On International Men’s Day – today – Dr Rebecca Owens, from Sunderland’s School of Psychology, discusses how issues facing men in 2020 are often hidden behind a murky wall of silence.
“Men and women have always faced different challenges in relation to pretty much all areas of life.
“The reasons are very complex and interlinked – bringing in socio-political factors as well as biological, physiological and psychological factors.
“It remains a fact though, that because of the range of complex and interacting factors, men are generally less sympathised and empathised with – there is a lack of awareness in society about issues that men can potentially face.
“For example, men can be victims of intimate partner violence and coercive control, but our societal narrative suggests men can only be perpetrators of such violence, and women can only be victims.
“Likewise, we typically see boys and girls very differently, even when they are exhibiting the same behaviours, we have a tendency to ascribe these behaviours to different causes.
“Often this involves situating girls as potential victims, maybe of exploitation, and boys as perpetrators, or trouble makers. This societal narrative presents a huge barrier for men and boys in terms of not only accessing help, but recognising that they need help, and even realising that they can be helped.
“There is often a tendency to make broad comparisons, or group people very broadly – such as men and women. And we often see men and women being pitted against each other in our dominant societal narrative.
“But really, making such broad comparisons is very dangerous – grouping men and women like this is grouping around 50% of the population and making comparisons and highlighting differences this way. It is just not accurate or fair.
“If we were to make such comparisons, a more accurate one would probably be around socio-economic status – throughout history men and women from lower socio-economic backgrounds have been exploited – men were forced into war for example. But upper-class men weren’t, and upper-class women didn’t face oppression like lower class women did either.
“But I think generally, we have forgotten about these kinds of things – that men were often oppressed and disadvantaged as well, and some women weren’t.
“Men can find themselves in a range of difficult situations just like women can – domestic violence and abuse, coercive control, difficulties around maintaining contact with children or providing for families etc.
“As a society, we have placed different demands and expectations on men and women, and unsurprisingly women have fought back about not necessarily wanting to stay at home and raise children etc, to have the option to go to work, to get an education.
“But surely it is only fair that we offer the same options to men as well – men should be able to stay at home with their children if they want to and are able to. This isn’t to say that men should stay at home, or should go to work – having that choice is important, and having a choice available to everyone means we are providing equal opportunities for all, without the expectation of seeing equal uptake on those options.”
International Men’s Day Online Event
A leading venue in the heart of Sunderland is throwing their weight behind the 2020 International Men’s Day.
Hope Street Xchange, based on the University of Sunderland City Campus, will play host an online session of esteemed speakers on Thursday.
The event, which will run on Zoom between 9.50am and 12.15pm, will be hosted by Nevil Tynemouth of New Results who coordinated the 2019 event.
He said: “Having the chance to get involved with International Men’s Day for the second year in a row is a great honour.
“It would have been easy to say that we couldn’t do an event this year, but working as a team we have been able to put together an online event offering us the opportunity to connect with an even wider audience.”
The speakers for the event will be:
– Dave Algeo, the Stress(ed) Guru, who will speak on the topic of wellbeing, resilience and men’s wellness.
– Dr Ron Lawson, founder of Ron Lawson International, will discuss practical approaches to being better prepared for life’s challenges
– Tony Wilson, founder and Chairman of Lifestyle Architecture; he will discuss the art of designing the lifestyle you deserve and desire.
Tickets for the event are free. Find out more at www.sunderland.ac.uk