The systemic abuse of men
Did you know that more men than women commit suicide in nearly every single country around the world, except China?
The statistics of male suicide are horrifying and are telling us that men are not just hurting, they are hurting to the point of killing themselves.
We need to stop and really let this sink in . . . and then ask:
What is going on?
Worldwide, there is in fact a hidden, yet systemic, abuse of men happening right under our noses – in our homes, in our schools, in the street – and most of us have not even noticed it due to the abuse being so very subtle and insidious. It may not even be seen as abuse, in fact it is widely accepted as being ‘normal’. But it is time this abuse is exposed for what it really is, and the far reaching and damaging effects of it being experienced by men worldwide.
Why? . . . Because the mental health of men depends on it!
The abuse can be summed up in one word . . . Masculinity.
That’s right, masculinity is the abuse, as it is made up of societal norms of ‘being a man’ that do not equate to the true essence and nature of men.
Again, let’s just stop and let that sink in . . .
Masculinity is the abuse
The way we are forcing men to conform to a set of norms about how a man should be or behave is actually against their true nature. In fact, we are forcing men to bury their true nature and live less than who they truly are, to limit their full human potential.[2, 3, 4]
This is the real abuse . . . the rejection of who men truly are.
Unfortunately, this rejection begins early: as early as newborns when we immediately treat boys differently from girls, simply from our perceptions of what it means to be a boy or a girl. We see baby boys as being stronger, less sensitive and more problematic than girls, even though gender specific behaviours are not present in babies.
In fact, all babies are equally emotional, expressive, dependent, wanting physical affection, and display the same degree of ‘femininity’.[2, 6]
The abuse continues as boys grow up. Around the ages of 3 – 5, boys are encouraged to develop autonomy away from others, establish individualistic coping styles and separate from nurture prematurely, all resulting in the early silencing of boys’ natural expression of themselves as interdependent and vulnerable beings. Boys are shamed into conforming to the code of masculinity through admonitions such as ‘Stand on your own two feet’, ‘Be a man’, ‘Don’t be a mamma’s boy… a sissy… a wimp… or a fag’.
And as boys head towards manhood they do so with much trepidation, as all they see ahead of them is isolation, unhappiness, disappointment, and unrewarding work. All the while, simmering underneath the surface of the invisible and impenetrable wall of toughness, masculine bravado, and pseudo-invulnerability, there is a constant yearning for acceptance and connection.
Boys grow into men, carrying this weight of expectation with them as they go. They ‘man up’ and build more bricks in their invisible wall, and it is all made up and not even needed. They end up sealing a deep pain of rejection behind this wall and may not even be able to describe what they feel – instead reacting to life knowing something is terribly amiss.
This deep-seated pain leads to a wide range of psychological, behavioural, and emotional dysfunctions such as: violence, rape and sexual assault, sexual misconduct and sexual excesses, alcohol and drug abuse, depression and suicide, risk taking, abuse and neglect of personal needs, fathering problems, homelessness, vagrancy, and dropping out.
Overall, masculinity is not working. It was suggested 20 years ago that a redefinition of masculinity is needed. Yet, the answer is simple . . .
Let men be themselves. Let them be the tender, strong, sensitive, caring, loving, sweet, delicate men they naturally are.
So the question that needs to be asked now is . . . are we ready to admit this systemic abuse? Because this is the first step to allowing the stranglehold of masculinity to begin to be released.