Today is International Men’s Day. We thought we’d share the core themes IMD 2020 based around issues men are facing:
· Making a positive difference to the wellbeing and lives of men and boys
· Raising awareness and/or funds for charities supporting men and boys’ wellbeing
· Promoting a positive conversation about men, manhood and masculinity
I think it’s safe to say, most of us have heard the term ‘toxic masculinity’, the notion of what it is to be a man; to be brave, strong, to keep your emotions in check, so be self reliant, to be able to seduce multiple women without developing feelings for them, to be the ‘alpha,’ but this is very damaging. Men are far less likely to seek support for mental health issues, domestic abuse and sexual harassment/abuse than females and it’s killing them. Literally, killing them.
Did you know that on average, in the UK, 84 men a week commit suicide?
84 men a week. That’s the equivalent to one man, every two hours, ending his life. And it’s simply not talked about. (http://www.projecteightyfour.com/) I can’t help but read that statistic and think; Are we failing the men in our society?
We can’t continue to reinforce outdated ideas of masculinity and expect a change. Men are often actively discouraged from talking about their feelings, perhaps it’s because it’s seen as more of a feminine thing to do.
But having no outlet for feelings and emotions is causing real harm. What sort of message are we sending about the qualities men ‘should’ have and about their worth? Is it time to blur the lines a bit between what is considered ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’? Or have we so acutely reinforced ‘masculine’ that a blurring could never happen?
As a society, we need to encourage our boys to talk about their feelings, to stop telling them not to cry, to encourage them to show their emotions and reassure them it makes them no less of a person. That may sound a lot, so how about starting with our brothers and sons? Strength should be seen as more than just a physical attribute. After all, it takes great strength to say your struggling, to reach out and ask for help or to leave an unhealthy relationship.
Men are victims of domestic abuse too.
In April 2018, Alex Skeel aged 22, made the headlines. Abused by his partner, it took nine months (and the encouragement of a police officer) before he was able to tell someone, about it. Doctors have said that Alex was ‘hours from death’, when his partner was arrested, leading to the first conviction of a woman for domestic abuse. His ex-partner was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Although Alex is now free from abuse, there are many more in his situation. Men are even less likely than women to report domestic abuse, and for those that do; not all refuges offer spaces for men.
So, who should try to instigate change?
Everyone should, it is everyone’s job to support a change, which enables men to feel like they can share. Worries, fears, problems, hopes and dreams. Free of judgement. We owe it to our sons, brothers, partners and fathers. Because at the moment societal expectations are killing them.
For domestic abuse support, please call Valley House: 02476 266280 (Ask to speak to the domestic abuse team.)
You can also visit: https://www.mankind.org.uk/
For information on prostate cancer please visit: https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer
For support for suicidal thoughts, please go to: http://www.projecteightyfour.com/