Men’s Issues and Modern Masculinity
Traditionally, the male role in society centred around providing, leading, and protecting. As a result, male success has often been associated with strength and financial prowess. These measures place huge pressure and stresses on men at the expense of other healthier factors such as being a present member of the family, the ability to express emotions, and engagement in society.
Better World Info’s ➡️ platform for men provides over 700 resources on key issues which affect men in today's world. Find organisations supporting vulnerable groups, specialist magazines and news portals, and important guides for gay men, men with disabilities, and fathers.
Our goal is to reframe the traditional male narrative, end harmful cultures such as toxic masculinity, and go beyond the stereotypes of men and violence. Men’s health urgently needs to be prioritised, health screenings normalised, and communicating concerns destigmatised.
Men are much less likely than women to report symptoms to a healthcare provider. Mortality rate for 8 out of 10 leading causes of death is significantly higher for men, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. The pressures of modern society, and the tendency for men to trivialise the importance of mental health has resulted in levels of male suicide to be 4 times higher than in females. With only one in five men seeking professional help regarding feelings of depression, suicide is now a leading cause of death for men aged under 50.
“It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind” – Alex Karras
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The Changing Role of Men in Society and Families
As gender equality becomes more normalised and stereotypes blur, traditional gender roles have overlapped and, in some cases, even switched. Male nurses, kindergarten teachers, and hairdressers for example are not only commonplace, but are celebrated. No longer seen as just the breadwinner, the male role has transformed into a much more multifaceted one.
Open mindedness and modern mindsets have allowed traditional gendered personality traits, occupations, and domestic duties to be distributed more evenly. This means that men are having to adapt to new expectations of masculinity and roles within the family. These traits include respect, empathy, communication skills, emotional intelligence, supportiveness, and vulnerability.
Discover a modern perspective on relationships, love, and sexuality, singles and online dating, and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Our comprehensive guide to fatherhood includes essential information on stay-at-home fathers, paternity leave, paternal rights, and raising boys not to be boys, but to be good humans.
Huge stigmas exist surrounding male health care. Men remain reluctant to visit professionals for regular check-ups, and continue to ignore the signs of stress, poor lifestyles, diet, and excessive alcohol consumption.
In general men are more likely to be in poor health than women, they also have a lower life expectancy. The leading cause of death in men is heart disease, the risks of which are seriously worsened by poor health, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and diabetes.
Men are at considerably higher risk than women for certain health issues:
Middle-aged men in the UK are twice as likely to have diabetes than women – and also twice as likely to not know that they have it
More than half of middle-aged men in the U.S. have high blood pressure
Premature deaths from heart disease in men accounts for 75% of total deaths
Prostate cancer in the UK is the second most deadly cancer for men, despite being highly survivable if caught early
Breaking gender stereotypes, supporting and encouraging regular screenings, normalising men’s health in conversation, prioritising emotional health, creating a network of supportive friends, and engaging in hobbies and physical exercise can all go a long way to end the male health crisis.
Find further information on men's health including men living with disabilities, the men’s rights movement, self-help, men's research, and much more.
The fight for gay liberation began in the 1920’s which marked the beginning of the gay civil rights movement and the shift towards equality for the LGBTQI+ community. Homosexuality, once incorrectly considered a form of illness, is now celebrated annually around the world in pride parades, marches, memorials, and concerts.
The U.S. recorded its first gay marriage in 1971 and same-sex marriage is now legal in 35 countries. Hate crimes against homosexuals in many states became punishable by law, discrimination policies and equality laws have been adapted to include sexual orientation, and a huge shift in attitudes has created a much more open minded and accepting society regarding members of the gay community.
Despite these huge milestones, gay rights are still violated everyday around the world. There are 11 countries where same sex relations are punishable by death. Many jurisdictions specifically criminalise sex between men. Conversion therapy is still practiced in many parts of the world, even in parts of the U.S. Russia is just one example of a country where members of the LGBTQI+ community face significant challenges. The majority of Russians hold strong views against homosexuality and support laws which actively discriminate against them.
Hate crime is a huge cause for concern. Two-thirds of the LGBTQI+ community have been the victim of anti-gay violence or abuse. With a quarter of the world's population still believing that same-sex relations should be a crime, much progress is still needed to eliminate discrimination in the workplace, in healthcare, education and in general day to day life.
Challenging Toxic Masculinity - Redefining Strength
Toxic masculinity is created by harmful male stereotypes, it fosters a culture of dominance, aggression, misogyny, and homophobia. These extreme masculine traits are damaging to men, women, and society overall.
Young men who conform to patriarchal notions of manhood are much more likely to not only harm others around them, but to harm themselves as well. It is a well-documented risk factor in domestic violence, male-to-male violence, sexism, sexual assault, and male privilege.
