So this is my topic proposal as it stands, sans preliminary bibliography. Unfortunately, I think that JLK is spot on about narrowing the focus even more. I have to keep reminding myself that I should stick well inside the parameters of the assignment. I have a lot of other things to deal with right now, making a huge production of this paper is really just a distraction.
Male Depression and the problem of feeling. Archetypal male social gender constructs are abusive to men and by extension, society as a whole. They create in men a certain inability to adequately recognize and express their feelings, most notably depression. This fosters a psychological environment that makes it difficult to diagnose and treat depression and other mental problems. It also fosters an environment in which men are less capable of adequately expressing their feelings in interpersonal relationships, which can feed back into feelings of depression and isolation.
Does biology dictate archetypal social gender constructs, or are they entirely social constructs by nature? / What is biology's role in said gender constructs?
Do/How do the archetypal male social gender constructs effect the ability of men to recognize and functionally deal with depression and other feelings?
Assuming that there is some biological contribution involved, how much of the problem of men and depression/feelings is biological imperative, as apposed to social imperative? / Can this even be discerned?
Can deconstructing/reconstructing male social gender constructs foster positive changes that will help solve the problems of depression and feeling?
The eighty-eight years since women achieved the right to vote in the United States have seen a great deal of progress in the realm of women's rights and equality. The forty-five years since Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique was published have seen an explosion of women's studies that has led directly to the development of non-archetypal female gender constructs. These periods have also given rise to significant changes in social views of gender in relation to sex, sexuality and sexual orientation. It has opened the doors of acceptance of people who don't fit into archetypal gender or sexual constructs. The overall effect of these movements has been the creation of an environment that is far more equitable to women, transgendered people and non-heterosexuals. Yet for all of this progress, there still persists an underlying social misogyny.
In all of this progress, there has been a distinct lack of progress or focus on a large segment of society: heterosexual men. While heterosexual men have been told that they need to accept the new gender constructs of others, no significant changes have been made to archetypal male gender constructs. Yet the very nature of archetypal male gender constructs are in many ways, fundamentally at odds with the changing face of gender in society.
I have chosen depression and the problem of feeling as a focus for this paper, because I believe that this is the heart of the failure of archetypal male gender constructs. While this topic only tangentially relates to the underlying conflict of archetypal male gender constructs and post-modern society, I believe that it is the most important place to begin a fundamental reworking of hetero male gender constructs. The idea that men are autonomous of their emotions is the very core of the archetypal masculine paradigm. It is also the most abusive aspect of that paradigm, both to society and the men who attempt to exist within that ideal.
The fallacy of emotional autonomy leads men to suppress feelings that are natural and uncontrollable. People cannot help what they feel, they can only control their expression of those feelings or suppress their experience of those feelings. Males are taught at a very early age to bury their experience of feelings and emotions, until they come to no longer recognize any feelings or emotions excepting the very extremes. This often lends itself to an escalation of feelings that persist until they either become extreme enough to be noticed, or they cause a psychotic break. At best, this suppression causes isolation and alienation, an environment in which men have a difficult time honestly expressing their feelings for the loved ones most close to them.
Depression is a particularly solid focus. There is more research to draw conclusions from and there is a solid body of work on depression as a whole, from which to draw comparisons. While it was previously thought that women have a significantly higher incidence of depression than men, research is finding that men experience and express depression differently, not necessarily less frequently.