Category Archives: misandry in social work

Graduate Social Work Textbook Only Tells The Women’s Side

 

Have you ever wondered how erroneous and misleading ideas are spread and maintained in our culture? Look no farther than a social work graduate textbook that errs by telling only a part of the truth. For more on the misandry in social work go here meninsocialwork.org

 

20160913_134815There is a popular text used in social work graduate schools titled American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralistic Approach. It is meant to be an introduction to social policy in the US and give students a beginning idea of the state of our social welfare system. The parts I have read seem to be a tool of indoctrination that offers students a very one-sided view of issues.   It pushes a liberal feminist agenda that is presumed to be gospel. Perhaps what it leaves out is more important than what it includes. Let’s look a little closer at that.

Yes, the book hammers away at the popular meme that poverty is the biggest problem facing our culture today with the idea that racism is a major factor in creating poverty.  What does it leave out? The book ignores the issue of fatherlessness even though this issue has been revealed as foundational and at the root of poverty. If you don’t know, the research has shown significant father involvement seems to be a greater factor in many problem areas than poverty or better schools. In other words poor children with significant father involvement do better on numerous factors than wealthier children without dads. Getting fathers back into the home should be our #1 priority but sadly that is not even on the radar in this book. They simply don’t mention it.

The book quotes a nearly 20-year-old research study by Sara McClanahan about single motherhood but completely ignores the 2013 blockbuster paper by the same author that summarized the research on fatherlessness in the 2000’s. The paper astoundingly shows that fatherlessness is the #1 factor in so many of the social problems we face. This book was published in 2014 so this 2013 journal article was available at the time of publication as were the 60+ research studies the paper summarized. The title of the McClanahan article is “The Causal Effects of Father Absence” and reviews the numerous studies that lead one to see the causative nature of fatherlessness. That’s right, CAUSATIVE.

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This is unheard of in social science research that typically relies on strong correlations. This is different. This research says fatherlessness causes the problems. This is huge, especially for social workers whose profession played a strong role in removing fathers from their homes. Starting in the 1960’s welfare payments were dependent on men not being present in the home. Yes, social workers were a party in enforcing that hateful policy. Fast forward to the 21st century when social workers are all too often taking the feminist stance and working in and condoning a biased family court system that favors mothers as caretakers after divorce which decreases the likelihood of father involvement. This is just another way to remove fathers from the home through no fault of their own. Shared parenting is the simple solution if we could only get beyond lawyers, feminists, and social workers who stand in opposition. This book, by ignoring the important role of fatherlessness is neglecting an important side of the story that these graduate students need to hear and discuss. That side of the story is simply omitted.

Perhaps the worst of the one sidedness is in the book’s chapter on discrimination with the portrayal of women as having been oppressed. The book places women in the same boat as blacks and gays. Now wait a minute. Blacks and gays have both faced a great deal of difficulties and hardships due to their skin color or sexual orientation. The book is putting women in the same boat? Um, nowhere near the same. Women have faced discrimination not due to being hated, but more often due to their rigid sex role which saw them as pure and worthy of protection. Traditionally women have been placed on a pedestal, not oppressed.

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Try this on for size: “It’s as American as blacks and apple pie!” That doesn’t seem to work so well does it? Okay, how about “It’s as American as gays and apple pie!” Oooops, again, not so hot. Those two really don’t fit. How bout this “It’s as American as mom and apple pie!” Oh yeah! That is just right. Now tell me, why would a country oppress the ones who are the positive symbols of the country and are held up as beloved cultural icons?

American soldiers in Europe during WWII when asked what they missed were most likely to say mom and apple pie. That is apparently where this saying originated. It’s obvious that moms were beloved and held in very high esteem. When people use the phrase “As American as mom and apple pie” they mean to claim that both mom and apple pie are unassailable and universally beloved and agreed upon. No one would disparage moms and very few would disparage apple pie.

So the question boils down to why would a country oppress the very people it held up as their beloved heroes? Of course, the answer is they wouldn’t.

And it was because women were held in such high esteem that radical feminists were able to make the bogus claims to be “oppressed” and get away with it. No one would question mom. She was trusted and believed. This charade, which I think qualifies as the biggest lie of the 20th century, was not pushed by most women, it was pushed by a radical group of women who shoved on us the exaggerations of women’s oppression.  Of course the worst of this fabrication was the blaming of men as being the ones who intentionally kept women down.

The claims of women being kept out of the workplace, banking, education etc., had some reality to it. Women have faced discrimination in our culture. It’s just not for the reasons the radicals portray. Men had striven for decades to allow women to be at home with the kids and not be sullied by what they considered to be the coarse nature of money, the workplace, or politics. They wanted women to avoid the coarse nature of those things and fulfill their biological imperative of having and loving their own children. The men were willing to sacrifice their own efforts in order to insure that happening. This was not meant as a way to keep women down, or restrict their opportunities. At this time most women liked the idea of having, raising, and loving their children and were grateful that the men took on the burden of providing the income and keeping them safe. I for one would love to have had someone take on the burden of creating income in order for me to stay at home full time with my children. My wife and I both worked part time in the 1980’s and some of the 1990’s to insure that one of us was at home with the kids at all times. We both sacrificed our careers in order to make this happen. I found that time to be the most joy filled and fulfilling time of my life. What a joy to have that uninterrupted time with those I love? It’s not hard to assume that women have traditionally felt the same sorts of joy. How much bitterness and ungratefulness would it take to transform this gift and label it oppression? Then blame men, the very people that had sacrificed to make that happen?

This “oppression” nonsense was thrust on a gullible population that would do anything they could to help women/moms. Imagine for just a second that fathers were to make similar claims. Just imagine men saying “We are oppressed!” Pretty funny eh? Dads were not, and are not in such an unassailable and lofty position as women. Would they be believed? No, they would be laughed at. But our country, like all western countries, jumps to gynocentric attention when women claim they are being tied to the tracks. People respond to help women. Just have a look at what congress has done for women over the last 50 years.

This book sports a 40-page chapter on discrimination. The largest section in the chapter describes discrimination faced by women. It’s almost 11 pages in length. In comparison gays got 4 pages and blacks got 5 pages. Since this book will likely be read by mostly white women I suppose they are playing to their readership.

The section on discrimination faced by women starts off with a sub-section on violence against women. It quotes a number from a research study that 1.5 million American women were victims of domestic violence. Here’s a great example of the book’s one-sidedness. What’s the important other side that they don’t tell you? It’s that the exact same study, the one the book quoted that claimed there were 1.5 million American women were victims of domestic violence, also found that 835,000 men were victims of domestic violence over the same period of time. But they didn’t say a thing about the men who were victims! By only printing the female number and not mentioning the men it leaves the reader thinking that this problem must be confined to women. We have known for decades that this is false, that men are a significant number of the victims of domestic violence but the media, academia, and the water cooler all fail to recognize this fact.

This is typical of this book and specifically this chapter. They are only telling one side of a very complicated story and by doing so leading the reader to false conclusions. This omitting important information and leaving a one sided approach is not new to feminism. The early domestic violence activists did just that. One woman, Ellen Pence, the founder of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, and author of an important early book on domestic violence said the following about her efforts in helping with domestic violence:

In many ways, we turned a blind eye to many women’s use of violence, their drug use and alcoholism, and their often harsh and violent treatment of their own children.

