“There’s a lot of men suffering the same Abraham, men are less likely to report it though. Its a two way street. I found it degrading after having my bipolar partner restrained by police to be put in an ambulance, that the literature given to me and having called the help line, that it was all geared towards women. Even the men’s help line, when called and told of being involved in domestic abuse, being questioned about what I’d done to abuse her.
You know when she’s off tap and I’m being pushed to the limits, I could just knock her block off, I can handle myself, if it was a bloke doing it, it wouldn’t even be an issue, but its a woman and mother of my children, I’m better than that. My kids have had to witness it for years, they even ask how i endure it without retaliating. But its my job to be their role model, not sport stars or entertainers. I stay composed, controlled. I was safer in Afghanistan or Iraq. It’s time for men to stand up and be more vocal. I’ll start it off.”
“Its not the violence although she has slashed my car tyres to stop me from leaving and has threatened me with a knife on many occasions. It’s the threats to kill herself, or ringing my work, or on many occasions showing up at work because I won’t do exactly what she asks. Several suicide attempts, what am i to tell my kids if I stay at work and she rings and tells me she’s taken an overdose and i keep working. The ambulance wont come on their own anymore when she loses it, the police have to come, because she is violent to the ambulance driver. I’d post videos, but I don’t want her identified on the internet. My kids have been embarrassed enough, they don’t need all their friends knowing.
I said I would start this off, all my friends on here know now, but no-ones going to use it to try get to me, most are smart enough to know better. Like I said if it was a male that was threatening me it wouldn’t be an issue, I did my time in conflict zones, I can handle myself. My pay goes into an account she controls, I get an allowance. I got my pay put into my own account awhile back and she went to our head office and made a scene, nearly got me sacked. So I changed it back to stop her going back. My boss has said to me how I manage to be early every day, get through my day and churn out a high standard work is beyond him. Never late, never take a day off, always try to be upbeat. I do what i do because i am my kids role model, not some sports star or celebrity, I set a standard, I tell them not to react, stay calm and I practice what I preach. (Source)
“I have encountered similar violence by a wife towards her husband and I can promise you, it’s no laughing matter. Especially when men are often brought up to never lift a hand up against a woman. Thankfully, they are no longer together, but she still has most custody of their beautiful little boy. She has gone out of her way to use the son to hurt him, but thankfully family, friends and even a judge has seen through her and have provided him with much needed support. He is a lovely dad who was snared by a vicious, vindictive woman” (Source)
“Predictably the top comment is from a woman ridiculing the incident. He doesn’t sound a particularly great husband but would you have found it as amusing if a man had ripped off his wife’s breast because she wasn’t a good wife? Nope, didn’t think so. The comments here just show the gulf in society’s attitudes towards violence to men and women from the opposite sex.”
“The number of women convicted for domestic violence rose by 30% in the year to April 2015, from 3,735 to 4,866. It marks an upward trend – the number of convictions involving female perpetrators is now six times higher than it was ten years ago”
In a comment he contributed to this article, Chad Tindale wrote:
“Police were once called because my girlfriend, at the time, was stabbing the bathroom door (behind which I was locked) with a knife. When the police arrived, she was still drunk, and still holding the knife. They told us to keep it down so that they didn’t have to come back… then they left me there… with her… with the knife. You’re not a hero when you rescue a man from a woman, so it’s often just easier to leave them there… leave them with her… with the knife.”
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic the mainstream media followed what is by now a well-established script. That script is one involving playing down or ignoring the negative impacts of an issue or situation on men, whilst focusing on the perceived negative impacts on women. It also involves playing up the positive contribution of one gender over the other, with regards to fixing the problem. And if this sometimes involves misrepresentation, exaggeration or even fabrication – as it invariably does – well apparently, so be it.
That article mentions “a man diagnosed with coronavirus who recently travelled to Hamilton Island“. Actually it was a woman. Until this tourist travelled there, there were no other reported cases of COVID-19 in the region. The article also mentioned that the “ABC understands the patient recently travelled from New South Wales where they were first tested.“
A regional newspaper article published on 19 March 2020 (pay-wall protected) provides further/clearer details of the incident …
“A woman admitted to Mackay Hospital on Tuesday with coronavirus defied health orders and flew to Hamilton Island after being diagnosed with novel coronavirus in Sydney. It is understood the UK tourist, in her mid-30’s, was found on a Hamilton Island beach after NSW Health authorities alerted their Queensland counterparts”.
“She is understood to have told health authorities she did not understand the directive to self-isolate after testing positive to Covid-19“.
More broadly, domestic violence – or more specifically domestic violence against women – was presented in the media as being the major gender-related issue of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have addressed that topic, or at least an aspect of it, in another post.
