Let us start this topic with some statistical facts. Around the world men are in general more likely to commit suicide than women, bar the exceptions to the rule of course. For example in Australia men are 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than women. In the UK men are 3 times more likely to kill themselves than women and in the USA men are 4 times more likely to kill themselves than women.
So we see a startling pattern here, men are having some critical life issues that are barely addressed and i think it is fair to make the statement that although men are not to be perceived as “vulnerable” these statistics show that indeed men are vulnerable when it comes to taking that step to ending it all and as a society we should be doing and saying things to reduce these shocking statistics.
Now let me welcome you to the all too familiar case of the Mythical “Real Man”. Indeed such language has filled my facebook feeds, news articles, twitter sphere, movies, radio and television screens. Surely you have heard it all before right? Where constantly men are being barraged about what exactly entails a “Real Man” and the most interesting thing is the people that are generally telling men how to be “real” men are…women.
Now let me first make a confession, i have never personally confronted a woman for not being a “real woman” nor have i given her a list of demands of mine that she must tick in order to become a “real woman”. Society would scorn us men, rightfully so- if we told women that “Dressing Modestly” & “Having dinner ready by 5” constitutes a real woman. Society does not think it is right or fair for men to step in and tell women how they should behave and what attributes and actions suddenly make them “real”.
Yet when it comes to men we see that the opposite is true. Men are often being told how to act and what to do- based on a fabricated societal framework that somehow thinks it has the right to tell a man what makes him “real”. Those memes that flood my Facebook wall make me sick of men being told “A REAL MAN DOES…[insert thought or action that literally means nothing here]. Then if your man does not meet these demands he must be a useless sissy boy with undescended testicles.
The most frightening aspect of this entire topic is that men are so used to be told how to act and what to do that even men themselves subjegate themselves to the myth. We see men writing books about “real men” and we start to see men accuse other men of not being “real men”. The sad truth is these men are programmed into such thoughts and it only further causes a self depreciation amongst men, this time not only accusing themselves- yet accusing others of falling short.
The fact of the matter is the “REAL” man is a mythological creature– he simply does not exist and he is a figment of societies imagination. Usually the imagination of angry women who wish to confine men virtually into a box in a checklist. In my humble opinion and speaking as a man i can tell you right now that a “REAL” man is a male who does exactly what he wants and lives according to his heart and values- whatever they might be. Anything you try to add or take away from him is simply a disturbance of your own expectations and he is under no compulsion to bow down to them.
Look, i don’t want to start some gender war here. I love women and accept them for who they are. The fact is generally men do not go around- with the backup of society- telling women what makes them real or not. Imagine what it must feel like for a depressed middle aged man with minimal income, low self esteem, low sexual stamina and little to no looks to hear that he ticks next to no “REAL MAN” boxes. What exactly does that do to his mind? How much does it pull at his heart that he cannot be and never will be a so called real man.
This is partially why vulnerable men end up committing suicide. Men need stronger support systems to protect them from these dire statistics. The first thing to stop this madness is by easing the expectations of society on men and to allow men to explore their own emotions, character and nature. Sure when it comes to women there are all of these superficial expectations like being “thin, young and beautiful” yet when it comes to men all of these expectations turn Real and are not superficial like “Men should speak like this, look like that, pay for this, approach this like this, do things like this“. Yet it doesn’t stop there it also goes on tell you what Real men should NOT do like – “Real men do not hit, real men do not curse, real men do not cheat, real men do not lie etc.etc.”
Society (and memes) constantly tell me what a REAL man is. Yet the fact is there is no REAL man. There are only Good and Bad men. If a man happens to do the wrong things he is a bad man, yet he is still a MAN. If a man happens to do the right things then he is a good man and indeed he is still a MAN. Yet the only thing about a REAL man that makes him real is that he follows what is within his own character and does not bow down to societies expectations. Men need to start accepting the fact that they do not need to prove to be real, nor do they need to prove to be men– all they have to do is prove to be themselves, it’s as simple as that.