The Global Campaign for Men and Boys
Glen Poole continues his look back on 2013 and picks his 50 top stories highlighting the many different inequalities that men and boys in the UK and beyond face:
40. Government accused of not doing enough to tackle men’s unequal risk of suicide
In August the BBC’s Today Programme ran a feature about male suicide with the excellent men’s charity the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity’s key complaint was that the Department of Health is failing to recognise the problem.
Jane Powell, the campaign’s founder and director, told the Today programme that the problem was “cultural”, she explained that “we don’t see men as needing help”.
12 men a day currently die by suicide in the UK.
41. There are 3 ancient rules of masculinity
One of the most interesting new takes on masculinity in 2013 came from Psychologist Martin Seager. The former government advisor is undertaking research on the ancient rules of masculinity in an attempt to put these rules into words.
Martin, a pioneer of male psychology in the UK, is hosting a male psychology conference in 2014 and has been campaigning for several years for the British Psychological Society to approve a Male Psychology Section.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this week Martin said there are three ancient rules of masculinity which we’ve been which add up to a male script:
Seager says these are shame rules which means that when a man is unable to remain control or to provide or be a winner he may sit on those feelings which can make him more vulnerable to suicide for example.
Seager shared his masculinity rules during a BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview about male suicide.
42. Yes men can be victims of online abuse too
August saw an outbreak of media coverage about men abusing women online and so trolling—like stalking, domestic violence and sexual violence—became another social problem that is presented as “men doing it to women”.
I attempted to add some balance to the debate with an article at The Guardian called “online abuse is not limited by gender” in which my key was simply that if you cast a wide enough net you soon discover that online abuse is not limited by gender.
I also compiled a mix of views in a blog post “online abuse, is it a man thing or a woman thing” which uncovered some interesting stories such as online bullying of women by other women; a TV journalist being harassed after a women sparked a tirade of online abuse and comedian Dom Joly discovering that one of the people anonymously trolling him was a 14 year old girl.
I also wrote a longer feature for the Good Men Project called “men we have a problem with online abuse” in which I asked:
“So where do men who are concerned about all victims of violence and abuse stand when people speak out about men’s abuse of women? Do we get behind them? Do we leave them to get on with it? Do we say ‘what about the men’? Do we say what about everybody?
“From my perspective, holding men who threaten women with rape to account for their actions is a welcome move and at the same time we need to ask ourselves this very important question—why are we collectively more tolerant of violence against men and boys?
“Until we ask that question, the majority of gendered conversations about violence will continue to focus on men abusing women and when it comes to violence and abuse, online or off, that isn’t the only gender angle we need to focus on.”
43. Are women just as likely to rape men….?
Ally Fogg wrote an eye-opening blog about sexual aggression by women towards men.
Fogg highlighted the findings of 2010 research from the US that revealed that the proportion of men being forced to penetrate women in the previous year was identical to the rates of women being raped.
Fogg admits that he has been dubious and sceptical about the findings for some time and drew a blank when he tried to find other reports to back up the finding. Then as he dug deeper he discovered that the data wasn’t unique and that there was a raft of research going back to the 1980s that made similar claims.
“Society needs to be aware that it is a serious issue, not a joke” concludes Fogg. “Our mental health and social care systems need to be more alive to the extent of the issue, be open to the possibility that emotionally and sexually troubled men might be troubled for this very reason.
“And this might sound bizarre, but perhaps women need to be aware that they can and do assault and abuse men. I strongly suspect many women genuinely believe that any man will be (literally) up for it at any time, and will always be glad of a sexual thrill. This is as much of a rape myth as any other.”
In November, American psychotherapist Tom Golden in the U.S. pointed to separate research that revealed that boys were more likely to experience the most severe forms of sexual abuse than girls, with male victims being around 10 times more likely to be abused by a woman than female victims.
44. Male victims of domestic violence are invisible
Abused Men in Scotland (Amis) continued to evolve as one of the most forward-thinking voices in the world of domestic violence. One of the key contributions they have made to the debate this year is highlighting the existence of the “public story” of domestic violence which tells us that domestic abuse is perpetrated exclusively by men against women.
Nick Smithers of Amis highlighted the “public story” concept in an excellent article for The Scottish Review. According to Nick:
“Men experiencing domestic abuse can be caught in a double bind – the fabled stoicism of the Scottish male preventing many from seeking help to escape the trap of coercive control and miserable existence. The fear that, if they leave, their children will remain in the care of an abusive parent is very real for many fathers as the public story powerfully marginalises them from apparently universal services.
“While some may bemoan the Scottish man and his unwillingness to seek help it behoves others to consider the services they provide and to question how open they are to men and how much consideration they give to accessibility to all.
“Is it right that we dismissively blame men’s reticence to seek help on their innate characteristics when domestic abuse services are framed as violence against women services across the vast majority of the country? With such unambiguous terminology it is hardly surprising that a man will not pick up the phone and ask for help.”
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SEE PART 6 OF OUR TOP STORIES FROM 2013 TOMORROW