The Problem With Men’s Mental Health Activism
June was men’s health month, but you couldn’t even advocate for yourselves: no posts, events—nothing. Half of you don’t even know Men’s Day is on 18 November.
Every once in a blue moon when a male celeb commits suicide—or as this wise man said, each and after every two weeks oro monthly—men complain that they aren’t allowed to show emotion and they are punished if they do. This is valid and important, but my issue lies when they blame feminists for “not caring” and “not doing enough,” claiming only women’s mental health, issues and protests are heard. Well, I just googled all the times women’s protests and hashtags brought no change, now my laptop crashed because the results were as many as Future and Nick Young’s baby mamas combined, but I digress.
Now that my laptop is running again, first, I’ll explain how men’s oppression is not feminists’ fault, but rather, patriarchy’s. Next, explain how men are neither doing enough to advocate for their own issues nor creating safe spaces for each other. I’ll show that women feminists have in fact been doing all that work for them and disprove the claim that women’s issues are taken seriously.
Men fail to realise that men’s oppression is simply patriarchy backfiring on them.
When only men are drafted into war, it’s because patriarchy considers men physically stronger and women as fragile. When men complain about women expecting them to have money, it’s because patriarchy created the gender roles of men working while women stay at home. When men are shamed for wearing earrings and skirts, it’s because patriarchy considers womanhood degrading. And in this case, men not being allowed to show emotion and consequently having higher suicide rates is because patriarchy decided men are tough and stoic while women are weak and emotional.
Feminism didn’t do that to you, patriarchy did.
The Meninists™ complaining about men’s mental health are the same men who spend all day perpetuating gender stereotypes, make memes about Will Smith crying, call men “pussies” for being vulnerable and promote toxic masculinity constantly “each and after every two weeks oro monthly.”
As a feminist, I agree that patriarchy grooms emotionally constipated men who would literally rather start ten fitness routines and learn the entire history of the British monarchy instead of going to therapy. Society perpetuates this with phrases like “man up” and “boys don’t cry”. Men are only allowed to be emotional in violent verbally, emotionally and physically abusive ways like murdering women during fights and solving conflicts with their fists instead of communicating.
However, the problem I have with Meninists™ is:
- They only ever bring up men’s issues as a rebuttal to women talking about their issues.
- They blame women feminists for their problems.
- They remain silent all year and only speak out as often as Arsenal wins the Premier League, only when a man commits suicide.
June was men’s health month, but you couldn’t even advocate for yourselves: no posts, events—nothing. Half of you don’t even know Men’s Day is on 18 November. The emotional labour society expects women to do as supposedly genetically predisposed therapists whose destiny is to nurture society and men, is excessive and unfair. Women are not rehabilitation centres for emotionally damaged men. We are expected to cook, clean, give birth, then also be men’s emotional safe spaces. What is stopping men from creating safe spaces for each other?
Feminists have historically advocated for men to be allowed to be emotional. The reason we can even have this conversation is because feminists brought it to the table. We gave you the language to describe your hurt, like “toxic masculinity” which men now use to express how they’re expected to be emotionless machos. We pushed the idea of gender roles and stereotypes oppressing both men and women and the emotional impact thereof. We showed how the devaluation of femininity is why effeminate men are ostracized. We raised the issue of male rape victims being silenced because patriarchy portrays and grooms men as sex-obsessed, meaning men “can’t get raped” because men always enjoy sex.
Even after oppressing us for centuries, women have fought for men more than they have ever fought for themselves, while low-fat milk male activists allegedly only care about men’s mental health and issues when a celebrity commits suicide, or to interrupt a woman complaining about her oppression. “Men get depressed/raped too!” says a man interrupting a feminist. Not only does this silence women speaking out, it also makes a mockery of male rape/mental illness/suicide victims. These men deserve a wholehearted conversation about their issues, not reducing them to an “aha! Checkmate!” to interrupt women.
If you are so concerned about men’s mental health, go and do the work instead of pretending you give a crap by making male victims a token to interrupt women.
The men’s mental health campaign is never going to make any progress if you are stuck in the space of expecting women to do it for you while you put in the effort our government does to end unemployment. Women fought for centuries to be heard—putting more effort than that poor squirrel from Ice Age fighting for its acorn—even when society fought back. At no point did we sit back and do nothing while heckling men for not doing all the work for us. We stood up for our rights, and merely asked men to change their ways and be allies, while Meninists™ are slacktivists acting entitled to women’s emotional labour.
Women cannot fight femicide, rape culture and systemic oppression every day while consistently being expected to be Bob the Builder and gardeners who grow men into emotionally responsible people.
Who is stopping you from starting an actual campaign to normalize therapy, starting initiatives, support groups, seminars and NGOs for men’s issues? Who is stopping you from being a safe space for your fellow men? My male friend said he only confides in his women friends because it’s awkward. This is why the cycle continues—you are unwilling to confide in other men since it’s “undignified.” Because you don’t create safe spaces for each other. Because you don’t call each other out for the toxic masculinity that is hurting you.
You will say “I can’t express myself because I was taught to repress my emotions.” Now that you’ve identified the problem, unlearn these toxic mechanisms! Go for therapy if you realise you need help being more emotionally assertive. Women’s lives have been shaped by misogyny from birth, but once we realized it, we had to unlearn internalized sexist ideals and relearn positive ones, just as men should for their mental health. We constantly call out Pick Me™ girls and female gatekeepers of patriarchy who perpetuate gender roles and misogyny. All. The. Time. Even when it’s uncomfortable and causes tension. And men should hold each other accountable too, even when it’s uncomfortable, or nothing will change.
Feminism has always been a dirty word, especially before the suffragette movement, meaning speaking about our issues and how they affected our emotions was “undignified” too, but that didn’t stop us from allowing ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable to seemingly uncaring men, forcing them to listen and change their behaviour. Changing the status quo requires you to be emotionally vulnerable to other men, making them listen to your emotions and change instead of refraining because they won’t listen. That didn’t stop women from speaking out, and it paid off, even when it got us socially ostracized, punished, murdered, arrested, because revolutions are never easy.
Interestingly, these men claim women’s issues and protests are taken more seriously.
If there’s wind in your area, that’s me sighing, because y’all, womanhood is the most ghetto hood I’ve ever lived in.
Stop making unfounded assertions pinched from thin air. Now my laptop has crashed again because: ERROR 404 – CRITICAL THINKING NOT FOUND.
If our issues were taken seriously, why does South Africa’s femicide rate remain five times the global average, and rape statistics remain astronomical despite countless protests and so many social media movements, e.g. #MeToo and #AmiNext, yet nothing changes? How about how female rape victims aren’t taken seriously by authorities and courts even with evidence? If we were taken seriously:
- 1 in 4 South African men wouldn’t admit to having raped
The gender pay gap wouldn’t exist
- Powerful men like Donald Trump, Jacob Zuma, Cristiano Ronaldo, R Kelly, Jeff Colby, Chris Brown etc wouldn’t remain supported despite numerous allegations, confessions and evidence.
- 1 in 3 Zimbabwean girls wouldn’t experience sexual violence before turning 18.
If I listed everything, the list would be longer than a Nigerian movie. There’s a difference between an issue being discussed and something being done about it. Women’s issues are discussed, but rarely is something done about it. Stop making claims that have been proven wrong over and over again by history, facts and statistics.
In conclusion, men, you need to get your house in order and join feminists in fighting for YOUR emotional emancipation. Stop being half-feminists who only care about patriarchy when it hurts you, help us with our battles too. Lastly, it’s okay to cry, okay?