Men Matter Too
“Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.” — ~Marcus Aurelius
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would even think to say something like what the title suggests in today’s world. Amid the nauseating “Future is Female” rants with an added #TBT to “Girl Power”, it’s tough to find a place in society where men are accepted and fit in.
The Spice Girls called. They want their ’90s mantra back.
Cosmopolitan recently published an article by Andrea Stanley’s, “Is It Possible to Stop a Mass Shooting Before It Happens?”. In the piece, Andrea went undercover to report on a secret female investigator known as the “Savant”. Worthy of their front page, Cosmopolitan entices its readers posing the question, “Could this woman prevent the next mass shooting?”. It was certainly worthy of my click to learn how one woman can “take down the most violent men in the country”.
This female vigilante of sorts digs into the corners of the internet, tracking dangerous “men who hate women” and works with law enforcement to stop the potential next mass shooter. The article also discusses a newly coined term for angry men, “millennial misogynists”, by quoting Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, “We’ve never really seen violent hate being directed at women like we are now, in the same way that it has been for black people and Jews”. The article then calls out specific online communities such as Red Pill, stating that they “preach, among other things, that women have it better, so much better than men.”
Honestly, it’s hard to know where to begin with this damaging perspective on the men. Let’s ignore the part where Andrea compares angry men to white supremacists who “show up in the middle of the night with tattoos and shaved heads”. Let’s also look the other way when she uses scare tactics to explain that “Now you just have to click around on a computer, anonymously if you want to. And scary numbers of men do” in joining these “cults of angry men”. And we’ll try to overcome the fact that Andrea woefully equates angry men to potential mass shooters.
So instead, let’s focus on the more important question. Has anyone ever cared to ask why some men are angry, lonely, or “hate women”? It is indeed very interesting to note that 99% of mass shooters are men, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Let’s look at men and get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
I was at a bar one night when a gentleman approached me and started a friendly conversation asking what I do for a living etc… It was two human beings of the opposite sex conversing with no intention behind it other than to be the social beings that we are (which is hard to find these days). After a friendly 20 minute banter back and forth, he stopped mid-sentence and all of sudden lowered his voice and with a hint of shame on his face quietly said, “I have to thank you for talking to me”. He answered the quizzical look on my face by saying, “You have to understand most women don’t talk to me. They just assume I’m hitting on them and brush me off. It’s kind of lonely actually as I just want to have a friendly conversation”. I looked at him wide-eyed in shock and apologized on behalf of the women who hastily turned their back on him in the past. He continued, “You know, I believe in what women stand for and I applaud their efforts for equal rights. I believe in it so much that I researched a feminist group to attend, so that I could help support the cause”.
“Only I showed up at the meeting one day and as I was walking into the room, a woman stopped me at the door. She asked if I was lost and I said ‘no’, but that I was here for the feminist meeting. She narrowed her eyes at me and said, ‘no men allowed’. I told her that I was a supporter of women’s rights and wanted to help. She repeated the ‘No Boys Allowed’ rule, so I walked away confused and a bit bummed out that they refused my support because I was a man.”
I listened intently to this with my mouth slightly ajar and a furrowed brow, dumbfounded by what I had just heard. Here is a man who is for women’s rights not because he’s trying to use it as a pickup line, but because he truly believes in the women’s movement. And instead of welcoming the support, this feminist group rejected him because he is male.
I would argue that we’ve never really seen hatred being directed at men like we do now. Being a woman in today’s world gives you a new set of rules. You’re allowed to be a “Nasty Gal”, entitled, with an “I don’t need a man” mantra, standing on a pedestal because it’s the woman’s turn now. I’ve heard horror stories of women telling men through dating apps that “I could never date anyone as ugly as you”. And yes, men say their fair share of inappropriate things to women. But here is the key difference: It’s acceptable and almost encouraged for women to put down men. This ugly portrayal of men is prominently displayed on TV, movies, and in advertising. It’s socially acceptable for women to hate men.
Luckily for women, we grew up in a society where to be feminine is to be emotional. And yes, this is an enormous advantage over men, who at a very young age are told to “suck it up”, “be a man”, and “boys don’t cry”. Women have resources and female support groups. Men have little to no community in which to express their feelings in a positive, safe environment with care and understanding.
Women blatantly ignore the struggles of the modern man because men have reigned for too long and now women get to put them under their thumb. Instead of welcoming men in and starting an honest discussion of how to proceed together in tackling this thing we call “life”, it’s the battle of the sexes with women vs men. There are t-shirts that women actually wear in public that say in bold lettering, “Men Are Trash”. Let’s take a moment and imagine what would happen if a man wore a shirt that said “Women Are Trash”. He’d probably get the electric chair if he was lucky enough to escape the angry female mob who would string him up by his genitals. Or at the very least, they would splatter it all over the news with the headline, “Millennial Misogyny At Its Worst: What Is Wrong With Men?”.
