In the last few editions, we focused on brain structure and how it affects a person. In this edition, we will be focusing on a social issue and why it should not be ignored. The recent statistics in Singapore for male suicides is two times higher than female (Cheow, 2019). Males resort to lethal methods of suicide because of the inability to cope with the pressure placed by society on masculinity.
Although in recent years it has become more acceptable for male characters to cry on tv shows, it is not tolerable to continuously portray them as “emotional” characters throughout a show. Media emphasises how the male has to sooner or later “man-up” after their meltdown (Kemp, 2019).
Men tend to live up to the male stereotype that stresses on toughness, self-reliance and valour due to the emphasis of “being a man” placed by society. Reaching out for help by opening up about personal feelings is often seen as a lack of control and loss of identity and independence. As a result, males are inclined to suppress their emotional turmoil most of the time which results in them making dangerous decisions (Chia, 2018).
According to a study done in UK, men face a wide range of issues that include financial distress, relationship failure, work-related stress, and even feelings of loneliness (Barnett, 2019). However, they are more unwilling to express vulnerabilities compared to women because of the pressures they face due to gender identity (Cheow, 2019).
The amount of attention devoted to ensuring that a man fits the male stereotype is seen across cultures all over the world. A study conducted in Mexico, U.S. and U.K. found that many young males were raised by parents who stressed the importance of acting strong even if they felt scared (Reichert, 2019). Another study found that male leaders who requested for help were perceived as less competent (Mayer, 2018).
What can be done?
While males and females are physiologically different in terms of muscle mass, they should not be treated differently because of gender when it comes to emotional issues. The treatment given to female and male friends who show us their tears tend to differ because of gender. As members of society, we need to look out for our male friends, brothers and partners and encourage them to share their worries. While most of us look out for our loved ones, we also tend to shove masculinity in their face and invalidate their emotions when they open up. Perhaps the time has come for us to be more sensitive to emotions and not let gender affect our view!
Barnett, D. (2019). Andy’s Man Club: A talking group fighting male suicide. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/talk-group-fight-male-suicideprevention-a8863701.html
Cheow, S. (2019). Men twice as likely to commit suicide. Retrieved from https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/men-twice-likely-commit-suicide
Chia, R. (2018). Suicide is the main cause of death for millennials in Singapore – and most of them are men. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.sg/suicide-is-the-main-cause-of-death-for-millennials-in-Singapore-and-most-of-them-are-men/
Kemp, R. (2019). Why don’t men talk about the stuff they really worry about? Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/living-with-erectile-dysfunction/why-dont-men-talk/
Mayer, D. (2018). How Men Get Penalized for Straying from Masculine Norms. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/10/how-men-get-penalized-for-straying-from-masculine-norms
Reichert, M. (2019). It Doesn’t Take a Man to Raise a Boy. Retrieved from http://time.com/5567733/mothers-raising-boys/