It is scary to be a young man today, and that’s why we need to change what it means to be a man
Today is International Men’s Day.
Trump was right: It is scary to be a young man today, and that’s why we need to change what it means to be a man.
76% of suicides are men
71% of homicide victims are men
Men are the majority victims of violent crime
It sure looks terrifying to be a man. Statistics trump feminism, right? Especially when us men have such a scary reality to confront every day, we surely don’t have time for feminism?
Let’s now look at the flip side of the coin; the perpetrators of violent crime. *Drum roll*:
78% of violent crime is committed by men
76% of homicide perpetrators are men
92% of domestic abuse perpetrators are men
Well, why are men abusing and killing women, children, other men and themselves at such an alarming rate?
Discovering their partner was having an affair?
Hard day at work?
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed?
As we reach for the drawer of standard excuses for violence, let’s stop for a brief second and consider why the same factors don’t contribute to mass female violence in the same way.
It’s very hard indeed to avoid the conclusion that men are committing crimes simply because they’re men.
“Undoubtedly there are biological differences between men and women. Even if, as men, we are more predisposed to certain behaviours, it doesn't mean that we cannot veto them, or shape them and sublimate them.”
Men are not only killing each other and themselves, but specifically targeting women, especially those closest to them. Of those women murdered, 50% of women are killed by a partner or ex-partner compared to only 3% for men. We must realise that ‘being a man’ is at the root of almost all of the violence in our society.
Masculinity in society creates a very tight fit for men. We must be strong, we mustn’t cry, we must be leaders, we mustn’t need help, we must succeed in the only way we know; power. Not only does masculinity systematically oppress women, it also oppresses men themselves. In a world where men are unable to succeed in an outdated and tyrannical belief structure, but where they still choose to define themselves by their masculinity, they see themselves as failures. Without an outlet for their emotions and the willingness to seek help for their mental health, it is no surprise that men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women are. These desperate men need to know it is OK to cry, to ask for help, to be a different kind of man.
Men who believe their identity is measured on how much they own or control, on their ability to enact power over others through violence and abuse, are plagued by incessant insecurity which leaves them in a state of mental turmoil. These men need freedom from the crushing expectations of their ideas of entitlement and masculinity. Someone who is willing to hurt or kill others is not someone who is happy.
Today, on International Men’s day we should not be celebrating men as we currently are. Instead, we need to acknowledge that we need to define a new man. We need to raise our boys in a world where they can be more free than the men that came before them, so they can be less violent, more compassionate and, ultimately, happier.
Men today genuinely believe they are victims. And this is almightily true. They are victims – of other men and of themselves. The solution: feminism and the deconstruction of rigid gender roles. Only then will violence begin to decrease. Only then will it no longer be so scary to be a young man today.
So, it is clear to us on International Men’s Day that, for the sake of men, we all need to be celebrating feminism.
*Statistics from Office of National Statistics, year ending 2017 https://www.ons.gov.uk/