The UK may be battling a political struggle filled with uncertainty, but this sadly is not the only epidemic that is threatening our society. We are facing a male identity crisis in the western world. The incessant bid for equality branded in the name of feminism has left the idea of Man being confused, and this confusion is having a detrimental effect.
Equality is almost impossible in the true sense of the word, because we are not equal. Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind commented that ‘consistency is a playground of dull minds’, as women fight to be heard, powerful and righteous, they are pushing men further into a dark place. Throughout history Man has been predatory, strong, stable, protective and stable ‘biology enables, culture forbids’. While women are fighting to be seen as the same, men are fighting their own inner demons to face the fact that they craving to be truly seen and understand that if they don’t feel all of the above it is OK and not a sign of weakness. Dr Meg Meeker, author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters spoke about men and mental health during her TEDx talk in 2016, stating that ‘it’s time to let our men be men and respect them for who they can be, because for so long women have been putting them down’.
Despite Meeker making points that some people view as controversial, a report published in 2017 does depict a bleak picture with 6,639 suicides being committed and a scary figure revealing that the highest rate of suicides was amongst men, with this increasing by 3.8% since 2014.
There is great speculation surrounding the topic as to the root cause. With campaigns encouraging men to ‘fight their mates corner’, and avid campaigners pleading for the public to just ask how your friend is and actually listen to the response. This isn’t always easy and as the sporting world are now having to admit there are only pockets of the system that are successful at taking into account their player’s wellbeing. Gareth Southgate has commented that footballers are ‘bloody hard work’ and when it comes to emotions because they don’t want to ‘show weakness to each other’. This attitude must change and so far in the sporting world have been lucky to not have more cases of men struggling further with mental health.
Although Southgate is commenting on players, these attitudes are mirrored throughout male society. Football is not the only industry struggling with men’s health. Considering it is believed that they’re 107:100 ration of men to women currently on the planet, help is needed.
Earlier this year, Prince Harry bravely spoke out about his mental wellbeing surrounding his mother’s death. Supporting his brother the Duke of Cambridge alongside the Duchess have set up the project about heads together ‘we have seen time and time again that unresolved mental health problems lie at the heart of some of our greatest social challenges’.
Male identity has been lost and scrutinised to find its true meaning and sense of place. An identity doesn't come from a celebrity, a gang, books or the government. It comes from a father. The only one who can give you your true identity as a man is a father. This fundamental principle is lacking in many of our cultures, and its absence is the source of many social problems.
It has been my experience and observation that the boy has been forgotten through the ages. Most young men are running around looking for a father that they can't find, myself included. Some, in the mist of confusion, seek companionship from another male looking for that love that they never got from their father but desperately holding on to the wrong kind of love from another male, turning them into something that they’re not.
The modern father comes in various forms. Today’s father is no longer always the traditional married breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. He can be single or married; externally employed or stay-at home; an adoptive or step-parent; and a more than capable caregiver to children, regardless of their circumstance. But facing physical or psychological hurdles can make it more of a strain and create resentment on both sides.
The greatest challenge for men (and women) today, especially the ones who had no father figure in the home, is that they suffer from an identity crisis. They lack the nurturing influence of a true father to give them identity.
A man (also a woman stated by Dr Meg Meeker) needs to be affirmed by a father in order to confirm his manhood. This is why so many young men, yearn to hear their father say to them, ‘I love you, son. You are a man now’. My heart bleeds watching men not being taught how to live a successful life in the now as they are starving for a father's guidance or father’s love!
As a society, we need to stop, stand up, shout and empower our men the way we wish to be empowered. We are more powerful when we stand together, united to bring up strong families. However, we are only as strong as our weakest link and right now we need to support one another as individuals, so a more balanced society can thrive!