Why would Pence and her cohorts deny women’s violence and men’s victimhood? Why would they turn away from a woman’s violence towards her children? Good question but one likely answer is that getting funding for helpless women being beaten by burly men was much easier than trying to get funding for a crazed female beating her children or knifing her husband as he slept. If you mention men as victims it ruins the argument that men are the problem.  When there is an innocent woman tied to the tracks legislators jump to attention. A man similarly tied? Not so much. People don’t care and the money is not there.

 

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Men are the most frequent victims of violence but our government focuses on only violence against women.

 

 

 

 

 

So we see the same pattern of simply ignoring the violence of women and the victimhood of men. Pence was one of thousands of people using this same technique. This left us with a cultural sense that domestic violence was only strong and abusive men beating innocent and defenseless women. This erroneous idea took form in 1994 when the US passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that focused on women who were victims and men who were perpetrators. If you have the idea in your mind that women are the only victims you now know that you have been hoodwinked and this graduate textbook simply keeps pushing the lies.

Another section discusses abortion and women’s reproductive rights. It talks about a woman’s right to choose and frets over whether she may lose those rights. What it does not discuss is the fact that women do indeed have choice but men have none. If the woman wants an abortion she can decide unilaterally to do so. If she wants the abortion and he does not, he is out of luck. He has no rights, no choice and just has to deal with it. Her body her choice, his child, her choice. Again, the book tells only one side of the story. The woman’s side.

There is a large section about the wage gap. This is stunningly ridiculous. The wage gap has been refuted by science for years. They know that the gap is a function of her choice of jobs and preferring employment that is not hazardous, dangerous or highly strenuous and that she is looking for flexible hours. This tends to lead her to jobs that pay less. Her choice. This is worse than telling one side. Pushing the erroneous idea of a wage gap is making up a narrative that is simply wrong and having been disproven by science repeatedly. I suppose the narrative they are trying to create is more important than the truth. The book fails in telling both sides of the story. This error is a little more excusable since present day politicians continue to mouth this disproven idea in order to be re-elected and appear to be friendly to women.

There is another large section on female genital mutilation. Legislation was passed years ago outlawing all forms of female genital mutilation even those that are based on religious or cultural norms. They are all forbidden and outlawed. Some of the conversations are on women around the world who might face such genital mutilation. The side of the story they fail to tell is that male genital mutilation is the fourth most popular surgical procedure in the United States. Little infant boys are strapped down, against their will and a significant part of their penis is amputated usually just days after they are born often without anesthesia. I have heard nurses say that the little boys scream and keep screaming, sometimes for days. Many

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Figure 2 The new Olympic Circumstraint is even more versatile and functional than the popular model purchased by over 11,000 hospitals throughout the world. The new, more compact Circumstraint, always a fast, easy means of immobilizing newborns for circumcision, (From the Manufacturer)

 

 

uninformed people think this is just a little snip. Not so. The amount of skin amputated equals about the area of a post card once the man’s body matures. Even more people think this procedure is medically helpful. Wrong. The medical profession has sung this song before telling us incorrectly that male circumcision will help prevent, syphilis, epilepsy, spinal paralysis, bedwetting, eye problems, deafness, dumbness, tuberculosis, penile cancer, cervical cancer, and now HIV. The US is one of the few countries left that encourages this barbaric practice. This is a horribly painful procedure that is done to more than a million boys each year in the US and no one seems to know or to care. This book is only worried about one side. The women.  It turns its back on the pain of these little boys.

I hope you are starting to see that both men and women are facing hardship and discrimination due to their sex roles. In fact, in some ways the female hardship seems mild compared to the males. Remember those young men, the soldiers who said they missed mom and apple pie? Nearly a half million of those young men died in WWII and they died due to their sex role that said they were the ones to go and fight. Why? Because they had a penis.

This book is a glaring example of how false narratives are spread and maintained. Do women have troubles? Of course. But I hope you can see now that men also have significant difficulties and these are ignored by professionals that claim to have compassion for all. It is obvious that they don’t and that they are only interested in one side of the story. The definition of bigotry is to only be interested in one group or your own group. I will let you be the judge how that may play out in social work today.

If you are a social work student or social worker, please complain today to your schools and let them know you won’t tolerate only hearing one side of the story. If you don’t, you will simply get the same narrative over and over again.

 

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For more on the misandry in social work go here meninsocialwork.org

 

 

 

Is Social Work Following Its Own Code of Ethics? Part 2

 

 

code-art-1Part One of this article addressed some of the historical aspects of gynocentrism, its necessity in early civilization as a survival mechanism, and how it has become antiquated and restrictive for both sexes as we evolved into modern society.

We examined how men and boys, even after decades of a “sexual revolution,” are still very tightly bound by expectations based on their sex, and indeed how this even extends pervasively into the areas of mental health and social work.

Time after time, as we look first to the NASW Code of Ethics, then examine what is actually happening in real world social work, we see a profession that has all but severed itself from its guiding principles and has done so in order to practice sexual discrimination rather than prevent it.

I cited examples from the areas of domestic violence services, genital mutilation, suicide prevention and other areas where the social work profession has become a wealth of contradictions and an embarrassing lack of ethics that often crosses the lines into civil rights violations.

Sadly, social work schools do little to address any of these things. In fact, as we further this examination we will see that social work schools are actually contributing to the problem rather than helping.

While it is not an excuse for violating the NASW Code of Ethics, it is little wonder that most social workers are unaware of the issues men and boys face, given that all these issues are simply ignored and even suppressed by the social work educational system.

That is not hyperbole and I am about to prove it to you.

What you do see in social work education is a lop-sided (read discriminatory) focus on women and their issues. There is no question that women face hardships. There is also no question that they are not alone in that capacity.

The social work code of ethics rightly states in the preamble that social work is concerned with ALL people and yet our social work educational system is actively and consciously avoiding and ignoring difficulties faced by half the population based on their sex.

Here’s what the Code says:

1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity (c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

So the Code encourages us to understand diversity based on sex and to practice with informed compassion about the same. Let’s take a look at what the schools charged with educating our social workers actually provide.

If you survey the courses of an MSW program you will see courses about working with women, gays, minorities and other special populations but what you are very unlikely to find are courses about working with men. Specialized training is vital for an education that works to enhance the understanding of practitioners and to further the mandates of the NASW Code.

Yet when we acknowledge that men comprise a large portion of social work clients and certainly represent a population in need of those services we must also conclude that they are, as a group, largely marginalized in social work education.

At this point perhaps you can think back to Part One of this series for a moment and recall what I said about gynocentrism; about how human beings have an instinctive fear about and resistance to elevating the needs of men into a prominent position.

Could it be that gynocentrism at least partially explains the exclusion of men, as a group, from social work education?

Are the schools breaking their own code of ethics by focusing on one sex and ignoring the other?

A quick glance at the University of Maryland School of Social Work’s online available coursesshows a course focusing on clinical issues with women, one on clinical issues with adolescents, one for clinical issues with gays, one for clinical issues with African Americans, one for aging, one for immigrants, one for just about everything but none for men. If you search on their web site for the word “women” you get nine results. See below:

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When you search for “men” you get three results, all of which say “men and women.” Can you see how men would feel marginalized by that sort of thing? There is zero interest in teaching about men and their needs while the dominant focus is on women, girls, minorities, and gays. That is not acceptable.

At this point you may be in disagreement. It is common, especially within the social work profession, to operate on the assumption that these specialized courses are a natural response in a world which has always been about prioritizing men (the subtext of that being that men either do not need or do not support).

It should be noted that the assumption that men need no specialized support is directly a part of the gynocentrism we have discussed in this series. It is also a product of misandry. Misandry, even if not hatred of men and boys, is a rationalized neglect of and indifference to their pain and suffering.