Further items related to the impact of Covid-19 on women, and vice versa:
“It’s a free country” (12 April 2020) & in another incident … “A 20-year-old woman stopped in Port Macquarie gave police her twin sister’s details before police dropped her home with a warning. She refused to go inside, walked off, gave police the finger and was promptly handed a $1000 fine.”
But what’s going on? There appears to have been a change of feminist tactics, as this is the 2nd paper I’ve read today admitting that there had been no boost in the number of calls from DV victims since the commencement of the pandemic.
“At 9.20am yesterday, a woman was walking south along Sharp Street, Cooma, in NSW, when she allegedly stepped in front of another woman and intentionally coughed in her direction.The woman allegedly continued to cough at members of the public as she walked past them, including a woman with a young child.”
Malaysia apologises for telling women not to nag during lockdown (1 April 2020) Many recent articles express sympathy & frustration on behalf of women forced to isolate with men who (allegedly might) beat them, or at least don’t wash more dishes. But sympathise with men who have to put up with nagging or condescending women …. ooh no …that’s some serious #misogyny. Stop it now, you hear?
Tellingly, media outlets like The Guardian reported this as ‘young people’ rather than “young women”. Most of those that didn’t (initially), either amended online copy or removed it within hours of publication.
“Seriously people, this is not the time for judging, finger pointing or shaming. Our world is in uncharted territory, we are all desperately trying to filter through the mass of news we’re consuming eager to decipher what works for us and our families.”
Yes, similar to the way feminists refrain from finger-pointing at, or shaming, men. All the time. Oh please, spare us the tunnel-vision!
The mainstream media is awash with articles infused with anti-male bias. Indeed after being conditioned through decades of exposure to this material, most people accept what they are told. In comparison to most of those articles, the focus of this post regarding alleged male risk-taking behaviour is admittedly rather benign. Indeed, if taken at face-value it appears to be sympathetic to the welfare of men & boys.
Examined more closely however the article reflects the contrasting and hypocritical manner in which the media addresses men’s & women’s issues.
The same day I noticed this article I came across another in a similar vein. That article mocks men in relation to another trait associated with masculinity – demonstrating protective behaviour towards women.
No there is nothing controversial about shaming men – just men – about pretty much anything nowadays. That’s kind of my point. And the article isn’t so much about “asking why“, but telling us why … apparently men are foolish.
And oddly, whilst this is an article about men’s behaviour, it begins with an account of the drowning of a 23 month old toddler. This seems to infer that even very young boys are dying due to masculinity-induced recklessness. Presumably female toddlers are more careful.
As the article is relatively brief, I’ll provide it here in its entirety:
“The twin brother pulled unconscious from a Sydney swimming pool has died three days after his sister, in what has been described as a “deeply disturbing” week for water deaths.
Charli and Robbi Manago, 23 months, had been fighting for life in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead since they were found in their family’s pool around 7pm on December 20. The hospital last night confirmed Robbi had died.
His death takes the number of coastal and inland waterway fatalities since Sunday to 11. Nine of the dead were men.
Experts say a deadly cocktail of conditions — male bravado, consistent warm weather, and a poor understanding of water dangers — has led to the deaths.
As police and volunteers return to Sydney’s Maroubra Beach to find the body of missing teenager Tui Gallaher and search a Wagga river in the south of NSW for a 42-year-old man, experts have warned people not to overestimate their abilities.
Between 80 and 90 per cent of drowning victims are male, according to recent figures.
Four people died on Boxing Day, including 60-year-old Geoffrey Blackadder, who died trying to save young relatives from a rip on the NSW north coast, and 25-year-old Amine Hamza, who died after swimming with friends at Bents Basin in Sydney’s west.
“It’s deeply disturbing. Men are more likely to overestimate their swimming ability and underestimate how dangerous conditions are,” said Justin Scarr, chief executive at the Royal Life -Saving Society Australia.
“Men are more likely to swim in locations away from lifeguards and crowds, and they’re also more likely to consume alcohol.””
As you can see, the premise of the article is that substantially more men die from drowning due to those men taking excessive and presumably avoidable risks.
May I ask you, when was the last time you saw a headline “X blamed on women’s risky behaviour”? Where ‘X’ might have been death/rape/injury/cosmetic surgery/whatever. 1965? That’s because journalists know that when they discuss any such situations they must, at all costs, avoid be called-out for ‘victim-blaming’. And yet the same consideration is not on offer when men are the victims. Gender equality when it suits?
The assertion that drowning deaths result from men taking undue risks appears unproven. The examples of swimming outside the flags and drinking are provided, although neither of these behaviours are exclusive to men.
