It comes to mind as i sit up at one in the morning Australian time, that there are many different ideas of feminism, what makes a man, and what makes a woman.
I see myself as a normal human man, i have been described as a feminist ( sometimes in a nice way, often as an insult) but i have issue with that. to me being a feminist is something i would class as more of an active role in the advancement and enlightening of women’s plights and issues in modern society, as i don’t actively participate in any organised form of education on women’s rights ( and am of course a man) i feel unworthy to be called a feminist. I would like to say at this point that the way women are seen/treated/thought of in modern society is completely shite and makes no fucking sense to me at all. My view is simply that we are all people, with different skills and talents that should meld together within society, regardless of age, creed, gender, race, or who you wish to see without their pants on.
One thing i can speak about with some authority is the experience of growing up as a man in this society.
As a young boy i was raised in a very traditional way, two parent family with a mother and a father as well a one sibling. i was raised with religion and church, and very conservative morals and ideas, my father worked and my mother raised us. The idea of being a man and manliness was very much along the lines of, the man works and looks after the family with money, keeps his feelings to himself and just gets on with it and bottles his own issues.
having grown up like this it was a great shock when i left home and went out into the real world (as i am 30 i grew up in a world very much in the early years of the Internet as we now know it and my folks distrusted it so i never had the net till i went to uni) and started a self education on the problems and issues that mattered to me.
It always struck me as weird that people thought less of women, as far as i could tell growing up women were brilliant strong individuals that were really fucking cool,(my 80 something grandmother still swings a mean stock whip) so the idea that half the worlds population was somehow inferior was just really fucking stupid and i never gave it the time of day.
From a male perspective i envied women a lot as it seemed normal that women would show a lot of emotion and it was expected and ok (at least if my childhood environment). Growing up i was what was called a “sensitive boy” which basically meant that i cried……a lot…..about lots of things, anything from a physical wound to having my feelings hurt would cause me to display my emotions like my heart upon my sleeve. This lead to a real problem with being bullied by my fellow students as well as teachers and other parents. My father was kind but old fashioned and told me that its probably best if you just don’t let it get to you so much. my mother would often seek punishments for people who made fun of me, which only made it worse, she would also tell me to hold it in or treat it like water off a ducks back.
So i bottled the majority of my feelings and just got on with it as good boys were suppose to do all the way through school (where i was still bullied for being short and supposedly gay) until i left for university, where i proceeded to drown myself in as much alcohol and cannabis that i could get my hands on. Eventually i slowed down, and with the help of my now wife :) then girlfriend, i gave up drinking and eventually smoking as well (just cigarettes at that stage, stopped smoking grass before i met her).
Once i had stopped all of the self medicating it became very clear that something was wrong with me, i would have frequent and severe mood swings, bouts of hopelessness that would last for weeks or even months, and fits of violence against myself (mainly beating myself about the head and limbs with my fists but occasionally with other objects as well). Not knowing what was wrong and believing that i should just suck it up and soldier on….i made it worse, and the fits of anger and violence got worse, my mood swings would be consistently longer and longer, sometimes lasting up to 3-4 months of hopeless agony.
So many years later (about 7 years into our relationship) my wife finally convinced me that i was very not well and that talking to a doctor was the best thing i could do. After a few months of talking to my doctor and trialling some treatments i was diagnosed with severe depressing and an anxiety disorder and am only now getting the help that i need.
As i’ve gone through this for the past 20 years or more it now feels very clear to me that the my issues are far worse now due to the idea of what a man is supposed to do with his feelings. These days my idea of manliness has changed very drastically from how i was raised, the idea that men soldier or regardless of pain is just stupid, and not only stupid but one of the main causes in my opinion of mental problems in adult life.
To be a man is does not mean you have to endure the worst the world has to offer on your own. You are no less of a man if you ask for help, and you are certainly no less of a man if you know when to stop/give up/know your limits. In my mind it makes you more of a man to admit defeat than it does to stubbornly cling to the idea that you can beat every obstacle in life by yourself.
The idea that you can just shrug it of and get on with life is going to catch up with you in the long run, and you may not survive it. I know that without the love and support of the greatest person i know, my wife, that i would not be alive today.
FOR THE TLDR ARSEHOLES
The current society expectations on both men and women are horrible, and are only doing damage to children that cant be seen of understood until well into adult life.
It needs to change, and it needs to change now.