2018 is the year that saw revolutionary change. Women have been fiercely stepping forward and fighting to get their voices heard. Yet one is left to wonder: what does this mean for men?
November is National Men’s Health Awareness Month, and I would like to examine the valid impact the modern world is having on men that is too often forgotten in the feminist age. Have they been forsaken in the fight for equality? An equal society is one where both genders’ concerns are listened to with respect and without prejudice.
In the 21st century, there are plenty of serious issues facing men in society that must be addressed in the same understanding manner as those for women. They might be of a different nature, but can have unhealthy consequences nonetheless.
The number of rapes committed against men is reported to be lower than that of women, but whilst women are being encouraged to open up about sexual violence, men are less likely to report the crime. What then prevents men from flagging up sexual assault? One possible answer could be the portrayal of “male” characteristics in the media. The film industry, for instance, features many macho characters – characteristics particularly reflected within the majority of superhero productions by Marvel and DC. In these same movies, less emphasis has been placed on male characters that are in touch with their emotions.
Making extreme masculinity desirable and setting standards and role models could be very harmful, and may lead to many issues both for men and women, such as encouraging gender dominance, hierarchy, violence and discouraging emotion. It also implies shame in being a made a victim, an effect that will result in fewer cases of sexual violence against men being reported.
The very idea of ‘modern masculinity’ prevents men from speaking out, not just about sexual assault, but other vulnerabilities too; like health concerns. Men are 40% more likely to die from cancer and 16% more likely to develop it in the first place. Most women have access to annual cervical and breast cancer screenings, and are exposed to awareness campaigns on a daily basis. For men, less attention is paid to cancer prevention. Does the idea of masculinity feed men’s reluctance to undergo regular checkups and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Feminism has opened a community where we can share struggles and ideas about being a woman in the 21st century. This positive approach also appears to be slowly filtering through to help men too. There have been increasing numbers of organisations that deal with the growing problems men face. Movember, CALM and many others deal specifically with male suicide rates and male mental health conditions. More awareness of such campaigns, such as this month’s Stag Media November campaign, is paramount to diffusing the stigma men experience when dealing with valid concerns on a day-to-day basis. This is a massive leap forward, and opens a platform where men can freely talk about “taboo” topics.
Soon, asking for help will be a normal, positive step for anyone, regardless of their gender. Men are just as susceptible to mental illnesses as any other, and they must be allowed a platform on which to talk about it.