In general you shouldn’t assign traits a gender. Even positive stereotypes are dangerous as they merely legitimise the negative ones. Having said that…….. Boys don’t talk to each other, girls do. Also girls smell better (but I’m not sure that’s relevant here). Those of us with a Y chromosome really need to follow the trail blazed by our ‘sisters’, we need to learn it’s okay to talk about things, it’s okay to open up and ask for help.
I’ve written extensively and often incoherently about mental health, I’m brutally honest and have basically fuck all shame. The truth is I don’t really give a fuck about what any of you think about me (sorry). Every time I write a blog a handful of people get in touch either publicly or privately, they share with me their stories and explain their insecurities, this actually does mean a lot to me, that effective strangers are comfortable opening up in my (virtual) presence, if I wasn’t emotionally dead inside I’m sure I’d have shed a tear or two. What always strikes me is that the vast majority of those that contact me are women, a few guys will hint that they’ve been through similar things but it’s an incredibly rare thing for them to come out and say ‘yeah I’ve felt like that, I’ve considered killing myself’. A quick look at the suicide statistics tells you it’s not ‘cause men don’t have those feelings.
It’s not exactly earth shattering to say that one of the reasons men are reluctant to discuss what’s going on in their heads is that they’re trying to live up to (often subconsciously) some macho ideal of what a man should be. The thing is, that supposed ideal is a massive crock of shit. None of us come anywhere near it, and for good reason, the world has moved on, society has evolved.
Not one of you could hunt down and kill your tea if Tesco was out of burgers, fuck off could you build a shelter, you’d probably put your back out trying to chop down a tree. Thankfully you don’t need to do any of those things because, guess what? Society has evolved. It’s all about progress.
I can do twelve pull-ups with perfect form (dead hang no kipping) so that makes me a man right? But I’m happy to talk about my feelings and admit my failings (of which there are a fuck load) so that makes me a…… well actually I don’t know.
I am in posession of probably the world shittest superpower, I’m able to spot the symptoms of depression from a fucking mile off, no matter how subtle. I’ve seen male friends of mine careering at great speed to the the absolute bottom, genuinely broken but still incapable of asking for help or more importantly accepting it. My female friends always do that talking thing they do before it gets to that stage. There’s no real reason that things should be that way. Incidentally that ‘superpower’ doesn’t extend to being good at reading people’s intentions or anything actually useful, once at a party a girl kept asking if I wanted a line of coke and I was all like “naw, not really my thing”, after about the fourth time of asking my mate had to point out that she was trying to have sex with me, like I said, Worlds Shittest Superpower.
On a slightly more serious note it’s fucking harrowing to watch people start on what is to say the least, a pretty bumpy road and realise that decades of social conditioning make it nigh on impossible to help.
Obviously overriding sexual stereotypes and abolishing gender based roles is no easy task, see inequalities of pay, under representation of women in boardrooms and even rape culture if you don’t believe me. But it’s something we absolutely must do.
If it helps, as I pointed out about ¾ of a page ago, you’re already kind of doing that. You might have a beard but you trim it neatly and moisturise where you’ve shaved, you might have had a massive slab of meat for tea but you didn’t chase the the fucker down and butcher him on your kitchen table, that car in your driveway might be an impressive piece of machinery but if anything went wrong with it you’d have shit all idea how to fix it. All of this is fine, it’s nice to have soft skin, it’s nice not to have half a dead cow in your house and it’s nice when your car doesn’t blow up killing everyone in the vicinity. The next step is to stop being such a dick and admit when you’re feeling down, it’ll make you feel better, which is, you know, nice.
(I realise that last paragraph was full of lazy stereotypes and that’s the hallmark of a shit writer but, and we’ve been through this before, I really don’t give a fuck what any of you think).
There’s a pretty good chance you won’t have taken anything from this and that’s probably my fault, but if you think you’d like to take something and just aren’t sure what then here’s a suggestion.
If you haven’t spoken to your mate for a while then give them a text, see if they fancy a pint or whatever it is you people that socialise do, talk to them, ask them if they’re okay. It might help more that you could possibly imagine.
I’m on twitter, let’s be twitter friends https://twitter.com/AllorNothingMag
In case you were wondering what happened with the girl at the party, by the time I’d realised sex was a possibility I was too drunk to do anything about it, ironically a line of coke might have straightened me out.