“There are essentially just two things that need to change to make this a better world for men and boys,” says David Wilkins of the Men’s Health Forum. “The first is The World. And the second is er . . . men and boys”.
—This is article #76 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
I’m often asked to write about how the world (well, the UK) might change, especially in relation to men’s mental and physical health, and the organisation for which I work has been campaigning on the issues for many years. It’s crucial that the UK should change culturally and politically in some of its attitudes and policies towards men.
This though, is my list for blokes – including myself. It’s subjectively espressed but it is pretty much based on evidence, not on personal whim. It reflects the large number of debates and discussions I’ve been in over the years and the range of opinion that I’ve often heard expressed by men and women. Not everything applies to everyone and it’s not perfect or complete – but here it is.
Let’s us blokes:
1. Look after our health. It’s our responsibility and it’s not just for reasons of self preservation. There are people out there who love us and depend on us. They don’t want us dead before we even draw our pensions for God’s sake.
2. Allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Get help when we need it. Give up trying just to escape our problems – it doesn’t work.
3. Look out for our male friends. Allow them to be vulnerable. Stop taking the piss. Refuse to collude with their escape plans.
4. Value education. Encourage our sons to learn, and engage with them in their learning. Demand better for boys at school. The UK is not doing anywhere near well enough with our boys – and it’s not just the fault of schools.
5. Avoid getting sucked into working long hours for no extra pay. Our grandads and great grandads and all the generations since the Industrial Revolution fought like billy-o for our rights at work. Giving half our lives away for nothing is letting them down. Long hours stop us looking after ourselves and being with those we love.
6. Prioritise spending time with our kids. Be the one who takes them to the doctor or picks them up from school. Allow our sons to be vulnerable, as well as helping them to be strong. Both sexes – but boys especially – do better where fathers are actively involved in nurture and care.
7. Avoid buying into the bollocks that says that “feminism” is to blame for everything that’s a problem for men. It is absolutely right that we should support women to make a better and more equal world. We can work for solutions to problems that disadvantage men without negating women’s rights. It’s not Man United v Liverpool.
—Picture credit: RCB
David Wilkins is policy officer at the charity the Men’s Health Forum.
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.