Thursday 19th of November marks an International Men’s Day. Traditionally these special days have tended to acknowledge and champion minority groups, so this November celebration can raise a few eyebrows.
As part of our ‘Inclusive Chats with…’ video series Georgina Brown, Head of ED&I, discussed the need for International Men’s Day with Dr Richard Burke of Mechanical Engineering and Imroze Sahota, a Wellbeing Advisor in Student Services. You can watch the full video here.
Background and statistics
Men, like all genders, are diverse. However, there is an overriding stereotype that exists, and terms like ‘man up’ certainly help this to persist. But gender fluidity challenges more and more the very notion of binary gender division and what a ‘man’ is supposed to be.
At one end of the spectrum, men are trapped by the stereotype threat. Conforming to a socially conditioned idea of what a man should be, and the concept of toxic masculinity that can be associated with this. Performing to this trope of what it is to be male, can produce inner conflict, which in turn affects mental health and wellbeing.
The most common cause of death for men under 50 is suicide. Three out of four suicides are male. Society dictates that it is far harder for men to be vulnerable because that means acting outside of their gender role. So having a day that celebrates male diversity and reminds us that men do not have to be imprisoned by stereotypes in the same way that women do not, is positive.
We need to understand how we can all be authentic. Identify kinder, more liberated male role models that can act as genuine guides for men and young boys to aspire to. Providing choice of what it means to be a man, or just a kind human.
International Men’s Day can help celebrate men that challenge that stereotype threat. Raise awareness of the wellbeing implications of trying to live up to that false image, rather than being our authentic selves.