Welcome

Welcome

Sunday, 20 November 2016

He-Man

So if you didn't hear, yesterday was International Men's Day.
Now whether it should be a thing when men arguably have the other 364 days as well is beside my point.
I am going to use the day to write a post on the issue it raises, "Stop Male Suicide".

Male suicide is a silent killer.

On a country by country basis, men are two times more likely to commit suicide than women.
In the UK and US, the ratio is four to one.

Domestic abuse of men is not often discussed (Survivors and Mankind initiative are doing great work on changing this) and sexual assault on males? You'd still get laughed out of the room. An anonymous friend who confided in me that he was horrifically sexually assaulted by a woman told me that almost every male friend that he shared with said "at least you had sex", or "was she at least hot?"

There is a poisonous nature to the male image, it is a stoic, 'doesn't need help, doesn't look for help' image. Our childhood toys and idols are chiseled supermen who always win the day, fueled by big muscles and charisma.

There was rightly furore over the anatomically ridiculous barbie dolls, and the equally ridiculous body image they were conveying as right.
But equally, have you ever seen He-Man? Hulk Hogan?

Throughout my upbringing, I never really saw a man cry. I thought tears were weak, I thought they made you vulnerable. It was sub-consciously drilled into me throughout my formative years that you didn't talk about emotion with your friends, you didn't talk about sad things. You talked about football and gaming.
Though they are great topics of discussion, I know for a fact that several of my friends from those teenage years (myself included) were going through losses, and through pretty severe emotional trauma. But we never talked about it.

The only time the lid ever came off was when alcohol was discovered, I remember being propped against a kitchen fridge, with a male friend, both of us crying. At the time, I felt infinitely stupid, now, looking back on it, I haven't cried like that for years.

I remember distinctly one more time, (like it's a competition to get the lowest amount) at my grandfather's funeral. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I looked up at my older brother, my role-model, and he was silently sobbing. I cried then. He had, so it felt OK for me.

We build walls.
We all do.

A body image that isn't defined by adverts, that's the dream, right? For both genders. A self-image that isn't defined by the media, that's the dream, right? For both genders.

If you are a man/young man, reading this, know that it's quite OK to talk to friends, and professionals about emotion, about feeling.

Don't let yourself be defined by a male image which thrives on stiff upper lips and overt machismo.

It's quite OK to cry.

It's quite OK to cry.


Samaritans 24 hour support service - 116 123
NHS - 111
Mind – call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (9am-6pm on weekdays)


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A Message of Hope

(Written on the morning of Trump winning the elections in the USA)

It's in the aftermath, isn't it.

Anyone who's ever lost anyone dear to them, anyone who's ever suffered great loss. It's afterwards. When it all goes quiet, when the friends go home and you are sat, in your living room, in your bed, and the enormity of what has happened strikes you right in your stomach and nothing exists but that hurt. A lump the size of a golf ball in your throat.
That sort of grief.

Earlier this year I suffered a horrendous wrong. That wrong left me in bed for weeks, unable and unwilling to move for anything or anyone.

But I eventually got up, and threw myself wholeheartedly into charity work, into youth politics, into making a difference, with the skill set I knew I had.

I had a group of friends more solid than a rock to depend on, and that made all the difference. The late nights they stayed up with me, wordless, over a pint, in a quiet living room, in a pub. That love was what made the difference. and what pulled me through to a brighter happier place.

Love.

It is the most written about word in history. (no stats, but I'm pretty sure)

Love, in its truest form, (in my opinion) is giving to another, for the good of another, and with no thought of recompense.

Now, after a triumph for hate in America, more than ever, we need that love.
I'm not going to go into detail on politics. Far wiser people have said far wiser things. What I will say, however, is that social action can be that Love.

More than ever, it is important to get involved with Charities.
More than ever, it is important to volunteer.
More than ever, it is important to give to another, for the good of another, with no thought of recompense.

This morning was another aftermath. I saw friends crying, I saw friends across the internet grieving. I also saw a lot of love, and a lot of hate. There was an 'us against them' mentality, and it was poisonous.

Don't fill in petitions and self-righteously call everyone who voted for Trump/Brexit ignorant or poorly educated. Don't call people concerned with immigration, racists. Some of them are. Some of the people who voted for Clinton/Remain are. You are buying into the 'us against them' brigade and proudly marching at the front of their platoon with a banner.

The thing that annoyed me the most about Brexit were the friends who I knew didn't vote, but were filling in petitions demanding another referendum and bleating about how they hated old people.

My generation, don't let our generation be defined as the generation that talked a lot but watched while bad things happened. Let us not be the retweet generation. In twenty years, our generation will be the Hilary Clintons, the Donald Trumps, the David Camerons. That's a responsibility that we will bear, and how will we bear it?

Get out there, join in with your local community. Volunteer with causes you care about. That is your legacy, not the petition you fill in. The giving to another, for the good of another, is your legacy.

Not hate.