By Sydney Seidel
Blog Content Contributor
To the bulk of people, the concept of hegemonic masculinity seems indistinct. However, it is undeniable that the stereotype affects the lives of almost everyone in Western society. While not everyone is acquainted with the term “hegemonic masculinity”, if you are to ask any child, youth or adult what “being a man” is to them, they would likely give similar generational descriptions of hegemonic masculinity.
Young women grow up hearing phrases like “you throw like a girl” spoken as insults to criticize boys. However, all that this stigma does is diminish women’s self-worth and force them to feel lesser than the men around them. In return, young boys are taught to be “manly” as they hear such phrases like “crying is for girls.’’ Because of this, men are taught to keep their feelings to themselves due to the lack of emotional literacy and childhood trauma.
The idea of the “stoic and silent” male is very common in today’s day and age. From real-life issues to even our favorite shows and movies, this notion is something that cannot go unnoticed. Unfortunately, this is sometimes more than just a stereotype but rather a powerful cultural expectation that men should somehow bottle their problems up, be strong and just get on with things.
In 1999, Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tabago saw this issue and decided to make a change, thus creating the first International Men’s Day on Nov. 19. His goal was to celebrate the strength in a man’s character that is often imprisoned by gender cliches. In addition, the day was also created to bring awareness to men’s health and well-being as it is often a shy topic for the latter.
But here are the facts:
Men have a suicide rate three times higher than women.
One in three men has been the victim of domestic violence.
Men on average die four to five years before women.
Men are nearly twice as likely to suffer from lung cancer than women.
Men are nearly twice as likely to suffer from heart disease than women.
(All taken from the International Men’s Day website)
The 2023 theme for the event is “Zero Male Suicide.” The goal of the organization is to encourage institutions, organizations and individuals alike to identify the causes of male suicide and try to find solutions to create a safe environment for men of all nations.
Ambassador and coordinator for the affair, Dr. Sanmi Falobi of Nigeria, stated “We want to encourage institutions, organizations and individuals to use the Nov. 19 International Men’s Day commemorative day to initiate activities that address men’s issues with a view of mitigating male suicide and creating an enabling environment for men to cope with the different challenges they face across the board.”
Still, despite the increase in mental health awareness worldwide, majority of men continue to find it difficult opening up about their struggles. And for what? Why is this trend of denying the help that you need so prominent in today’s society?
The answer is simple. It’s the hegemonic masculinity that seems inevitable for men and women alike to escape. Men shouldn’t have to fear for their worth to be called out over the simple act of asking for help just as women shouldn’t fear being put down merely due to their gender. We as a community need to continue working together to prevent our brothers and sisters from being the next to be silenced.
For more information on this matter, visit International Men’s Day.
Texas State University offers counseling services Monday through Friday for all students. Visit the website or contact them at 512-245-2208.
Written by: Cayla Soriano