There are other possible explanations for a gender variation in deaths, particularly the likelihood that men venture into the water more often, and for longer periods, than do women. Clearly those who don’t go to the beach, or who lie on their towels 95% of the time, are less likely to drown in the ocean.
All outdoor activities have some degree of inherent risk, i.e. they are all “risky”. Given that men are significantly more likely than women to participate in almost all forms of outdoor recreation, they are clearly more likely to be injured or killed participating in such activities. One of the few exceptions is netball, a sport recognised as having a low risk of drowning.
If a significant number of drowning deaths were due to medical emergencies then it would make more sense to focus on men’s health, than male shaming. It is likely that some of the male drowning deaths were also the result of men attempting to rescue others.
For the purpose of this discussion let’s concede that “risky behaviour” (to be defined) may indeed result in more men drowning than women. And of course it would be preferable that those tragedies not occur. But before rushing to judgement let’s also consider the issue of risk-taking by men in a broader context.
Men tend to take more risks than women, and this risk-taking results in a range of both positive and negative impacts on society. On the positive side I would go so far as to propose that risk-taking by men has been and continues to be the powerhouse of civilisation.
Need someone to step forward to defend a woman being attacked? Men are expected to step forward, and are shamed if they do not. Need someone to defend a country from attack? Ditto.
In Australia 97% of workplace deaths involve men – around 175 people in 2016. Men working in dangerous and unpleasant jobs that women generally won’t accept. Where is the outrage about the risks these men take in providing necessary services to the community?
Based on media coverage, or lack thereof, it would appear that men taking risks in the name of chivalry, industry and national service is acceptable if not expected. In contrast, men taking risks during their leisure hours is unacceptable and worthy of negative media attention.
Men don’t deserve to be shamed for exhibiting the trait of risk-taking, nor for choosing not to do so. In fact greater recognition that male risk-taking more often benefits society would seem appropriate.
Sure there will be times when some men deserve a thoughtful journalistic rap over the knuckles, but this should not be the default position. Similarly there are times when women’s behaviour merits a commensurate sanction. At the moment however women are rarely subject to criticism, are encouraged to take risks, and the blame for any negative repercussions more often placed at the feet of men.
It’s time everyone got on the same page with gender equality, and recognised that there should be one standard to which we are all held. And that support and empathy should be consistently applied and gender-blind. Anything less will see more of the same unfortunate and divisive gender bias that now permeates the mainstream media.
Reader posts in a related Reddit discussion thread here
In another blog post I provide details regarding the relevant positions adopted by some of the minor parties.
Gender issues did not feature amongst the key issues debated during the election campaign. The one specific gender-related issue which was aired was domestic violence. With that in mind, let’s look at what the major parties had to say on that topic:
The Domestic Violence statement provided in the ALP web site can be found here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0
The Domestic Violence statement within the Liberal Party web site is accessible here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 1. That sole mention refers to the contentious ‘Mensline’ counselling service – read more about Mensline here.
The Domestic Violence statement in the National Party web site is here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0
The Greens Domestic Violence Policy is here. The number of times the terms ‘men’ or ‘male’ (e.g. male victims) feature in this document = 0. By way of contrast, the word ‘women’ features 31 times.
None of the major parties have shown any interest in addressing issues that detrimentally affect men and boys. None of them have issued significant statements in support of male victims of domestic violence, nor have they made reference to female perpetration of violence.
The major parties are essentially all in lockstep with the feminist movement, the only area of divergence being the amount of money that each is willing to relegate to/waste on feminist causes.
Amongst the major parties, the Greens offer the most ardently pro-feminist perspective, with the ALP running a close second. It was the Greens, for example, who were the driving force behind the current federal Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality.
The federal budget released by the Government in May 2016 represented the first salvo in the election campaign:
“In this Budget the Government has allocated $100.0 million over three years for Domestic and Family Violence: New Initiatives To Break the Cycle of Violence. This builds on the $101.2 million provided for a Women’s Safety Package announced by the Government in September 2015 (detailed in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Year Outlook 2015–16). This measure will draw on the recommendations of the Third Action Plan (part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22), due for release in mid-2016. [Footnote]” (Source)
Further details of what were proposed and some related background information are provided at:
“Labor will provide funding certainty to frontline family violence organisations if it wins government, Bill Shorten has promised. The Opposition Leader has committed $65 million over six years to ensure 1800 RESPECT, Our Watch and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) can continue their work in tackling family violence.”
Again, each of the major Australian political parties is unambiguously pro-feminist, regardless of how overtly they choose to express it. At this point none of these parties have chosen to raise awareness of, or to provide practical support for, male victims of domestic violence.
