Right guys, serious talk
On the 19th February 2015 the Office of National Statistics published a paper that showed that in 2013 male suicide was at it’s highest since 2001 and was three times the rate of female suicide. Also, on the 30th October 2015 the Equality and Human Rights commission published a report showing that the suicide rate of men aged 45-49 has risen 40% in the last five years.
There are most certainly a number of factors that can be attributed to this rise. Firstly, and possibly the obvious, is the financial crash of 2008 which saw thousands lose their jobs and many thousands unable to find jobs, many of these people were of course men. In 2012-13 only 28.3% of white boys from low income families left school with 5 GCSEs graded A*-C meaning that the limited jobs available often went to their peers who fared considerably better. For example 76.8% of Chinese students from low income families achieved that GCSE threshold. Sadly if people feel that they are unable to financially support themselves or their families they may choose to take their own life.
Another factor that may be attributed to the rise in male suicide rate is that the UK’s largest male rape charity, Survivors UK, has had its funding cut to zero despite a 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence in London. Only a few men battling the aftermath of rape may choose to end their lives but every death by suicide is preventable.
Conservative MP Philip Davies called for a debate about such issues in the House of Commons on International Men’s Day, which is November the 19th. Not only was the idea dismissed by the Backbench Business Committee, who decide what should be debated by backbenchers in the Commons, but openly mocked by Labour MP Jess Phillips who said “You will have to excise me for laughing but as the only woman on this committee it seems like every day to me is International Men’s Day.”
As sad as it is to say this is, in a way, a reversed misogyny. It is fantastic that women are being given equal opportunities in the workplace and the stereotypes about their gender are being broken but the same is not happening for men. Men are still portrayed as having to be strong, mentally and physically. In the eyes of society men should not be affected by suicide or rape in the same way that women are. They should be able to overcome these things. This has to change.
Body image and body image issues are also, I believe, a contributing factor to the rise in male suicide and male eating disorders. In the last couple of years, with the rise of social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram there was an evident rise in the public criticism of women because they do not conform to societies standard of beauty. There was also a massive ‘campaign’ following to express the point that all women are beautiful despite the way they looked. This was a fantastic thing and it was nice to see the girls rallying around each other like that. Sadly though the same has not happened for men who are still exposed to the same sort of pressures from ‘gym culture’ etc.
This picture (and I apologise for the language within) popped up on my Facebook news feed. I shared it onto a couple of eating disorders groups, which are largely populated by girls to see what they thought of it.
The results were generally good, many girls said that these girls comments in the picture were very shallow but a fair number still agreed with the statements or said that the size of a man was not important but muscle tone or this or that were still very important. Obviously, everyone has their turn ons and turn offs but I’m sure it is wrong to write a person off, regardless of their gender, based on physical attributes alone. Although, that basically is what Tinder is I suppose.
I’m not quite sure how to conclude this. I hope you learnt something and I hope that you are thinking about the points raised above. I would love love love to hear some feedback about this post. Your experiences of sexism as a man, your experiences of sexism as a woman and your opinions.