Being male doesn’t make you invincible. It doesn’t mean you’re made of rock, of ice, unfeeling and solid. Men can hurt, men can suffer, men can break. Men can be insecure about their bodies, worried about their futures, cut up over losing partners and friends. They cry and bleed, they drink too much and for the wrong reasons, take drugs, stripe their arms and legs with scars, throw themselves off buildings or in front of buses and trains. Being male doesn’t save them from sadness, from depression and anxiety, from helplessness. Gender identity doesn’t dictate how much someone feels.
But it can, and often does, dictate how we respond.
Men are actually 3.5 times more likely to take their own lives than women.
We leave men isolated, assume they will be fine, dismiss their feelings, attack their masculinity for experiencing human emotions: ‘Man up,’ ‘Don’t be such a pussy,’ ‘Grow a pair.’ The stiff-upper-lip doctrine is still thrust on men from a young age. Be isolated. Hide your tears. Suffer alone. Give everyone else the impression that you’re fine, unruffled. There’s a brave boy. Because bravery is solitude, seeking help is shameful and weak, and you must prove your masculinity, that you are somehow inherently stronger than women, by going through everything alone, when they would never be expected to.
This has to stop. All people can suffer, and there’s nothing shameful about that. We need to make it clear to all our friends, all our loved ones, regardless of gender, that we are here for them. We need to stop shaming people for feeling, shaming people for hurting, and shaming people for asking for help.
We must abandon this insane, poisonous myth that men must be invincible, and encourage everyone around us to care for others, and allow themselves to be cared for.