During an otherwise tedious and predictable campaign at least Mark Latham entertained via poking pins into feminist/white knight thought bubbles.
Further coverage of gender issues during the campaign:
“men who have harmed them and their children” “men rely on women for childcare” “childcare remains a responsibility that Australian men too often unfairly leave to Australian women” “25 per cent of women nominate a lack of childcare as their reason for leaving the workforce. In the case of men, it is 3 per cent.” “It is primitive and wrong that women are paying the mortgage on houses occupied by men who have harmed them and their children”
The ALP sees providing a myriad of policies to support women whilst providing none to address men’s issues as “gender equality”. But wait, there’s more.
Bill goes on to state that “Australia cannot afford six Liberal years of ‘budgets for blokes’.” Seriously Bill? You mean all that money lavished on the Ministry of Men’s Affairs? Oh wait, there isn’t one is there? In fact all I can see is hundreds of millions poured into organisations like these.
**I challenge Bill or any other ALP politician to add a comment to this post providing examples of current federal budgetary allocations which they feel only benefit “blokes”**
Despite the rhetoric, this election fails the feminist test (28 June 2016) The word ‘women’ appears 17 times in this piece by rusted-on feminist Eva Cox (‘men’ = 0 btw). But it’s ok, as we are reassured that “feminist issues are about a better society for all, not just advancing women in a male defined world”. And while feminists want more, they are being offered a veritable buffet compared to the situation for men/boys.
“While both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party have issued women’s policy documents, these are strong on equality rhetoric but short on the continuing gender inequities, instead offering some funding to fix service problems.” What a shame that the dog chewed the corresponding men’s policy documents.
One of the defining features of the present-day feminist is their lack of compassion for the welfare of men/boys. This was again driven home to me this morning when I read an article ‘Suicide isn’t just an older man’s problem‘ (sub-titled ‘Suicide is increasing among young people, especially women‘).
The topic of men is dispensed with in a single paragraph (para 8):
“Historically, suicide in Australia has been largely seen as a male problem, with men, particularly middle-aged men, frequently identified as a high risk in our national strategies. Projects have focused on workplaces such as the construction industry, and men’s information resource centres. In men over the age of 25, rates are higher than those among younger women; however, with the exception of men aged between 55 and 64, these rates appear to be relatively stable.”
The bulk of the article is about women and young women, and how serious the problem of suicide is for them.
In this article today the authors only acknowledge the issue obliquely, by way of saying that ‘yes it’s a thing, but it’s not just about men’ … before proceeding to make it all about women. Seriously?
And so we have a serious social problem that disproportionately affects men, but which is largely ignored in feminist literature. On the odd occasion the male suicide issue is mentioned, the problem is essentially blamed on men, for e.g. masculinity, and the pressure imposed by gender roles.
A common theme is that the key to better means mental health is men opening up and talking to people. Oftentimes this is expressed in a simplistic and sometimes condescending way, viz. if only men would act more like women … problem solved.
Yes many, but not all, men might benefit from verbalising their concerns, but much more than that is needed. Systemic and cultural changes that acknowledge the value of men, and initiatives to address the myriad issues raised elsewhere in this blog. Measures that would act as a counterweight to the prevailing gynocentric bias. That’s the scale of action required to make substantial progress towards a remedy.
Oh, and take a look at this article in The Guardian … “Figures show more than one in 10 prison suicides are by women”. The other nine? Nothing to worry about.
“It does not surprise me that suicide among men is increasing. Forty a week is a national disgrace and the Family Court of Australia is a big part of this problem.My divorce took all my capital and reduced my ability to pay maintenance. It took my super, used to pay off the mortgage, after saying I could keep my super if my wife could keep hers. I put her through university, typed all her assignments and even writing some so that she could become a lawyer and use the system to screw me. When my wife failed to allow access to my daughter for weekends and holidays, I was told by the Family Court of Australia that it did not enforce court orders, “and especially not for men”.
I have not even spoken on the telephone with my daughter for more than fifteen years because her mother hangs up when I ring. I have a court order specifying alternate weekends and weekly phone calls. My daughter is now in her twenties and until two months ago I was still paying maintenance. I was down south a few weeks ago and was roundly abused as an MCP by one virago because I stepped back and allowed her to enter the lift first. In a modern society where few people seem to have any knowledge of good manners, life is sometimes confusing and disadvantaged.”
“Griffith University-based clinical psychologist Jacinta Hawgood said the macho culture of mining and construction was playing a key role in the stark statistics. “While women will talk to each other about difficulties, men often will not ask each other ‘are you OK?,’’ she said.”
