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  • Writer's pictureBrighter Pathways

This Comment Gets to the Heart of Why Myself, and Others, Are Talking About Men’s Mental Health More

Boyyo, this stuff is not easy to talk about. But I believe it’s important that we do, and for some reason I’ve decided to take it upon myself to show up in this conversation. Please know that I find it somewhat tiring, but I sincerely believe it serves the greater good, so whatevs. Taking one for the team (all connected and that).

This comment, from my, somewhat explosive, recent Instagram post (title: The Issue With the Term “Toxic Masculinity”) points to the heart of why myself, and others (like the excellent Instagram page @thetinmen) are speaking to men’s mental health matters more.

White, single, unemployed men are statistically the highest risk group for suicide [1], yet somehow we have no compassion left for this group. We call them toxic and incels (which in a really effed up way connects sex to value, something that we rightly don’t accept with women - e.g. “sl*t shaming”) and we seem to assume everything is hunky dory for this group. Despite the suicide stats.

And now to identity politics. This person in the comments has decided to speak on behalf of trans people. But who elected this person to represent all trans people? Surely trans people are a group with lots of individuals, all of whom have different opinions. Indeed, many trans men have reached out to me saying they support my message. For the record, I am totally open to hearing this person’s unique experience - what it is like to be that individual. But when someone, anyone, speaks on behalf of an entire group - a group with tons of variety, nuance, and complexity - then it stops making sense to me.

Honestly, part of me gets annoyed when I get accused by someone for lacking awareness or openness, when they themselves are doing exactly that. Another part gets annoyed when people speak on behalf of an entire group they weren't elected to represent, a group in which there are tons of nuanced individuals with differing opinions (and before you say it, I'm not speaking on behalf of men: I'm simply highlighting biases, blindspots, and misunderstandings surrounding men).

So yeah, I get annoyed. Sometimes that comes out because I'm human. In the comments section I've tried my imperfect best to remain calm, curious, and compassionate. It's honestly hard though. This is such a loaded topic. And although it's a lot to take on, I still feel like it's important to discuss. I truly feel like we need to get better at having difficult conversations with people we disagree with. If we shut down dialogue with people we disagree with, then no progress can ever be made. Because no one person or side ever has all the answers.

Especially when it comes to matters like these that are so complex and nuanced.

Am I mad? (I mean, we’re all a bit mad, right). Keen to hear your thoughts.



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