Do you have diabetes? Is that because you’re 200 pounds overweight and you maintain your heft with a steady diet of donuts, hotdogs and big gulp sodas?
Gosh, that’s too bad. It’s not your fault, though, sweetie. A nefarious plot between corn producers, the government and convenience store owners caused you to walk by that bag of unsalted almonds and bypass the bottle of water and head straight for the squeezy cheese and nachos. Nothing you can do about that.
We can’t blame the victim, now, can we?
Did you grab your boyfriend’s phone and hit him in the face with your shoes and then he beat the shit out of you?
Not your fault. We’re not blaming the victim.
Did you get shit-faced at a football party and chase after some star players and then pass out and get treated like a little tramp?
That was completely unpredictable and you cannot be held responsible. No victim blaming, people!
Victim-blaming is MEAN! It’s an expression of privilege and an advantageous position in a hierarchy of power and it must never be used to further wound or injure people who have, by definition, already been hurt: that’s what VICTIM means.
Are you a working class male suffering from depression and a sense that your life has no meaning or value or direction? Did you deal with your crippling sense of dislocation and detachment by putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger?
Oh. Well, in that case, it IS your fault. You’re the sort of victim we CAN blame.
This is actually very upsetting.
Public policy needs to respond urgently to the problems that men and boys create and the problems that they experience, according to a new report by the Coalition on Men and Boys. This must take place alongside efforts to improve the position and status of women.
Taken from a report called Men, Suicide and Society: Why Disadvantaged Men in Mid-life Die by Suicide.
You can read an excellent critique of the article at A Voice for Men, that highlights some of the key problems with the whole report, but I want to address a slightly different issue.
The report links men’s suicide rate to masculinity and identifies that as a problem. Masculinity, or the idea of “manliness” is a destructive force in society that must be eradicated, thereby “solving” the male suicide problem. If men could just stop being men, they wouldn’t feel the need to kill themselves.
More accurately, they wouldn’t be so good at it.
That’s what I want to talk about.
While men commit suicide more often, women ATTEMPT suicide in greater numbers.
Once again, men are better at identifying a problem, isolating a solution, and carrying through. Part of that has to do with the fact that women attempt suicide as a cry for help. When the weight of their lives becomes too great to bear, they cry out for help.
Save me, please.
I am in no way suggesting that women do not feel the same kind of despair or pain or emotional agony as men, but rather that they respond to that by seeking help in the form of “attempted suicide”. Women surrender themselves to the idea that their lives are out of control and they cannot manage anymore, and they take actions to ensure that someone will notice their pain and intervene.
Men take a completely different approach.
They identify a problem:
my life has become unbearable.
They isolate a solution:
They carry it out.
In the case of suicide, the results are maddeningly, saddeningly tragic. The fact that so many suicides occur amongst veterans is even more heartrending. More men have died by suicide than combat in the recent conflict in the Middle East. Soldiers, who risked their lives to carry out our government’s mandates (whether we agree with that mandate or not), who went at OUR BIDDING, return to confront pain so profound, they take their own lives.
This is a crisis not in masculinity, but in health care. Self-inflicted gunshots are a major and almost always lethal threat to men’s health. The idea that we should address this crisis by identifying masculinity as a problem is laughably, tragically stupid.
Men identify a problem, isolate a solution and carry through. With resounding and incontrovertible success, in most cases. Every single piece of technology, every tool, every device, every object or service we have in our modern world is a result of someone identifying a problem, isolating a solution and carrying through.
Those “someones” are almost always men.
Seeing masculinity as a threat, and something that needs to be undermined is a strategy guaranteed to take us back to the dark ages. It’s nihilism, pure and simple. The death of our culture.
The correct strategy to address the tragedy of male suicide is to intervene at the point that a “problem” is identified. Men who see themselves, their lives, their value, their contribution, their intrinsic worth as a human being as a “problem” ARE NOT HELPED by ideologies that define them as, yes, a problem.
I truly, deeply wonder if the researchers who wrote the report on male suicide are just blindingly stupid, or if they really do want men to die? Most suicides occur amongst middle-aged, white working class men, the group hardest hit by dramatic changes in our economies and culture. Their jobs have been outsourced, their families have disintegrated, their livelihoods have disappeared and their ability to get the job done is no longer the machine that drives our society.
They’re not particularly useful, are they?
Oh, but they’re good at one thing: dying.
I usually try to end my posts with some smart-ass comment that mocks whatever it is I’m talking about, but today I just can’t do that.
All I really want to do is cry. I wish I could find every man sitting in a room with a loaded gun, wondering if anyone would even notice if he pulled the trigger and tell him:
I would. I would notice. Please don’t. The problem is not you. The problem is not that you’re a man. The problem is a world that has decided you’re useless. A world that exists BECAUSE of men, finding solutions to problems. It’s what men do. They solve problems.
Don’t solve this problem. Not this way.
Lots of love,