“I do not think the high rates of suicide and depression in men can solely be attributed to unjust laws that put men into situations where they see no reason to go on living, or the general misandry spread in the media. These are but the tangible results of modern women’s callous attitudes towards men.”
What do we do now that suicide rates among young women are on the rise? (14 March 2016) It must have burned Jenna Price (‘Destroy the Joint’) to mention the word men (once) in a role other than as perpetrator of evil. Jenna thinks there needs to be more kindness shown, but presumably not the variety of kindness that radfem’s of her ilk shower on CIS-Het white men who constitute the bulk of suicides.
“Murder-suicide is most often perpetrated by men – but this is hardly surprising. Men are generally the perpetrators of murder, and men make up the majority of suicides in Australia, too.” Only a feminist would hold up the fact that many men kill themselves as proof that men are inherently violent.
My father died from prostate cancer. I had an idea that I might put some donation buttons in this web site so I approached the major Australian prostate cancer charity, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, with a proposal:
“hi there, I maintain a mens rights blog at www.fighting4fair.com. I thought I would put in a “donate now” button to help fund-raise for your organisation. I came to your web site today looking for a ‘button” that I could cut and paste into one or more locations within my site, with the image hyperlinked to your everydayhero donation page. do you have such a button I could use, preferably with html code pointing to the page of your choice? Cheers”
I got a reply back the very same day which left me a little perplexed:
“Thank you so much for your email and reaching out to support PCFA. We are very grateful for your offer of having a donate now button on your website but as PCFA isn’t just about men but also about their families and the wider community, as they too have to deal with the side effects to prostate cancer, therefore, we like to work with bogs/website that are all inclusive of these audiences. Once again thank you so much for your offer and support and good luck with the continued success of your blog.”
Oh, the irony of being excluded due to a policy favouring inclusiveness. A curious state of affairs, made more so as I don’t know:
What test of ‘inclusiveness’ was applied, or the nature of the blogs/web sites deemed to meet that criteria
If the staff member who wrote to me deigned to peruse my site before determining whether or not it was sufficiently inclusive, and
Whether that decision was sanctioned by way of an established policy or whether it simply reflected personal bias on the part of the individual involved.
On that last point I looked through the Foundation’s web site but couldn’t find any applicable policy, even for example in relation to the suitability of sponsors.
Perhaps the Foundation’s decision reflects the ‘deer in the headlights’ reaction demonstrated by some organisations when they imagine their name appearing in the same sentence as the words ‘men’ and ‘rights’? That would be odd given that the Foundation is in fact in the business of securing mens rights. The right to remain free of disease due to world-class scientific research. The right to have access to the best possible methods of treatment. The right to be treated with empathy and dignity. These are rights, or at least should be rights, rather than privileges bestowed by a capricious matriarchy.
I happen to think my blog is pretty darn welcoming, and presumably so do most of the 500-600 people that it attracts each day (and growing steadily). The only visitors who might be feel a tad marginalised – though I still welcome their readership – would be gender feminists. And as dad used to say to me, ‘you can’t please everyone’.
I’m disappointed that this has happened. Not being a political ingenue I can appreciate the merit of not alienating those with influence over government funding priorities – where the real money comes from. But when did worrying about what people might think become more important than actually helping?
I have invited both the CEO of the Foundation, and the staff member who wrote to me, to add their comments to this blog. I will update this post should any further information come to hand.
Many readers would be aware that the level of Australian government support (both federal and state) provided to men’s groups/men’s issues is miniscule in relation to that provided to groups advocating for and/or providing services to women. I am currently in the process of trying to quantify this differential but it is developing into a mammoth undertaking.
I recently came across a readers comment about men’s health in a blog post about an unrelated matter. Reader ‘Michael’ stated:
“Hope you can maintain some momentum, as there is no funding for grass-roots groups that are concerned about men and boys. The Mens’ Health Information & Resource Centre at the University of Western Sydney has had its paltry funding withdrawn, so there is no longer any formally based Australian organisation concerned with issues of male experience and equity.”
I then googled searched seeking confirmation of this news, which I had previously heard nothing about. I couldn’t find anything nor could I see anything in the Centre’s own web site. Anyway I eventually did get a response from a former staff member of the Centre, who advised as follows:
“Thank you for your email. I and responding to your enquiry on behalf of MHIRC …
Our long-standing funding arrangements that have been renewed since 1999 from the NSW State Government were ceased in 2013. This represented our major source of funding for the operations of the Men’s Health and Information Resource Centre at UWS. The Centre also operates The Shed at Mt Druitt for which funding has been provided for one more year and this originates from the Federal Government’s Department of Health.
