Is Masculinity Killing Our Men?

all photos by Rebecca Claire, libfemblog.com (CANON EOS 700D)  // all rights reserved


I want to start this post off by talking about male suicide rates. They are ridiculously high and suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49.

That means that our brothers, friends, boyfriends and husbands are more likely to take their own life than to be killed in a car accident or by a disease. Do you not think that’s pretty sickening?

I, along with many others, believe that the reason there is such a high suicide rate amongst men (rather than women) is because of gender constructs. When I say gender constructs, I simply mean that the entire concept of gender is a social construct; it isn’t even real. Don’t get me wrong, penises and vaginas aren’t imaginary but the whole idea of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ is utter BS. Gender should define nothing more than what’s in your pants.

This being said, would we even have trans people if these gender constructs weren’t in place? (This is something I definitely want to discuss with a trans person, so drop me an email if you’re trans and want to discuss this view with me for a post – libfemblog@gmail.com)

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I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about how these constructs, historically, have influenced women’s lives, the way we’re portrayed in the media, made assumptions about and treated. As a feminist, as someone who believes in gender equality, I feel that we should all be talking about how gender constructs are affecting men because it’s safe to say that in this day and age, some men are more hindered by it than women.

Some argue that we’re done with feminism, that it’s all been sorted and we’re now living in the best possible day and age for women. I can see where these people are coming from. I would have said the same about racism a few years ago because it affected my daily life so little that it didn’t seem to exist. But then I moved to Leicester and witnessed casual racism and realised that the issue isn’t over, I just hadn’t been exposed to it much. I think misogyny can be a lot like that too; we often don’t see an issue until it affects us or our loved ones directly.

Feminists fought for the right for women to vote, to wear trousers and to do things that men are doing all the time. But I think it’s about time we start fighting to give men the right to live their lives un-judged too.

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21st century men are oppressed by masculinity in a number of ways and although society is becoming less judgemental about things like male grooming, we are living in a time where being a man comes with a huge number of restrictions and responsibilities.

First and foremost, it is much more difficult for men to express their emotions than women. Women are seen as emotional beings whereas men generally aren’t. The ability to let oneself go and simply cry should be a human right but thanks to gender constructs this is something a lot of men feel like they are unable to or simply shouldn’t do. And being able to reveal and release your emotions is healthy is it not?

Men are practically forbidden from doing anything feminine from drinking ‘girly’ cocktails to dressing in pink or listening to typically feminine music. If they exhibit feminine traits they are likely to be shunned or judged or accused of being gay.

It all relates back to the idea that masculinity is strong and femininity is weak and should a man be seen as feminine, he too becomes weak. Look at how differently gay men are treated to straight men; think of the implications a man feels if he’s going to come out to his friends & family.

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If we look at the more serious side of feminism there is a lot of focus on rape culture and one of the things that comes up often is the ignorance towards men being rape victims. Although typically rape is carried out by a man upon a woman, the truth is that men can be raped too, either by other men or by women. But a man being raped by a woman is impossible right? Men always want sex therefore they can’t possibly refuse it.

As a society we also have a bit of a problem with placing our trust in men. We make assumptions about men that would not be made about women in the same position. For example, a male nanny or babysitter might be portrayed or viewed as creepy instead of caring. It really hit home the other day when I was watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix (a truly feminist, refreshing and hilarious tv show) and the episode had broken into one of it’s impromptu musical numbers. This particular number focused (and parodied) how a father’s affection towards his daughter can be seen as weird to others as opposed to a mother’s affection which is perfectly natural.

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As a woman who has dated a fair number of guys, I’ve heard the whole “I trust you I just don’t trust him” complex a thousand times. Boyfriends who trust their girlfriends but don’t trust men around their girlfriends. The reason that men can’t be trusted however relates back to the same ideology of men always wanting sex and always obsessing over it which in some cases is true but it’s not a gender specific trait, some people just like to bone anything that moves. The thing that really sucks is the accusations against male/female friendships. I’ve always had male friends and probably an ratio of male:female friends however as a bisexual woman I have only ever had a guy worry about what I’m doing with a male friend rather than a female one.

Now the argument here for some might be that the suffering of men is so little in comparison to the suffering of women. Or it might be that the privilege of being male outweighs the oppression however I don’t ever think it’s fair to compare one persons suffering to another. Comparing male and female inequalities is the same as comparing the suffering of homeless people in the UK to children born with Aids in Gambia; it just isn’t comparable.

Yes, you can argue that there are more important and detrimental things to concern ourselves than whether men can wear nail polish without being teased however male suicide rates cannot continue to be ignored and we need to help our men fight the patriarchy we all built.

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON GENDER CONSTRUCTS AND MASCULINITY SO PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW


 

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11 Comments

  1. I really loved this post. Having worked with men who have attempted suicide in my time at the hospital one of the main themes that comes out is that they dont talk about there feelings because it is seen as girly. Its sad that we still tell boys that only girls cry. Or that they fight like a girl. I feel quite lucky to be in marriage where we are both in touch with our feelings. Nothing is too manly for me, nothing too girly for him. I hope if we decide to have children we can instill this in them but realistically until soceity changes you can raise your children however you want, it only takes a misinformed comment to unravel what you have put in place.

    Liked by 1 person

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