There are many things in life that annoy me; society’s inherent desire to label someone based on one aspect of their personality, chocolate bars gradually shrinking in size whilst increasing in price, badly written novels that become worldwide sensations, the Australian media, the continual discrimination of the mentally ill, scratched library DVDs and Alan Jones.
But the biggest annoyance in my life is the continual repetition of the ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ trope.
Personally, and until someone proves otherwise, men are from Earth, Women are from Earth and instead of endlessly stereotyping perhaps we should just accept people for who they are, what they think and just be done with it.
As the Australian media continues its fetishistic obsession with these contradictory stereotypes I’m reminded of a post I wrote in November 2007. Although I was not at my coherent best at the time – curse you mood swings – this post has always been a particular favourite of mine. If only for the first italicised paragraph.
Thus, beginning my quest to clean up and repost a selection of my original posts, I present On Being Male: Men and Mental Health.
On Being Male: Men and Mental Health
I have a confession to make.
I’ve been lying to you all.
I’ve been lying to everyone for the last 28 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and lord knows how many seconds! Now, a week or so before my 29th birthday I have decided to come clean, stand up and confess. If it leads to a spanking for flagrant fibbing then so be it! It has to be done, no question about it, can’t keep up these lies any more.
[blimey that feels good!]
It’s like this fifty-eight thousand tonne weight has been lifted off my somewhat hairy back. It’s true though – I’m not a man. It’s perfectly understandable why you’d all think so, what with the presence of a beard, chest hair, rippling muscles, an Adam’s apple, a penchant to get a hard-on at the mere passing thought of a naked woman, and the ability to turn into a raving ape at the actual sight of a naked woman…and oh yeah, I’ve got a penis.
But alas, I am not a man.
I don’t feel the desire to – when ratarsed – piss in shop doorways; I don’t wolf whistle at woman as they walk down the street; I don’t chug pints of beer as a hobby; nor do I watch sports [breath] I don’t shag other women when I’m in a relationship; I remember birthdays and anniversaries and all sorts of grossly inappropriate important events; I never leave the toilet seat up nor do I feel the need to play the “I can get less urine in the bowl than you” game [breath] I think beer tastes like luke-warm yak’s vomit; I don’t feel the need to lie to a woman constantly in order to (a) impress her (b) cheat on her or (c) bang her; I don’t play football nor receive ridiculously pseudo-erotic pleasure from watching guys running around a field in tight shorts but I do however receive ridiculously pseudo-erotic pleasure from watching a man in a waistcoat screw a ball the length of the table [breathe] I see woman as more than just t-a-c; don’t keep a tally of how many lays I’ve had; I drink alcopops…in public…have never vomited into a pint glass; stolen a witch’s hat; got into a fight; screwed my girlfriend’s best friend nor would I no matter how tempted I may be [breathe] I’d never slap a woman in the face; nor on the ass as a means of coming on to her [smaller breath] I would never give a woman a job based solely on the quality of her posterior; nor get into a discussion about rating my friends’ tits on a 1-10 scale; I wouldn’t scribble 100 words for a woman’s sacred garden above the urinals in the pub…sacred garden? You need more proof? Fine…my mood changes frequently; I talk about my emotions; am not afraid to cry if I want to; nor even when I don’t [breath] I want babies; I want commitment; I like living somewhere where I can see the carpet; I’ve never measured my cock when I’m alone; when I’m talking to a woman I look at her eyes; I really don’t see the appeal of a g-string; think cricket is bloody stupid; and would much rather be sitting on a beach talking to a woman about the pros and cons of John Howard than sitting on a beach staring at her arse [breath] I really don’t see why women need to shave their legs; or their armpits; or their moustache and to be blunt would much rather sleep with someone with a bush hairier than a badger’s back than a bald bush smoother than that of a prepubescent schoolgirl; oh, and I care more about women’s orgasms than I do my own, colour me selfish that way [breath] I have no problem ballroom dancing with another man; I have no problem hugging another man; I have no problem talking emotionally with another man; I have no problem crying in front of another man; I have no problem going to see a Doctor if I’m sick; nor do I have a problem with eating an egg and broccoli quiche whilst asking for directions from a man chowing down on a steak sandwich; and oh yes, I admit to making mistakes.
[before I pass out]
Bloody hell I could go on all day, but hey, the easiest way to prove my twenty-nine year-long deception – I have no problem with standing up before the whole world and announcing: I suffer from mental illness!
Little embarrassing, I seem to have made a mistake.
I am a man.
A hell of a man!
Because to be a man is to be one thing: courageous.