The funding sources are not transferable so one source cannot subsidise another. For MHIRC, this means that our key projects of Men’s Health Week and MENGAGE the NSW Male Health Clearinghouse are able to continue only in a very limited format. We are currently exploring funding for 2015’s Men’s Health Week through other sources such as donations.
MHIRC was recently visited by the Governor-General, at his own initiation, and this may open up discussions about future funding.
Essentially, what we would like to say to the community and people concerned about approaches to male health that are not just medical or disease-focused, is that we need your support. If you would like to contribute to keeping important community-driven events like Men’s Health Week going, donations can be made to the Men’s Health Research Fund at the University of Western Sydney.
On a personal note, I will continue to donate time and energy to keep Men’s Health Week and MENGAGE going as I did when it was my job as I now work in a different part of UWS. I believe strongly that we need community-driven support for social wellbeing programs for men in Australia beyond the ‘problem-driven’ answers that governments focus on.
Thank you for your interest in the future of a social approach for men’s health in Australia.”
I noticed that reddit discussion threads were created at /mensrights (pre-existing thread here) and at /australia, after the ABC ran a special on the ‘men’s shed’ movement. The thread at /australia included discussion of a recent decision to block the formation of a men’s club at the University of Sydney, as detailed in this article.
You’ll probably ask, ‘What is the men’s shed’ movement?’ So, from Wikipedia:
Men’s Sheds are non-profit organisations that originated in Australia, to advise and improve the overall health of all males. However they have expanded their remit to anyone regardless of age. In many ways they parallel the growing Hackerspace movement which has similar aims and mechanisms, albeit Hack/Maker spaces are more explicit about their inclusion of all ages and genders. They normally operate on a local level in the community, promoting social interaction and aim to increase the quality of life. There are over 900 located across Australia, with thousands of active members. Men’s Sheds can also be found in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Finland and Greece.
Further explanation of the nature of the men’s shed movement is provided here.
Let me make a couple of observations about the movement, and my opinion of it, at the outset of this discussion:
Most men’s sheds permit, if not actively encourage, female participation.
Irrespective of the concerns that I express in this post, I feel that men (both individually and collectively) are certainly better off with the shed movement in place, than without it.
I’ve had some peripheral involvement with the men’s shed movement, which I see as a combination of ‘rad’ (radical) and sad. It is ‘rad’ in that it is an organisation/service specifically for men, in a society where now anything for men is seen as inherently bad and to be feared/opposed. It is ‘rad’ also in that it receives funding (albeit very limited funding) in a political environment whereby the provision of government funds for mens organisations and interests amounts to a tiny fraction of that provided for womens organisations and interests.
It is sad in that it survives on the basis of a short leash gripped by white knight politicians and femocrats. The tick of approval that they have reluctantly conferred remains in place only so long as the movement continues to operate with a diversional therapy/mental health focus, and poses no challenge to the feminist narrative. It is sad also when one compares the far greater range of outlets, programs and safe-spaces that are available to women – more often than not subsidized by the public purse. Further, female participation in such opportunities is applauded in contrast to the condescending and resentful attitude of some feminists towards men’s involvement in the shed movement. See examples of feminist perspectives of the men’s shed movement here and here.
The level of site traffic is quite low, so in that regard they appear to have failed to capture the interest of their target audience. The movement is seen, by some at least, as fusty/musty and a forum for rather forlorn/resigned expressions of the life in the good old days, awkward blokey chit-chat, etc. The site administrators have on occasion asked for suggestions for improvement, primarily to try to increase traffic. I suggested having a section for men’s rights-type issues like portrayal of men in the media, etc, but that was met with stony silence.
I am sure that the site administrators would respond by saying that the men’s shed movement is not intended to be a men’s rights organisations. I get that. And I’m sure that most of the guys in the sheds movement enjoy their involvement and are unconcerned regarding how that movement fits into the bigger picture of the gender debate. This is partly reflective of the fact that a large slab of the male population still don’t give much consideration to men’s rights issues.
At the same time, though, no-one can tell me that the social backdrop re: attitudes to men, imposition of stereotypes, demonisation by feminist organisations, etc, is not a contributing factor to anxiety and the development of depression and other men’s mental health issues. By getting men to recognise, discuss and maybe mobilise against these factors … well maybe that would achieve more for their mental welfare than just giving them a venue from which they can temporarily escape from their wives/lives.
I guess there are a several of ways to look at the role of the men’s shed movement, marked by end points that might be:
seeing the men’s shed movement as a beachhead on which to empower men to do things and/or participate as part of a movement, that will enhance their own sense of worth and create a better social environment for those that come after them, or
seeing the men’s shed movement as occupying men harmlessly within a sheltered workshop environment granting them some temporary solace from the #@%# that awaits outside
Long may the movement prosper, but I confess that my position lies closer to the former than the latter.
