Shifting Landscapes March 14

Mason County District Library and Abondia Center continue to explore Truth & Politics in the public lecture series Shifting Landscapes on Monday March 14, with Professor Jessica Houser, presenting Whats In an Ideology and What Are the Consequences?: Rethinking Masculinity at 7-8:30 pm at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, and on Zoom. 

Jessica Houser, Professor of Psychology at West Shore Community College, will look at the first-ever guidelines published in 2018 by the American Psychological Association (APA) for psychologists and others working with boys and men.

Photo credit: Mason County Press

During the pandemic, research revealed that working-class men in America, from 25-55 years old have continued to die from suicide and harm from alcohol or drugs, also described as “deaths of despair,” at significantly greater rates than other Americans over the last several decades.

While women are also dying from deaths of despair, men appear to be dying in greater numbers. Research indicates there are many factors leading to the deaths of despair among working class men, including lack of jobs and the resultant low or no income—and the toll this takes on pride and hope. But even when jobs have been available—those in the service sector—men either excluded themselves or were excluded from these jobs as they were deemed not appropriate for men.

On March 14, Jessica Houser will explore changing ideas about what it means to be a man. What is it about ideas of masculinity that prevent men from seeking work or being hired in the service sector? A focal point in looking at masculinity will be the 2018 APA guidelines developed to help boys and men lead healthier and happier lives. Houser will discuss the nature of the guidelines, including how the guidelines alter or strengthen earlier ideas about masculinity and about mental health for boys and men. Importantly, Houser will discuss criticism—both positive and negative—of the guidelines over the past 3 years. She will also note any changes made to the guidelines. House will consider with the audience whether the guidelines might lead men and society to healthier definitions of what it means to be a man.

The final Truth & Politics event will take place March 21 – Communicating Across the Fence—or the Aisle, presented by Brian Harrison, visiting assistant professor of political science, Carleton College. In April, the Shifting Landscapes series focuses on Economics (Apr 4, 11, 18).

This 2021-2022 series is exploring six areas of our lives that have been reshaped during the Covid-19 epidemic and the many events that have occurred in the past 2 years. “Truth and Politics” is the fifth topic in the Shifting Landscapes series.

In asking questions about the nature and purpose of politics, and freedom of expression, the Shifting Landscapes series seeks to address questions on people’s minds. It also hopes the information helps people get more from news sources, as well as professionals and others about social issues and news that matters to them.

Events are free, live or by Zoom. Tickets are not necessary but registration is helpful. To register: To simply join the Zoom presentation, go to The link will be live about 6:45 pm on the day of the presentation. For information check the Mason County District Library website: or contact Thomas Trahey, Mason County District Library at or Brooke Portmann, director of Abondia Center, at

This project has been funded by grants from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Lisa Dains

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