Boys Do Cry

Feminism for Men

So today (16/02/2015), I heard it announced on the radio that suicide levels have reached an all new high, increasing 4% from last year. And the largest group of people committing suicide? Men. In fact one quarter of all deaths of males aged between 20 and 34 in England and Wales in 2013 were from suicide.

Now, this seems off topic from my title, (which I’m sure some of you have already groaned at) but let me explain where I’m going with this –

Toxic masculinity.

For those of you who don’t know toxic masculinity is defined as, “the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.”

Personally, I’m a proud raging feminist and I think that women throughout history have had it pretty shitty. Generally, this seems to be accepted as fact even by people who don’t accept the feminist label. And following this logic, one would expect suicide rates to be higher among women, right?

Wrong.

UK suicide rates of men are roughly 3.5 times higher than that of women.

But why?

In an ideal world, where gender equality was a reality, although not eradicated, the suicide rate for men would be greatly reduced falling a lot closer to that of the female rate, because suicides due to gender would be reduced. (Gender related suicides don’t just include those of transgender individuals but simply the everyday pressure of gender stereotypes and pressures).

Out of the two genders men are more often than not viewed as the villainous sex; they’re more likely to be verbally or physically aggressive and sexually abusive. Obviously it’s only a small proportion of men who meet this branding or criteria and it’s an unfortunate label to live with.

As well as being given a bad name, there is an inherent expectation of men to be stronger than women – both physically and emotionally.

This belief undeniably leads to many men bottling up issues or feeling (until it eventually becomes too much).

On the other hand, women are known to talk a lot: always communicating and sharing. This sharing allows us to de-stress and let other people help us with our problems (“a problem shared is a problem halved.”)

ALSO – Sexism means that men are expected to be better than women: have a more demanding job, earn more money and complain less.

A lot of the time when a woman can’t deal with the stress of her job, she’ll go and see a friend, maybe have a bit of a cry and be able to look at the problem with fresh eyes in the morning. But what if a man had an emotional outburst? Well heavens no, that just wouldn’t do! The likely result would be an onslaught of gay and effeminate comments thrown his way.

It seems men are often forced down a route of appearing calm and collected on top, even if under the water they’re paddling like crazy and soon won’t be able to go fast enough.

Now obviously I’m casting some stereotypes and generalisations, but these need to be used to make the point.

The point being: men need feminism.

They need it just as much as women do, who knows, maybe more.

If gender equality was a reality then the pressure on men to outperform women would be erased.

Alongside this, mocking of emotions or feeling would become feeble (crying “like a girl” would no longer be a thing).

Last month I attended a debate about male rights activists, where some friends of mine made the glaring error of naming themselves feminist but saying that they did not support male rights activism, making me cringe internally.

Feminism is about supporting both genders and their rights equally, and to not acknowledge that men too need help, although for different reasons, is simply foolish.

So I guess what I’m asking you to take away from this is that men have it hard too; the figures don’t lie. So let’s try and end toxic masculinity by doing small things. If you see a man in tears, don’t tell him not to cry about it, even jokily, ask him if he wants to talk.

If you see a woman being abusive or violent, don’t let her get away for just because she’s female, call her out on it.

If a guys wearing make up to cover up acne scars or just to make himself look better, tell him that he looks good, not that he’s queer.

Simple things. Remember that an unequal society is unhealthy for all of us, because forgetting that Boys Do Cry, is detrimental.

– Melanie McAllister

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