It is the same mode of thinking demonstrated by people who scoffed at women’s suffrage or indeed wondered what on earth African Americans were complaining about in the 1950s rural south. And it is in clear and egregious violation of the NASW Code.

Another way to evaluate the degree that men and boys are being ignored in social work education is to have a look at the index of social work textbooks. When you look for “men” in the index you will usually find nothing. When looking at the index of the 2014 edition of American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach, written by two men, Howard Karger and David Stoesz you find no mention of men in the index. However, there is an extensive entry under “women.” The image below shows page 441’s index entry for women. Note there are 17 entries under the heading “women.” Enough said.

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The Code says that Social Workers should seek education about social diversity based on sex but what we see is a focus only on women and girls. Social work schools are predominantly female institutions. It is a sad fact that this majority has created a system that focuses nearly exclusively on themselves and ignores the minority (men).

If this same dynamic were played out with race instead of sex the racism would be obvious and quickly condemned. If the roles were reversed for the sexes it would be equally obvious that there was a problem. And social workers would be deeply invested in correcting the problems.

What we are witnessing here on an institutional, day to day basis, is sexual discrimination in action. The interests and needs of women are put at the forefront while men are marginalized.

Can you see that this focus on women and a lack of interest in the lives of men creates a chilling effect on men? Shouldn’t social work attend to men and women equally? At this point it is clear that it does not. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination? If you are an administrator at a school of Social Work are you willing to stand up for Social Work to be more inclusive?

The social work educational system is failing to teach about the issues that disproportionately affect men and boys. Male suicide, genital mutilation, men as DV victims and a range of other issues are simply treated as though they do not exist.

If it were just an omission of content it might be an easy fix but it goes a number of steps further and literally creates a hostile environment for male students.

The research of Hyde and Deal shows clearly that men in social work schools are reluctant to speak up in class for fear they might be judged as sexist or racist. Casual conversation with these male students will give you a sense of their fears of being judged for their opinions. Here’s a quote from Hyde and Deal:

Many (males) indicated that they were viewed as the “symbol of oppression” and lamented that they were not treated as individuals.

And this:

“It’s like some instructors hate white male students—like we’re the ones responsible for discrimination.” Or, as another student forcefully stated, “I am sick and tired of apologizing for having a penis!”

The male students in the study and likely many more male social work students see their school as promoting an anti-male agenda where males, especially white heterosexual males are blamed for the ills of the world. Is it any wonder that men don’t flock to social work schools?

If it is true that white males get a more negative and disparaging treatment than others it is clear that they are being prejudged based on their sex and race. This, of course, goes against every basic concept in Social Work and leaves us with the inescapable conclusion that Social Work schools that maintain this practice are both racist and sexist.

Being negatively pre-judged by sex and race must create a hostile environment for these males. Here is an quote about the all female focus groups and their harsh judgment of the men:

However, only in the all-female groups were the following caveats added: “It’s about time they experienced being silent” or “They might feel censored, but they still dominate the conversation.” When these views were shared with the mixed-gender and all-male groups (who did not generate these ideas), the female members smiled and said nothing; the male members indicated that such statements “proved” that there was hostility against them.

This seems to simply add to the hostile environment. A good case could be made for institutional bullying. It seems that there are many roadblocks that male social work students face.

All over the news in December of 2009 was a story about 50 women’s organizations who had written a letter requesting President Obama create a White House Council for Women and Girls. Note that it was “Women’s organizations.” Who was the fifth on the list of women’s organizations to sign this letter? The NASW.

Then farther down the signees you find the Council of Social Work Education.

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A government council on women and girls is a noble but incomplete idea. The solution, though, is pretty obvious. A council for men and boys. That council was an effort in which I took a personal interest.

Several years later a group of 35 top scholars, researchers, authors, and clinicians came together to create a similar proposal for a White House Council on Boys and Men. NASW was contacted to possibly support this effort. CEO Angelo McClain wrote back in response to our initial request saying he would check into things. We never heard from him again. I sent several reminders over a period of many months but he simply never responded. Nothing.

What message is NASW sending to men and boys? NASW bends over backwards to portray themselves as a women’s organization in working to help women and girls and willfully disappears when it comes to the needs of boys and men. (If you don’t think we need a White house Council for Men and Boys just have a look at the proposal.)

There is one last devastating piece to this. The prevailing theoretical framework at many social work schools is now feminism. This ideology is surrounded by a deep moat of political correctness that disallows dissent, challenge or questioning in any way.

What are the unquestionable tenets of feminism? Patriarchy and so called “toxic masculinity.” Both blame men for their own ills and the ills of the world, saddling them with a sense of original sin. The imagined culpability for that sin translates to a depravation in services and bigotry in education on every level.

There is little question in the minds of the male social work students (as seen by the above quotes) that they are being held accountable for the problems of the world.  They can clearly see that seeds are planted in the minds of the students that  men are the problem, men are privileged, men are greedy, me are violent, and on and on.

I can’t blame men for avoiding social work school in the least. Their needs are ignored. They are a marginalized minority and they are personally scapegoated by professionals who are supposed to educate them. It would take a brave man to venture into that sort of hateful judgment.

It would be easy (and quite justified) to push more into this very troubling aspect of social work education. There are crippling problems so deep and widespread that the challenge to correct them appears overwhelming. And we see those problems writ large in society as a whole where it concerns the lives of men and boys. Each and every one of those problems has a tangible connection to gynocentrism.

Our war dead are nearly all males. If that were any other group it would not be tolerated but since it is males, many in their teens, the response is silence. They are disposable. Our workplace deaths are 93% males. Child custody after divorce almost always means the virtual removal of one parent, more often the father. Rather than our courts seeking to restructure families through sensible plans of shared parenting, they opt for profitably ugly battles and persecution.

No one suffers more from this than the children of divorce. Fatherless children are clearly and negatively impacted by every psychosocial measure we can make of their lives. Truancy, delinquency, teen pregnancy, drug use, academic failure, violence and mental illness all skyrocket in homes where the father is largely absent.

Rather than point to the discrimination in courts and how it is ultimately damaging children, many, some social workers included, are generally more likely to sloganize the problem in terms of “deadbeat dads” and other shallow and misleading buzzwords.

Adding insult to injury men are forced to pay child support without being a frequent part of their child’s life. Fathers who failed to pay child support in Georgia now comprise 25% of the Georgia prison population.

Many of those men were unemployed and unable to find work so they have essentially been imprisoned for being poor, meaning they are 100% removed from the child’s life and guaranteed to continue their inability to provide.

It is time for me to ask you some more questions. If you are a social worker reading this information do you maintain the position that there is nothing wrong in the profession or the education system that informs and educates its members?

Do you think the social work industry isn’t affected by gynocentrism or misandry? Do you think the apparatus for teaching social work adheres to the ethics it is based on?

With all respect I have to tell you that I hope your answer is different from what I have been hearing for years. My experience is that when I offer this information to people, including fellow social workers, I hear a disturbing amount of comments like “You must hate women,” or “You are a misogynist,” or “You must be lonely/horny”, or “you are just a whining privileged white male” and so many other sexist and insensitive responses. And it is at this point when I understand that they are simply from that small southern town, immersed in a culture that can’t or won’t muster compassion for anyone but themselves.

How about you? Do you think I am a misogynist and a whiner or do you see the need for all of us as social workers to stand up for any group that is facing discrimination and hardship, even if that group is not our own? Are you willing to take a stand? Or are you just willing to operate in bigoted defiance of your ethical imperatives?

