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Masculinity, for generations, has formed the very basis of our society. We are taught that boys will be boys and that girls will be girls. With ever changing gender standards there is a disconnect more than ever, the lines between the genders and how they should behave are blurred more than ever, with far right fascists claiming that masculinity is dead and little boys have replaced real men. With harsh stigmas attached to male fragility, it’s no wonder why so many men suffer in silence, this is the same stigma that sees many men take the only option they feel they can, suicide. In 2014, there were 6,581 suicides in the UK with male suicide rates being three times higher than women. With such harrowing projections, the reasons for such high male suicide rates begin to race through my mind.
So why are so many men taking their lives?
Well, it’s very complex but what needs to be completely clear to men who are suffering from mental health problems currently is that it’s ok and normal to ask for help. I think that the problem of male fragility is very complex and one which can’t simply be solved overnight but there I think that deep down the problem lies within ourselves as humans in a modern society we tend to give men these standards to live up to which are often unattainable. We expect men to embrace and practice full macho values of the past despite the fact that times are changing as are gender roles. As people ourselves we also do not help the problem whilst giving men goals to live up to with statements such as ‘Boys don’t cry’ and ‘Man up’. Add stigmas like these with external pressures men face such as holding down a steady job and being expected to provide for any family they may have to the equation and it’s easy to see how some men feel a failure when unable to reach these goals and standards.
So where does that leave the post—modern man?
Post-modern men have paved the way for other men in terms of breaking down the barriers and expectations of masculinity and we have come so far from where we were but, there’s still so much more we can do. We should be respectful of the choices people have taken about the types of men they want to be and encourage them to do well not only academically but also personally. We can also further break down the barriers of masculinity by acknowledging that feminine men do exist and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s all about figuring out where you lie personally in the bigger picture that is our society and looking at what we can do personally to help each other. In all honesty, do what you want, there are no rights and no wrongs within reason, of course, this is our future and we should be embracing and empowering each other. This is our time as a generation to show the rest of the world what we are about, this is our time to shine.
What can I do to help male fragility and the stigmas attached?
Be respectful and understanding of other people’s following and beliefs remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If a friend of someone else you know comes forwards and says that they are feeling low and suffering from mental health issues, be a pair of ears, even just listening can make the biggest difference. Most importantly, don’t criticise or patronise them by telling them to ‘Man Up’ or ‘Get over it’.