In the last year since I started to take an interest in mental health as it affects men specifically, I’ve become hyper-aware of the sort of language and attitudes people have towards men when it comes to issues where men suffer and need help. There seems to be a clear “always the perpetrator, never the victim” approach and I feel it is the biggest hurdle for men getting or seeking help. Let me give you a few examples.
We still see violence against men by female intimate partners as something amusing (see video) even when it means cutting off his penis and throwing it in the waste disposal – which of course is not domestic violence, it’s “fabulous” and it’s “different” from a man cutting off a woman’s breast. She can’t do him any real harm can she? Yes, she can.
Attitude: Men can defend themselves and so it’s not real abuse.
I hope for Sharon Osborne’s sake her son is never mutilated by a female intimate partner.
I have mentioned before that when I had my first blog 30 Something and Breaking Up, I spent a lot of time on sex-positive blogs that were frequented by feminists; I was there because I was trying to come to terms with a) my sexless marriage and b) why my wife would throw our lack of sex in my face when she was the one persistently rejecting my advances. When I openly sympathised with a woman who had been cheated on by her husband and explained my situation – the reaction of some of the other commenters there shocked me. What was it? That I must have done something to deserve being cheated on.
Attitude: that women cheat for because they are driven to it (victim) and men cheat because they are opportunistic (active perpetrator).
While we’re on the subject…
I’ve covered this many times so I won’t go over again in too much detail. Remember the Spreadsheet Saga? When a man released a spreadsheet onto the internet of all the times his wife had rejected sex, it started a campaign of shrieks of “male entitlement” (him perpetrator, her victim). When a few weeks later a woman did the same, no feminist stepped forward to call her entitled. If anything, she received sympathy, especially from friends who said she should leave him for not looking after her needs (him perpetrator, her victim).
Attitude: He feels entitled to her body, she has needs.
Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other celebrities had their phones and tablets hacked and personal photos in which they appeared nude were released onto the internet. Once again, this starting a dialogue about “male entitlement” and “objectification”. You would be forgiven for thinking that there was not a single male victim of “The Fappening” but there were several. They included Nick Hogan (son of wrestler Hulk Hogan) and former Doctor Who Matt Smith. There were far more female than male celebs hacked, but that will come as very little comfort to the men affected who seem to have received no sympathy from the media.
Rejection is a part of life and this certainly true when it comes to matters of the heart. We’ve all been interested in someone who did not return our affections. Men largely go through this more often because we are expected to be the initiator when it comes to courtship. This means that women are less likely to take a risk and less likely to be rejected (in numbers if not in proportion). It is said that women are condemned (as sluts) for saying “yes” yet men are more often condemned for saying “no”. This is because we accept that women are going to be the choosier gender. Men are supposed to want to sleep with anything; this is why it is taken as a personal affront when we do say “no”.
Attitude: If a man rejects a woman, it is because he is shallow. If a woman rejects a man it is because she is choosy.