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Sunday, 20 November 2016

He-Man

So if you didn't hear, yesterday was International Men's Day.
Now whether it should be a thing when men arguably have the other 364 days as well is beside my point.
I am going to use the day to write a post on the issue it raises, "Stop Male Suicide".

Male suicide is a silent killer.

On a country by country basis, men are two times more likely to commit suicide than women.
In the UK and US, the ratio is four to one.

Domestic abuse of men is not often discussed (Survivors and Mankind initiative are doing great work on changing this) and sexual assault on males? You'd still get laughed out of the room. An anonymous friend who confided in me that he was horrifically sexually assaulted by a woman told me that almost every male friend that he shared with said "at least you had sex", or "was she at least hot?"

There is a poisonous nature to the male image, it is a stoic, 'doesn't need help, doesn't look for help' image. Our childhood toys and idols are chiseled supermen who always win the day, fueled by big muscles and charisma.

There was rightly furore over the anatomically ridiculous barbie dolls, and the equally ridiculous body image they were conveying as right.
But equally, have you ever seen He-Man? Hulk Hogan?

Throughout my upbringing, I never really saw a man cry. I thought tears were weak, I thought they made you vulnerable. It was sub-consciously drilled into me throughout my formative years that you didn't talk about emotion with your friends, you didn't talk about sad things. You talked about football and gaming.
Though they are great topics of discussion, I know for a fact that several of my friends from those teenage years (myself included) were going through losses, and through pretty severe emotional trauma. But we never talked about it.

The only time the lid ever came off was when alcohol was discovered, I remember being propped against a kitchen fridge, with a male friend, both of us crying. At the time, I felt infinitely stupid, now, looking back on it, I haven't cried like that for years.

I remember distinctly one more time, (like it's a competition to get the lowest amount) at my grandfather's funeral. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I looked up at my older brother, my role-model, and he was silently sobbing. I cried then. He had, so it felt OK for me.

We build walls.
We all do.

A body image that isn't defined by adverts, that's the dream, right? For both genders. A self-image that isn't defined by the media, that's the dream, right? For both genders.

If you are a man/young man, reading this, know that it's quite OK to talk to friends, and professionals about emotion, about feeling.

Don't let yourself be defined by a male image which thrives on stiff upper lips and overt machismo.

It's quite OK to cry.

It's quite OK to cry.


Samaritans 24 hour support service - 116 123
NHS - 111
Mind – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (9am-6pm on weekdays)


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