The suicides in men as compared to woman are 6:1. Recognising this it seems that many vocal people are demanding that men open up and ditch “toxic masculinity”. Unfortunately, this edict comes while the very same men are being told that they hold all of the power and privilege, and actually they would be best served shutting up because it is time for women to speak.
For half a century society has discussed the male shadow, often not in such pleasant terms, but the female shadow remains absent from conversation. Men must learn to integrate and recognise their shadow selves, but women haven’t even begun to peak at their own and this is creating an extremely dysfunctional relationship between the two sexes.
Warren Farrell found himself in opposition to the women’s movement with which he had fought so ardently after noticing a lack of consideration given to the failing young men in the 70s. One of the commonalities between these liberal countries in which this was observed was the permission for divorce. Fatherless boys were seen to be performing worse in school and in most divorce cases the judges, if pressed, would side with mothers out of a fear for their careers if the men went on to do something.
Contributing to the absence of fathers is the social acceptability for women to have children out of wedlock. In the US 53% of women under 30 who have children do so outside of a marriage, but it is not the marriage per se which makes the difference, it’s the effect it has on the probability that the children will have contact with their dads. Warren Farrell identified 70 different ways that children do worse without their fathers, and this effect is stronger and wider in boys as opposed to girls.
The reason boys are more effected may be because, with a mother, girls retain a role model. There is also the consideration that in the past few decades society has stressed the possibility of choice to females; stay at home full time, work full time, or do a combination of the two. This same message has not been given to males - rarely is it a discussion as to whether the father will leave his job and stay at home with the children.
In the past a young man could see himself fulfilled following two routes; that of a warrior, or that of a provider. The warrior, while disposable, was heroic and would fight for those less able or willing to do so. The provider would do what was necessary to maintain a quality of life for those around him for whom he cared. It is no bad thing that these two roles have been diminished because each comes with many stresses, health risks, and limitations. However, it had proved harmful to strip away these possibilities and put nothing in their place, focusing instead solely on the other sex, and in some cases removing the father figure who would help the young male navigate this life challenge.
Male disposability is encouraged via “social bribes” such as the cues given off by female attention. It is one thing to recognise that society bribes males to be disposable, such as in war or dangerous sports, but another to allow people to regard it as male privilege or power.
The combination of voids of both purpose and a father has likely created the very real problem in the mental health and productivity of a growing number of developing young males. More attention needs to be paid here and the stigma attached to those who talk about men in terms other than “power” needs to be removed if we are to make a better society for everybody. We will not see the flourishing of humanity if one of the sexes continues to hate and kill themselves at these alarming rates.