10 Examples Of Men’s Issues The Media Loves To Ignore
Let’s face it: it’s not easy to talk about men’s issues. First, there’s the fact that women pretty-much objectively have it worse . Second, there’s the fact that most men would rather silently power through their problems than talk about them – as if manliness alone could stop prostate cancer in its tracks. Third there’s the annoying habit of so-called men’s rights activists to turn every discussion on the subject into a cesspool of misogyny.
But make no mistake: there are some issues in our modern world that disproportionately affect men, and our male-dominated media is almost strangely silent on them. I’m talking things like:
It’s no secret that men lead more violent lives than women. We’re more likely to be murdered, more likely to be both the perpetrators and victims of violent crime, more likely to join gangs and more likely to get our asses thrown in jail. In fact, the only areas where women are more-likely to be victims of violence than men—domestic abuse and sexual assault—are in categories where the perpetrators are frequently male. In other words, violence so completely permeates every aspect of our lives that it winds up damaging everyone, regardless of gender. So what’s going on?
Well, it’s almost certainly rooted in childhood. Boys are more likely to be beaten at school than girls, and parents are far more likely to encourage fights between boys. Think about it: if one of your earliest experiences is being told to punch that kid who insulted you, it’s no great leap to imagine you’d reach adulthood thinking violence was the right response to, well, everything. And since our culture loves to reward aggression—in the boardroom, on the sports field, in the military—it’s easy to see why unlearning that lesson might be next to impossible.
Depression itself isn’t solely a men’s issue. It affects people at all points on the social scale and can destroy your life no matter what chromosomes you have. In fact, a UK study went as far to suggest that women are slightly more likely to suffer anxiety or depression than men, so you might be wondering why the hell I included it here. The answer is as simple as it is saddening: men absolutely suck at handling mental illness.
No joke. Whereas women are likely to seek help for mental problems, we men are absolute experts at pretending there’s nothing wrong – even if we’re dying inside. And that’s a major problem, because not getting help can lead down a very dark path indeed. Right now, suicide is the single biggest killer of young men in Britain, with America not far behind. To put it bluntly, if you’re young and have a penis you’re more likely to kill yourself than you are be killed by someone else – even in an active warzone. Read that again: the biggest killer of our troops in Afghanistan is not bombs, gunfire or terrorism. It’s suicide. By rights this should be a national scandal. But because of our dumb ideas of masculinity no-one even wants to talk about it – and young lives continue to be wasted.
We (hopefully) all know by now that neither gender is more innately intelligent than the other. So what would you expect to see if you looked at graduation rates across the country? A level playing field? Not quite.
Studies show a vast gender gap opening up in education; but not in the way your sexist great-grandpa would have supposed. In pretty much all measures of attainment, we men are trailing women by an embarrassing margin. Sixty percent of all Bachelor’s degrees in America are held by women with similar numbers in Britain. While this is great for the sisterhood, it leads to some shocking social consequences. The youth unemployment rate for black male dropouts, for example, now stands at over fifty percent, a number so large it’s unreal. So what’s causing this destructive trend?
Well, you can put that down to our good old masculine expectations again. According to the LA Times, only about half of all boys expect to work in well-paid professional jobs when they grow up, compared to nearly three quarters of girls. In other words, we’re somehow teaching young boys that either learning is ‘girl’s stuff’, or that there’s no point in being aspirational. Either way, it’s a hell of dumb lesson.
You’ve probably heard of the gender pay gap. It’s basically a polite way of saying our society is screwed up—paying one set of earners more than the other, based on nothing but the shape of their genitals. Currently, women earn on average only eighty percent of what men do, so it can be tempting to cheer when you hear the trend is reversing. Until you realize what that actually means.
By analyzing the pay of workers in 147 of the biggest US cities, researchers discovered that unmarried, childless women under 30 are now making eight percent more their male equivalents. In Atlanta and Memphis, they were making a staggering twenty percent more; with New York women not far behind with an extra seventeen percent. The main reason for this is the education gap we just talked about – women as a group are more qualified, so are therefore entitled to earn more. The sane response would be for the mainstream media to use this story as a way of focusing attention on boys’ saddening lack of aspiration, with the aim of creating an equally-educated and paid society. Instead it’s largely being ignored by everyone but angry ‘men’s rights’ types, which isn’t helping at all.
It’s a depressing fact of life that some people get off on controlling others. Since life is horrible, this often translates to marriages where one partner physically or emotionally abuses the other. Usually, the victims are women and the abusers male – hence the existence of women’s shelters and charities and so on.