Readers might be aware that there are a number of areas when men compare poorly with women in terms of disease prevalence and outcomes, rates of suicide, and overall life expectancy. I talk about some of these factors in my earlier post on men’s health.
Many factors contribute to this situation including aspects of male physiology, a propensity towards greater risk-taking in leisure pursuits, and working longer hours – sometimes in more dangerous occupations. Other individual factors include things like attention to diet and exercise, and receptiveness to seeking/receiving medical treatment.
Let’s try to split all the factors contributing to men’s poorer health outcomes into two groups, comprising those things that individual men can exercise significant control over versus those things that they can’t.
At the outset we must recognise that there is clearly a huge range of individual variation within male and female populations in relation to these factors with further variables like degree of education, income level, and age for example. Thus there are limits as to the extent that we can make meaningful generalisations about “all men” or “all women”. Further, in the case of some factors over which one might think people do have control, the extent to which an individual actually can exercise personal choice, is very limited in some cases. An example of this would be a poorly educated man choosing to engage in a risky occupation to support his family.
So what of the factors that most individuals don’t have any control over? Well one that springs to mind are decisions made by governments, health agencies and drug companies (for example), that determine funding priorities/subsidies/etc for medical research and treatment. To give an example, the fact that the death rate from prostate cancer is higher than for breast cancer might be more indicative of the disproportionately greater funding for breast cancer research and treatment than the extent to which men “take their health seriously“.
And yet despite the above, all too often the focus of campaigns and articles about men’s health seems to be an implied or overt suggestion that men’s health problems are of their own making – that if men weren’t so silly/lazy then everything and everyone would be better off.
For now I’ll just mention a few examples, with more perhaps to be added later.
I came across this article about a men’s health campaign fronted by well-known actor Samuel L Jackson. Jackson was visiting the UK to promote a new male cancer campaign called ‘One For The Boys’ that hopes to “change male mentality”. Apparently men in the UK are 60% more likely to get the cancers that affect all sexes and 70% more likely to die from these cancers.
The campaign is based on the premise that the higher incidence of cancer in men is caused by men neglecting their health. “If only men would only stop being so dumb and talk about our health then we’d stop dying from cancer in greater numbers.”
The author of the article disputes both the validity and appropriateness of this message, claiming that a major reason for the different rates of cancer between men and women is greater expenditure of research and treatment in relation to women’s health.
The author would prefer a more positive message for men, and suggests something more along the following lines:
“Listen brother, every man’s and woman’s life is precious so why are we putting less time, energy and money into fighting cancer in men? It doesn’t make sense to me. Is it any wonder that more men than women are dying of cancer every single day? Are you okay with that? I’m not. So here’s what we’re going to do. Us men, all of us, we’re going to get together and make sure we start putting more time, energy and money into fighting male cancer, cos that’s the only way we’re going to beat this goddam, mother***ing disease. So who’s with me? Are you with me brother? Are you with me?”
The author closes with: “Now that’s the kind of good man narrative that I’d be happy to be part of, and it could apply to any of the issues that men and boys face.”
Fast forward to February 2015 and Ice-T has established the Male Awareness Foundation (MAF), which appears to be in a similar vein. MAF is described as a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men and boys where they live, work, play, and pray with sickness prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational material, advocacy opportunities, and patient referrals.
Now the following media story may appear relatively benign, and the research was no doubt well-meaning, but male-shaming remains nonetheless quite apparent. On 6 October 2014 an item appeared on the television news entitled ‘Men at risk of mental health problems‘.
I subsequently wrote to the Australian HQ of the ‘Movember’ organisation to query whether the ‘problem is that men don’t take their health seriously’ angle for the story originated with them or whether the media created this angle of their own volition. I received the following reply the next morning:
“Thanks for your email this morning in response to the news coverage overnight.
With regard to the claim that some men don’t take their health seriously, this was a finding from a study we conducted last month into the attitudes Australian men have towards their health and well-being. It revealed that 1 in 3 Aussie men don’t take their health seriously, in response to a specific question that asks whether they agree or not with the statement ‘I take my health seriously’. We surveyed a representative sample of over 1,500 men from around the country, aged 18+.
The media reported it as 1/3 , so they (not Movember) are saying it’s all men. In fact, it’s good to know that 2/3 do take health seriously, but there’s still some work to be done to raise awareness amongst the remaining 1/3 who don’t.