To have the courage to…
cry whilst watching Bambi; actually ask for help from the female shop assistant when buying lingerie for your girlfriend; talk about vaginas, tampons and hormones with your girlfriend without passing out; order quiche in the restaurant; actually buy lingerie your girlfriend would like and feel sexy in rather than something you want to see the female shop assistant wear for you; tell your girlfriend if you’ve had a fight with your best mate; cry whilst eating the best piece of tofu you’ve ever tasted; nervously shake when you kiss a woman for the first time; say no to your girlfriend’s best friend when she’s seducing you in the nuddy; realize sport is a complete waste of your life; that pissing in doorways just makes you look like a twat; take your girlfriend’s tampon out of her bag and give it to her without treating it like a live hand grenade; nervously shake when you kiss a woman for the first time badly; ask where her clit is & if there’s anything you’re doing wrong; cry if you’re feeling upset; not hit the first thing you see if you’re drunk, angry or stupid; say ‘I love you’ in circumstances that don’t involve blow jobs; nervously shake when you kiss a woman for the first time badly and then joke about it afterwards; not always follow your penis’ every request; admitting to how you’re feeling; follow your beliefs no matter what they may be or how derisive your friends are being; not always cum first and then fall asleep; put the toilet seat down; go to the Doctor; tell your girlfriend you have a problem; hell, tell any of your friends that you have a problem.
Being a man is having the courage to stand up and admit that you have a mental illness and not care what anyone thinks.
[And I’m not just saying that because I’m a man who is doing this same exact thing]
That one simple word is what being a man is. It’s what being a woman is. Because ultimately, when stripped down, genitals aside, we’re all equal. Believing in yourself so much that you don’t care what other men or women think of you. If other men can’t handle it, then, they don’t deserve that beer they pretend to like so much. If women can’t handle it, then, remember that the most important thing is the emotional connection you have, not how many or how often you’ve shagged.
Quality, not quantity.
This insipid culture we now live in where a man is considered to be weak, worthless and spineless because he admits to having a mental illness is what is costing lives. More men die from suicide every year than women. More men go through life in mental pain than women. Why? Because they’re too afraid to admit they have a problem. Why? Because they don’t have the courage to stand up to the fear, derision and masculine stripping vilification they will receive from all corners if they do. Why? Well, that’s just because everyone’s decided what a man should be instead of realizing they are – like women – human. Men don’t come from Mars any more than women don’t come from Venus (and just for the record, you don’t have to like visiting Uranus to be man).
One of the purest forms of the stigma against mental health is also one of the vilest forms of stigma out there; sexism. And however controversial this may sound, it’s being propagated by women just as much, if not more so, than by men.
Women desire men to be men and this means not having flaws or problems or weaknesses.
In order for a man to be accepted they must act in this way regardless of how they’re feeling.
For we wouldn’t want to be weak now would we!
In a discussion on mental illness I was once told by someone that they could believe and accept in the existence of a woman suffering from depression, but could not believe that a man would have “any reason to be unhappy”. In other words, women are allowed to suffer from a mental health problem, but in men it’s seen as a weakness, a trait to be avoided, ignored, derided and laughed at.
Is it any wonder why so many men are blowing their heads off or chucking themselves off bridges?
Tell me, what’s more courageous?
1. Bottling up all of your emotions so that a woman can respect you – only to have your brains redecorate your office courtesy of the gun in your mouth?
2. Admitting to a woman that you have a problem, and talking about it. Even if it means there’s a chance you’ll never visit her sacred garden again?
Yep, you’re right.
If it’s true that a woman can’t be attracted to a man who cries, then there is something seriously wrong with the world we live in. Men have feelings, men feel pain, men hurt – and they should be allowed to show all this without recrimination.
Women need to realize this.
Men need to realize this.
We all need to realize this.
— — —
This post was originally written in November 2007. Even though it’s been five years and I was somewhat unstable at the time I’ve always enjoyed this post tremendously and still believe it’s relevant today.
However, I’m happy to point out that in the last five years progress has been made in the area of men and mental health.
First and foremost is a fantastic website call Soften the Fck Up (a play on the old stereotype that men should just harden the f**k up) which is chock full of articles, personal stories and information regarding help and assistance.
Secondly, there has been an increase in awareness of the Mensline help line. Although not specifically aimed at mental health, it’s one of the only help lines that specifically targets men and encourages them to seek help instead of bottling up their problems.
Thirdly, the Movember movement has steadily grown over the last few years to become more known and widespread.
Each of these – as well as other initiatives that encourage men to speak out – are all welcome and needed. Sooner or later it will finally be accepted that men have just as much right to feel emotions as a woman does, and rather than punishing men who do, it should be encouraged.