Thankfully, decades of effort has made women more aware of their existence and removed the stigma of seeking help. The same cannot be said for men’s shelters.
The Guardian recently revealed that forty percent of all UK domestic violence victims are male. In America, the numbers are almost as bad. Shockingly, more married men were victims of abuse than women in 2012 – yet men’s shelters remain almost non-existent. In the UK, for example, there are 33 beds available in the whole country, compared with 4,000 for women. Worst of all, (male) police officers are often unsympathetic to abuse victims, leading to a frighteningly-low conviction rate, even by domestic violence standards. For a whole host of stupid reasons, our culture continues to see men who are abused by women as pathetic, unmanly and even undeserving of sympathy. And that needs to change, because victims are victims, no matter who they are.
The trouble with writing an article like this is that it can all too easily sound like a boring men v. women polemic. So when I open this section by saying that breast cancer research attracts more funding than any other kind, be aware that I mean that I mean that in a good way. Breast cancer is a killer, pure and simple, and I don’t think a penny spent on research into beating it should be spent elsewhere. However, it would be nice to see an equal amount being raised for prostate cancer research, especially considering the risks involved are nearly-identical.
Honestly: according to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetimes, while one in seven men will get prostate cancer. But, unlike breast cancer, no-one has yet been brave enough to start a media discussion about prostate cancer; meaning the idea of, say, doing a fun-run to raise money for research is still considered kinda weird. There’s literally no reason for this state of affairs to exist, and yet it does. Why? Who the hell knows.
If you want to hear a shockingly bizarre statistic, they don’t come much more shocking or bizarre than this: men account for ninety three percent of all workplace deaths in America. Ninety three percent. That’s such a disproportionate number that it shouldn’t be possible even by accident—especially considering women work forty three percent of all hours worked each year. This isn’t a cherry-picked piece of data either: this article from way back in 1995 reports similar numbers.
Obviously, most of this is to do with blue-collar men tending to work the most-dangerous jobs. Fishermen, loggers and truck drivers have the highest fatality rates in the country, followed by airline pilots and flight engineers. But the fact remains that being male makes you more-likely to die in the workplace; a strange and unsettling fact that goes almost entirely unreported.
In 2007, a survey carried out by the US mayors’ congress found that nearly seventy percent of American homeless people were men. As a ratio that’s absurd. And guess what? In other countries it’s even worse: a random survey in Amsterdam placed the percentage of homeless who were male at a stupefying eighty eight percent. Even in countries with a smaller gender gap, like Australia, men still account for over fifty percent of the general homeless population. And once you’re out on the streets, the gender gap only gets worse. According to a Danish report, homeless men die an average of five years earlier than homeless women. How such a massive difference is even possible I don’t know. But for a whole host of reasons, each one probably more stupid than the last, men are statistically more likely to wind up on the streets and die earlier once they get there. And the media responds by doing its best to never even mention this problem.
A century or so ago, women basically didn’t have rights. Husbands could rape their wives, beat them and refuse them access to their children. So we men are a heck of a long way from having things as bad as our great-great grandmothers. But it’s a disturbing fact that bias has slipped in to the modern family court system, and it’s not doing anyone any favors.
In 2008, Newsweek noted that women win sole-custody battles five out of six times. As family law attorney David Pisarra recently pointed out in the Huffington Post, the reason for this is a basic sexism on the part of conservative male judges—who tend to still think women should be at home with the children while men are out earning money. This leads to a strange state of affairs where men are often automatically considered to be a bad parent, even in cases where they’re demonstrably not.
Now, I’m not saying that there are no bad fathers. Or that divorce automatically results in fatherless kids: surveys suggest most couples are fine dividing up visitation rights by themselves. However, we should be looking to chase out ANY bias we see in the court system—no matter how small. Otherwise we don’t have real equality.
Of all the problems I’ve mentioned above, none is so damaging to men as our own notions of masculinity. For all internet commenters like to claim feminism is holding men back and turning us into victims, the reality is we’re doing a perfectly good job of it ourselves. As fathers, we teach boys to lash out instead of restrain themselves. As a culture we teach men to hide their emotions even if it kills them. As a society we teach boys to aim low and not educate themselves for a well-paying job. And look where that’s got us: prone to suicide, prone to homelessness, often unable to see our kids and unwilling to confront violence with anything but more violence. As the journalist Ally Fogg recently said:
“The truth is that even if every single feminist of every single flavour abandoned feminism today and went back to bed with a good book for the rest of her life, it would make barely a jot of difference to the real and significant problems facing men.”
And, until we find a way to separate those good parts of traditional masculinity from the absurdly-damaging ones, this will always be the case.