That is not meant to personally insult you but it is meant to be very direct about some very obvious problems in the profession. The problem here for me is that I have subscribed to a code of ethics that demands I be open to the needs of all human beings. That code does not allow me to block coursework on women’s issues or issues faced by African Americans or any other identifiable group for that matter.

It also does not allow me to treat men and boys any differently. Not for ideology and not for money.

In fact, by writing this series I am actually following the mandates of NASW. It is with deep sadness I note that NASW and most of its members appears to be doing the opposite. We have become, as an industry, more like the pathology and less like the cure.

It is time for that to change.

 

References

Hyde, C. A., and K. H. Deal. “Does Gender Matter? Male and Female Participation in Social Work Classrooms.” Affilia 18.2 (2003): 192-209. Web.

disposability – http://menaregood.com/wordpress/mice-men-and-disposability/

domestic violence – http://menaregood.com/wordpress/maryland-report-domestic-violence-and-male-victims/

longevity data http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_07.pdf

univ of md curriculum http://issuu.com/umssw/docs/2014_msw_catalog?e=8856154/8719217

education http://whitehouseboysmen.org/blog/the-proposal/the-education-of-our-sons

selective service https://www.sss.gov/FSbenefits.htm

An Open Letter to Social Workers – Part One

Is Social Work Following its Own Code of Ethics?

code-image2The NASW Social Work Code of Ethics is a very helpful but demanding document. It asks us to live a cognizant life both at work and at home. If we take this document seriously, and we certainly must, it demands that we are prepared to confront things not in concert with the Code.

Unfortunately there is a massive failure by the entire social work industry to adhere to that code going on right now.

If you will, think about a southern, rural town in the early 1950’s. Imagine you are there to give a workshop to the townspeople on racism. Can you guess their reaction to your words about racial equality? Their daily habits and way of life is based on something far from what you are describing to them. What do you think they would say and do? My guess is they might politely listen but after leaving conclude that you were some sort of nut — a “n***** lover” or even more likely an interloper who hates them and their way of life.

In some ways I feel like that person right now. There is a form of discrimination that is clearly present, potently hurtful and yet most of those around me are hostile to hearing about it. They just don’t and won’t see it. If you call attention to it, if you point to the elephant in the room, they become hostile.

Who is the group that faces discrimination that no one sees? It is men and boys. And the treatment of them in the arena of social work has taken a very, very disturbing detour from the NASW Code of Ethics for quite some time now.

Where it concerns the interrelationship between men and women our early survival mandated cooperative gender roles. Men would provide, protect and risk in order to ensure the safety of women and children. Women provided the essential immediate care of children.

This arrangement is what we have come to know as gynocentric in that the roles taken on by men and women hinged on the fact that women and children had to be protected at all costs. While both roles are or were vital in the overall picture, life and limb sacrifices, the role of protector and provider fell on the shoulders of the male. In short, the male is replaceable. The women are not, because men can’t have children.

This arrangement worked spectacularly for a long time. However, human advancement, through the cooperative efforts of men and women, resulted in a world where gender roles are generally not essential for human survival. We have far fewer concerns over our immediate safety than we did on the African Savanna and technology has made many professions accessible to both men and women. Accordingly, women’s roles have evolved and expanded, affording them the opportunity to make more conscious choices, and to experience more freedom than strict gender roles could have ever afforded.

Men, however, have lagged behind in this area and that is where we start to encounter some of the problems that they face today. To more fully understand this, we must take a look at cultural development through the gynocentric lens.

Even before the industrial revolution, while the male role was functional and successful without question, it was one of significant, unrecognized and unseen sacrifice. Of course that made sense. Were humans to practice the same protection and compassion for men as they did for women, it would have destroyed us. In an environment of hardship we could not afford to busy ourselves with men’s suffering and pain. That unrecognized burden was what kept us alive.

Men’s roles threw them into positions where people just didn’t know if they would ever return home at any point. Whether in the Paleolithic realm of hunting and tribal conflict, or more modern warfare, the certainty of any man’s survival was never assured. When there is constant uncertainty about a person’s fate we tend to detach for our own psychological benefit. We see them as more disposable and basically live in a state of preparedness for their possible demise.

cher

Let’s take an example. Those who are designated to die in war are treated like heroes if they accomplish the miraculous and survive. That “heroism” is offered to young men as a standard of manhood in order to have them fulfill the expectation of sacrifice when needed. When something or someone is seen as disposable we generally ignore their pain and hardship. Indeed, most antiwar sentiment in America is based on the fact that we are killing, not because we are dying. That is expected of the disposable sex.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I worked as a psychotherapist with many traumatized men and women, it was clear that society’s focus was to help women suffering from emotional trauma. Matters became a lot more fuzzy where it concerned men’s pain. I found out very quickly that a man’s emotional pain was taboo. No one wants to hear it, people want to run away.

Honestly and compassionately addressing men’s pain usually triggers an instinctive fear that in doing so those men will no longer be available to provide and protect. They become, at least in our unconscious minds, a liability that we cannot afford.

It took me some time to understand that this fear created an empathy gap that is still rampant in the field. Even in what is supposed to be an enlightened field of work, we are operating on some level as though compassion for men will bring us to ruin. This detachment, indifference to and even hostility toward men’s pain and hardship will be made quite visible to you in the remainder of this article.

You will also see how and why social work currently operates as a professional culture in violation of the NASW Code.

We will demonstrate these issues one by one by first quoting from the code and then documenting how it is systematically violated. Let’s start with discrimination by laws.

Here’s what the code says:

  1. 4. SOCIAL WORKERS’ ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS PROFESSIONALS 4.02 Discrimination Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

That is very unambiguous language. It paints a clear, ethical path that social workers must follow when performing professional duties. Failing to follow those edicts is not just an ethical violation, it is an act of moral turpitude and an abuse of individuals entrusted to their care.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Domestic Violence

We know now that men are a significant portion of the victims of domestic violence. The latest CDC research confirms this and in fact states that in the past 12 months men were 53% of the victims of domestic violence. (see image below) Most estimates about the percentage of male victims of domestic violence seem to be between 25-50%.  However when you search on domestic violence on the NASW web site the focus is on female victims. Here’s an example and another here.  Not only NASW focuses more on women, the services on a national level for domestic violence are astoundingly built to serve only women. This is overt discrimination.

dv-stats

We know from the research of Denise Hines1 that when males do seek help as victims of domestic violence at these female only services for victims they are not only turned away, they are often told they are the abusers. Many battered men have reached out for help for themselves and their children only to be offered anger management classes because that is all these facilities will offer men.

This is profoundly destructive. It is, if we are to be honest, a second perpetration of abuse, this time at the hands of professionals who are ethically bound to do just the opposite of what they are doing.

Nearly everything related to the amelioration of domestic violence has been built for women. Social workers have said very little about this but the courts have started to acknowledge the discrimination that men face as victims of domestic violence.

In the Woods et. al. vs California2 case in 2008, a Superior Court in Sacramento, ruled that male domestic violence victims had been unconstitutionally denied services. The court held that state laws violated men’s equal protection rights by excluding male victims from state-funded domestic violence services. The court found: “domestic violence is a serious problem for both women and men” and that “men experience significant levels of domestic violence as victims.”

Then, in October 2009, a West Virginia judge3 struck down state rules for regulating domestic violence shelters because they operate “on the premise that only men can be batterers and only women can be victims” and “exclude adult and adolescent males from their statutory right to safety and security free from domestic violence based only on their gender.”