New modern masculine expectations have resulted in the embrace of diversity and inclusivity and redefined what it means to be masculine. Ideas of masculinity are evolving from men who were once defined by their salary and size of their biceps, to men who are able to care, communicate, express emotion, and to connect with others.
Positive masculinity demands an end to the ‘boys don’t cry’ culture. Being told to ‘man up’ no longer means suppressing your emotions and appearing tough. Education plays an important role in raising boys to be respectful, well-rounded, and feminist men. Breaking stigmas, challenging traditional gender roles, diversifying social circles, and providing opportunities for men to heal go a long way to breaking the cycle.
Modern masculinity can be supported by:
Finding nonviolent solutions to conflict
Encouraging men to express emotions
Fostering a culture of kindness and compassion
Active listening to male experiences and feelings
Checking in on male friends and loved ones
A healthier and more balanced sense of masculinity that allows men to be more connected with their emotions improves self-esteem, satisfaction with life, relationships, and in turn lowers the risk of mental health problems.
Social movements and awareness campaigns such as #MeToo and various high profile femicides have forced society to seriously reexamine how we deal with the highly damaging effects of toxic masculinity and the risks to society as a whole.
Men and violence have unfortunately gone hand in hand for generations. Not only are men more likely to be victims of violent crime than women, but they are also taught that expressing frustration through violence is acceptable. Men can feel that violent behaviour makes them worthy of respect and is often revered by their peers and society.
There are many social, biological, and environmental factors that impact male behaviour. Cross-cultural statistics have shown that there is a clear sex difference between the way men and women display aggression. Men are far more likely to express it through physical violence and verbal abuse. As a result, men are significantly overrepresented in violent crime statistics.
Once an overlooked but serious issue is that of domestic violence and sexual assaults among men. Embarrassment, shame, and lack of support from law enforcement has led to a culture of silence among male victims. One in three victims of domestic abuse are male. However, only 5% of the victims being assisted by local authorities in the UK are male, most likely as more than 50% of men fail to tell anyone at all that they are suffering.
In our category on military we highlight the longstanding connection between men and war. Apart from a handful of exceptions, throughout history, war has been waged almost exclusively by men. Globally, close to 80,000 soldiers die due to fighting in armed conflicts every year, unsurprisingly this figure is overwhelmingly men.
Why do so many men risk their lives? It could be that young men are seeking purpose, to prove themselves, or that they see enlistment as a rite of passage. Vulnerable men are targeted by states, even in high schools, where they are sold an attractive financial package which requires few skills and offers comprehensive training. Many young men are enamoured with weapons and war, and the media feeds this notion by portraying soldiers as heroes.
Soldiers have become the victims of the military-industrial complex. They are used as pawns for governments to reach their ultimate goals of power, hegemony, and political and financial gain. Military service is now the most common cause of PTSD in men. For American soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, as many as 30% developed the disorder.
Almost two thirds of U.S. veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan state that the war was not worth fighting when weighing up the costs versus benefits. Organisations such as Veterans for Peace support soldiers with PTSD, injuries, and other issues. They raise awareness of the true costs of militarism and war, and instead fight for peaceful and effective solutions to conflict.
Challenging Gender Norms – The Men of Tomorrow
We imagine a world where manliness is measured by the ability to express feelings, to solve problems without violence, where gender norms are malleable, and men are encouraged to embrace their feminine side.
Strength can be redefined and what it means to be a ‘real man’ is changing for the better. Men should have the freedom to express diverse notions of masculinity without being restricted by toxic stereotypes.
Toxic masculinity is slowly being replaced by healthy masculinity.
Equality and mutual respect is the basis for harmonious coexistence. We strive for a society where men and women have equal opportunities in society, family life, education, work, politics, and all other areas. Together we can realize this vision of a just, peaceful, and equal future for all people regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, social standing, skin colour, religion, age, or any other factor which may alienate an individual or group.
“All of us have to recognize that being a man is first and foremost being a good human. That means being responsible, working hard, being kind, respectful, compassionate. If you’re confident about your strength, you don’t need to show me by putting somebody else down. Show me by lifting somebody else up” - Barack Obama
Author: Rachael Mellor, 21.12.23 licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0
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Featured Organisation of the Month
A Call to Men
A Call to Men educates men all over the world by embracing and promoting a healthy, respectful manhood. It is a violence prevention organization and respected leader on issues of manhood, male socialization and its intersection with violence. It intends to prevent violence against all women and girls.
Featured Online Resource of the Month
State of the World's Fathers
State of the World’s Fathers, published by MenCare, is the world’s first report to provide a global view of the state of men’s contributions to parenting and caregiving. It represents a landmark analysis of fatherhood and caregiving, draws upon research and statistics from hundreds of studies covering all countries in the world with available data. The report provides recommendations for policy and programmatic action.