The Male Label is associated with an increased risk of harm. This includes higher rates of -
The reasons for this are complex, but one clear issue is the way we as a society condition people who have been given the Male Label (referred to here as 'the Male Labelled').
We expect the Male Labelled to remain -
Some healthcare professionals pathologize the Male Labebelled, perpetuating the myth that-
When Gender Bias is communicated in the form of the above-mentioned myths, the Male Labelled can end up failing to engage with the help they need (for example, if they view healthcare professionals such as therapists as only available for the Female Labelled). Even worse, the Male Labelled might engage with healthcare professionals but still end up without adequate help because of the Gender Bias perpetuated by our society.
One stark example of Gender Bias was demonstrated by research carried out by Sandra and John Condry. They showed one set of participants a recording of a baby in distress, and they labelled the baby 'Male'. This group of participants interpreted the baby's distress as anger and frustration. The Condrys then showed the same recording of the same baby to a different group, labelling the baby 'Female'. This group interpreted the baby's distress as sadness and fear. Consider how differently society responds to perceived anger compared with perceived sadness and fear.
The likelihood of getting adequate help reduces considerably when the Male Label intersects with other aspects of a person's identity. For example, if we consider a person's sexuality, true gender identity or ethnicity, we see that the lack of adequate help is further complicated by incidents of
To label someone is a societal convenience, it does not always reflect reality. We need to look beyond a person's labels and see their whole.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
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*Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, American Psychological Association, 2018
****United States Department of Justice, 2011