Feminism is described as the “advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.” Yet, on our rise for equality are we forgetting about male rights? With regards to mental health, people of the male gender feel at risk as they are not able to discuss their issues without losing their ‘masculinity’ and often the mental health of men is dismissed for women’s mental health. Patriarchy in various forms can affect men as well. There is a stigma in society that does not allow men to voice their emotions, and this is something that needs to be challenged as much as fighting for equality for women.
Statistically, men are more likely to commit suicide- in 2013 in the UK, 78% of suicides were by men. Typically, men of around 40-50 are left feeling a burden on society. With the economic crisis of 2007, around 15% of the male work force were made redundant in comparison to the 7% of women. Yes, it can be argued that there are more men in the work places, yet this sharp rise of unemployment helped to raise the suicide levels of men in their middle ages due to the sensation that they were not living up to their roles as men and the ‘breadwinners’ of the household. This, however, has not made national news unlike if it was that of a woman, so what makes a man’s rights less than a woman’s?
In addition, sexism against men exists just as much as women. Within many countries, men are not given paternity leave to spend time with their child and it is as if a father figure is not as important in comparison to a mother figure. It can be seen that mothers are more likely to be given custody over a child, which in itself dismisses the rights of a father. Campaigns such as ‘Fathers4Justice’ highlights the concern for the lack of equal parenting and emphasises the segregation between men and women with regards to parenting. For the ‘Fathers4Justice’ founder, “Matt told a judge in the Royal Courts of Justice that the treatment of fathers in the family courts was a violation of their right to family life.” It is these violations to parental rights that effect men and can lead to depression and other mental health issues by restricting their access to their own children.
Furthermore, the support for female victims of domestic violence is again statistically higher than for those of the male gender. It appears that men who are abused by their spouse are ‘weak’ and ‘not real men.’ Men too are raped and victims of various sexual assaults yet these issues are not as widely highlighted in comparison to women’s. Men are also made to feel weak like women with regards to rape, and again did not deserve it due to what they were wearing. For Akeemjamal Rollins, a rape survivor, he was repeatedly told “men can’t get raped”- yet he was. His response was “I didn’t want it- but it happened.” Should we assume sexual assault to only happen to one gender? One in six men will be the victim of sexual assault and regardless of their gender, people are being violated. This shouldn’t be happening to any one regardless of their gender or sex.
As we fight for equality, is it really fair to forget about men? Men, whilst it is statistically lower, also face forms of abuse and sexism and their rights are just as important as ours in order for us all to be equal. One UEA undergraduate stated that he “he had been told his entire life that [he] should feel privileged to be a white man, but [he] still feels that with certain issues men are just being left behind and ignored.” Let us not forget that we are all equal whatever we identify ourselves to be and so for us all to be truly equal, let’s not forget about the boys!