Family violence against men is seen as humorous.
Family violence against men is seen as humorous.

It’s clear that this problem is now widespread in the United States. Yet where is any objection to any of this being raised by social workers who are deeply embedded in the provision of services to the victims of domestic violence?

Consider this. In California and West Virginia they were sued and found culpable for violating anti-discrimination laws. In both states they were found guilty of violating laws that almost exactly replicated their code of ethics.

So if social workers were involved where are the professional sanctions against them? What NASW sanctions were placed on any social workers responsible? What investigations were done? What recommendation offered? Why, despite the fact that there is open and systemic discrimination against men practiced by social workers, is the NASW not taking action?

Does NASW draw the line at adhering to their own ethics where it concerns women and less so with men? It seems a possibility.

In fairness it must be said that social workers are also people. And people, generally speaking, are detached from men’s pain.

Our humanness, however, does not excuse us for doing damage instead of rendering aid. We are educated people who must be expected to operate in accordance with our own professional codes. Just as we are expected to rise above every other area of potential bias we may have toward other groups, we are also beholden to practice the same with men and boys.

If you are a social worker working in the area of domestic violence are you aware of this discrimination? Are you speaking out against it? Remember, being aware and doing nothing is what the code calls “condoning and facilitating.” As social workers we need to stand up for those who are facing discrimination and in this case it is men and boys. If you do see this and say nothing you are a part of the problem. You are living in a small, rural town in the 1950s.

Will you follow the code and stand up for these men who face discrimination?

OB/GYN

Social Workers in hospitals pediatric or OB/GYN units should be aware that there is severe discrimination going on right under their noses, a discrimination that is built right into our laws. Baby girls are protected from having their genitals mutilated by law. No exceptions for cultural or religious differences. No exceptions for anything, as it should be. Penalties for breaking this law are severe. At the same time genital mutilation of baby boys is one of the most popular surgical procedures in America. This is not a minor prick of the skin.

Circumcision on average removes 6,000-10,000 nerve endings of erogenous tissue, nearly as many nerve endings as the entire female clitoris which many estimate to have around 8,000 nerve endings. The adult male equivalent in terms of amount of skin removed is the size of an index card, about 3 x 5 inches.

And there is now an abundance of medical research concluding for the most part that circumcision is actually just a euphemism for genital mutilation. There are deaths associated with this medically unnecessary procedure and now a variety of confirmed and suspected negative side effects.

From the group, Doctors Opposed to Circumcision:

“Memory starts before birth and newborn infants have fully functioning pain pathways. One would expect, therefore, to find psychological effects associated with the painful genital cutting operation [circumcision].” Doctors Opposed to Circumcision

Any loving parent, and for that matter any responsible mental health worker who is working with new parents, should consider the following demonstrated facts and known side effects of neonatal cutting, as follows:

What we find, when considering all the evidence about circumcision is that the only difference between male and female genital mutilation is that one is socially acceptable and one is not. It seems obvious when you consider the longstanding, programmed indifference to the pain of males, which is which and why.

Here are some sources demonstrating the severely negative impact of circumcision on infants, their parents and how those consequences follow the victims through life.

http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201501/circumcision-s-psychological-damage
http://www.circinfo.org/Warren.html

There is an abundance of other research. True enough, there are studies that conclude that circumcision does not produce significant problems for men but as we find in criticisms of those studies, circumcised researchers and circumcised doctors who perform circumcisions both have emotional and financial investment in the procedure.

What is most damning in my mind though is that social workers in the OB-GYN and neonatal fields may not deliver information to parents that might make them reconsider whether circumcision was healthy for their child.

This failure to educate and inform their clients, or indeed to inform themselves of the research is a clear violation of NASW ethical codes.

Part of what drives this is that male genital mutilation is a profitable venture. Aside from the money made doing the procedure the foreskins can be sold for around $400 each depending on how they are used.

Some are used for research while some are turned into very expensive women’s facial cream advertised on Oprah. We are now aware that these circumcisions, the majority of which are conducted without anesthesia, are causing psychological problems and physical problems for the boys and men who are unfortunate enough to have been subjected to them.

Alexithymia (a deficit in emotional acumen and experience) and PTSD have both been connected to male infant circumcision and it is doubtless that many more negatives will be found. In fact much of what we know about girls who have faced genital mutilation is also being found true for the millions of little boys and the men they become.

Social workers are rightly very concerned about female genital mutilation but are failing roundly to address this concern on behalf of boys. If you are a social worker are you following the code and speaking out against the mutilation of children for profit, or are you turning a blind eye to the matter altogether as long as the victims are boys?

And have you considered that if you are working with a family going through childbirth and postnatal care, and you have remained silent about this issue that you can reasonably considered accessory to the abuse?

These are tough questions but as social workers we are not ethically afforded the luxury of failing to answer.

Now let’s move to an area where men and boys face discrimination not from laws but from societal ignorance and lack of compassion.

Here’s what the code says:

6.04 Social and Political Action (a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully.

Places men face discrimination based on ignorance and/or lack of compassion.

Suicide

Did you know that eight out of ten completed suicides are males4? Have you heard that stat tossed around? Have you ever heard a social worker rise up to say that we are ignoring the glaring problem of male suicide? Probably not. The gynocentrism in modern social work does not permit for men, as a group, to have any of their issues given due prominence. This is true even when men are killing themselves at four to five times the rate of women.

suicide-stats

NASW studied suicide some years ago. The study focused on girls and suicide. I asked at the time why they didn’t study boys since boys were 80% of the victims and Elizabeth Clarke, the NASW Executive Director at the time said the funding requested the study focus on girls. Sadly, this is not uncommon. The focus of the media, researchers and clinicians is on girls and women even though they are a fraction of the victims. As a social worker, do you see this discrimination? Shouldn’t a commensurate amount of research be done based on those who are most victimized? Shouldn’t any conference on suicide have most presentations related to male suicide and what to do about it? Shouldn’t we create services designed for those who are most at risk? We need to stand up for the victims and potential victims of suicide that are being ignored and marginalized. Will you stand up for boys and men? Do you think that ignoring that question puts you in direct violation of your professional responsibilities?
 

Longevity

Men tend to live shorter and sicker lives than women. The fact is that white women have the greatest longevity followed by black females, followed by white males, followed by black males. Both black and white men live shorter lives than both black and white females. Some are thinking that black males are at the bottom since they face the burden of both racism and of being male.

longevity

“‘Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death,” says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”

Nesse’s colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that “over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.” (New Scientist Magazine, July 2002)

Men die earlier and more often than women from nearly every major cause of death except for one, Alzheimer’s. And the reason for that is that they do not live long enough to compete for that honor.

Even with the longevity and poor health experienced by men what we find is that the services available to them are considerably less than what is provided for women. The United States has seven national offices for women’s health but none for men. They have web pages for womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov but none for menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov. Why do we discriminate and treat men and women so differently? As a Social Worker are you speaking out and standing up for the men and boys who are obviously being marginalized? If not, are you violating our code of ethics?

 

Education

The roles in education have been reversed. What was once considered discrimination against women and girls in their 22% deficit in college degrees has now reversed. It is the boys and men who are getting far fewer degrees than the women and girls. The difference? Now we don’t call it discrimination against boys — we call it empowerment of girls. The disadvantage and discrimination of the boys and men is simply ignored and reframed as a positive. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination against boys and men?

education

I hope you are starting to see the profound bias facing men and boys in today’s world, and in the way that that the social work field is not just ignoring, but facilitating that problem.