But back to my question that I posed earlier, where do men fit in this “Future is Female” world? If today’s accepted rhetoric is “toxic masculinity”, “angry men”, and “millennial misogyny”, why do we need men at all then if they’re so horrible? Interestingly enough, men ask themselves that very same question daily. “What is my purpose if everything I do is wrong?” Can you imagine not knowing why you exist when you have the opposite sex, saying do not have any real value in the world? When was the last time we heard anything positive about men? Add to the fact that they were never taught how to express or allow themselves to feel emotions other than anger and you’ve got an implosion and/or explosion in the making.
Here are a few facts from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that you never hear about:
- Men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women in the US, with one man killing himself every 20 minutes. They make up 80% of all suicide deaths.
- Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death amongst men. It’s the 2nd most common cause of death for every age group for men, ages 10 through 39.
- Men are 4 times more likely than women to be heavy drinkers. 1 in 5 men will develop alcohol dependency in their lifetime.
- Over 6 million men suffer from depression each year. Nearly 1 in 10 men say they feel some depression or anxiety every day and almost 1 in 3 have gone through a period of major depression at some point in their lives.
- Most men are misdiagnosed and statistical numbers are widely under-reported, because men report fatigue and irritableness rather than feelings of sadness or loneliness.
If this isn’t a sign of a serious crisis in the male population and a scream for help, I don’t know what is. Women find it unfathomable that men do not ask for help. However, what women refuse to understand or care to is that boys are raised to work things out for themselves, to be the strong pillar in society that we all lean on, the one who can handle emotions by storing them away in a hidden place. In the meantime, women are allowed to throw up all of their feelings anytime they want.
“Society is changing, but we don’t talk to white men and ask them what they are struggling with,” says William Liu, PhD, a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Iowa who studies masculinity. “There’s a tendency to minimize it, yet the distress and disconnection are very real.”
What corner of society do men have the opportunity and also feel safe enough to say “Hey, I matter too. I hurt. I need help.”? A recent NBC News exclusive with Adelia Johnson, ex-girlfriend to Connor Betts, the Dayton mass shooter, is a case in point. Johnson stated she bonded with him over their shared struggles with mental illness. “People go every day being perfectly fine with having a mental illness, me included, and he just got the short end of the stick,” she said. “No support system.” Betts killed nine people in 30 seconds before police killed him. Police say they have not found a racial motivation for the shooting. “This isn’t about race, this isn’t about religion, it’s none of those things,’’ Johnson said. “This is a man who was in pain and didn’t get the help that he needed.”
Please explain to me again how men have it easier than women.
Ladies, we’ve pinned men up against a wall, told them they are no longer needed in society, and if they are to stay, they must contain their emotions. And then we’re shocked when we hear of male celebrities committing suicide (as those are the only ones that gain headlines) or acting out violently? What exactly did you expect to happen? We tell men to be emotional, but not too emotional. Be nice, but not too nice because that’s unattractive. Be strong, but also kind and sensitive. But don’t be too sensitive because that’s a little too “feminine”. So what is a man supposed to be in today’s world?
“What it means to be a man today is different than what it meant 20 years ago,” says James O’Neil, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut who studies gender role conflict. “There’s a paradigm shift occurring in our country regarding what it means to be masculine, and many men have had difficulty adjusting to that transition.”
One of my favorite things I loved doing as a kid was making volcanoes in science class.
“How to Make a Volcano”, according to Science Fun For Everyone:
- Combine vinegar, water, dish soap and 2 drops of food coloring into an empty soda bottle.
- Use a spoon to mix the baking soda slurry until it is all a liquid.
- Eruption time!… Pour the baking soda slurry into the soda bottle quickly and step back!
You tell men to swallow their emotions at the same time society tells them how horrible they are, and they will either explode like that science class volcano or self-destruct. Any human would under those conditions. Step back indeed.
Instead of opening up the conversation about how to support men just as women demanded for themselves, we go on scavenger hunts to find angry men and bring them down. Then we sit back in shock and confusion when we hear the likes of Chris Cornell and Anthony Bourdain committing suicide or news headlines screaming about men, violence, and toxic masculinity.
The fact of the matter is, as our society has evolved, we left men behind.
Ladies, it’s time we hold our ourselves accountable as to how we’ve treated men and to put our energy and focus on ways to support them. Because we’re absolutely failing them, and now we’re all paying the price. Men were never taught how to handle daily life struggles in healthy ways, and yet we demand they put a lid on their simmering emotions.
Why are all the mass shooters male? Because those men have hit their limit as to how much they can handle with the very limited resources on mental and emotional wellness, education, and upbringing that were available to them. And with anger being seen as the “masculine” emotion, they react to their world in the only way they know how to. Those men are crying out for help and no one is listening. It’s far easier to blame men for their actions than it is to reflect on our own faults in how we’ve treated them.
So let’s answer the all important question: Is it possible to stop mass shootings before they happen?
The answer is “Yes, absolutely”. Start caring about men. Create the social reform needed in order for men to feel like they belong in this world. That they are part of a supportive, positive environment in which to share their emotions, daily struggles, vulnerabilities, and insecurities without being told that they’re trash. Men are human, after all.
Kira Mamula is a writer and humanist who nerds out on neuroplasticity and challenges all of us to THRIVE, not just survive this thing called “life” Click here to read more.