Which method would be rational, (a) examine their strength, or (b) examine their genitals?
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