The hardship and discrimination they face is ignored and worse, they are villainized and blamed for the problems they experience.  Where did Social Workers learn this?  In grad school. Our social work education is clearly anti-male and is in dire need of an overhaul to close the empathy gap, and to restore the social work profession to its own ethical standards. If we are educating and training social workers to violate their own code of ethics then it stands to reason that we are left with a pervasive problem throughout the field. We are left with the disturbing reality that the field is the problem.

Part Two will focus on Social Work Education and its anti-male bias.

References

  1. Douglas, Emily M.; Hines, Denise A.; McCarthy, Sean C.Violence and Victims, Volume 27, Number 6, 2012, pp.871-894(24)

Abstract:

Research since the 1970s has documented that men, in addition to women, sustain intimate partner violence (IPV), although much of that research has been overlooked. A growing body of research is examining the experiences of men who sustain female-to-male IPV, but there is still much to be learned. This exploratory study assesses the experiences of 302 men who have sustained IPV from their female partners and sought help from 1 of 6 resources: domestic violence agencies, hotlines, Internet, mental health professionals, medical providers, or the police. We examine what demographic characteristics and life experiences are associated with where men seek help and how they rate those experiences. We make recommendations for agencies, service providers, and first responders about how to tailor services for this specific population and their families.

  1. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2013/may/15/denying-male-domestic-violence-victims-aid-is-unconstitutional/
  1. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/w-va-court-tosses-rules-governing-domestic-violence-programs

excerpt – “This is just basic unfairness. It’s raw gender bias,” said Harvey D. Peyton, attorney for Men & Women Against Discrimination.

The West Virginia legal challenge is among a growing number of battles being waged across the country by groups that allege state laws requiring gender-neutral programs are skewed by discriminatory rules and regulations that embrace gender biases.

  1. https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

Resources

  1. These three reports were written by the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health and explore the problems of domestic violence, suicide, and men’s health.
  2. Youtube’s with more information on Domestic Violence, men’s issues,

Is Social Work Following Its Own Code of Ethics?

 

 

code-image2The NASW Social Work Code of Ethics is a very helpful but demanding document. It asks us to live a cognizant life both at work and at home. If we take this document seriously, and we certainly must, it demands that we are prepared to confront things not in concert with the Code.

Unfortunately there is a massive failure by the entire social work industry to adhere to that code going on right now.

If you will, think about a southern, rural town in the early 1950’s. Imagine you are there to give a workshop to the townspeople on racism. Can you guess their reaction to your words about racial equality? Their daily habits and way of life is based on something far from what you are describing to them. What do you think they would say and do? My guess is they might politely listen but after leaving conclude that you were some sort of nut — a “n***** lover” or even more likely an interloper who hates them and their way of life.

In some ways I feel like that person right now. There is a form of discrimination that is clearly present, potently hurtful and yet most of those around me are hostile to hearing about it. They just don’t and won’t see it. If you call attention to it, if you point to the elephant in the room, they become hostile.

Who is the group that faces discrimination that no one sees? It is men and boys. And the treatment of them in the arena of social work has taken a very, very disturbing detour from the NASW Code of Ethics for quite some time now.

Where it concerns the interrelationship between men and women our early survival mandated cooperative gender roles. Men would provide, protect and risk in order to ensure the safety of women and children. Women provided the essential immediate care of children.

This arrangement is what we have come to know as gynocentric in that the roles taken on by men and women hinged on fact that women and children had to be protected at all costs. While both roles are or were vital in the overall picture, life and limb sacrifices, the role of protector and provider fell on the shoulders of the male. In short, the male is replaceable. The women are not, because men can’t have children.

This arrangement worked spectacularly for a long time. However, human advancement, through the cooperative efforts of men and women, resulted in a world where gender roles are generally not essential for human survival. We have far fewer concerns over our immediate safety than we did on the African Savanna and technology has made many professions accessible to both men and women. Accordingly, women’s roles have evolved and expanded, affording them the opportunity to make more conscious choices, and to experience more freedom than strict gender roles could have ever afforded.

Men, however, have lagged behind in this area and that is where we start to encounter some of the problems that they face today. To more fully understand this, we must take a look at cultural development through the gynocentric lens.

Even before the industrial revolution, while the male role was functional and successful without question, it was one of significant, unrecognized and unseen sacrifice. Of course that made sense. Were humans to practice the same protection and compassion for men as they did for women, it would have destroyed us. In an environment of hardship we could not afford to busy ourselves with men’s suffering and pain. That unrecognized burden was what kept us alive.

Men’s roles threw them into positions where people just didn’t know if they would ever return home at any point. Whether in the Paleolithic realm of hunting and tribal conflict, or more modern warfare, the certainty of any man’s survival was never assured. When there is constant uncertainty about a person’s fate we tend to detach for our own psychological benefit. We see them as more disposable and basically live in a state of preparedness for their possible demise.

cher

Let’s take an example. Those who are designated to die in war are treated like heroes if they accomplish the miraculous and survive. That “heroism” is offered to young men as a standard of manhood in order to have them fulfill the expectation of sacrifice when needed. When something or someone is seen as disposable we generally ignore their pain and hardship. Indeed, most antiwar sentiment in America is based on the fact that we are killing, not because we are dying. That is expected of the disposable sex.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I worked as a psychotherapist with many traumatized men and women, it was clear that society’s focus was to help women suffering from emotional trauma. Matters became a lot more fuzzy where it concerned men’s pain. I found out very quickly that a man’s emotional pain was taboo. No one wants to hear it, people want to run away.

Honestly and compassionately addressing men’s pain usually triggers an instinctive fear that in doing so those men will no longer be available to provide and protect. They become, at least in our unconscious minds, a liability that we cannot afford.

It took me some time to understand that this fear created an empathy gap that is still rampant in the field. Even in what is supposed to be an enlightened field of work, we are operating on some level as though compassion for men will bring us to ruin. This detachment, indifference to and even hostility toward men’s pain and hardship will be made quite visible to you in the remainder of this article.

You will also see how and why social work currently operates as a professional culture in violation of the NASW Code.

We will demonstrate these issues one by one by first quoting from the code and then documenting how it is systematically violated. Let’s start with discrimination by laws.

Here’s what the code says:

  1. 4. SOCIAL WORKERS’ ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS PROFESSIONALS 4.02 Discrimination Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

That is very unambiguous language. It paints a clear, ethical path that social workers must follow when performing professional duties. Failing to follow those edicts is not just an ethical violation, it is an act of moral turpitude and an abuse of individuals entrusted to their care.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Domestic Violence

 

We know now that men are a significant portion of the victims of domestic violence. The latest CDC research confirms this and in fact states that in the past 12 months men were 53% of the victims of domestic violence. However, the services for domestic violence are astoundingly built to serve only women. This is overt discrimination.

dv-stats

We know from the research of Denise Hines1 that when men seek help as victims of domestic violence at these female only services for victims they are not only turned away, they are often told they are the abusers. Many battered men have reached out for help for themselves and their children only to be offered anger management classes because that is all these facilities will offer men.

This is profoundly destructive. It is, if we are to be honest, a second perpetration of abuse, this time at the hands of professionals who are ethically bound to do just the opposite of what they are doing.

Nearly everything related to the amelioration of domestic violence has been built for women. Social workers have said very little about this but the courts have started to acknowledge the discrimination that men face as victims of domestic violence.