The purpose of the report is to shine a light on some of the challenges facing men and their health, with a view to raising awareness and sparking conversations about these issues, something the Movember aims to do through our annual Mo growing campaign. It certainly wasn’t intended to denigrate men or portray them negatively. We’re all about supporting men, raising awareness about their health and funding programs that help tackle prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health.
I hope that answers your query, Chris. Please do get back in touch if you have any further questions or concerns.” (Meagan Bell, Movember, 7 October, 2014)
I wrote back as follows:
“Thanks for your prompt response. Yes, I don’t disagree with the fact that some men need to take their health more seriously, and they should be encouraged and supported in doing so. My concern is that there are many factors contributing to men health problems, and that how seriously they take their health is but one of these. It is unfortunate though that this aspect – which brings with it an element of male-shaming – seems to more often than not be the focus of media articles and health campaigns. I would like to see more effort made to put this variable into a broader perspective of men’s health and for men to be encouraged – in a positive way – to do what they can to maintain good health.
Recognition must also be given to the fact that some contributing factors, like government support for medical research and treatment for men’s health issues versus the level of support given to women’s health issues – are not directly under men’s control.”
Another common assertion about men and their health – particularly mental health – is that men need to talk about things more. Especially their feelings.
A couple of issues crop up here:
When men do speak up they are often shamed or called things in the media/social media. Things like ‘whiny man-child’
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that many men are not helped by talking about things, this approach only adding to their anxiety. Most likely this is a point of difference between most men and most women.
Dr Zac Turner on whether men should get a vasectomy (10 April 2022) “I believe his connection to ‘neutering’ with getting a vasectomy is grounded in toxic masculinity”. Mind you, if a woman was concerned about contraception and/or medical procedures then that *wouldn’t be* Toxic Femininity, clear? Thanks #newscomauHQ
I was reading this article today dealing with suicide. It includes the statement:
“Mental health organisations are increasingly targeting their public awareness messaging towards men, given the data shows they’re three times more likely to suicide.
“Men aren’t very good at asking for help and addressing the issues,” Hayden said. “That’s something we need to focus more attention on.””
I was thinking that when health and personal safety issues disproportionately affect women (or when it’s claimed that they do, as in the case of domestic violence) then invariably men are blamed. Yet even when men are disproportionately afflicted, they are still blamed. Rarely has there appeared the suggestion that women contributed to serious problems affecting men (or even to their own problems). No, because according to cultural mores today that would be victim-blaming. That would be misogyny. And that would be wrong.
Can anyone think of an example, in say the last ten years, where such a suggestion has been put forward in the mainstream media? None, as far as I can recall. The root cause of social problems is usually, and conveniently, sheeted home to men and/or the patriarchy.
Take the case of suicide for example. What of the stress caused by a family court system that is biased against fathers? What of the pressure borne from the expectation that men contribute more financially in a relationship from the first date onwards? What of the pressure of being expected to take the lead, yet at any time to be criticized for doing so?
What of the pressure of expectations to be chivalrous in the face of mocking of traditionalism? What of trying to satisfy women’s needs and expectations when those needs and expectations vary widely from one woman to the next, and from one month to the next?
What of the continually demonisation of men in the media? The ongoing attacks on mens integrity and sense of self-worth by feminised government bureaucrats and feminist organisations?
No, no, no. It’s because men are reluctant to visit the doctor. It’s because men are frightened to talk about their feelings. Yes, that’s it. If only men would, you know, ‘man up’. There you have your solution.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Feminists often disparage men by falsely claiming that we believe that “men have it worse than women” and that “men believe that everything bad that happens to them is because of women“. Well, I don’t believe that and I don’t know anyone who does.
But surely it is fact that women, both individually and collectively, do generate significant problems for men, for themselves, and for their children. It is just extraordinary that this is not more openly acknowledged and discussed. And a very clear indicator, if one was needed, of the extent to which feminism has permeated and distorted western culture.
It’s true, I have a headache at the moment. Perhaps I’m suffering from some sort of a mental block. So will someone please tell me, in our modern western society, just exactly what women are being held accountable for? Are they in fact held responsible for anything in this world that is bad?
Go on, won’t someone throw this dog a bone?
Postscript: Alternative question for feminists to answer – Can you conceive of a problem/situation/dilemma where you wouldn’t blame a man?
Subject of article says her clients “have a hard time finding companionship organically and lack human connection and touch”, i.e. they’re lacking in some regard. Because the fact that they are paying someone to hold them couldn’t be due to a deficiency in women. But then in the next breath she observes that one particular client told her that his wife “never just wants to lay and be with him”. You think Lisa, that maybe the wife is at least part of the problem here?