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It’s all your fault. For too long you have dominated society in almost every culture of the world. You are sociopathic, reckless, selfish and deficient in areas where we need you to be better. The Patriarchy, in a word, is toxic. That is how many men feel they are being spoken to today.
Born with inherent blame, an original sin. When the tragic circumstances of Sarah Everard's murder hit the headlines, there were even calls for a curfew on men, somehow lumping 50% of the population in the same category as one psychopathic and deeply evil monster.
How do we want men to react to this, what can they do? Confusion is understandable.On one hand men are being told that their toxic masculinity is the root cause of all harm, while on the other hand, being encouraged not to be too metrosexual or soy, yet neither too gruff nor Neanderthal. Expected to be the perfect father, a high achiever, able to reach the top shelf and carry the furniture, grow a beard, measure over 6 foot and all the while be a true gentleman, giving up his seat for a woman.
Issues that affect all human beings are all too often framed as if they happen only to women. Body image and objectification, rape, depression, single parenting, domestic violence and safety on the street.
The UK’s most prolific serial rapist, Reynhard Sinaga, who carried out a decade long campaign of sexual violence against an estimated 190 victims: vulnerable young men, drunk and alone. Perhaps the reason he was able to continue his sick violations for so long was because men find it far more difficult to admit to being a victim, due to pressures of perceived masculinity and the associated stigma of rape. All but a few of Sinaga’s victims were white, heterosexual men. The average age was just 21. Where was the vigil? Where were the placards and protests? The documentaries? The charities and support groups? Where was the deafening public outcry?
Suicide rates across the world also show a gender paradox with men three to four times more likely to die than women - almost a million men take their own lives globally per year. In Britain, suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45. Men are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime. Yes, the perpetrators are more likely to be men, but does that eradicate the plight of those who have suffered?
Academically the attainment gap between girls and boys continues to widen. Recent national curriculum assessments show that almost three quarters of girls reached expected standards in core subjects compared to just under two thirds of boys. When it comes to disadvantaged youths getting sucked into violent gangs, 90% are boys. Does this make men the perpetrators? The victims? Or both?
Meanwhile gender dysphoria occurs in one in 30,000 males births compared to one in 100,000 females. Almost one third of men report body image issues, with a tenth saying they had experienced suicidal thoughts as a result, yet objectification is often perceived to be a woman-only problem. We send more men than women to war, sacrificed in their millions to protect us all. Men are ten times more likely to be killed at work, often dominating dangerous professions.Women live on average ten years longer. Men fall ill younger and are more likely to suffer chronic illnesses, they often have poorer diets and pursue risky behaviours such as alcoholism and smoking, yet women are more likely to seek medical help.
When it comes to health, males are the weaker sex throughout life.
Yet over recent years rhetoric surrounding men has coarsened, from mansplaining, to manspreading, toxic masculinity to dismantling the patriarchy. Rather than the cause of feminists being one of egalitarianism, it can sometimes feel like the end goal is that of punishment. There should be no battle of the sexes, but harmony.
We all need good guys in our lives. And boys need good men, too. Role models, champions, sponsors, friends. Instead of beating them down, isn’t it time we raised them up?
Today, we really need to talk about our men.