In the Woods et. al. vs California2 case in 2008, a Superior Court in Sacramento, ruled that male domestic violence victims had been unconstitutionally denied services. The court held that state laws violated men’s equal protection rights by excluding male victims from state-funded domestic violence services. The court found: “domestic violence is a serious problem for both women and men” and that “men experience significant levels of domestic violence as victims.”

Then, in October 2009, a West Virginia judge3 struck down state rules for regulating domestic violence shelters because they operate “on the premise that only men can be batterers and only women can be victims” and “exclude adult and adolescent males from their statutory right to safety and security free from domestic violence based only on their gender.”

Family violence against men is seen as humorous.
Family violence against men is seen as humorous.

It’s clear that this problem is now widespread in the United States. Yet where is any objection to any of this being raised by social workers, who are deeply embedded in the provision of services to the victims of domestic violence?

Consider this. In California and West Virginia they were sued and found culpable for violating anti-discrimination laws. In both states they were found guilty of violating laws that almost exactly replicated their code of ethics.

So where are the professional sanctions against them? What NASW sanctions were placed on the people responsible? What investigations were done? Why, despite the fact that there is open and systemic discrimination against men practiced by social workers, is the NASW not cleaning house?

It is because the NASW draws the line at adhering to their own ethics where it concerns men. Where it concerns men, it is the people responsible for enforcing those ethics who are committing the most egregious violations of the same.

Family violence against men is seen as humorous.

In fairness it must be said that social workers are also people. And people, generally speaking, are detached from men’s pain.

Their humanness, however, does not excuse them for doing damage instead of rendering aid. They are educated people who must be expected to operate in accordance with their own professional codes. Just as they are expected to rise above every other area of potential bias they may have toward other groups, they are also beholden to practice the same with men and boys.

If you are a social worker working in the area of domestic violence are you aware of this discrimination? Are you speaking out against it? Remember, being aware and doing nothing is what the code calls “condoning and facilitating.” As social workers we need to stand up for those who are facing discrimination and in this case it is men and boys. If you do see this and say nothing you are a part of the problem. You are living in a small, rural town in the 1950s.

Will you follow the code and stand up for these men who face discrimination?

OB/GYN

Social Workers in hospitals pediatric or OB/GYN units should be aware that there is severe discrimination going on right under their noses, a discrimination that is built right into our laws. Baby girls are protected from having their genitals mutilated by law. No exceptions for cultural or religious differences. No exceptions for anything, as it should be. Penalties for breaking this law are severe. At the same time genital mutilation of baby boys is one of the most popular surgical procedures in America. This is not a minor prick of the skin.

And there is now an abundance of medical research concluding for the most part that circumcision is actually just a euphemism for genital mutilation. There are deaths associated with this medically unnecessary procedure and now a variety of confirmed and suspected negative side effects.

Circumcision on average removes 6,000-10,000 nerve endings of erogenous tissue, nearly as many nerve endings as the entire female clitoris which many estimate to have around 8,000 nerve endings. The adult male equivalent in terms of amount of skin removed is the size of an index card, about 3 x 5 inches.

From the group, Doctors Opposed to Circumcision:

Memory starts before birth and newborn infants have fully functioning pain pathways. One would expect, therefore, to find psychological effects associated with the painful genital cutting operation.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a normal response to an abnormal event. Neonatal genital cutting is an event in which a newborn infant experiences extreme levels of pain, terror, and helplessness, so it fulfills the criteria as a psychogenic for PTSD. Levy (1945) reported that children experience behavior problems, such as night terrors and a fear of nurses and doctors, after surgery, including circumcision. Cansever (1965) tested boys before and after circumcision and reported that the ego seeks safety in total withdrawal. Levy found their symptoms to be similar to combat neurosis, now known as PTSD. Taddio et al. (1997) studied the behavior of babies at first vaccination.

They found that circumcised boys have a much stronger reaction to pain of vaccination than do girls and intact non-circumcised boys, which the authors suggested is an “infant analogue” of PTSD. Other authors also have reported PTSD in circumcised males. Rhinehart (1999) reported four cases of PTSD secondary to neonatal circumcision in middle-aged men that he encountered in his psychiatric practice. Ramos & Boyle (2001) reported PTSD in 70 percent of Filipino boys who experienced ritual circumcision and 51 percent of Filipino boys who experienced medical circumcision.

baby boy
Over 100 baby boys die each year in the United States due to botched circumcisions.

Circumcised males often feel great anxiety regarding their circumcision. This manifests itself in a reluctance to talk about circumcision or an assertion that “I’m circumcised and I’m fine.” van der Kolk (1989) reports some traumatized males also have a compulsion to reenact or repeat the trauma. These feelings emerge as the “adamant father” syndrome. Typically, a circumcised father will irrationally and adamantly insist that a son undergo circumcision, although this is contrary to contemporary medical advice.

Some circumcised doctors also exhibit anxiety by pushing medically unnecessary circumcision on their patients or writing medical journal articles to defend the practice. Such articles are “flawed papers that dismiss the harm and exaggerate alleged benefits.” This has caused the medical literature on the subject of male circumcision to become voluminous and polarized because other doctors write letters and articles to refute the false claims of circumcised doctors.

Circumcision of the newborn usually is performed in the first week of life (the perinatal period), and, as reported above, clearly is traumatic for most boys. Several authors report that perinatal trauma causes self-destructive behavior in adult life.

Circumcision is cyclic trauma. Many males, who were circumcised as infants, grow up to become circumcisers themselves, in an unending repetitive pattern of abuse.

You can read the entire document here with sources.

http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/statement06.html

What we find, when considering all the evidence about circumcision is that the only difference between male and female genital mutilation is that one is socially acceptable and one is not. It seems obvious when you consider the longstanding, programmed indifference to the pain of males, which is which and why.

Here are some more sources demonstrating the severely negative impact of circumcision on infants, their parents and how those consequences follow the victims through life.

http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201501/circumcision-s-psychological-damage

http://www.circinfo.org/Warren.html

There is an abundance of other research. True enough, there are studies that conclude that circumcision does not produce significant problems for men but as we find in criticisms of those studies, circumcised researchers and circumcised doctors who perform circumcisions both have emotional and financial investment in the procedure.

What is most damning in my mind though is that social workers in the OB-GYN and neonatal fields do not generally deliver any information to parents that might make them reconsider whether circumcision was healthy for their child.

This failure to educate and inform their clients, or indeed to inform themselves of the research is a clear violation of NASW ethical codes.

Part of what drives this is that male genital mutilation is a profitable venture. Aside from the money made doing the procedure the foreskins can be sold for around $400 each depending on how they are used.

Some are used for research while some are turned into very expensive women’s facial cream advertised on Oprah. We are now aware that these circumcisions, the majority of which are conducted without anesthesia, are causing psychological problems and physical problems for the boys and men who are unfortunate enough to have been subjected to them.

Alexithymia (a deficit in emotional acumen and experience) and PTSD have both been connected to male infant circumcision and it is doubtless that many more negatives will be found. In fact much of what we know about girls who have faced genital mutilation is also being found true for the millions of little boys and the men they become.

Social workers are rightly very concerned about female genital mutilation but are failing roundly to address this concern on behalf of boys. If you are a social worker are you following the code and speaking out against the mutilation of children for profit, or are you turning a blind eye to the matter altogether as long as the victims are boys?

And have you considered that if you are working with a family going through childbirth and postnatal care, and you have remained silent about this issue that you can reasonably considered accessory to the abuse?

