This is a comment by Cy Young and Bonnie on the post “6 Ways to talk to Your Son About Male Violence and Healthy Masculinity”.
What messages have you been bombarded with about violence as a man? Were you taught how to punch so you could defend yourself on the playground? Were you told that man who expressed their emotions were “pussies”? Cy Young and Bonnie tell what messages they have heard told to them and other men.
Cy Young said:
As a 29 year old man I can personally attest to having heard every single one of these “manly” man messages in my life. For the men who are older saying they’ve never picked up on these messages it’s probably cause you weren’t bombarded with them in the media growing up, my generation was.
Well, I have no experience of being a man, but I’ve suffered from depression for a number of years, and in that time I’ve seen a very small number of men in the support and therapy groups I attend. What I pick up on most strongly is that while it’s OK for me to cry and talk about how I feel and what my problems are and ask (beg, scream) for help, they can’t. I think it’s probably linked very strongly to the high number of men who successfully complete suicide that they’re just plain not allowed (by society’s perceptions) to show weakness, to need help.
I have a friend who is obviously going through something very painful right now. He can’t talk about it. It was obviously really hard for him to even admit there was something wrong.
From these things, I feel that the first three points at least are well targeted. We learn our gender roles very early in childhood because we mimic what we see around us, and certainly the most common depictions I see of men are all about strength manifested in duty, responsibility and the absence of emotion. So I think making feelings and pain admissible for men will be an important step towards improving mental health for men in general.
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