These are tough questions but as social workers we are not ethically afforded the luxury of failing to answer.

Now let’s move to an area where men and boys face discrimination not from laws but from societal ignorance and lack of compassion.

Here’s what the code says:

6.04 Social and Political Action (a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully.

Places men face discrimination based on ignorance and/or lack of compassion.

 

Suicide

Did you know that eight out of ten completed suicides are males4? Have you heard that stat tossed around? Have you ever heard a social worker rise up to say that we are ignoring the glaring problem of male suicide? Probably not. The gynocentrism in modern social work does not permit for men, as a group, to have any of their issues given due prominence. This is true even when men are killing themselves at four to five times the rate of women.

suicide-stats

NASW studied suicide some years ago. The study focused on girls and suicide. I asked at the time why they didn’t study boys since boys were 80% of the victims and they said the funding requested the study focus on girls. Sadly, this is not uncommon. The focus of the media, researchers and clinicians is on girls and women even though they are a fraction of the victims. As a Social Worker, do you see this discrimination? Shouldn’t a commensurate amount of research be done based on those who are most victimized? Shouldn’t any conference on suicide have most presentations related to male suicide and what to do about it? Shouldn’t we create services designed for those who are most at risk? We need to stand up for the victims and potential victims of suicide that are being ignored and marginalized. Will you stand up for boys and men? Do you think that ignoring that question puts you in direct violation of your professional responsibilities?

 

Paternity Leave

We all know about maternity leave for women. It is pretty much a standard. But why wouldn’t paternity leave also be a standard? Why is paid leave only given to the mother and not the father? And why are so many social workers so vocal on the need for men to assume more childcare duties yet remain mute about the very kind of legislation that would allow that to happen?

People are starting to wake up to this discrimination. California, Washington and New Jersey have all passed laws offering “family leave” for all, not just for mothers. What does it say about the social work field that they are not pushing similar initiatives in the other 47 states?

 

Longevity

Men tend to live shorter and sicker lives than women. The fact is that white women have the greatest longevity followed by black females, followed by white males, followed by black males. Both black and white men live shorter lives than both black and white females. Some are thinking that black males are at the bottom since they face the burden of both racism and of being male.

longevity

“‘Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death,” says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”

Nesse’s colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that “over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.” (New Scientist Magazine, July 2002)

Men die earlier and more often than women from nearly every major cause of death except for one, Alzheimer’s. And the reason for that is that they do not live long enough to compete for that honor.

Even with the longevity and poor health experienced by men what we find is that the services available to them are considerably less than what is provided for women. The United States has seven national offices for women’s health but none for men. They have web pages for womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov but none for menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov. Why do we discriminate and treat men and women so differently? As a Social Worker are you speaking out and standing up for the men and boys who are obviously being marginalized? If not, are you violating our code of ethics?

 

Education

The roles in education have been reversed. What was once considered discrimination against women and girls in their 22% deficit in college degrees has now reversed. It is the boys and men who are getting far fewer degrees than the women and girls. The difference? Now we don’t call it discrimination against boys — we call it empowerment of girls. The disadvantage and discrimination of the boys and men is simply ignored and reframed as a positive. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination against boys and men?

education

I hope you are starting to see the profound bias facing men and boys in today’s world, and in the way that that the social work field is not just ignoring, but facilitating that problem.

The hardship and discrimination they face is ignored and worse, they are villainized and blamed for the problems they experience.  Where did Social Workers learn this?  In grad school. Our social work education is clearly anti-male and is in dire need of an overhaul to close the empathy gap, and to restore the social work profession to its own ethical standards. If we are educating and training social workers to violate their own code of ethics then it stands to reason that we are left with a pervasive problem throughout the field. We are left with the disturbing reality that the field is the problem.

Part Two will focus on Social Work Education and its anti-male bias.

 

 

 

 

References

 

  1. Douglas, Emily M.; Hines, Denise A.; McCarthy, Sean C.Violence and Victims, Volume 27, Number 6, 2012, pp.871-894(24)

Abstract:

Research since the 1970s has documented that men, in addition to women, sustain intimate partner violence (IPV), although much of that research has been overlooked. A growing body of research is examining the experiences of men who sustain female-to-male IPV, but there is still much to be learned. This exploratory study assesses the experiences of 302 men who have sustained IPV from their female partners and sought help from 1 of 6 resources: domestic violence agencies, hotlines, Internet, mental health professionals, medical providers, or the police. We examine what demographic characteristics and life experiences are associated with where men seek help and how they rate those experiences. We make recommendations for agencies, service providers, and first responders about how to tailor services for this specific population and their families.

 

  1. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2013/may/15/denying-male-domestic-violence-victims-aid-is-unconstitutional/

 

  1. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/w-va-court-tosses-rules-governing-domestic-violence-programs

excerpt – “This is just basic unfairness. It’s raw gender bias,” said Harvey D. Peyton, attorney for Men & Women Against Discrimination.

The West Virginia legal challenge is among a growing number of battles being waged across the country by groups that allege state laws requiring gender-neutral programs are skewed by discriminatory rules and regulations that embrace gender biases.

  1. https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

 

Resources

 

  1. These three reports were written by the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health and explore the problems of domestic violence, suicide, and men’s health.
  2. Youtube’s with more information on Domestic Violence, men’s issues,

NASW News Ignores the Pain and Hardship of Men and Boys

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NASW is mandated by its own code of ethics to be there for those in need.  Sadly, it seems that those in need are defined as those who fit the narrative of political correctness.  Men and boys don’t fit that narrative and simply need not apply.  I could give you numerous examples but here is a start:

I was reading the NASW News a national monthly publication for NASW and noticed an article on suicide.  I was aware of NASW’s past history of focusing on girls and suicide even though 80% of completed suicides are males.  I read the article and found that there was no mention of men and boys being the vast majority of those completing suicide.  I wrote the author a letter which he was kind enough to print in the May edition.  Here’s the letter to the editor: (bold text was in the original letter but omitted by NASW)

– I just read your article on suicide in the NASW News.  I am both saddened and shocked that there was no mention of the fact that males comprise 80% of those who complete suicide.  80%.  Jut imagine for a minute that some other malady had 80% of the victims be female or black or just about any other demographic.  Under those circumstances the article would have likely featured entire sections on this or that group that face the bulk of the problem. The least they would have done would be to call attention to the group most impacted.  Why not so with men?  Sadly this is not a new problem.  NASW has been ignoring men as victims of suicide for many years having sponsored research on the suicide of women even though women are a fraction of those who actually complete suicide.

The obvious importance of the 80% stat is that men comprise a group that is unlikely to seek help in traditional settings.  If people are very serious about wanting to help with suicide they had better start figuring out what might help men and how to attract men to treatment.  At this point we are failing miserably and that is important for Social Workers to know.  Finland was the world’s first country to take actions to help men and they have had considerable success.  Australia is starting to work in that direction.  The US is a Neanderthal with the media blacking out this important bit of information.

It is an embarrassment to me that NASW maintains such a sexist and misandrist attitude towards men and their difficulties.  NASW was at the forefront of creating a White House Council on Women and Girls but when NASW was approached about supporting a proposed White House Council on Boys and Men they at first said they would look into it, but failed in ever responding, even after being prompted.  Many wonder why there are not more men in Social Work.  It seems clear enough to me.

I wrote a report on men and suicide when I served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health.  If you have any interest you can see the official version here (appendix D): http://dlslibrary.state.md.us/publications/Exec/DHMH/HG13-2407_2010(add).pdf